Members Attending (14): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Roberto Martinez, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Ron Annis, A.J. Amato.
Guests (3): Jack Faddegon, Nancy Faddegon, Monika Annis.
PROGRAM: “A ShelterBox Update”
Murray Forth introduced Jack and Nancy Faddegon, the owners of Faddegon’s Nursery in Latham and the coordinators of District 7190’s ShelterBox efforts since 2007.
Jack noted that he didn’t have to go into the rudiments of how ShelterBox works because Southern Rensselaer County has long been a strong financial supporter of the effort and obviously knows a lot about it. Instead, he said he and Nancy would concentrate on updates and modifications in equipment distributed, some of the current efforts, and other information about the program.
ShelterBox, which says “Our mission 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,” was started as an unofficial program by Rotarians in England in 2000. In 2012, it became Rotary International’s first “project partner.” Thus, it has grown from one club’s adopted project to become the largest Rotary cub project in the 100+ year history of the organization.
As part of their presentation, Jack and Nancy showed a short video of the first-ever delivery of ShelterBoxes to Russia. There, Rotarians were much involved in delivering the boxes with their own cars and trucks. The video also showed deliveries of relief aid to refugees from ISIS terrorism on the Syria-Jordan border, again with assistance and guidance from a local Rotary club.
They displayed what is included in each box, noting that equipment is designed to last at least six months although in practice they have lasted for years. In some areas, such as earthquake-devastated Haiti, the 10-person tents that are an essential part of each ShelterBox were used for as long as three years.
The contents of the boxes are sometimes tailored to particular geography, weather, and even customs. An example of the latter is the replacement of sleeping bags with blankets in some Middle Eastern spots because the sleeping bags looked too much like body bags and people would not use them.
Essentially, a ShelterBox contains the tent, a cook stove, ground sheets and blankets, water purification devices, basic tools, activity packs for children whose schools were destroyed, mosquito netting or scarves and mittens as the situation requires, and “Lumin Aid,” a solar-powered light in a soft pouch. The boxes are stored in eight distribution points around the world for quick response, allowing ShelterBox to often be the first to respond to a disaster.
Because Rotary is an NGO (non government organization), no national symbols are on the boxes, only the Rotary logo. Total weight of each box is limited to 120 pounds because of shipping restrictions and portability needs. Part of the $1,000 cost of each box pays for shipping, but the actual delivery, training, and work is done by unpaid Rotary volunteers.
The Faddegons announced a new effort in District 7190, that of awarding “ShelterBox Hero” pennants to clubs that contribute $3,000 or more each year. They presented the first such pennant to our club, which just delivered $5,000 to the program. (For the record, SRC received a similar pennant from ShelterBox’s national coordinator in January 2015 during the “Rotary Day at the United Nations.”)
They also announced that ShelterBox is broadening its volunteer program to include a “Rotary Club Liaison.” That person will receive box deployment updates and have access to pertinent relief information to share with club members. Bill Dowd was appointed our club’s liaison by general club agreement.
Here’s a look inside a typical ShelterBox. Click on the image to enlarge it.
• HEALTH UPDATES — Roberto Martinez reported that Jim Leyhane is recuperating nicely after cardiac surgery, and that club members have been providing dinners for him and members of his family who are keeping him company. He suggested anyone scheduled to provide meals call Jim on his cellphone the night before or morning-of to check on his daily status and needs. … He also reported that Stewart Wagner’s wife, Lois, is in Albany Medical Center and is expected to spend several more days there.
• INDOOR GOLF RESULTS — Murray Forth reported that our latest indoor simulator golf tournament at Burden Lake Country Club
netted $2,200 dollars for the club treasury. He thanked all who volunteered, played, and sponsored, and he received the thanks of the members present for his ongoing work organizing the tournaments.
• ROTARY HOME COOKING SERIES — The next event in the member-hosted series will be held this Saturday at Pat Bailey’s residence. It’s a sellout. After that, Bill and April Dowd will host a dinner on April 16. They have one seat remaining.
• NEW MEMBER NETWORKING — Roberto and Jim will co-host a mixer at Roberto’s residence on Saturday, April 23, for our newest members (plus spouses or significant others) to mix with veteran members (plus spouses or significant others). Since most of the new members attend only our monthly breakfast meetings, this event will provide an opportunity to get better acquainted. Each member is asked to bring an hors d’oeuvres. Drinks, etc., will be provided.
• RONALD McDONALD HOUSE COOKING — Debbie Rodriguez still is recruiting volunteers to cook two meals at the Ronald McDonald House complex in Albany — a breakfast on Saturday, April 2, and a dinner on Thursday, May 12. If interested in helping out, contact Debbie ASAP.
• EASTER BASKETS FOR CATE’S KIDS — Bill Dowd reported that our support of Circles of Mercy’s annual drive to provide baskets for needy children ages 2 to 12 resulted in an increase in baskets of 150%, from 20 last year to 50 this year. An extra-strong effort by students and faculty at John Sawchuk’s Columbia High School helped pad the number. Bill noted that all three venues assembling baskets — CHS, Len Leonidas’s Cub Scouts, and Shannon Romanowski’s Greenbush YMCA — utilized kids helping kids, “something we hope will instill in them a spirit of giving they can carry throughout their lives.”
• SHREDDING DAY / YOUTH EXCHANGE — A.J. Amato sponsors an annual document-shredding day for members of the community at his East Greenbush office. While it has been a free event, he said this year he will ask for a small donation from participants in the April 30 event that will go to our club’s Youth Exchange program. A.J., who is our club’s Youth Exchange Officer, also said he has been assured by Maple Hill High School officials that there will be no problem lining up host families for our upcoming exchange student(s).
• MAPLE HILL VISIT — Terry arrived late because he had been making a presentation about our club to the Schodack Central School District Board of Education. Her said many people in that district are aware and supportive of our efforts, which include scholarships, RYLA training, and many other efforts over the years.
• EVENTS SCHEDULE — Debbie Rodriguez reported that the District 7190 Grants Training Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, April 9, at Skidmore College. A club needs at least two people to participate each year to be eligible for grant applications. … The Blue Star Mothers’ annual Blue Jeans Ball also is scheduled for April 9, and Debbie is trying to get enough people to attend to purchase a table. … The 2nd annual Business Expo run by the Capital Region Rotary Club will be held on Tuesday, April 5, at the Radisson Hotel on Wolf Road in Colonie. Our club will have a table there, and Terry invited the Faddegons to share it as a way of publicizing ShelterBox.
NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at Quigley’s. Maple Hill High School students we have sponsored in the RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) program this year will share their experiences with us.