Area Rotarians gain global kudo for ShelterBox disaster relief efforts
Peninsula Daily News
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Jim Pickett of Sequim, Eric Zawilski of Puyallup Rotary South Hill club and Sequim ShelterBox Response Team members Tom Schaafsma and Scott Robinson make up the leading team in North America in 2009-10, having secured shelter and life-saving equipment for more than 361 families, ShelterBox USA said.
Pickett said he was surprised by the recognition but not that the Sequim Rotarians came through with thousands of dollars in donations in the past two years to support ShelterBox.
"At a Rotary Club meeting in January, shortly after the Haiti earthquake, my Sequim Sunrise Rotary Club in Sequim passed the hat to raise funds to sponsor boxes," Pickett said.
"We raised more than $18,000 that day and another $15,000 shortly after that. It was amazing."
With the help of this team, ShelterBox has become the largest Rotary Club project in the world and the only aid organization to immediately address the need for dignified shelter following a disaster.
Since its inception in 2000, ShelterBox, shelterboxusa.org, has provided shelter and survival necessities after more than 140 disasters in more than 70 countries.
Each $1,000 green box contains a family tent, means to purify water and cook food, tools and other essentials. The contents are tailored depending on the nature and location of the disaster.
ShelterBox Response Teams distribute boxes on the ground, working with local organizations, international aid agencies and Rotary clubs worldwide.
ShelterBox distributed aid to more than 250,000 people displaced after the Haitian earthquake in January.
Since then, ShelterBoxes have been delivered to people in 13 other disasters, including flooding in Pakistan and Brazil, earthquakes in Chile and Mexico and a volcano eruption in Guatemala.
Robinson returned three weeks ago returned from Guatemala, the site of mudslides and volcanic eruptions.
He said he helped other volunteers place 340 of 500 boxes.
"Since that time they've been experiencing some torrential rains. mudslides with more than 200 missing and thousands homeless," Robinson said.
In the past year, Robinson, who owns European Autowerks in Carlsborg, has visited disaster sites in Malawi, Tanzania, Haiti and Guatemala.
Schaafsma responded to the quake disaster in Haiti.
Pickett said he was lucky to have a supportive district and a hard-working team.
"When Scott or Tom get sent to places like Haiti or Guatemala, they bring back fantastic stories of what ShelterBox is doing in the field and gets the district even more pumped up," Pickett said.
Pickett and his team have long been among the top fundraisers for ShelterBox USA.
Pickett said he has visited 52 Rotary clubs in the state, as far away as Walla Walla.
By the end of June, Pickett said donations collected bought 206 boxes at $1,000 each on U.S. side of the border, with Canadian Rotarians buying 151 boxes.
Of those boxes, the Sequim club bought about 33.
Individual tax-deductible donations to ShelterBox USA can be made at shelterboxusa.org or via text message by sending shelter to 20222 for a one-time $10 donation.
For information, or to make a contribution by phone, phone 941-907-6036.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Reporter Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at email@example.com.
Last modified: September 08. 2010 11:57PM