WKU instructor, Phi Sigma Pi students spending fall break reconstructing Joplin

Tessa Duvall

After an EF-5 tornado ripped through Joplin, Mo., on May 22, David Serafini, a history instructor at WKU, wanted to do something about it.

A group consisting of Serafini, the advisor for WKU’s chapter of the Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, and seven members of the fraternity traveled to Joplin at the end of June to help with relief efforts.


“You can’t describe it. You just can’t,” Serafini said of what he saw in Joplin. “You make it in there and the first thing you want to do is cry.”

Now Serafini and about 15 students are ready to go back and spend their fall break assisting with reconstruction efforts in Joplin.

Serafini and the students in June volunteered through the organization Relief Spark by assisting with the deconstruction of damaged properties for homeowners without insurance.

This time, Serafini and the students will assist with reconstruction, Serafini said, adding that Relief Spark has committed to building 50 homes and is repairing a damaged elementary school.

While in Joplin, the members of Phi Sigma Pi plan on meeting with members of two other chapters from universities in Missouri.

Students who went to Joplin in June are looking forward to returning, and students who were not able to attend are eager to do their part, Serafini said.

In June, Serafini said he was especially touched by the story of Will Norton, a teenager who just graduated high school the day the tornado struck Joplin. Norton was killed in the storm, and his father was severely injured.

“The teacher and mentor in me came out,” Serafini said. “I just kept thinking, ‘This could be one of my freshmen in the fall. This could be one of my advisees in Phi Sigma Pi.’”