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Volunteer earns presidential award for disaster relief efforts

Betty Mahalik has never stacked sandbags in the Philippines or visited war-torn Syria, but she’s done more than most people to aid victims of war and natural disaster in those countries.

Enough, in fact, that the 59-year-old was recently honored with a Presidential Volunteer Service Award.

“I was just blown away,” Mahalik said of the award, handed out to 75 volunteer ambassadors last month by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

Her awareness and fundraising efforts with ShelterBox USA — a disaster relief nonprofit designed to deliver shelter and emergency aid supplies around the world — began when Alan Monroe, the organization’s volunteers director, visited Mahalik’s Summerlin-Las Vegas Rotary Club last year.

“He came and talked to us and shared a letter from a little Brazilian girl who needed their help,” Mahalik explained. “I was so moved by that letter, I said, ‘Whatever I can do, count me in.’ ”

“How many of us have just watched disasters in our living room and texted $10 to the Red Cross?” she asked. “A practical part of me wanted to do more.”

The self-employed corporate trainer and life coach raised more than $4,000 for the organization in a little more than a year.

Historically, around 85 cents on each one of those dollars goes directly to disaster relief supplies , including tents, cook stoves, water purification units, blankets, mosquito nets, children’s packs and other essentials — all packed in a sturdy 3-foot-by-2-foot plastic box.

It’s Mahalik’s job to find the roughly $1,000 needed to fill each of those boxes, and she’s good at it.

“It plays to my strengths,” the longtime Las Vegas resident said. “I’m much better at getting the word out , at talking to people, raising awareness and funds — that’s where I can best apply my efforts and talents.”

ShelterBox USA President Emily Sperling said, “It is through the continuous efforts of volunteers like Betty that we are able to help so many vulnerable families each year. 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.”

For more information on ShelterBox USA or to learn more about the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, contact Mahalik at 702-658-4425.

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at jdehaven@viewnews.com or 702-477-3839.

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