One of the things that Team Rubicon does in its down-time (yes, there is such a thing) is get involved with community service projects, particularly (though not limited to) projects that positively impact the veteran community. Doing so helps us maintain the skills necessary to be effective in a true disaster response operation as well as allowing us to engage our membership and keep them connected to our community.
This past weekend, I had the privilege of heading east to Kansas City with TR to help clear some land for the Veterans Community Project. The VCP is an organization whose mission it is to house homeless veterans in transitional housing in the KC metro area. They acquired a large piece of land that was overgrown and this weekend's task was to begin clearing the land in order to build 'tiny homes' on the site. In addition to the homes, the site will have counseling, mentoring, case management, and other social support to help homeless veterans transition back in to society. It's an amazing concept and the people behind the project are just as amazing.
|Early in the AM, before the saw crews arrived. |
Look at all of the overgrowth up along that northern property line.
This weekend's work involved not only Team Rubicon but also The Mission Continues, Team Red White and Blue, 2x4s For Hope, Wounded Warrior Project, two different VFW posts, and several other veteran support organizations. The goal was to fell trees (great work for our kick-ass sawyer teams!) and clear underbrush (got to learn how to use a Brush Hog) to get the land ready for the tiny homes to be built. Along with that work, the VCP took delivery - escorted by KCPD! - of a semi-truck load of 2x4s from 2x4s for Hope. They had all been signed (after people paid $3 donation to do so) by people across the midwest in support of our veterans.
|2x4s For Hope|
I have to brag on TR a bit. A lot of this project came together rather quickly and our leadership (not me - I just showed up to work) handled it beautifully. Everyone was so well taken care of and they were able to get SO much done. When I first arrived on site, there was only one other TR member there - our guy running the show. The people from the other organizations were a little skeptical of our capabilities, but once all of our people showed up and our teams got rolling, they were a force to be reckoned with! I lost count of how many trees and limbs they dropped but it was easily in excess of 25 over a 5 hour period. The goal they set for us was to get done with the north side of the property as well as work our way down the west side to where some conex containers were set up. We not only did that, we were able to get an egress path on the south side of the property cleared per city requirements. Our teams knocked their socks off. It was amazing to watch.
Over the course of the day, we had several media organizations show up - both print and news media. Here is a sampling of what it looked like:
Kansas City Star (story forthcoming)
and there are several videos on the VCP Facebook page
We also had several new people show up which is always wonderful. Included in that was the guy that called me last week, worried that he did not have enough time to give to TR. He was amazing and, because of a Facebook message he sent to KCMB, the VCP was able to garner additional press about this amazing project.
Here are some more pictures of it all:
|Lunch break safety brief.|
|2x4s For Hope|
|Model home plus 2x4s For Hope|
|Brandon had WAY too much fun in this thing. But he also got a LOT done with it while doing so!|
|Look at how clear that northern property line is now!|
|Bryan, Kevin, Brandon, Chris - Veterans Community Project|
This weekend was good for my soul on so many levels. To watch these different veteran service organizations come together to help out their brothers and sisters and have such a positive impact on the local veteran community (and possibly the national veteran community, given that several other states are watching this project closely) is inspiring and humbling. Every time I think I can't love TR and the veteran community more, they prove me wrong.
On a personal level, it was partly frustrating because I am not yet Sawyer certified so I feel like I did a lot of standing around, holding down dirt. I was clearing brush early on (and found out I am *not* allergic to poison ivy. Yay!) but wound up holding safety for our sawyer teams. There were a lot of people doing a lot of things and having someone inadvertently wander into the drop zone or cutting area while the saws are working is a very bad thing so I understand the need for adequate safety. It was just frustrating to stand there and watch everyone work their tails off and not really be *doing* anything.
I'll rectify that soon. Can't wait to work with these people (TR and everyone on the VCP project) again soon!