NEA Helpers assist in 9/11 flag restoration

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Northeast Arkansas Helpers are committed to traveling to Joplin, Mo., to assist in clean up and reconstruction after the devastating tornado that ripped through there May 22. Last month they found themselves right in the middle of a national flag restoration project.

NEA workers pictured are, from left: Codie Hogan, Whitney Drennan, Donna Kelly, Della Brown, Carl Brown, Olivia Wright, Kevin Winford, Kasey Hill, Kenneth Winford, Marie Winford, Matt Hill, Shelby Winford, Robert Chambers, Marsha Chambers and Bill St. John.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a U.S. flag was found in the rubble in New York City. Citizens and workers in Joplin applied the last hand-sewn stitches to the National 9/11 Flag in September. The flag will become a part of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero in New York City.

"The people in Joplin know what it means to be survivors, after going through the nation's deadliest tornado in five decades," Robert Chambers said. "This flag started out as a tattered flag that once flew on a building next to the collapsed twin towers. It has been completely restored, as a testimony to the resilience and compassion of the American people."

"We all took turns putting a stitch in the quilt," Marsha Chambers said. "It was very touching to get to do that. School children, soldiers, police officers, firefighters and everyday volunteers from all 50 states have stitched the 20x30 foot flag back together, with pieces from other retired flags."

NEA Helpers making the September trip to work in Joplin were from Monette, Lake City, Bay, and Cabot. The team members cover all of their own expenses, out of pocket, and have had sleeping accommodations at Joplin churches in the area. The workers consider their work as a sacrificial gift of love to the people of Joplin.

"We plan to go back Dec. 28-30 of this year and build some bunk beds at the Joplin Nazarene Church to accommodate up to 100 workers who help in the community," Kenneth Winford said. "There are so many jobs that still need to be done, and the thing they are shortest on is manpower. That is what our group can do to help, and are willing to go. We hope to take about 50 workers back with us in December."

For more information on this ongoing mission project persons may contact Kenneth Winford, 870-273-8675, or Robert Chambers, 870-486-2286.

"We were told by the people they would never forget May 23 and the kindness of volunteers who came to help," Winford said. "How could we not do something? It may seem small, but to them it is a big thing. We intend to make more trips back next year also."

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