Love is a powerful emotion. So powerful in fact, it caused KW Commercial Director James Kirby, CCIM to move to Joplin, Missouri. Well, love and Starbucks, he says. While in a London Starbucks, James met and married an American lady. He and his wife then decided to move to Joplin where they would trail blaze treatment for Autism. Five years and two children later, they have come to love the community they now call home – a home that on May 22, 2011 experienced the devastation from an F5 tornado.
After the tornado tore through, James decided that he wanted to make a difference in communities where severe weather disrupts and destructs. And Joplin isn’t the only one to experience it. New Orleans is still rebuilding 7 years after Hurricane Katrina and more recently, New York and New Jersey are still working to clean up the effects of Superstorm Sandy.
That’s where the St Bernard Project [SBP] comes in. The non-profit’s sole purpose is to work in natural disaster impacted communities and to improve the national disaster recovery process. Essentially, SBP’s Disaster Recovery Lab, mobilizes like a first responder, sharing lessons from other devastated communities, prevent common barriers to recovery and help utilize SBP’s standardized, repeatable and proven model. Over the years, SBP has had a significant impact on people – helping them get back into their homes by partnering with companies such as Toyota and UPS to bring process management to residential construction.
Love for community has led to a band of hardy souls to agree to participate in a fundraising 800 mile bicycle ride from Joplin to New Orleans called JOMONOLA ( www.jomonola.org ), between June 20-30, 2013. This fundraising tour will specifically get three families back into a home in Joplin , New Orleans and New York/New Jersey, with a total fundraising goal of $150,000 to build one entire house in each community.
Love for adventure will push James and his fellow riders to ride between 65 and 100 miles per day with challenging terrain and weather conditions expected to be encountered.
“At first I was looking forward to this ride as a physical challenge,” Kirby says. “Recently, it feels like it’s become more of a mental challenge than a physical one. I’m using my real estate marketing skills to spread the disaster response and recovery message to as many communities as possible”.
The ride has particular resonance within the real estate community – other professionals including land surveyors, real estate investors, real estate developers and CCIM’s are pitching in. It’s yet another way the real estate community is reaching out and lending a hand to those who may have lost their home.
“Keller Williams and KW Cares have supported Joplin in so many ways since the tornado. We need to continue with that great momentum and finish the job by getting the last families home,” Kirby adds.
To see more about SBP and JOMONOLA and to assist them reaching their goal, please browse or donate at http://www.jomonola.org/donate.html, click “donate” and select “James Kirby” in the drop down menu.