Members of the student-led Go Beyond Barrington organization spent their spring break in Joplin, Mo., assisting the city that was devastated by tornadoes in May 2011.
Nine high school students and five adult leaders of Go Beyond Barrington – a student group that holds annual fundraising campaigns to help struggling communities throughout the world – were in Joplin from March 21 through March 26 to help local residents.
The students were pleased to see the progress the city has made since the organization visited a year ago.
Jake Herb, a junior from Barrington as well as a board member and one of the founders of Go Beyond Barrington, said about 80 percent of permits issued have resulted in homes built or still being built. Last year, that percentage was closer to 20 percent, he said.
“They are very, very proud of how far they’ve come,” Herb said.
While the group originally was slated to work with Habitat for Humanity building homes during its visit, the weather prevented members from doing so. Instead, they found other projects in which to contribute.
On Friday, Go Beyond Barrington worked with Art Feeds – a Joplin organization that uses art as therapy – to paint a mural at an elementary school.
Saturday, the group planted 36 trees on 12 home properties, and Monday, the organization built sheds for families in need of storage space.
“They were very thankful that we came down to help them,” said Ryan Burgoon, a senior from Tower Lakes as well as a board member and one of the founders of the organization. “They were happy to tell us stories of what happened to them.”
Burgoon said his favorite part of the trip was seeing the progress the city has made in one year.
“When we went down the first time, there was nothing there,” he said. “That’s why we went back.”
This was Katie Andraschko’s first trip with the organization. The sophomore from Deer Park also serves as a board member for Go Beyond Barrington.
“The trip was absolutely amazing,” she said. “... The experience was incredible. I’m so happy to be helping these people.”
In addition to visiting Joplin to contribute to the rebuilding efforts, Go Beyond Barrington also raised $25,000 to donate to Habitat for Humanity.
It takes $50,000 to build one home through Habitat for Humanity.
Funds were raised through the sale of T-shirts for Barrington Spirit Day, a Jammin’ for Joplin concert event, a car wash, donations collected outside of the Barrington Jewel and individual donations.
Last year, Go Beyond Barrington raised $18,000 for the people of Joplin.
Andraschko said the fundraising was a lot of work, but worth every minute of time spent.
“It’s such a cool feeling to be able to put a smile on someone’s face, to touch someone’s life in a way they won’t forget and you won’t forget either,” Herb said.