KOLOA — A veteran-led organization has launched a statewide operation to support recovery on three of the most-heavily-impacted islands, including Kaua‘i, which was affected by the recent heavy rain and flooding earlier this month.
Team Rubicon, a nonprofit made up of 120,000 “greyshirt” disaster-relief volunteers globally, was originally created after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Port-au-Prince in Haiti in January of 2010.
From there, a larger group developed globally, and now Kaua‘i has its own Team Rubicon, led by volunteers, most of whom are military veterans.
“I really like the work ethic and no-nonsense approach that Team Rubicon takes in helping people who really need the help, like people who have lost everything they own in a flood and don’t have enough support to muck-out the debris that’s left behind,” Team Rubicon’s deputy city logistics coordinator Rhian Campbell said.
“People are often at their most vulnerable after a natural disaster, and it is my hope that what we do get them started on the rebuilding process.”
Campbell has been volunteering with Team Rubicon for almost four years, and helped perform muck-outs and debris-removal earlier this month around the island, supporting three families so far.
“There are a lot of mixed feelings involved,” Campbell said. “It is definitely hard to see people who are suddenly struggling with loss after a natural disaster. But it does feel good to help out and to see the direct impact of the hours our team puts in mucking out a house, removing debris or helping out in other ways.”
Campbell resides in Kekaha, and she said she heard about the volunteer organization through another disaster-response group that she was involved in at the time.
“We have an active group on the island, and often do service projects in the community to keep us active and deployable year-round,” Campbell said.
“Team Rubicon has a great approach to helping others in need. They provide simple, easy-to-understand training in a lot of different areas, and it’s all geared toward helping the people who need it the most. I’m really happy I chose to volunteer with this organization, and view my team as part of my extended family.”
Kaelin Capuano of Lihu‘e likes volunteering her time as Team Rubicon’s city membership coordinator.
“I enjoy volunteering with Team Rubicon because it gives me the chance to connect with the community and be able to help others within it,” Capuano said.
“It’s extremely humbling seeing how grateful the residents of Kaua‘i are, even if we do something so little as moving items out of their home or just simply coming over and offering help to them. No matter what happened to them, they still do their best to welcome us into their homes and show us hospitality with what they have.”
Capuano said she has been volunteering for three years, since she was 17 years old.
“I heard of Team Rubicon from my mom, and my substitute teacher at the time, who happened to be the leader of Team Rubicon Kaua‘i,” Capuano said. “One way you can get into Team Rubicon is by contacting Dan Abadilla, or simply going to the Team Rubicon website and checking us out for yourselves.”
w Info: teamrubiconusa.org
Stephanie Shinno, education, business, and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.