Category Archives: awareness

Honoring the 1-year anniversary, and moving forward

Joplin ExpatsTornado season has approached the Joplin region, and therefore, so is the first anniversary of the storm that changed Joplin and its people forever.

As the storm warnings and tornado damage have already begun across the Midwest and South, The Joplin Expats are proud to announce we will be honoring this anniversary, the storm victims and volunteers by helping prepare Joplin for a future of security, comfort and growth.

The Joplin Expats will be spending the entire summer raising money for storm shelters in Joplin.

If you are an Expat, local Joplinite, or a friend of Joplin’s and would like help raising funds for Joplin storm shelters, email us at

In the meantime, check out our first program (official announcement coming

Cycle for Joplin

Cycle for Joplin

later today):

The Woman Behind the Music: Tony Lucca’s Joplin Expat Wife

Rachel Amayo: Tony Lucca's Joplin Expat Wife

Rachel Amayo: Tony Lucca's Joplin Expat Wife

Tonight’s episode of The Voice has quite a deep Joplin connection. Behind the infamous Tony Lucca, who even has the love of his Mouseketeer cohort Justin Timberlake, is a supportive wife who’s been inspiring him for the most exciting years of his growing career. He’s gone from Britney Spears’ grade school crush to a Joplin Expats’ lifelong love. Rachel Amayo, whose family owns and runs Casa Montez, is the woman behind Tony.

Rachel was kind enough to make time for an exclusive, quick Q&A with The Joplin Expats, even during these busy few months of her family’s newfound celebrity lifestyle.

Q: Give us a quick timeline of your  life since you left Joplin, and what circumstances took you away.

A: I left Joplin in the Spring of 2000, all in the name of change really.   I moved to New York with a friend, sharing a Brooklyn flat with a group of fellow Joplinites for a few months before moving to Los Angeles. I lived right in the middle of Hollywood for 12 years. This past July we decided to relocate to Michigan to be closer to (Tony’s) family.

Q: How often have you been back to, or spoken to family and friends in Joplin?

A: I try to make it back home at least 2-3 times a year. Our kids love spending time in Joplin, as do we.

Q: Where were you, what were you doing, and what was your reaction when the tornado hit Joplin?

A: I was at home (in LA) getting dinner started and helping my son with his homework when I noticed I had a missed call from my parents, within 3 minutes my phone was ringing  again, I was hearing “Rachel!  We’ve been  hit!  Joplin got hit by a major tornado just a few minutes ago… Everyone in our family is accounted for… But it’s bad. Very very bad… Home Depot is gone. Walmart is gone…” I fell to my knees right there in the middle of the kitchen, flooded by emotion for all of Joplin.  The next few hours were pretty quiet, most phone lines were down.

Q: What do you remember from your time in Joplin, and how do you think it influenced you?

A: I think more than anything, Joplin afforded me a strong sense of belonging… Friends, family and co-workers I surrounded myself with all had a wealth of love and support to share, with open arms.  I believe the feeling that imparted was the foundation of my strength, my character. Wow, that poured out. Like I said, I’ve been hyper sensitive to my emotional side lately.😉

Q: How has your life changed today, after this latest opportunity of Tony’s?

A: Life has been wonderfully busy. What a whirlwind!  After Tony’s blind audition aired, we were inundated with texts, emails, phone calls… A lot of love and support out there.  It has been quite the emotional ride… So truly grateful and proud of all the love we have been receiving from friends and family, and even strangers.

Q: Has Tony, your son, or any of their family been to Joplin? And if so, what have they done/liked/disliked?

A: We came through Joplin on our way to Michigan last July.  Tony and Liam actually volunteered with my brother cooking and passing out food.  Liam is very much a bleeding heart, especially for his age, so having the opportunity to be hands on in helping after the tornado filled the ache he was feeling for all the disaster he was seeing.

We actually just left Joplin in March, my parents watched the kids for us so I could travel with Tony to a few shows.  I think every trip to Joplin starts with Casa for dinner and ends with Casa for dinner. :)  Still can’t get enough of it.

Lady Antebellum Prom Contest

The Joplin Expats, along with some help from Melissa Blayton and the Joplin Prom Project, put together a submission video for the Lady Antebellum Own The Prom Night contest. Thanks to everyone that submitted and participated, we think the video turned out great and shows great Joplin pride.



We are hoping to win the contest to have Lady A not only come to Joplin for a prom, but create a community prom event for all the students in the area. Hopefully if we all watch and share the video we an help bring the super stars to Joplin to help out whole community Own The Night!


Why today matters: an introduction to Joplin’s bond issue

Joplin Schools Bond

Joplin Schools Bond

Today’s seemingly obscure date may not yet have much meaning to you.

But if you or your family, or even your heart or your mind are in Joplin, today, March 7th, 2012 is an extremely important date in Joplin’s history. Today is the last day to officially register as a voter.

