ShelterBox Response Team
Sep 27, 2018
Ned Morris
ShelterBox Response Team

As a consulting winemaker, Ned Morris’ day job is all about patience and predictability, and is often measured over the course of months and years as a wine ages. By contrast, when he’s not busy making Reasons Wines or consulting with wineries, Morris dedicates himself to a cause that’s all about immediacy and unpredictability, and is measured in the minutes and seconds that are the difference between life and death after a natural disaster rages.

Following his 10-day deployment to the ShelterBox headquarters in Cornwall, England, Morris became one of fewer than 40 ShelterBox Response Team members in the United States, and one less than 200 Response Team members worldwide. ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that provides temporary shelter and life saving supplies to displaced families.

“ShelterBox provides life saving aid by putting critical supplies directly into the hands of survivors, often in remote or inaccessible locations that palletized aid cannot reach quickly or effectively,” said Morris. “We work closely with organizations like I.O.M., the World Food Program, and the U.N. to coordinate efforts, and with our international Rotary clubs to help navigate government issues, safety, transportation, translation, and other potential obstacles.”

ShelterBox Response Teams are part of the final mile of delivery, distributing boxes on the ground while working closely with local organizations like FEMA, international aid agencies including the United Nations, and Rotary Clubs worldwide. Each ShelterBox typically contains a tent, water purification kit, blankets, solar lighting, tools, school kits, and other necessities to help a family survive after a disaster. The contents of a ShelterBox are tailored to the nature and location of the disaster.

Morris was first exposed to ShelterBox five years ago through his involvement with Walla Walla Rotary. His path to becoming a ShelterBox Response Team member has included literally hundreds of hours of applications interviews, and training over the course of more than a year. The process began with an online application that identified 300 candidates in North America, who completed a more thorough application to whittle the field down to 125 individuals. Following video interviews with ShelterBox headquarters, 80 people were selected to complete a rigorous four-day assessment. A total of only five candidates were selected from North America, and Morris is one of three from the United States.

“ShelterBox not only helps victims survive the hours and days immediately following a natural disaster, but also helps sustain them in the ensuing weeks and months as they pick up the pieces and start to rebuild their lives,” said Morris, who cited recent disasters including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as the recent earthquakes in Mexico, as examples where time is of the essence when it comes to delivering aid. “The work we’re doing is time consuming, physical, and often emotional, but it’s also critical and I could not be more honored to be part of the ShelterBox Response Team.”