Inadequate GratitudeFor the many, many, many people who have helped me, thank you. I have received a large amount of support in a variety of ways. The first thing that happened was that the Board Game community stepped up in an effort to replace my collection (I will probably write a post about that later, but for a quick synopsis, you can read an article that Matt at MTV's Geek News wrote here. In addition to the board games (which I really enjoy, but are really not that critical in the long run), I have also had a great amount of help from my co-workers. I currently work at Accenture, and specifically the Joplin, Camden, and King of Prussia offices have been astounding. On the Tuesday after the tornado, my co-workers actually beat me to my house, and they had successfully unloaded most everything that was salvageable before I even arrived at the scene. Thanks! They also raised a collection to support myself and my wife as we try to figure out where to go from here. Double thanks! Finally, many of them volunteered to donate some Paid Time Off (PTO) to me so that I can try to find a new home, move into it, settle in, and try to restore normalcy. The other things that Accenture has helped me with include giving me a grant from a non-profit organization that is designed to help Accenture employees during similar times; they also gave me a few days off from work before I started even using my PTO.
The next thing that has been astounding has been the amount of money that has been donated to me directly using PayPal from the right-hand side of my site (or from the Geek Forum and Geek List on Board Game Geek.) Thank you, everyone. Much of this has come from friends and family, but a large amount has also come from people that I don't know. I have no way of getting in touch with most of you to say thank you - but thank you!!
I almost forgot. I need to give a very special thank you to Russ Grundy. He has both allowed me to stay with him, and has provided a place where I can store my (damp) belongings. Thank you, Russ!
Board Game DriveAfter all of this started, I decided to start a board game drive for the city of Joplin. There were a few reasons for this. First, so many children and families lost their homes and have absolutely nothing to distract themselves from the reality of the situation - board games fill this hole nicely. Secondly, so many people on Board Game Geek wanted to help; and I know that this is a very real way in which they are able to contribute. Third, I (through begging for demo copies of games for this site) have established a relationship with many game companies, and the people that I've talked to I truly believed would want to help if they felt like their contribution would matter. Finally (and one of the biggest factors) is that I really needed to do something to help others, as so many people had been so generous to me - and this is something that I felt I could do.
With that said, I cannot thank everyone in the Board Game Community that has donated and/or will donate games. I simply will not know about all of their efforts. Thank you anyway. I would like to call special attention to the following game companies and game stores that I know have contributed (and if I forget, please let me know and I will try to update the list later):
- Eagle Games (makers of Through the Ages, Age of Empires III, etc)
- AEG (Nightfall, Thunderstone, Legend of the 5 Rings)
- Pressman Toys (Rummikub, Mancala, Dominoes, and a million other products)
- Family Games Association (Quoridor, Stratum, etc)
- Fun Q Games (Smash or Trash, Befuzzled)
- Stronghold Games (Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War)
- Myriad Games (FLGS in New Hampshire)
A Frustrating ExperienceSo, I'm a Christian. I have been going to church all of my life. I just reserved a blog where I can write about that stuff here, so I will try not to get too theological here. Specifically, I have also been hurt by churches in any number of ways due to growing up in one (and actually trying to work in one). The next thing that you need to know for the background of this story is that I run a Flea Market booth full of toys - and I have for about 4 years. The Flea Market that hosts my booth is moving this month, and so I hadn't really restocked it in a while. So, I had a ton of toys in my basement. Now, here's what happened:
Since I had been doing the board game drive and begging all of you in the magical Internet-land to donate games to the city of Joplin (and because people had been so incredibly generous towards me specifically), I decided that I really needed to put my money (in this case toys) where my mouth is. So, as I was going through the things that were taken out of my house, I filled two large boxes full of action figures and family friendly games and I took them up to the church - only to be told that they weren't accepting donations because they had too much!! (Don't worry if you are mailing something, they will still accept it; locally they are asking people to hold off a few days so that they can work out warehousing facilities... but I didn't know that yet.) This was the most painful experience that I have had since the tornado hit. There was not much that I could do with regards to helping other people affected, but I really thought that toys and games for kids (specifically boys; I like action figures) was an area that I could help. I was absolutely devastated when what little I could do was taken away. There is nothing worse than having someone make you feel like you are worthless. This is still a very fresh wound that causes my eyes to well up as I type. I need some more time to process this and chalk it up to one more time that I've been hurt by a church. (As an aside; if you are reading this and you aren't a Christian, please realize that there is a big difference between Christ and Christians. Please don't allow a jack*** "Christian" who has hurt you to keep you from Christ the healer of the hurting of whom "a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out." Now, I'm done. Again, trying not to get too theological.
An Amusing (To Me) StorySo, on Thursday, I met with my insurance adjuster. Now, back to the Flea Market thing, one of the things I sell are baseball cards. I buy lots and sell them around 500-1000 cards at a time for $5 per box. Obviously they aren't worth all that much, or I would probably increase that price. My co-workers (since they beat me to the house on Tuesday) had unloaded a large number of these junk cards that were slightly water damaged, and I decided that they were too heavy to move 4 times, so I decided to throw them back. On the news Thursday morning was some story that was filmed in front of my house about this magical binder of baseball cards that survived and blah, blah, blah, but, again, it was filmed in front of my house. So, while we were meeting with the adjuster out front, a gentleman came up claiming that he had lost his cards, and that the cards on the news were his. My adjuster noticed a binder of cards (that I had tossed back), and asked "oh, might it be those?" "Yes, of course," the gentleman lied. So, I just sat there quietly, not at all caring about those worthless cards, and really wanting the guy to go away. So, he takes the binder of slightly damp, worthless to start with cards, and heads on his way. After he was out of earshot, I pointed out to the adjuster and my wife that those were my cards; I just didn't care anything about them. This distracted the adjuster for the rest of the time that we met with him. Eventually, he told the police about it. Looters try to be tricky. I just feel like I got a funny story out of it. (And apparently a little bit down the block he realized they were worthless and discarded them from what the adjuster said; he was watching him the whole time.)
