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Sunday 11 May 2014

Mother-daughter ShelterBox teams helping families around the globe: Happy Mother’s Day
Mother-daughter ShelterBox teams helping families around the globe: Happy Mother’s Day

Mother-daughter team and ShelteBox volunteers, Anna and Terrie Gleason

High school freshman, Anna Gleason realizes her mother's schedule is fuller than most. "My mom works full-time as a partner at her law firm, Baker & McKenzie, and makes time to spend with me and my brothers and still support her community."

In addition to her pro bono legal work for ShelterBox, Terrie also volunteers with her daughter, Anna. The mother-daughter-duo hatched the idea for their “Read-For-Shelter” read-a-thon to raise money and awareness for disaster survivors in 2012 and have been doing it ever since. During their summer break in 2013, the Gleasons read for nearly 190 hours, raising $2,500 for families in need. Their philanthropic work allows them to spend time together and encourage one another.

"I'm inspired by Anna’s passion and dedication. When she sets her mind to a cause, she goes full out and really dedicates her heart and soul to it," said Terrie. The pair has also gained valuable learning lessons. "I learned that I can inspire passion in others, whether it be my colleagues, my friends, or my children to think outside of themselves and to try and make an impact on the world." The teaching was not lost on Anna who says her volunteer work has illustrated that she can come up with great ideas, get others involved—and make a difference.

The ability of the 400 ShelterBox volunteers across the nation to unite and make a difference is what impresses volunteer, Ann Shelton most. "The preparation, fundraising, training and dedication of staff and volunteers to effectively provide aid, relief and hope to those in despair is remarkable," she said. 

Anne began volunteering with the humanitarian organization soon after her daughter, Sarah—a fervent humanitarian—joined the staff as the program coordinator. The two have grown together in their knowledge and commitment to the organization. Sarah said her mom's care and enthusiasm with every volunteer task—whether it's writing a thank you note or stuffing an envelope—is at the heart of the ShelterBox way. "Every act, small or large, has significant meaning in our world," explained Sarah.

Mutual admiration also runs strong with Barbara and Emily Sperling. Long before she assumed her role as ShelterBox USA president, Emily was a conscientious and community-focused individual, says her mother, Barbara. The two have volunteered together since Emily was a girl so Barbara says it was only natural to support her daughter when she joined the ShelterBox ranks. Barbara has volunteered with everything from bookkeeping to warehouse supply runs on behalf of ShelterBox.

Mother-daughter duo, ShelterBox volunteer, Barbara Sperling and ShelterBox USA president, Emily Sperling

"While I know she takes pride in supporting our whole organization, my mom is clearly involved to help the families we serve. I enjoy seeing her so enthusiastic about helping vulnerable families and respect her for her commitment to our cause," said Emily.

It's a cause that Barbara feels is universal. "Everyone has personal disasters like losing someone you love. These experiences make you more aware; more compassionate," said Barbara. Emily echoed her sentiment, saying "An individual can lose their family members, home, belongings and everything they know in life whether they live in a metropolitan area of the United States or a remote village in Africa."

In addition to motivating one another and spending quality time together, these mother-daughter teams realize they're providing hope to families very similar to their own. "Before they were made vulnerable from an event beyond their control, these families were focused on life’s common challenges and joys—raising children, going to school and engaging with their communities. Resources that help their communities recover make all the difference. That is why ShelterBox focuses on providing assistance to those in communities with limited or severely damaged infrastructure. “We can be the tipping point to helping them return to normalcy," said Emily.

Learn more about how you can get involved.

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