Auburn man helps global group provide shelter from storm

Alan Young one of 200 ShelterBox Response Team members trained for quick action round the globe
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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How to help

A total of 123,000 ShelterBoxes have been delivered in 90 nations. Auburn residents can learn how to donate by contacting Alan Young at (916) 764-1225 or ShelterBox California Representative Jeanette Bullock at (530) 269-1077.



AUBURN CA - When retired firefighter Alan Young speaks about ShelterBox, it’s from a viewpoint of someone who has seen the devastation of disaster – and observed how the international non-profit aid group makes a world of difference in people’s lives.

Young spoke to the Auburn Daybreak Rotary Club on Wednesday to update the group on his own personal work for British-based ShelterBox. He recently returned to his Auburn home after a grueling nine-day training session in Helston, England to be certified as one of just 200 ShelterBox Response Team members.

“Disasters aren’t going to go away and there are more yearly,” Young said after his talk to the club and grateful receipt of a $1,000 check on behalf of ShelterBox.

The Daybreak group is part of the Rotary Club support network in Young’s hometown that has provided the financial backing to send 33 survival-oriented boxes to disaster-struck areas around the world. Each box, costing about $1,000, includes a tent, stove, simple tools, and other necessities.

After finishing vaccinations, Young said he should be ready in February to be deployed at a moments notice to fly to a disaster anywhere in the world to carry on the good work ShelterBox has been doing since its start as a yearlong project by a British Rotarian in 2000.

A 31-year Auburn resident, Young had served his fellow man, his country and his community as a Marine and firefighter before touching down in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the nation. At the time he was working as a consultant for James Lee Witt, the Federal Emergency Management Agency director under President Bill Clinton.

Young said that he saw how ShelterBox was able to provide emergency shelter and basic supplies directly to disaster victims. The organization is non-denominational and apolitical, he said.

That drew him to help the organization, first as an ambassador in California, and then as a response team member.

“Many organizations were providing clothing, food and water – but not shelter,” Young said. “If we can get them out of the weather, we can get them on the road to recovery.”

Young’s experience with the Marines and as a firefighter and then Assistant Fire Chief with the Sacramento Fire Department served him in good stead as he moved through three levels of testing to achieve elite ShelterBox Response Team membership. Among the team members are just four from California. Besides the U.S. others are from a list of nations mostly in Europe.

Initial screening in Las Vegas led to three days of evaluations and pre-training in Texas. That was followed by a fall training session where 16 response team recruits roughed it on the coast of England in tents and took part in realistic exercises that replicated experiences they might encounter in foreign countries during disasters.

It was a tough slog but Young said well worth the chance to make a difference when deployed.

“I have always simply wanted to do something for people,” Young said. “And whatever I do, I want it to have an impact. I want my grandchildren to know that paying it forward is a good idea.”

Jeannette Bullock is an Auburn Gold Country Rotary club member who was visiting the Daybreak group Wednesday to help with the ShelterBox presentation.

“I’m so proud of him to be able to say that Alan Young from Auburn California, after a yearlong process, has become one of 200 ShelterBox Response Team members in the world,” Bullock said.