TU story features local ShelterBox efforts

Photo by Lori Van Buren/Times Union

Several months ago, Jack and Nancy Faddegon spoke to our club about their efforts for the ShelterBox relief assistance project. This story is reprinted by courtesy of the Times Union, which originally published it on March 19, 2011.

By PAUL GRONDAHL
Staff Writer

COLONIE — A local couple is spearheading regional efforts to raise money to provide emergency shelter and humanitarian relief to victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Jack and Nancy Faddegon, principals in the fourth-generation, family-run Faddegon’s Nursery in Latham, are leading fundraising efforts in the Capital Region to purchase self-contained emergency boxes through ShelterBox USA.

The large, durable plastic containers weigh 120 pounds and are tightly packed with a large waterproof dome tent, sleeping gear, a wood-burning stove for warmth and cooking, pots and pans, utensils, a water purifier, tools and other essential equipment to help people survive after a natural disaster.

The carefully selected set of rugged survival items are intended to help 10 people survive for up to six months. ShelterBox is a Global Rotary Club project founded in 2001 by Tom Henderson, a Rotarian and former Royal Navy search and rescue diver who lives in England. The efforts of ShelterBox are meant to supplement other humanitarian aid groups who provide food and water to areas affected by natural disasters.

In addition, local Japanese restaurants, the Japanese Cultural Association at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and workers of Tokyon Electron’s office at the nanotech facility at University at Albany are raising money to help victims in Japan.

Despite travel difficulties and concerns about possible radiation contamination, more than 600 ShelterBoxes transported by volunteers had reached the hardest-hit regions of Japan by Friday. Last Friday, a week ago, an 9.0-magnitude earthquake set off a destructive tsunami that caused large-scale devastation. The country’s death toll is nearing 7,000 and 10,000 additional people have been reported missing, according to reports. An estimated 400,000 people were left homeless and the destruction of tens of thousands of homes and businesses and infrastructure will total tens of billions of dollars and require years of rebuilding.

“ShelterBox is such a common-sense way to help those who have lost everything and it also gives them back some dignity,” said Nancy Faddegon.

A ShelterBox costs $1,000 to outfit, ship and deliver directly to devastated areas in northern Japan. Specially trained volunteer response teams bring the boxes to where they are needed and teach survivors how to set up the tent and use the items. Each box has a tracking number so donors can follow its journey to Japan. The names of donors or groups who sponsored each box are packed inside.

So far, the couple has fielded dozens of calls from individuals, schools, companies and a Boy Scout group who are planning to organize ShelterBox fundraisers. In addition, people have dropped off checks at their Route 7 nursery. So far, about $2,000, enough to purchase two ShelterBoxes, has been donated locally, but many area residents have made donations directly on the ShelterBox website.

“We like the personal touch of ShelterBox and the fact that people know that their donation got to where it is needed,” said Jack Faddegon, a former president of the Rotary Club in Latham. He and his wife got involved with ShelterBox four years ago and have helped raise money to send the emergency shelter shipments to survivors of earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and other natural disasters stretching from Indonesia to China to Haiti. The couple said they appreciate the relatively low administrative overhead of 10 to 15 percent at ShelterBox.

In the aftermath of Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake in January 2010, ShelterBox USA, a not-for-profit agency based in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and part of an international organization, sent more than 28,000 ShelterBoxes to the stricken Caribbean island nation. The group’s goal is to assist 50,000 families worldwide each year.

Other area groups are rallying to support Japan, as well.

The 22 stations of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio will hold a one-day fund drive for Japan relief in partnership with the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday.

“We cannot stand by and do nothing,” said WAMC President Alan Chartock. “We’ve heard from so many listeners who want to contribute but aren’t sure of the best way to do it. We can make it easy for them to help. We did it for Katrina, we did it for Haiti, and now we’ll do it for Japan.”

At RPI, students with the Japanese Cultural Association will make and sell sushi on Wednesday on campus and they’ll lead sushi-making lessons and create sympathy cards Thursday that they’ll send to Japan.

“We’re getting a lot of support for this,” said Angela Mac, president of the group, which has 10 active members among its 70-student club. She hopes next week’s events will attract additional interest among students willing to take action.

At Sushi Tei restaurant in Guilderland, owners are donating $1,000 to the victims in Japan. Patrons also left a couple hundred dollars in a donation box at the Western Avenue eatery. Two employees of the restaurant have relatives in the affected area and they survived, said Jackline Chen, an employee. “We thank everyone for being so generous and caring,” Chen said.

The 69 employees, including 21 Japanese expatriates, at Tokyo Electron’s technology center at the UAlbany nanotech complex are making donations through payroll deduction. The company’s American workforce has so far donated $45,000 to assist Tokyo Electron employees in need in the affected regions. They also made a global corporate donation of 500 million yen, worth about $6.2 million.

Also, checks are being accepted at the United Way of the Greater Capital Region in Albany, or donors can make a direct online donation through United Way Worldwide’s website.

“It was such a traumatic catastrophe in Japan that we’ll be focusing our efforts on assisting the long-term recovery that will be going on for many years to come,” said Kathy Pelham, CEO of the United Way of the Greater Capital Region.

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