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Awards for local volunteers

Mary Sloan and Jeff Lichty on a Polio Mission in Ethiopia in November of 2013 for Rotary Club. Photo provided (click for larger version)
May 28, 2014 - BY LAURA DUCHARME

Special to the Clarkston News

Two Clarkston residents earned national recognition with the President's Volunteer Service Award.

Mary Sloan and Jeff Lichty were honored for their efforts to help disaster survivors in 2013. Sloan and Lichty are ShelterBox Ambassadors for the organization ShelterBox USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian relief after natural disasters happen.

A Rotarian in England started ShelterBox when he noticed shelter was not provided as fast as food and medical care after natural disasters.

His Rotary Club started filling boxes with items families may need, such as tents, sleeping bags and water purifiers.

ShelterBox USA is a partner with Rotary Club, which Sloan and Lichty are both involved in. The award is given to recipients on behalf of President Barack Obama.

"It's nice to see volunteers getting rewarded for their work," said Lichty.

The Clarkston Rotary is most recognized for an annual event they hold every December called Shoes for Kids.

"We are out on the street corners selling our Rotary paper," said Sloan. "We spend all the proceeds the following week on shoes, boots, hats and gloves for local children."

There are 33,000 Rotary clubs worldwide and each club helps people through local and international projects.

"We like to say our club does the things people think just happen," said Sloan.†"For instance, we host a picnic every year for the SCAMP (a camp for children with special needs) families. We put on the Labor Day parade. We award local High School scholarships, support Team RUSH and other youth programs."

Sloan and Litchy have helped with many projects internationally, including eye care missions in Grenada, West Indies, and Peru and administrating the polio drops in India and Ethiopia. They are also hoping to help with one of the projects in Gulu, Uganda, in the near future.

As for working with ShelterBox, they stay right here in Michigan and promote the organization. An event called Box City happens every May and a Rotary high school group puts it on from Royal Oak. They draw attention to the homeless by creating sleeping quarters out of large boxes and collect money.

"Half of the money goes to a food kitchen in Royal Oak and half goes to ShelterBox," said Sloan.†"Jeff and I have put up the ShelterBox tent at that activity and talked about the project to the students and any parents that have been there. ShelterBox is a project young people understand right away."

Lichty agrees with Sloan that young people understand ShelterBox.

"A fifth grade class at an elementary school on the west side of the state found out about ShelterBox on their own," said Lichty. "They didn't have a lot of money themselves. They raised $1,500 and Rotary Club matched what they raised."

ShelterBox has active deployments all over the world, including in the Philippines (still helping from the typhoon in November), Zimbabwe and Bolivia (both due to flooding) and in Syria and surrounding countries due to refugee crisis.

Sloan and Lichty are very happy to accept this award and are glad the programs are getting noticed.

"It's satisfying work and it's never ending," said Lichty. "As long as there are disasters we will be promoting ShelterBox."

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