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Middlesex Rotary News

Rotarian Wayne Childs sits by the peripatetic and vital green ShelterBox that’s flown to various disaster-stricken areas of the globe. Each box is equipped with survival gear (shelter only) for six months for about ten people. Childs spoke to Rotarians about the mission and purpose of the ShelterBox project. He also urged individuals, church and community groups outside of Rotary to consider helping out.

by Fernando Atienza

Soon after Hurricane Ike leveled the Grand Turk Island in the British West Indies on September 7, 2008, club president Joe Brinkley revealed that one family that Middlesex Rotarians will probably never meet received a green box from the local club. It was a ShelterBox containing items that will provide the family with shelter, warmth and comfort for about six months. It was just one of thousands sent around the world through the many sponsoring Rotary Clubs in relief of people devastated by natural disasters or conflict.

What’s in the box? Wayne Childs, a 27-year Rotarian, past club president and current assistant district governor from Springfield, discussed the ShelterBox Project at the regular club breakfast on Dec. 16 at The Pilot House Restaurant in Topping. First conceived and adopted as a millennium project by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard in Cornwall, England in 2000.

ShelterBox is now enthusiastically supported by Rotary clubs worldwide. Shelterboxes have been sent to over 30 countries in relief of, for example, the tsunami in southeast Asia in the spring of 2005, Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, earthquake in Pakistan October 2005, earthquake in Indonesia July 2006, and a cyclone in Bangladesh November 2007.

Childs showed Rotarians the typical ShelterBox—a tough, green plastic box containing a 10-person tent and ancillary equipment to enable a family of up to 10 people to survive for at least six months. In addition to the tent, the box holds thermal blankets, a wood burning stove or multi-fuel stove that can burn anything from diesel to old paint, cooking pans, utensils and mugs, collapsible water containers and water purification tablets, tools like a hammer, saw, pliers, hoe head, trenching shovel, rope, and a small children’s pack with drawing books, crayons and pens.

While Rotary Clubs are the predominant sponsors of ShelterBox, church groups and individuals may also sponsor or contribute to the ShelterBox project. One ShelterBox costs $1,000. For more information, contact Wayne Childs, Rotary Club of Springfield, at . You may also check out for added details about ShelterBox.

Rotary Singing

A month ago, club President Joe revived what was to some clubs a neglected if not dying tradition. New members may not be aware of it, but singing has always been part of Rotary meetings. It was the fifth Rotarian, Harry Ruggles, who brought singing to Rotary. Rotary historians (excerpted from Rotary Global History Fellowship newsletter) explained: “Harry was a very moral man who detested off color language and classless humor. At one of the Chicago club’s meeting in 1906, the guest speaker began a story. Having heard the speech before, Harry also knew the off-color ending and felt it was inappropriate so he jumped up in the middle of the joke and yelled, ‘Come on boys, let’s sing!’ He then led the club in the singing of ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart.’  And so, that marked the first time that members had ever sung in Rotary. It was also the first time ever that a group of businessmen ever sang at a business meeting, anywhere!”

Enthusiasm for the tradition has been remarkable at the local club, which now sings with gusto; keeping the fields of Topping alive with the sound of music every Tuesday morning. One Rotarian recalls, “Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, the road would never have been; when things go wrong a man ain’t got a friend—without a song.” (Vincent Youmans, 1929).

On behalf of the membership, president Joe Brinkley, thanks the people of Middlesex County for their gift of friendship and support to the club and its many causes and wishes all a Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

posted 12.23.2008

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