Posted on Sep 01, 2020
Rotary Club of Needham Newsletter September 1st, 2020
Speaker: Bill Tobin (photo below), Rotary Relations Manager, ShelterBox
ShelterBox is an international disaster relief agency that provides emergency shelter and building tools to families displaced by disaster or conflict. ShelterBox was founded 20 years ago by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard in England. It became Rotary's project partner in disaster relief in 2012, a role that it retains today. The Rotary Club of Needham has supported ShelterBox for the past twelve years. In addition to financial support, about 1000 Rotary members are involved in Shelter Box as volunteers, staff or response team members. Local Rotary clubs provide valuable, practical advice at the disaster sites: 90% of ShelterBox responses have been assisted by Rotary. Of the organization's $8.6mm of income in 2019, 13% was contributed from Rotary Clubs with the balance from: individuals (59%), foundations (24%), and corporations (2%).
In 2019, ShelterBox provided shelter to 145,000 families displaced by 11 disasters or conflicts in 9 countries, including: a cyclone in Malawi, flooding in Paraguay and Bangladesh, an earthquake and a typhoon in the Philippines and drought in Somaliland. ShelterBox helped those displaced by conflict in Ethiopia, Cameroon, Nigeria and Syria. Spending of $8.5mm in 2019 went to: program grants (81%) with the balance spent on administration and fundraising. That efficiency earned ShelterBox a four star (top) rating from Charity Navigator.
ShelterBox rose to prominence with its first large-scale disaster response: the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, which displaced 20,000 families. Its largest response to date was the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which displaced 30,000 families. The civil war in Syria has elicited their longest deployment, helping 60,000 displaced families since 2012 to present. The largest US deployment was Hurricane Harvey in Texas in 2017, which displaced about 10,000 families. The overall size of the need for emergency shelter: 104mm people were displaced by disasters or conflict in 2019. Adding to their vulnerability, about 75% of displaced persons are women and children.
Each green shelter box is designed to hold emergency shelter and essential, basic household supplies that create the framework for everyday life. Each box contains a family sized tent that protects people from the elements and provides a safe space for people to start to recover from physical and emotional trauma. The boxes also hold a cooking set, a water carrier and filtration equipment, blankets, a solar light and school supplies. Shelter Kits contain hand tools (hammer, pliers, saw, hoe and shovel) to rebuild. Each box costs about $1000 per family. 
Alex Goodale of Needham High School also addressed us to discuss her efforts to raise funds for ShelterBox. She leads the high school's ShelterBox Club, which organized a scavenger hunt, the "Stock the Box Challenge". For a $20 contribution participants received 15-20 clues and a chance at a bag of prizes. Their club raised $1700 for ShelterBox! 
To donate or to volunteer, go to ShelterBox's website: You'll be helping in a good cause: ShelterBox was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in both 2018 and 2019.