Partnering with ShelterBox on relief deployments

Rotarian Liz Odell of the Rotary Club of Nailsworth in England shares about her involvement with ShelterBox over the past seven years. Liz has participated in 16 deployments with ShelterBox as a response team volunteer. Here’s her story:

Video courtesy of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland

Interested in getting involved with ShelterBox, Rotary’s partner for disaster relief? Read the Rotary-ShelterBox partnership fact sheet and contact for more information.

ShelterBox is a separate organization, independent of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.



Creating greater good in partnership with innovative change makers

By Ellina Kushnir, Rotary Service and Engagement staff

Noran Sanford, a licensed social worker, a man of faith, and a vested community member, is empowering a rural U.S. community to utilize overlooked resources and pioneer change from within. In 2000, Noran moved back to his hometown in rural North Carolina, USA, where he was stunned to find his childhood community continuing to face growing challenges.

North Carolina’s Scotland, Hoke, and Robeson counties compete for the state’s highest rates of unemployment, food insecurity, crime, and poverty. Yet, Noran knew that even the most challenged community houses a wealth of untapped resources and assets.

In partnership with universities, faith centers, state agencies, correctional facilities, businesses and corporations, community leaders, and vested organizations including the local Rotary club, Noran has created a model to transform closed prisons into skills training facilities and employment incubators specifically for troubled youth and returning military veterans.

Through his organization GrowingChange, Noran began connecting young people deep in the court system to the disenfranchisement of the communities they come from: by evoking the sense of shared struggle, paroled youth and community members rally around new opportunities. In his initial five-year clinical pilot, Noran saw a 92% success rate in helping youth who were headed to prison reverse their future.

Now young people serving probation terms are leading their community to reinvent a local symbol of the broken justice system, such as a decommissioned ‘work farm’ prison in Noran’s rural North Carolina. Today, religious leaders work side-by-side with homeless youth, university professors work with high school dropouts, returning veterans with troubled youth and state leaders with their rural constituents to directly address their own biases, change their behaviors, and develop a deeper sense of civic imagination and societal efficacy.

It is precisely Noran’s work with the returning veteran community that connected him with local Rotarian Paul Tate from the Rotary Club of Laurinburg. Paul first met Noran at their community church. As a retired U.S. veteran with extensive experience in international diplomacy, Paul became a strong supporter of Noran’s community empowerment approach. Today, Paul sits on GrowingChange’s Board of Directors and uses his professional skills to shape the organization’s strategy for engaging the local veteran community. Noran plans to soon offer veterans internship opportunities, and eventually create a hub for acquiring skills within the agriculture sector while simultaneously establishing an incubator for the creation of new jobs and fostering local entrepreneurs.

Inspired by Noran’s goal to break down social barriers, Paul worked with his club’s leaders to invite a group of former gang leaders to discuss the reasons youth join gangs, becoming disenfranchised members of their very own community. Had it not been for Noran and Paul, these two groups of community members would have likely never intersected. Intrigued by GrowingChange’s model, the Laurinburg club is exploring additional ways this site can be used to empower the community alongside instrumental local change leaders. GrowingChange is preparing to launch their initial capital campaign to transform their first site in Wagram, North Carolina. The model will then be given to other communities who are struggling to reuse old prisons, more than 25 in North Carolina alone.

Noran humbly credits the many different partners that have contributed to the success of his work. In 2016, Noran was selected as an Ashoka Fellow, joining a global network of social entrepreneur peers. Through a rigorous application and screening process, Ashoka finds, selects, and supports innovators like Noran and connects them to the resources and people that help their ideas thrive. Ashoka’s network currently consists of 3,300 Fellows in more than 80 countries. Very much like Rotarians, Ashoka Fellows are community leaders with a vested interest to work in partnership with the community to identify and leverage existing assets to address local challenges.

Inspired by Noran’s story and the partnerships he’s forging with Rotarians and other community leaders? Your club can also explore opportunities to partner with innovative social entrepreneurs in your local community. Ashoka Fellows can help you develop creative, innovative approaches to solving needs in the communities where you live and work. Search Ashoka’s network of Fellows and contact for an introduction to a local change maker.

Serving with ShelterBox in times of disaster

By Ellina Kushnir, RI Programs staff

Picture1When disaster strikes, our partner ShelterBox often works closely with Rotarians to evaluate local needs and devise a plan for immediate response. The Rotary family provides vital assistance to ShelterBox Response Teams by helping with disaster assessments, housing response team volunteers, and helping coordinate relief logistics. Over the past twelve years, Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Interactors have partnered with ShelterBox to help communities in dire need of assistance immediately following a disaster:

