Team Rubicon sends volunteers to affected Texas
The Santa Clara
October 19, 2017
Alex Casadonte, a Campus Safety Officer, spent all of last week in Texas clearing out homes destroyed by Hurricane Harvey and helping victims get their lives back on track.
Through a program organized by Team Rubicon, Casadonte boarded an American Airlines charter flight along with 130 other volunteers from San Francisco to Houston early last week and worked tirelessly helping Harvey survivors rebuild their lives.
Team Rubicon is an organization dedicated to sending volunteers— mainly war veterans—to disasterstricken areas.
According to their mission statement, “Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.”
The organization was founded in 2010 in response to the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti and killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Since then, Team Rubicon has expanded from a group of eight volunteers to an international operation with 67,580 members.
Casadonte first heard about Team Rubicon from his wife after he expressed a desire to do more than just donate money to relief efforts.
“I told my wife that I wanted to do something more than just give money and sit on my couch, and then she told me to check out Team Rubicon,” said Casadonte. “I looked it up on the internet and immediately jumped on board. Within three weeks of signing up, I was in Texas.”
Although volunteers are not required to have experience in the military, Team Rubicon is geared toward helping not only the victims of natural disasters, but also the military volunteers as well.
As their website explains, “Team Rubicon seeks to provide our veterans with three things they lose after leaving the military: a purpose, gained through disaster relief; community, built by serving with others; and self-worth, from recognizing the impact one individual can make.”
This sense of purpose through volunteering made a big impact on Casadonte.
“Being a veteran, 99 percent of the people who join go in because they want to serve their country and want to make the world a better place. Since I left the military, I don’t feel that in my life anymore and this gave me the chance to feel like I’m doing something again.”
The projects that the volunteers work on are determined by Team Rubicon employees who assess the damage of each property.
Groups of volunteers, like Casadonte’s, are then dispatched to the lowest income and hardest-hit areas.
While in Texas, Casadonte and his fellow team members did what they could to get victims back on their feet and back into their homes as quickly as possible.
Casadonte explained that FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, gives around $30,000 to each homeowner to rebuild their entire home, many of which are completely destroyed.
Team Rubicon volunteers come in before contractors are hired and remove as much of the damaged parts of the house as possible, so that the $30,000 from FEMA can mainly go towards the actual home renovation.
Casadonte and his group ripped off dry-wall and cleared out homes filled with debris—work that would have cost the homeowner money and would have been taken out of their check from FEMA.
Even after giving up a week of his vacation days to helping victims, Casadonte still felt like he could do more to help.
One of the houses he worked on was the home of two elderly sisters, who are Air Force veterans. The women were left homeless after the hurricane.
For the past five weeks, the sisters have been slowly working on clearing out their house, all while living out of a tent. With over $1,000 he raised from a GoFundMe page, Casadonte was able to put the two sisters up in a hotel for a week.
Just days after coming home from Texas, Casadonte is ready to deploy with Team Rubicon again.
“I am ready to go now. I needed a couple day’s sleep but I’d go tomorrow if I could.”
Contact Kimi Andrew at kandrew@ scu.edu or call (408) 554-4852.