connect / 2019

Team Rubicon Disaster Relief

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon consistently recruits, trains, engages, and deploys volunteers to serve communities impacted by disaster. Team Rubicon has launched 319 operations throughout our 9 year history and currently has over 95,000 volunteers, approximately 67% of which are military veterans from each branch of service. Team Rubicon strives to provide rapid, long-lasting relief to communities most in need following natural disasters.

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Part of a recent TR blog post about volunteers serving a California homeowner:


The automated emergency alert system’s synthetic voice informed homeowner Joan Heasley to find shelter elsewhere until the heavy storm had passed. […]

Her home sits within the Robinhood Oaks Estates in Lake Elsinore, California, where, as of late, different disasters have threatened her quaint neighborhood.

In the past six months the surrounding area was scarred by the flames of the Holy Jim Fire, followed by flash floods that ravaged the charred landscape, and then a heavy storm that triggered a torrent of mud and debris. While many may have packed their precious belongings and left for higher ground, Heasley opted to stay in her home. […]

Once the storm passed through the area, Heasley examined her property and noticed that two drainage pipes nearby were completely dammed with muck. The pipes divert the creek from flowing into the streets and into homes; leaving it clogged would lead to potential hazards from the next rainstorms, causing severe damage to the Robinhood Estates neighborhood. […]

“I saw this gentleman keep walking up and down the creek and then he saw me,” she recalls. “I heard him say, ‘we are going to come and help you!’”

Hesitant at first, Heasley took the brochure from the Greyshirt and saw the name Team Rubicon on it.

“This is amazing!” exclaimed Heasley. “It’s really absolutely amazing because up until now I tried my hardest I could [to clean up] and spent thousands of dollars that I couldn’t afford.”

Team Rubicon sent a small forward strike team to the Robinhood Estate neighborhood ahead of the Operation Wind Rider start date. Their purpose was to make ready the area for the soon arriving heavy equipment and to clear out the two drainage pipes. Heasley watched as the 11 Greyshirts with shovels and sleds manually moved dirt and rock out of the two 32-foot-long drainage pipes.

“I saw smiles on these men and women as they worked,” said Heasley. “I’m just totally amazed! It makes me feel that deep in [Team Rubicon] that there is a good core of values.”

Which of the connect metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Rates of volunteerism

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • Nationwide and Worldwide

How will your project make LA the best place to connect?

Team Rubicon consistently recruits, trains, engages, and deploys our volunteer base to serve communities impacted by disasters.

Team Rubicon serves marginalized survivors of disasters and humanitarian crises. This primarily consists of households living in low-income or distressed communities. In many cases, these communities lack the tax-base to provide professional, community-based disaster services, or whose needs are overshadowed by large metropolitan areas that were impacted by the same disaster. These households are disproportionately impacted by disasters, lack the personal or community-based resources to fend for themselves, and cannot agitate for government support as effectively as their affluent neighbors. Simultaneously, through offering the opportunity for continued service, Team Rubicon provides our veteran volunteers the chance to rediscover their sense of purpose, identity, and community, aiding a healthy transition back to civilian life.

In 2018, Team Rubicon launched 90 disaster response, recovery, rebuild, and mitigation operations. This year, Team Rubicon strives to launch 120 operations, most of which will be in response to smaller disasters that don’t receive as much media attention yet devastate communities.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Team Rubicon measures our success by the impact we provide to communities impacted by natural disasters and the impact we have on local communities and volunteers preparing to serve their neighboring communities post-disaster. Team Rubicon will define success by our ability to serve more communities in need, train more volunteers, and create more resilient communities.