  • When the April 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, Rotaractors and Rotarians quickly connected with ShelterBox to assess damage and mobilize emergency relief teams. The Rotary family in Nepal and around the world has been instrumental in helping ShelterBox with logistics, transportation, housing Response Teams, and sponsoring emergency shelter tents and relief kits.
  • In December 2014, Malaysia was devastated by heavy flooding. A response team was deployed to the country after Rotaractor James Ong, a member of ShelterBox Malaysia, contacted ShelterBox for assistance. James was instrumental in arranging response logistics from greeting response team members at the airport to arranging transportation for the teams’ operations. James helped translate and interpret key information from Malay to English and assisted with box distributions in Pahang State. James and fellow Rotaractors worked with PDG Khoo Boo Khean to mobilize a District 3300-wide response coalition of Rotarians and Rotaractors to assist with the month-long deployment.
  • Last May, following flooding and landslides in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, ShelterBox Response Teams, alongside Rotarians and local agencies, provided vital aid to the most vulnerable communities in both countries.
  • In November 2013, the largest storm to make landfall struck the Philippines. Because local Rotary clubs members were able to quickly assess destruction severity, ShelterBox deployed a response team with relief equipment within 48 hours of the disaster. Rotarian Stephen Castillo from Cebu City, Philippines, helped ShelterBox with warehouse and logistics during the deployment.
Children in Syria use ShelterBox's SchoolBoxes to continue learning during relief efforts (courtesy of ShelterBox)
Children in Syria use ShelterBox’s SchoolBoxes to continue learning during relief efforts (courtesy of ShelterBox)

In addition to distributing transitional housing resources, ShelterBox also provides SchoolBoxes with educational materials to mitigate disruption in education as teachers continue working with students while communities are rebuilt. ShelterBox works with a variety of implementing partners and fellow relief organizations to ensure necessary aid including medical care, food assistance, and permanent housing is included in recovery initiatives:

  • Since conflict first broke out in Syria four years ago, more than 10 million people have been displaced with four million seeking refuge in other countries. ShelterBox is working with implementing partners including Hand in Hand for Syria to distribute needed aid, including shelter kits, tents, mosquito nets, water filters, water carriers, blankets, groundsheets, SchoolBoxes, and solar lamps.

The ShelterBox-RI Fact Sheet provides more information about local or international service opportunities with ShelterBox. Contact a ShelterBox international affiliate to start working together.

Bill Decker, a Rotary club past president and ShelterBox Response Team member, with children in the Philippines (image courtesy of Bill Decker).
Bill Decker, a Rotary club past president and ShelterBox Response Team member, with children in the Philippines (image courtesy of Bill Decker).










World Food Day 2014: Feeding the World. Caring for the Earth.

Rotary International and The Global FoodBanking Network Fight Hunger and Food Waste

Craig Nemitz visits fellow Rotarians in Taipei, Taiwan.
Craig Nemitz (left) visits fellow Rotarians in Taipei, Taiwan.

By: Craig A. Nemitz, Ph.D. (h.c.) Director of Field Services, The Global FoodBanking Network; Charter Member of the Channahon/Minooka Rotary Club, Illinois, USA

16 October, World Food Day, is a day for people and organizations to come together to create awareness, share ideas, educate others and simply get to work to fight hunger. This year, World Food Day spotlights the connection between hungry people, food waste and the environment. That’s something that we think about every day at The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN).

There are 805 million hungry people in this world and there is enough food to feed all of them. The sad truth is that 1/3 of all food produced for humans is lost or wasted. So, it never nourishes a hungry person. Instead, much of this food goes to landfill where it very quickly produces ozone-destroying methane gas. Food banking is a solution to the problems of hunger and food waste. Food banks rescue food before it goes to waste and distribute it to hungry people through a network of service organizations.

Rotary and GFN have been service partners for the past three years. As a long-time Rotarian and a longer-time food banker, I know that working together we can – and do – make a real difference globally and in local communities.

Many of you already support our mission of alleviating hunger and reducing food waste. Individual Rotarians and local clubs have made a real difference by helping food banks around the world, including food banks in the GFN network. Here are a few examples:

  1. Craig (right) visits and Manual Alejandro de la O, Executive Director of Banco de Alimentos El Salvador.
    Craig (right) visits and Manual Alejandro De La O, Executive Director of Banco de Alimentos El Salvador.

    Hong Kong: Members of the Rotary Club of Hong Kong participate in Feeding Hong Kong’s regular Bread Run. Volunteers collect unsold bread from bakeries and food stores and deliver it to charities that serve people in need.

  2. El Salvador: Rotarians from the Club Rotario San Salvador Noroeste in El Salvador provide leadership guidance to The Asociacion Civil Alimentos Solidarios, the country’s national food bank network. Several Rotarians serve on the food bank’s board of directors and all Club members have participated in fund and awareness raising events.
  3. Taiwan: I just returned from a trip to Taiwan and had the chance to talk about food banking to members of the Rotary Club in Taipei Dazhi. I was pleased to hear that the club, which is 40 members strong, has fully committed to supporting our member food bank, the Taiwan People’s Food Bank Association.

On this World Food Day, we at GFN and I as a fellow Rotarian, encourage all of you to help make the world a better place by supporting food banking. Together we will “Change Lives” and Light Up Rotary.

Please visit our website for more information and tools to help you get involved:

For more information about the Rotary-GFN partnership, read this one page overview and watch a recording of the Join the Global Fight Against Hunger and Malnutrition webinar.

World Food Day is 16 October. Participate in a Rotary Twitter Chat with leading foodbanking and anti-hunger organizations, including The Global FoodBanking Network. Sign on to Twitter from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Chicago time (UTC-5) and search for the hashtag #RotaryHunger