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Philadelphia area man gets involved with Haiti earthquake relief with Shelterbox


Bill Decker is the President and COO of a company called The Hub which offers meeting spaces at affordable prices.  According to The Hub's website "they offer spectacular meeting spaces at affordable pricing. We make the reservation process seamless and simple by providing efficient, one-stop shopping for all of your meeting needs."

When Mr. Decker isn't running The Hub, he's involved with an organization called Shelterbox, an international disaster relief charity.  What Shelterbox does is wonderful in that they provide emergency shelter and supplies, all contained within a 110 lb. 50 gal. green box.  These shelters in turn are used to create tent cities. Shelterbox is now turning it's attention to the Haiti earthquake disaster.

Bill plans on heading to Haiti to help with the Haiti earthquake relief effort this week with the Shelterbox Response Team (SRT). Mr. Decker has been involved with Shelterbox for two years and acknowledges that Shelterbox has some big challenges in addition to helping devastated citizens.

Decker said, "Since ShelterBox really doesn’t have a marketing budget to speak of, it really could use some star power. If an A-list celebrity in the U.S. endorsed the organization we’d get more air time with the media and our fundraising would get a shot in the arm. Secondly, and quite related to the first, is money. ShelterBox deployed three of our Response Team members (SRTs) to Haiti and made the decision to send over $1m (1,000 ShelterBoxes) in aid within 24 hours of the disaster, followed by an additional $2.3m worth of aid shortly thereafter when Richard Branson  stepped up and volunteered airlift of aid to Miami using Virgin Atlantic planes."

Time is of the essence right now in Haiti.  As each day goes on, hundreds of thousands of survivors are growing increasingly agitated and are in survival mode.  It's a very volatile situation and security is a major issue.  Mobilizing effectively is imperative in times like this.

What Shelterbox excels in is responding in an efficient and creative manner.  Mr. Decker acknowledged, "Often times ShelterBox will commit the aid even before the funds roll in because we know it is better to act now and not dither, then worry about shaking the trees. The way we are able to do that is that we keep the boxes/supplies in our warehouse in the UK and we don’t get billed for it until it actually goes out the door. It’s a great system that allows us to respond quickly to disasters without having to “carry” the inventory, especially when we’re talking $1000 per box."

Let's be clear-Haiti is in dire straights and it's a very dangerous situation down there. "Security is certainly the major concern now. The prisoners were freed by the earthquake, the gangs are carving out there spheres of influence, and you have a lot of people who are injured, hungry, thirsty and highly stressed who are willing to fight in the streets over simple supplies", said Decker.

Each Shelterbox package costs $1,000 and can help an entire family. To donate to the cause go to https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/ShelterBoxUSAInc/OnlineGiving.html

Even though Shelterbox doesn't have the advertising funds and A-listers (on board) that some of the bigger organizations have, they have thus far committed 3,300 shelterboxes to assist the nearly 1 million people the UN has indicated who are need of emergency shelter to begin their recovery from the earthquake. The shelterbox tents are extremely durable as they are still being used by people in Pakistan some three years after that earthquake.

Bill Decker will head down to Haiti in mid-March to help with the Haiti earthquake relief mission.  Shelterbox will be down in Haiti until at least April 30th.

It's going to be a long road back for Haiti as it's expected it will take them a decade to recover.  Shelterbox should be commended for the altruistic services they are providing to the devastated citizens of Haiti.