Girls raise money to build houses in Joplin, Mo.

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 19, 2011

By Joanie Morris
For the Salisbury Post
ANNAPOLIS — Jessie Summer and Emma Broadway have wanted a pool since the beginning of the summer.
One of those big, above ground pools you can get at Walmart for about $150. Their mom, Kelly, said as a single mom, she’s just not able to afford one for the girls. She told them if they raised the money themselves, they could buy the pool.
They were excited by the prospect of getting a pool, until they went to their church, Charity Baptist, and learned there were little boys and girls in Joplin, Mo., who didn’t have anything. A tornado had ripped through Joplin and devastated the area.
At church that Sunday, they were talking about what they could do to help. Justin Thompson, student pastor at the church, asked the kids for suggestions — the kids tossed around the ideas of sending teddy bears, toys and games, and collecting water bottles and blankets.
“In the back of the room, one of our college students raised his hand and said, ‘Let’s build them a house,’ “ said Justin.
The energy in the room excited the Broadway girls, who went home with a new goal.
“That next morning, they woke up and kind of went in their room together,” said Kelly Broadway. “They said, ‘Mama, instead of getting a pool, can we just give the money to Justin?’ “
Kelly was struck by the girls’ generosity. They had talked about the pool most of the spring and the beginning of summer. And they gave up the dream to raise money to build a house for a family in Joplin. The family lives on Hemlock Road and had a lemonade stand set up on the corner of Hemlock and West C Street during the city’s Charlotte Symphony concert on July 2 and raised $180 —more than enough for that pool — that they donated to the church.
“I thought it was really good of them,” said Kelly. “I was just so proud of them.”
“Those little girls for the longest time have wanted a pool in the backyard,” said Justin Thompson. “Instead of raising money to buy them a pool, they brought in every single penny.”
A church on fire
Justin said it is stories like that one that are blazing through the congregation at Charity Baptist since Vacation Bible School — where their weeklong goal was to collect $2,000. The kids collected $6,000.
“They just started bringing in money,” said Justin. “It was insane.”
The church needs nearly $35,000 to start the project — they are working with Habitat for Humanity in Joplin on the project —and an estimated total of $43,000 to complete the entire project. So far, they have over $7,000 raised, and donations coming in every day. But they don’t want to just build the family a house.
“We want to be able to furnish it,” said Justin. “We’re just stepping out on faith and seeing what all happens with this.”
Justin said to build and furnish the house, the church will need close to $70,000. When asked why not just build two houses, Justin’s answer is based in faith.
“We honestly feel that God has called us to go over and beyond to really do something amazing for at least one family,” said Justin. “When we walk away, if the family says, ‘Why us? We don’t deserve this.” We’ll be able to respond, ‘We don’t deserve God’s grace.’ “
Justin said while the kids have taken over ownership of the project, the entire church has caught fire.
“Our church has woken up to this idea,” he said. “They are branching out with the excitement of the kids; they want to be a part of this. … We don’t know if God wants us to build one house or if we’re going to build a whole cul-de-sac.”
Once the church has raised the money, Justin said they will take as many people as possible out for the build.
“Hopefully, we’ll all be able to work on that house,” he said. But, if not, there are other projects Habitat is working on that the church family can help with.
Scott Clayton, Justin’s Habitat for Humanity’s contact in Joplin, said so far, the organization has been working on short term recovery — clean-up and damage repair.
“The volunteer response has been tremendous,” Clayton said from his office last week. If he had to leverage three areas where the group needs help, it would be funds, building lots and families in need.
He appreciates what Charity is trying to do and can’t wait to see the end result.
“That’s a great goal,” he said. “Most people kind of shy away when they see what it takes.”
Habitat for Humanity in Joplin builds between three and five homes a year and was started in 1989. In contrast, Clayton said the group will soon begin work in three new homes and are hoping to begin a few more in the fall. By the end of the year, Clayton said the affiliate’s goal was 5-6 homes.
Justin said he hopes that Charity’s house can be one of those homes.
“Honestly, it all depends on how fast we can raise the money,” he said. “I would love to be able to be out there in the next four months.”
He is quick to add that it’s not just a Charity Baptist Church house. If other churches or organizations would like to help, it can be a city-wide effort.
“This is where a body of believers can come together and really make an impact.”
For more information about The Welcome Home Project started by Charity, visit
Joanie Morris is a freelance reporter for the Salisbury Post. She can be reached at 704-797-4248 or