Couple recognized by ShelterBox
By Brenda Sullivan - ReminderNews
East Hartford - posted Wed., May. 1, 2013
It’s been almost eight years since Peter and Susan Klock of East Hartford wrote their first checks for what was then a small disaster relief group in the UK town of Cornwall known as Shelterbox International.
It was at an East Hartford Rotary Club meeting in 2005, during which member Frank Collins gave an inspiring presentation about this unusual organization, that the Klocks recognized an opportunity to make a dramatic difference in the lives of survivors of disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes and violent conflict.
“After we heard him speak, we immediately wrote checks,” said Peter Klock, who works in commercial real estate.
Soon, the husband and wife were involved much more directly with the ShelterBox USA organization based in Florida as representatives for this region, part of what’s now become a Rotary Club International partnership.
They bring a sample ShelterBox from one town to another – speaking to other Rotary clubs, churches, schools and other groups – to show people just what these boxes do for those who have lost everything.
Each ShelterBox, which weighs about 120 pounds, contains life-saving essentials such as a 10-person tent (with movable privacy partitions), constructed from specially woven fabric produced by a premier tent manufacturer. They are made to withstand extreme temperatures, high winds and heavy rainfall.
“The fabric is supposed to hold up for at least six months, but there are some still in use four years later,” Klock said.
Members of East Hartford High School’s Interact Club love the demonstrations, Klock said. The teens make donations in order to set up cardboard shelters around the ShelterBox tent and when community members bring them food, they also collect donations from those residents.
Each ShelterBox also contains a gravity-fed, micro-mesh water purification system (the LifeStraw) that, Klock said, can filter bacteria and viruses from as much as 20,000 liters of water.
Lack of clean drinking water is one of the most dangerous consequences of natural disasters. “If we don’t get aid to these people within 72 hours, people die,” Klock said.
Other essentials include thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, mosquito netting, a cooking stove and – to help children keep up their studies – backpacks with blackboard paint to apply to a wooden board or other surfaces and school supplies. There is some variation in box contents depending on the disaster and the part of the world where they are being shipped.
These boxes, shipped on palettes of 200, usually find their way to disaster response sites via a local Rotary Club. “There are Rotary Clubs in almost every country,” Klock said, but even where there aren’t any (such as North Korea) the organization will still get the supplies to those in need. They are also brought to disaster sites in the U.S.
The shipments are accompanied by a Shelterbox Response Team, volunteers who receive extensive training living in conditions that mimic a disaster area, Klock said.
Klock gives kudos to the organization’s founder, Tom Henderson, who began this ambitious endeavor in 2000 out of his Rotary Club – Helston Lizard – in Cornwall, England.
“In 2005, their goal was to ship 1,000 boxes. After the tsunami (in Sumatra, Indonesia) that year, they shipped 14,000 boxes,” Klock said and added, “It’s just people like us, working around the country and around the world.”
Peter and Susan Klock were recently recognized by ShelterBox USA for their fundraising efforts for the organization over the last year.
In a press release announcing the honor, the organizers said, “Among nearly 400 ShelterBox USA volunteers, the Klocks’ fundraising efforts enabled the organization to respond to more than 30 disasters in 23 countries last year.”
Of this recognition, Peter Klock said modestly, “I never considered myself a fundraiser, the box sells itself.”
Of the organization, he said that when he traveled to the UK to visit the hub of the activity, “I saw how efficient they are. It’s an amazing organization and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Since 2000, ShelterBox has provided shelter, water and well-being following more than 200 disasters in more than 85 countries. For more information, visit the web site at http://www.shelterboxusa.org or call 941-907-6036 (in Flordia). To request a ShelterBox speaker for your organization, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.