Lora (Williams) Helmer of Dallesport was recognized by President Trump and the humanitarian organization ShelterBox USA in August, receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her efforts in 2018 to provide emergency shelter and supplies to those who had lost their homes to natural disaster or fled because of civil conflict.
Helmer worked to raise awareness and funds for ShelterBox, and the organization provided shelter and life-saving supplies to more than 210,000 people in 17 countries, including Kenya after severe flooding; the Philippines after Super Typhoon Mangkhut; and in Syria where families are affected by conflict.
“The lifesaving work of ShelterBox is only possible because of our inspiring volunteers like Lora Helmer, whose service in their communities is ensuring families made homeless by disaster and conflict have access to essential shelter and supplies,” said Kerri Murray, president of ShelterBox USA, in a press release.
ShelterBox provides humanitarian aid in the form of family-sized tents and essential tools to start repairing and rebuilding homes. Additionally, the organization’s kits and boxes contain items like cooking sets, solar lights, blankets, water filtration and mosquito nets.
Helmer moved to the area as a kid in 1959, and grew up in a Victorian home at Sixth and Trevitt in The Dalles which her grandmother purchased in 1922. Her parents turned that house into a bed and breakfast, The Williams House, in the 1980’s. Her father worked in retail, including the Stadelman Bonn hardware store, which he later renamed Don Williams Hardware. “We were probably best known for the resurrection of A.M. Williams’ department store business in the original building, called Williams 1870,” she said. “My dad also owned a high end apparel store across the street called L’Ance Apparel.”
Helmer is a 1977 graduate of The Dalles High School, married her high school sweetheart eight years ago, and now lives in Dallesport.
Helmer is a Rotarian and a ShelterBox Ambassador.
The President’s Volunteer Service Award is part of a national program created in 2003 to honor individuals of all ages who contribute significant time to volunteer activities.