A grassroots community organization that had only secured its current location about six months before the May 22nd tornado continues to provide assistance to the community.
Building Community Bridges is located just blocks away from the tornado's path. BCB volunteer Roger Mitchell describes how the organization started lending a helping hand, almost immediately.
"After the storm, I went out to my house to check on it, and then as I was coming through here, I could see all the devastation so the first thing I did was come to the BCB building and check on it. At that time, I saw a lot of people just literally walking up and down the street. I watched as the JC Fire Department was going door to door to check on individuals."
Mitchell credits BCB's quick response to discussions the group had just a few months prior to the tornado.
"Because we placed the building right here into the community, you can never anticipate whatever happens. But we had talked about what actions we would put in place if it did. I think that's one of the things that helped us out during that, is we knew what type of action plan we'd go through."
Mitchell says they're still assisting those in need, providing food and clothing. But he says BCB, a relatively new group, is also struggling to take care of itself, often providing items for the community out of the volunteer's pockets.
Prior to the storm, the group had scheduled a number of fundraisers but they were immediately cancelled once BCB realized its community needed them more than ever. But putting the focus on the community, and abandoning their own needs at times, has caused a financial strain the group is still feeling today.
"Its been kind of a struggle. Like right now, we're in the process of trying to get a light bill paid because we got off track with a lot of fundraisers. So we're trying to get that taken care of but we're still going to be here for the community."
If you'd like to make a contribution to BCB, you can contact them via their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BuildingCommunityBridges573/ or stop by their location at 213 E. Ashley Street.