Ken hits the trail June 3rd, 2022. He will be trailblazing June 3rd-5th and again June 10th-12th.
Everyone deserves a place to call home. It is a human right and the first step towards recovery after disaster.
Shelter is so much more than just a roof. It’s the foundation for life, families and communities. It is a place to feel safe after days or weeks of fear. It offers protection from harsh weather, privacy, and helps to preserve dignity. It’s a space to heal from trauma.
Shelter and other essential items help people protect themselves from diseases like coronavirus and malaria.
Emergency shelter can also prevent communities from scattering. This means people stay connected and build resilience together.
When you don’t have to keep moving or worry about where to sleep at night, you can think about tomorrow. Items like tents, tarpaulins, tools, blankets, mosquito nets, cooking sets and water filters help to meet the most urgent needs, so you can start to earn a living, send children to school and rebuild your home.
Recovery doesn’t happen overnight, but a dry and warm place to sleep, prepare meals and be with your family is the vital first step.
Learn more at www.ShelterBoxUSA.org.
Like most Americans, indeed most members of the world community, I have become increasingly alarmed by the recent tragic events in the Ukraine resulting from the Russian invasion of that sovereign nation. In particular, scenes of destroyed housing, hospitals, churches and schools, and the resulting displaced families (now in many instances, refugees) have stirred in me a deep need to take action. However, my primary obligations to my family, my community, and my employer prevent direct action in support of the Ukrainian people. But the need for a response remains.
Words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from his Psalm of Life resonates within me here - words committed to my memory but which would be rendered meaningless if I do not take action:
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
My feelings of frustration over Ukraine were lessened when I remembered that I am joined in common purpose with Rotary International, where I have been a member since 2003 through my local Pickens Rotary Club in District 7750. I am also a member of the 2022 Cohort of the IEP Peace Ambassador Program. These larger connections could afford me a collaborative outlet for my internal struggle, particularly when I learned that Shelterbox, an international organization that provides “shelter, essential items and technical assistance to help some of the world’s most vulnerable people recover and rebuild their homes after disaster” was an official Rotary partner.
I love the outdoors, and I love encouraging outside activities in my local mountain community. Pickens County is roughly centered within a stretch of the Appalachian Mountains that contains the Foothills Trail, a 77 mile hiking trail that traverses the highest peaks in the State of South Carolina along its border with North Carolina. The Foothills Trail terminates at Table Rock Mountain, the most photographed natural feature in the State. As such, a well-publicized hike along these mountaintops, used to raise awareness and needed funds for Shelterbox in Ukraine, seems like a natural and effective metaphor that Rotary, IEP, and our local communities could identify with and support. I would like to undertake this hike, carrying a ShelterBox with me as I go.
Could this Hike be a help for Ukraine? I am most anxious to “be up and doing.”
Ken Roper serves as the Pickens County Administrator. As Administrator, Ken challenges his staff to embrace their roles as public servants and implements the vision of the county council through overseeing the operations of the county government. Ken is passionate about public service and strives to be an ambassador for his home community.
Ken was born in Pickens, and is a graduate of Liberty High School (1987), Furman University (B.A. Political Science, 1991), and the University of South Carolina (J.D., 1994). His years of public service span from the state to municipal/county government and the local community. He is a member and former president of the Pickens Rotary Club and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International. He currently serves on the state’s E911 Committee of the South Carolina Department of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs, NACo's Resilient Counties Advisory Board, and is a 2021-2022 Appalachian Leadership Institute Fellow through the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Ken lives in Sunset with his wife, Karen Sanchez Roper, and their two rescue pit bulls, Sawyer and Scout. Their oldest son, Carson, is a graduate student studying Social Work, and their younger son, Hampton, is a Journalism undergraduate.
A National Recreation Trail
The Foothills Trail offers adventures of every length and difficulty. Located in Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina, the trail is 77 miles long, and is maintained by the Foothills Trail Conservancy. Through-hikers should plan to spend approximately 5-10 days on the trail, while weekend backpackers and day-hikers can utilize numerous trailheads for shorter trips.
NOTE: Donations to ShelterBox will appear as GiveButter on your billed statement.