DVD'sSo, this is a weird one for me. I guess for some reason, DVD's have take up the symbol of "nice to have, but I don't need" in my mind. So many people have given me so much in the way of money, and I'm not really sure what all I'm going to wind up needing. One thing that I did need was a gigantic DVD wallet (we actually bought two that were at least 250 discs each). We had tons of DVD's between movies, TV shows, and wrestling (yes, that's right - I've watched it since I was a kid), and their cases were all pretty messed up (or they were in our 400-disc changer that was also fairly slaughtered... how do small twigs get in that, anyway? I could've sworn there was a clear plastic piece blocking that opening at some point.) Anyway, I think that when I buy DVD's for myself again, that will be a sign that I feel like life is becoming normal again. Most of the ones I had I bought a long time ago, but right now I would feel guilty if I were to buy any new ones. After all, so many people gave me money, and I feel like that is all for the necessities of food, water, and clothing. And so anything outside of those I feel guilty about spending money on.
It's Just Stuff"It's just stuff, right?" That's something that my wife has asked me a lot, and which I think I've handled a little bit better than she has (granted, she lost much more sentimental things than I did - family heirlooms, favorite pictures, etc, whereas most everything that I lost can be replaced at the store. More than anything, however, this tornado has helped us to clear out lost of things that we didn't really need - many things we had even debated getting rid of. In our culture, there often seems to be a pressure of having the most things. It is fairly nice to not have stuff for a while. Granted, this is a two-edged sword. It's really nice to not have stuff, because that allows you the freedom to move around, do whatever, and never worry about if you are going to be robbed or anything else. Of course, it's also fun to use stuff. If nobody owned board games, then I couldn't play them. Overall, however, I think that we'll be ok. In fact, once we get through all of this, I think that I'm going to frame the picture on the right. I really like the picture. It is really neat to me; the house completely destroyed to the foundation, but with the office chair sitting in the middle (yes, it was probably posed that way; no, it is not my house).
UncertaintyOne of the main things that we are dealing with now is the uncertainty of where to go from here. It will be very difficult to find a place to rent in Joplin because so many other people's homes were also destroyed (I think that this is one of the things that sets what happened here so much from normal loss of a home from something like fire), and so we're not really sure where we are going to go. At least for now, we intend to try to find a furnished apartment that is somewhat close to Joplin (I will eventually have to go back to work), and then we will decide where to go from there.
A Face to a TragedyI remember Katrina. I remember Haiti. I remember Japan. I remember many, many other tragedies. However, with all of them, it was a feeling like, "yeah, that's horrible, but what can I do? I don't know anybody there, and I don't know how I could help." I really think that people are very generous. I believe that I have been a real face to the tragedy in Joplin for a lot of people outside of the city. Because I've been able to provide a face for people, they have truly felt like they could give generously. Again, thank you for this. However, I am now realizing the big difference. When all of those other tragedies struck, it was horrible. I saw all the images, and heard all of the numbers. But then it stopped being on the news. And I would hear things later about these areas and I would think "oh yeah, I forgot about that." Now, I'm on the opposite side; the stories of Joplin are not on the national news as much... but it will be a long time before life is normal in Joplin again. I have posted this in many places already, but again, here are ways that you can help:
- Donate to the Red Cross and mark it for Joplin
- Donate to College Heights Christian Church here and mark it "The Storm"
- Send toys, games, clothes, etc to:
4311 E. Newman Rd
Joplin, MO 64801
- Send games to (these will go to me, to the FLGS's that are providing lots of support in many, many ways - I'm actually borrowing an Internet connection at one of them now to type this up, and then to the church):
c/o Changing Hands Book Shoppe
528 S Virginia Ave
Joplin, MO 64801
Always TiredI'm an 8-hour per night sleeper. Always have been. I was as a kid, through college, and even as a professional. That doesn't really happen now. Everything that I do seems to take a lot longer than expected, and so I don't wind up getting to bed until 1-2 AM, and then the day starts back up by 8-9 most times. And, whereas I've always loved the weekend, I'm currently viewing them as inconvenient. After all, I can't go to the bank, get my DSL service canceled, and several other things because it's the weekend. So I'm trying to use this time to relax. It's only going somewhat well.
Next StepsWell, I had lots of other thoughts to share with you, but many of them have slipped out of my mind in the time between when I have had a reliable Internet connection. Oh well. From here, we need to get the insurance money and put it in the bank, either decide to rebuild or pay off the mortgage (we're not even sure if we are in some way forced to rebuild). We also need to find a place to live. And buy clothes, and a new car. And, in the great eventual, I will go back to work. And once we decide where we are going to live, I think that my wife will also try to find a job.
Thanks for your support! I hope that it was an interesting read. I had another section about people I've met, but I think I somehow deleted it. I might re-write that later.