Why does this matter now? Why should you nudge the Joplin citizen in your life to swing by an official voter registration station?

Because in just a few weeks, registered voters have a huge decision to make. A $62 Million, city-defining decision to make: do you approve a tax increase to rebuild the Joplin school system into a state-of-the-art, national example of education?

Yes or No? And only registered voters can decide.

For those of you unfamiliar with the bond issue, here is a quick introduction, assuming you are already aware of the current, post-tornado state of our Joplin schools.

  • The schools are asking for the $62 million bond for the entire school system.
  • The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce is in favor of the bond.
  • Joplin’s citizens currently pay a lower property tax rate than virtually all area school systems.
  • Here is a breakdown of funds received and expected by the school if the bond is approved.
  • Joplin’s citizens approved a similar bond 5 years ago.
  • If this bond is not approved, Joplin schools may lose FEMA funding, but will bring a similar ballot back to the citizens.

You can find documents detailing more here:

So spread the word to those in Joplin. Today may be their last chance to have a say!


Help Us Get Lady Antebellum To Play A Show In Joplin!

Country superstars Lady Antebellum are running a contest beginning TODAY for the band to play a prom for a winning video submission about why they should pick you/your town.

Joplin Expats wants to encourage all students, alumni, supporters and expatriates to submit a photo of themselves holding up a sign with one of the following words:

Lady Antebellum please come play a prom for all of Joplin Missouri Our whole community needs you now so we can once again Own The Night

The Expats will take photo submissions at and on our Facebook page. We will be asking for a community prom that could be free for all Joplin students and sell tickets to non-students to raise money for ongoing relief efforts. We will be taking all of the submissions and editing them into a video showing recovery efforts, students, and what still needs to be done for the official contest. Imagine how much we could raise for relief efforts with an event like this!

Please take a moment out of your day to snap a quick photo and send it to us or post it on our Facebook page. We need all entries in by March 10th to ensure we have time to edit a winning video together!


Thank You to All Our Holiday Donors

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Thank You! From your fellow Joplin Expats, Joplin’s Boys & Girls Club, and most importantly, the families. And although these proud families wanted to remain anonymous, we received this heart-wrenching note from The Boys & Girls Club, on their behalf: Both … Continue reading

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Remember Joplin this Holiday!

The Holidays are here and some families in Joplin need our help! 

Reconstructing one’s life takes time, an enormous amount of energy and help from others.  Joplin received much kindness immediately after the tornado and the families were incredibly thankful. Six months later, however, a great deal of work and healing remain.

We are calling all Expats and Friends of Joplin to Step Up for their Community!

What was your favorite toy as a child?  Did you carefully stage an army led by G.I. Joe to storm the toy box?  Was your Barbie always elegantly dressed and styled, ready for her date with Ken?

There are many Joplin children who have lost their beloved toys – they were swept away in the wind or buried under the rubble of the children’s houses when an F5 tornado ravaged the city of Joplin on May 22.

This holiday season is difficult for most families in the Joplin area, as so many still do not have a permanent place to live or are in the midst of recovering from the trauma of that day.  They continue to put the pieces of their lives back together, finding new jobs, replacing necessities and finding a new definition of a normal day.

Everywhere they look, though, they are reminded of the devastation, the lost lives, the fear.  Even though the people of Joplin have shown such a strong sense of community and demonstrated countless selfless acts to help others, they can’t escape the sights of flattened neighborhoods or broken trees.  That stress takes a toll on a person.

Joplin Expats wants to help ease the stress for a few Joplin families this Christmas.  Our partnering organizations – Boys & Girls ClubBright Futures Joplin and the Lafayette House – are helping us choose the most deserving families in need, who will have no other support.   

Let’s make Christmas 2011

one they will never forget!

With  YOUR help, we will fulfill some of the children’s Christmas wishes and provide a warm meal for the family to share.  Every family deserves a time to relax, celebrate each other and simply be together.  That chance means even more to families in Joplin this year, as they have been forced to consider the alternatives.

Your contribution will help us provide up to $500 for each family to purchase toys and provide a warm meal for the family to share.  100% of your donation (less transaction fees) will go directly to these efforts for the chosen families.

Donate now!

Tell others about the difference

they can make this holiday!

share this in e-maiL, ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER

The More Money We Raise = The More Families We Help

Some of the children’s wishes to santa include:

  • Winter coat and clothes
  • Shoes
  • Star Wars toys
  • Legos
  • Transformers
  • Bop It game
  • Makeup
  • Books in the Hunger Games series
  • CD / MP3 Player
  • Bey Blade Metal Fusion Battle Top
    Yes, some of today’s favorite toys may require more batteries than when we were children, but they are prized possessions, nonetheless!

your gift will truly put a smile on a child’s face and will certainly warm a family’s home – wherever it may be right now!

Donate to Joplin!