Londonderry retirees receive Oval Office accolade
LONDONDERRY - It's not often that local volunteers get a letter of commendation from the Oval Office, but a pair of globally-minded Londonderry retirees have done just that - not once, but twice.
For the second year in a row, Bill and Dennie Dyer's public advocacy efforts for ShelterBox, an international disaster relief organization, have earned them the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, which is a special recognition presented on behalf of President Obama.
Both members of the Londonderry Rotary Club, part of Rotary District 7870, the couple have made it their personal mission to educate other New England Rotarians, along with countless other organizations, about their good works.
During the past year, the Dyers have been quite busy spreading their message well beyond the Granite State. They regularly give presentations to Rotary Club members in Vermont and parts of southern Maine.
"But really, we're willing to come out and talk with any groups that might be interested in helping," Bill Dyer said.
Rotary clubs currently contribute to approximately half of ShelterBox's donations, with the support of around 5,000 Rotary clubs worldwide.
The couple learned about the organization through their son, Mark, who's been deeply involved with the charity for about the past seven years.
Mark Dyer, who lives in Chicago, has also been honored with several Presidential Service awards in the past.
Since a British Rotarian founded the charity in 2000, ShelterBox has provided shelter, warmth and dignity following more than 200 disasters in more than 85 countries.
The organization, which is heavily supported by Rotary Clubs around the world, instantly responds to earthquake, volcano, flood, hurricane, cyclone, tsunami or conflict by delivering boxes of aid, complete with a weather-resistant tent.
For the Dyers, supporting ShelterBox means hitting the road quite often. During the past year, the couple has spread their message in nearly 30 public lectures, not including the countless fairs and community events they've appeared at, said Bill Dyer, a retired AT&T purchasing agent.
"We try to make at least one appearance each week," he said.
In the past week, he and Dennie, a retired product manager at Hewitt Packard who also volunteers her time as a docent at the Zimmerman House in Manchester, have spent time in two other states.
The couple are not paid for their public appearances and pay their own travel expenses, Dyer said.
Charity spokeswoman Erin Holdgate said it is people like the Dyers that make ShelterBox help possible.
"As we witness the aftermath of disasters like Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines and the Syrian refugee crisis throughout the Middle East, many wish they could make a difference," Holdgate said. "The Dyers knew ShelterBox would be on the ground delivering its iconic green boxes containing emergency tented shelter and other lifesaving supplies."
Last year, ShelterBox responded to more than 30 disasters in 23 countries.
"I am truly proud to honor our volunteers, who work hard year-round to support ShelterBox and our efforts to help families rebuild their lives across the globe," said Emily Sperling, ShelterBox USA President. "It is through the continuous efforts of our volunteers like Bill and Dennie that we are able to help so many vulnerable families each year."
For more information, visit www.shelterboxusa.org.