ShelterBox is unlike any international disaster-relief charity.
Created in April of 2000, the nonprofit distributes aid to people affected by natural or manmade disasters worldwide. The agency’s goal is to help 50,000 families each year, delivering equipment and materials that provide means of survival during a time when most only have the clothes on their back.
Mark Dyer ’84 is one of an exclusive group of 155 volunteers who make up ShelterBox’s Response Teams (SRT) around the world. He’s always been involved in scouting and Rotary. Five years ago he sold his advertising and marketing companies, wanting to fill his time with charity involvement. That’s when he found ShelterBox.
“It’s a pretty amazing charity, but most people have never heard about it. We were the biggest supplier of tented shelter in Haiti alone” following the 2010 earthquake, he said.
Since volunteers are placed into demanding and dangerous environments, four extensive steps are required to get onto a team. The process, which took Dyer a year, includes a selection weekend and a nine-day training course where applicants work with police, customs agents, search and rescue teams, and the Royal Military in Cornwall, England.
Once on a team, members are ready for deployment anywhere in the world in 48 hours.
“You get up, pack a bag, make your arrangements and you go,” said Dyer, who has been deployed in Northern Somalia, Niger, Haiti, Columbia, Japan, and within the United States.
Dyer plans to be involved with ShelterBox for as long as possible.
“It’s become such a huge part of my life and such a huge part of my family’s life.”
Dyer’s wife, Susan (Kincaid) ’86, and both of their adult children, Sarah and Eric, volunteer to build awareness for the charity.
“When you’re on deployment, when you’re in the field, you’re on a roller coaster. You have ups and downs,” he said. “What keeps me involved is knowing that one more box, that one more donation, will change a family’s life.”