It’s been about three months since NetEnrich announced its intent to donate 5% of new revenue generated by Ingram Micro VTN members to support the staggering rebuilding needs of residents in Joplin, MO., the site of a rare Class 5 tornado that left an enormous scar across that city on May 22, 2011. The unprecedented storm killed 162 people and caused catastrophic devastation, including millions in damage and thousands of homes destroyed. Our goal when we announced this incentive program was — and remains — raising enough money to offset the cost of building a Habitat for Humanity home in Joplin.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see the Joplin devastation firsthand, hosted by Jane Cage, COO of Heartland Technologies Solutions (HTS), who is both a VTN member and chair of the Joplin Citizens Advisory Recovery Team. What I observed can only be described as staggering. Seeing the devastation firsthand, you quickly realize these folks can’t do it alone. As I tried to put myself in the shoes of Joplin residents — tried to imagine what it would have been like to emerge from the wreckage of that storm to face a future of uncertainty and significant difficulty— my first thought was how overwhelmed they must have been and continue to be.
“It can become overpowering,” Jane admitted to me. “There are days where you accomplish so much, and days where it feels like you are never going to make any progress. But you have to keep going. You find a place to start, go after it in bite-size chunks, and then one day you realize how far we’ve come.”
In fact, nearly a year after the twister hit, the amount of labor that has gone into cleaning up the debris and the damage is incredible. Unfortunately, even more astonishing is the amount of work remaining. The city continues to battle its way toward recovery, struggling to find enough resources to meet the needs of its population. I was awed by the incredible work ethic and cooperation I saw reflected in the efforts to date, and by the united focus around the ongoing planning and fundraising. The coordination, cooperation, and lack of personal agenda that characterizes the efforts by so many in Joplin left me inspired.
Obviously, the biggest need remains rebuilding homes; but in all honesty, the city and its valiant residents remain in need across the board. They simply don’t have enough of anything. I think most of us can relate to the news when a tornado hits and you see the damage on TV, but I really never grasped the long-term consequences of such a storm until I saw it firsthand. Until you’ve seen a disaster of this magnitude, you don’t think about what happens in a community trying to keep families afloat when they have no home, no job, no school — and that loss stretches on for years.
My request is very simple and straightforward: Any VTN members who are serious about growing and scaling their managed services business and who are tired of tools and tool hopping, please talk to NetEnrich about how we can help change the way you service your clients. If you are considering adding remote IT operations and infrastructure management services, please consider engaging with us before March 31; we would like to be able to make a significant impact toward building a home in Joplin before the summer building season. NetEnrich will also be sending members of our executive team to Joplin — at a time and place determined by Jane and her rebuilding committee — to lend what we can to the effort and try to make a difference. Bite-sized chunks lead to significant progress.