He’s filling essential needs, one cargo container at a time
By Donna Vickroy firstname.lastname@example.org February 19, 2012 6:16PM
Matt Marton and Donna Vickroy spent nearly five days chronicling the extreme suffering and, surprisingly, the considerable joy that the people of Haiti experience daily.
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Updated: January 24, 2013 8:23PM
John Shattuck is the man behind the stuff.
The stuff that will cure the sick, educate the young and heal the despondent.
From his Frankfort home, he organizes campaigns to send essentials, and some extras, to various locations in Haiti.
On behalf of Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos, Shattuck collects goods here, setting up drop-off points at local Charter Fitness locations as well as his driveway, and then ships them via cargo containers to the island nation. He’s sent 22 40-foot containers filled with water, tools, clothes and medicine, 20 of them since the 2010 earthquake that killed 300,000 people.
As a result, he enjoys a sort of celebrity among the Haitians as well as the doctors, teachers and facilitators who work on behalf of NPH in Haiti. When they see him on the NPH campus, they shake his hand, hug him and then ask if he can get his hands on this or that. “Email me a list,” he says. “I’ll do my best.”
So how does a businessman from the Southland, a graduate of Richards High School, end up an emissary of sorts to the hemisphere’s poorest country?
“For most of us within NPH, it’s the kids,” Shattuck says. “It’s really the kids.”
Shattuck has deep empathy for kids who are dealt a bad hand. In 1995, his 2-year-old son, Joe, was diagnosed with leukemia. For four years, Shattuck watched his oldest child and the other children in Hope Children’s Hospital’s cancer ward deal with painful treatments, hospital stays and a constant state of sickness.
When his son pulled through, Shattuck resolved to be forever grateful.
The Rev. Ron Hicks, then associate pastor at St. Elizabeth Seton Church in Orland Hills, showed him a way to act on that gratitude.
“Father Ron was the only person outside my immediate family that I ever really connected with, that I would trust to the end of the Earth — and that’s not just me, a lot of people feel that way about him. A lot of the people who do things for NPH either connect with Father Rick, Father Ron or Father Wasson, who started the whole thing. When you see what they put into a given day, you almost can’t deny doing something.”
On Hicks’ recommendation several years ago, Shattuck sponsored a child in NPH’s El Salvador orphanage. When he learned his “godchild” had four siblings, he started sponsoring them, too.
A sweeping tour of NPH facilities in Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras gave him new meaning and purpose. But it was Haiti that captured his heart.
The incredible poverty.
The undying spirit.
Since that initial trip, Shattuck has been back to Haiti many times, all on his own tab. Today, he is vice chairman of the Midwest division of Friends of the Orphans, the U.S. funding arm for NPH, as well as the international rep for corporate in-kind donations for NPH, and he sits on the board of Children of Abraham.
He fills his days matching requests to donations and then finding a way to get it all from here to there.
“A lot of what I do is really due to my experiences with Joe,” he said.
“Plus, I realized I had a heart for it, and I had a knack for it. It came naturally. It wasn’t anything that I have to work hard at.”
Shattuck, who is married and has two sons, owns an appraisal business. He also recently has opened an Internet services business and a cloud computing company. His goal is to bring reliable Internet access to Haiti.