Spirits haunt the JAWC luncheon
October 30, 2011

Diane Humphrey, a member of the Dream Theatre Company, says she's "gifted."

Under new management and ownership, the John Wise Home on South Byers in Joplin was the setting for the October luncheon of the Joplin Area Welcome Club (JAWC). The featured speaker was Diane Humphrey, a performer and guide for the Historic Ghost Tours that have gained popularity in the Joplin area.

Thespian experience is not the only contribution to Humphrey's talent for detecting ghosts. Humphrey said she had lost name recognition after she was a victim of the May 22 tornado. When, huddled under a staircase at the Hampshire Terrace Apartments near Dillon's, she was hit by falling debris across the left side of her body. But she said she has not lost the ability to feel energies surrounding her, including what she describes as "benevolent angels." Surrounded by her own "bubble of light," Humphey's advice is to say a prayer whenever anyone feels the presence of malevolent spirits.

Earl Arnall, a member of the Dream Theatre Company, distributes "Historic Ghost Tours" brochures to JAWC members.

This sense of the spiritual world was evident during the aftermath of the tornado, Humphrey suggested. She called to mind the mysterious large black man who helped pull people out of the rubble, the spirit that helped guide people to the hospital within minutes and how diverse children impacted by the storm talked about how pretty the butterflies were that lit on their shoulders to lessen their fear. A butterfly is memorialized in the mural on Main Street.

Joplin's notorious past is woven into the script that the Dream Theatre troupe uses to entertain those joining the tours. "The walking dead get more creepy as the night progresses," Humphrey was quick to warn.

Humphrey, who stood in for Dream Theatre founder Becki Gooch, said that the historic ghost tours in downtown Joplin had become so well-attended that they had been expanded. Their current schedule includes tours at 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., weather permitting on Thursdays through Saturdays. Tickets are $10 per person and may be purchased at the time of the event at the Joseph Newman Innovation Center on Pennsylvania and 4th Street, west of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. For more information send an e-mail here or phone (417) 439-2420.

More about the Joplin Area Welcome Club

With 75 members as of September 2011, the JAWC welcomes newcomers to the Joplin area within the past five years. Membership is unlimited as long as dues are kept current. In addition to an all club luncheon, other activities include but are not limited to cribbage, bridge, pinochle and canasta; bunco; hand and foot game; a book club; get acquainted coffee and out to lunch bunch. In addition to providing an opportunity for members to become acquainted with others in the community, the club objective is to provide assistance to the community through charitable and humanitarian projects.

During the luncheon, JAWC's treasurer Kathy Klein awarded $400 to the Joplin Schools Snack Pack Program. Accepting a check were Gayle McAllister, R-8 Foundation president and Lynn England Hempen, R-8 Foundation secretary.

The club also awarded $400 to the Children's Haven that, according to Stephanie Theis, is dealing with a 422% increase in children's length of stay since working with FEMA after the May 22 tornado. She is thankful for any donations that help the center keep up, especially since they will be needing an additional facility. Marriages are going sour and child abuse in on the increase, FEMA has reported.

For JAWC membership information contact Jennifer Davis at (415) 235-1258.

The photos that appear below show JAWC members, including president Cate Loch displaying the caps representative of contributors to Restore Joplin; Loch's hand is in several fund-raising or rehabilitative efforts. Click on any photo to start a slideshow.

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