Hayden church group preparing for April mission trip to Joplin, Mo.

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“To be cleaning up debris amidst so much destruction, it felt like the work we were doing was a drop in the bucket. But the people were so happy to have us there, and they said so when they saw us.”

Betty Barnes, Hayden Congregational Church member about mission trips to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

One of the worst tornados in American history ripped apart the small Midwestern town of Joplin, Mo., in May 2011.

Laura Corriveau, a radiologist and member of Hayden Congregational Church, was sent to Joplin in the aftermath as part of a government task force. Her job was to X-Ray and identify bodies and body parts.

News of the tornado’s destruction resonated with Corriveau and other church congregation members.

“As soon as I heard that, it just spoke to our hearts,” HCC Pastor Janet Babish said. “I knew that as soon as there was a mission trip available, we would organize something to send people down there.”

Months later, Babish, Corriveau and HCC member Betty Barnes are preparing to lead a team of 10 volunteers to help the Joplin community continue reconstruction efforts.

The trip is being organized in conjunction with the United Church of Christ, HCC’s parent organization, and the Disciples of Christ.

The trip is scheduled to take place April 15 through 21.

“The United Church of Christ is not a first responder like the Red Cross,” Barnes said. “However, people often forget that once immediate medical needs are met, areas hit by natural disasters have long-term cleaning, construction and landscaping needs.”

Cleaning, building and landscaping are skills HCC organizers have become adept at in recent years following two mission trips to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“To be cleaning up debris amidst so much destruction, it felt like the work we were doing was a drop in the bucket,” Barnes said. “But the people were so happy to have us there, and they said so when they saw us.”

Seven HCC members are currently committed to the trip.

Babish said she’s confident the last three spots will be filled by church members as the departure date gets closer.

As with the two previous mission trips, participation is not limited to HCC members, but a $75 fee is required to augment utility costs at the volunteer shelter managed by the South Joplin Christian Church.

For those who cannot participate in the mission trip but would like to make a monetary donation to the Joplin relief effort, Babish said a separate fund has been set up through the church.

Donations are being accepted by check, which should be made payable to Hayden Congregational Church with “Joplin Disaster Recovery” in the memo.

Checks may be sent to Hayden Congregational UCC, P.O. Box 1284, Hayden, CO, 81639.

Babish said she’s looking forward to fulfilling her Christian duty in Missouri.

“There’s a bond that happens when people are joined together on a mission with a shared purpose that you really can’t get any other way,” Babish said. “It’s a life-changing event to take some of your own money and your own time to do something for someone else. To be selfless is an amazing thing.”

For more information, call Babish at 276-3510.

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