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Humanitarian work earns local man presidential award

(Image is Clickable Link) Volunteers set up SheleterBox tents in Syria. The humanitarian group provides shelter and equipment to those involved in disasters.Learning recently that he would be receiving an award from “the president,” Rob Lucke just naturally assumed it would be the president of ShelterBox, the humanitarian group he’s associated with.

“When I actually got the award, it was President with a capital “P,” he said about receiving Barack Obama’s President’s Volunteer Service Award for being part of ShelterBox. The group is an international, nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian relief in the form of shelter and equipment materials to disaster survivors.

“I’m pretty excited about getting it,” Lucke said of the award. “It’s my first award for giving back to the community.”by: COURTESY OF ROB LUCKE - Rob Lucke of Sherwood recently received a Barack Obama President's Volunteer Service Award for his work with ShelterBox.

A Sherwood resident since 1993, Lucke also received recognition for being part of the Pacific Northwest volunteers who were given a Team of the Year Award for their work with ShelterBox.

“Nominated and selected by their peers, this team’s involvement in ShelterBox is an inspiration to many,” Emily Sperling, president of ShelterBox USA, said in a news release. “Their leadership in raising the profile on ShelterBox has meant that nearly 100 more vulnerable families affected by disaster have received emergency shelter.”

Since 2000, ShelterBox USA, whose American affiliate is based in Florida, has helped out in more than 230 disasters in more than 90 countries.

“The charity is really new,” said Lucke, who does promotion and fundraising for the organization. “It’s only been in the United States since 2010.”

The ShelterBox concept is relatively unique, essentially providing basic survival items in a sturdy bag that includes a tent, a small stove, water purification equipment, cooking utensils and a variety of other needed goods.

by: COURTESY OF SHELTERBOX - A basic ShelterBox contains not only a tent but also a small stove, water purification equipment, cooking utensils and other items.

“All of this is designed and engineered to be under 130 pounds,” he said. “I think we’ve put out 150,000 boxes worldwide so far.”

Lucke said he’s amazed at the strength of the tents, which have two layers that can withstand temperatures as high as 120 degrees and as low as 50 degrees below zero.

He said when a disaster occurs, ShelterBox will send in somebody to see if it’s the kind of project the organization can become involved with.

Lucke is no stranger to community service. He is the secretary and future president for the Portland Metropolitan Rotary Club, a 12-member group.

As part of his Rotary duties Lucke has been to Poland three times, not only to talk about ShelterBox but also as part of a contingent to aid a home for mentally and physically disabled children in the city of Biewla Podlaska.

Lucke said ShelterBox was a millennium project, which began with 20 members, all who happened to be members of Rotary International.

“So they created this idea, and it has met a need,” he said. “The power of what 20 people can do to change the world, it’s a tremendous thing.”

Last summer, Lucke got a chance to help ShelterBox’s cause at LeakyCon — an annual event designed to pay homage to everything Harry Potter — which was held in Portland.

“It was 5,000 Harry Potter fans,” he said, noting that one of the featured authors was a big fan of ShelterBox as well, bringing their message to a new audience.

Lucke’s daytime job is that of a high-performance computing expert for Hewlett Packard, who in his spare time teaches at networking skills and operating systems classes to students at Saturday Academy.

For now, Lucke said he’ll probably frame his certificate in a special shadowbox alongside a pin engraved with the insignia of the President of the United States of America, and a “very nice letter with Mr. Obama’s signature.”




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