Disaster Aid Canada Receives $60,000 in Donations for Australian Bushfire Relief

Rotary Clubs in the affected areas will be able to apply for rebuilding funds for local projects

Gerry Beltgens, Executive Director, Disaster Aid Canada

Disaster Aid Canada (DAC) has received close to $60,000.00 Canadian in donations from across Canada for Australian Bushfire Relief. Most of the money is now in the bank and we are working with experienced Rotarians to find matching grants through Rotary International and the Government of Canada. Once that is clarified we will make a donation to a special fund set up by Rotary Australia World Community Services. Hopefully the matching grants will double or more the impact of the original donations.

Rotary Clubs in the affected areas will be able to apply for rebuilding funds for local projects. Rotary Clubs from around the world are responding to the crisis and additional money will be distributed soon.

“Several projects have already been established for specific bushfire areas around Australia. The Australia Rotary District Governors have formed a committee which will decide where the funds are to be distributed. We would typically utilise local Rotary Clubs on the ground in affected areas to identify those families, Individuals and small businesses in most need,” said John Stockbridge, National Communications Manager for Rotary Australia World Community Services Ltd (RAWCS)

DAC has received donations from all across Canada and some were very special. The Grade 4 Girls at Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary School in Courtenay, BC raised $106.05 for the Australian Bushfire relief. We love when young people are encouraged to help out in the world.

Staff at Crosslinx Transit Solutions teamed up to send us a donation of $1,200.00 and added the note. “From your mates at Crosslinx Transit Solutions-Construction, in Toronto.” We suspect there are some people from the Land Down Under working there so “Good on ya Mates!”

Disaster Aid will continue to keep the appeal open for as long as it is needed and will send donations each month to the Australian Fund. “Working with Rotarians on the ground in the affected areas ensures the best use of donated money,” said Frank Elsom, President of Disaster Aid Canada.”

Much of the money has come from Rotarians and Rotary Clubs but most of the money has been donated anonymously through “Canada Helps” a charity pay portal that collects the donations and provides the donor with tax receipts from DAC. Disaster Aid Canada is a registered Canadian Charity as well as an official “Collaborative Organization of Rotary Organization.”

“Working with Rotary partners is an important criteria of our decision to support communities impacted by natural and other disasters,” said Elsom. “We are a relatively small organization and do not have the resources compared to the Red Cross or United Way. Our strength is the ability to mobilize Rotarians.”

We are not first responders, when an earthquake strikes or a volcano erupts as did recently in Puerto Rico and the Philippines, we first make contact with a Rotary Club in the area. This way we find out what the actual situation is, which is often quite different from the events portrayed on the news. We are presently in contact with the President of the Rotary Club of San Juan in Puerto Rico and the Governor for District 3830 in the Philippines. Once we know what is needed and who will be in charge we can raise the funds to either send materials such as tents and emergency kits or we may decide to send money if there is access to materials locally, whichever works better.

As the new Executive Director for Disaster Aid Canada I learned a lot from our relief project in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian struck. Our contacts with Rotary Clubs in Nassau and Freeport made all the difference. Not only did we only send materials that were asked for and needed, we knew that we had reliable partners on the ground who were able to oversee the distribution and set up. Our relationship with Disaster Aid USA paid huge dividends because of their experience in the area and skill with logistics. Our support from UPS with the shipping of the materials was invaluable and they did it for no charge through their own charitable program. Our work in the Bahamas confirmed my commitment to only send materials that were needed, only work with trusted partners and then to follow up and make sure the relief we had sent had worked out.

Disaster Aid Canada has managed more that $2,000,000.00 in donations since its incorporation in 2010. Disaster Aid Canada is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Ladysmith. The Charity began operation 2004 and as Disaster Aid Canada in 2010. Some past projects have included:

• Bahamas – Hurricane Dorian relief, 101 tents, bedpacks, hygiene products

• Malawi – Hospital and orphanage – Water filtration kits, bedpacks, Hygiene products

• Iraq – Water filtration systems

• BC – Container and trailers of supplies for BC Fire evacuees

• Caribbean – Hurricane Irma – Relief kits and tents

• Fort McMurray – Container and trailers of supplies for Alberta Fire evacuees

In 2020 Disaster Aid Canada is moving its operation to Ladysmith to be in a more central location and closer to our Sponsoring Club. Rent costs at our present location in Victoria are expensive and we wish to reduce those costs. We have found a building in Ladysmith that meets our criteria. We are partnering with Ladysmith Search and Rescue (LSAR) on a proposal to take over the building and jointly renovate a section for offices and a training facility. Our goal is to set up an Emergency Preparedness Hub. The partnership of LSAR and DAC is bound to be beneficial if the town experiences a serious emergency.

The goal of Disaster Aid Canada is to be to most effective organization in our field, to be a learning organization, always striving to be better, and to be a collaborative organization, using the skills of our other Disaster Aid International partners, local Rotarians and the resources available to us through Rotary International.

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