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Rotary Happenings

March 31, 2014
Special to the Reporter ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

What a great speaker we had last week, what an inspiring speaker, Emily Sperling, president of ShelterBox USA. ShelterBox is one of the major relief organizations that respond after horrific natural disasters and humanitarian crisis hit countries around the globe. They respond by providing emergency shelter and vital supplies to support the stabilization of communities and its population struggling to survive and rebuild.

ShelterBox was founded in 2000 in the small town of Helston in Cornwall, United Kingdom. That same year, the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard adopted it as its millennium project. Rotary International has continued its support for ShelterBox ever since and 75 percent of all ShelterBox volunteers are Rotarians. The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club started their support of ShelterBox in its founding year 2002 and has donated $16,893 in the last seven years for the purchase of shelter boxes. It was with great pleasure and pride that club past-president, John Grey, presented an additional check for $3,000 from the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club to Sperling for ShelterBox USA, at this meeting.

Every year, millions of families around the world are made homeless because of natural disasters or political conflict. The figures Sperling gave were astounding. There are between 25 to 30 major natural disasters reported a year worldwide, the aftermath of each can find approximately 20,000 misplaced families needing help. Since 2002, ShelterBox USA and it's supporting partner, Rotary International, have responded with over 200 deployments of relief in 95 countries.

Article Photos

John Grey, a club past-president, handed a $3,000 check from the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club to Emily Sperling from ShelterBox USA. PHOTO PROVIDED.

Sperling's slide-show presentation demonstrated that the destruction caused by recent tsunamis, hurricanes, tournedos, floods, and earthquakes around the globe, and the need to provide shelter for the displaced population of these areas. One picture is worth a thousand words. The destruction and devastation is overwhelming.

"The mission of ShelterBox is to deliver humanitarian relief in the form of equipment and materials that bring shelter, warmth, and dignity to people affected by natural and other disasters worldwide."

How do they do this? ShelterBox has about 5,000 shelter boxes at the ready, stored in 20 locations globally, waiting on orders for immediate deployment. After a disaster is reported, a ShelterBox assessment team is put into action. Assessment in the form of: What is the situation on the ground, how many boxes will be needed, what customized equipment is needed, how will the shelter boxes be transported and how will they be distributed? Rotary volunteers play an important role in this phase. There are Rotary clubs in all areas of the world, if not in the exact location of the disaster, close by in the region. Rotarians are business leaders and have experience and knowledge of how to work with government officials and navigate through the permitting processes. They know local customs, the language, local geography, port regulations, ground transportation systems, and lack of. Cutting through the red tape is essential for immediate response.

Many of you have seen a ShelterBox tent and the supplies and equipment sent in a box at our Arts & Crafts Fair and have generously donated toward the purchase of one of the ShelterBoxes ($1,000 per unit). However, for those that don't know what a ShelterBox is, the box itself looks like a large size industrial plastic bin. Each box holds about 120-pounds of equipment and needed supplies: a tent that is designed to withstand extreme temperatures, high winds, and heavy rainfall. The tents have built-in mosquito screens, integral groundsheets, good ventilation, and internal privacy screens. Each tent can hold 12 people. ShelterBox provides a range of survival equipment, including thermal blankets, insulated ground sheets, treated mosquito nets, and water purification equipment. The box can include a wood burning or multi-fuel stove, pans, utensils, bowls, mugs, and water storage containers. In addition, a basic tool kit for rebuilding and repairing an ax, saw, hoe head, rope, pliers, hammer, and wire cutters.

For the children who have lost most, the ShelterBox provides children's packs with drawing books, crayons, and pens. In fact, in recent deployments, ShelterBox has been sending what they are calling a "Classroom in a Box," containing enough school and teacher supplies for a classroom of 50 students.

ShelterBox is also providing boxes to refugee camps in Syria and other refugee areas around the globe. You can find more information about ShelterBox on the internet at ShelterBox USA.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets at 7 a.m., every Friday morning at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club on Sanibel Island. Guests are always welcome.



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