Imagine that your community needs help. You’ve been hit by a tornado or an earthquake or a flood. And you need the assistance of dedicated volunteers to come to your rescue. You need volunteers with the skills to reach you quickly and use decisive leadership to provide support at an unstable time. Now imagine that the volunteers that come to your aid are actually in need of healing themselves. Through their service to your community, they find a sense of purpose – a renewed meaning for their skills and experiences. We think that’s a pretty powerful opportunity for pro bono.
Transforming the volunteer community with pro bono
Meet Team Rubicon . Formed in January 2010, TR unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with medical professionals to rapidly deploy emergency response teams into crisis situations. What started as a way to ensure medical care could quickly reach those impacted by disaster has evolved to a means for veterans transitioning from service to find a renewed purpose for their knowledge and talent.
Immediately after a natural disaster, many communities face challenges that confront troops in Iraq and Afghanistan every day: unstable populations, limited resources, and horrific sights. Veterans can deliver aid to these communities using the same abilities that they needed during their service – skills like emergency treatment, risk assessment and mitigation, teamwork and decisive leadership. And when you match trained medical professionals and media specialists to the teams of veterans, you get a pro bono disaster-response trifecta. This means TR can reach victims that are often outside the scope of where other aid organizations will venture. And in less time.
Expanding their volunteer efforts
Team Rubicon is currently expanding their domestic disaster-relief structure substantially, expanding from three domestic regions to ten regions in the coming year. After successful relief work in Vermont after Hurricane Irene (the Governor of Vermont has officially declared March 31st as Team Rubicon Run as One day in recognition of their support) and in the Midwest and South after several deadly tornados , TR has identified a specific opportunity to develop a network of veterans that can respond to disaster events in their home region.
While much of the management and mission-coordination work requires very specific skill sets, the volunteers also focus on general skills-based and hands-on tasks – like clearing debris, moving sand bags, and rebuilding damaged property – to restore communities and provide participating veterans opportunities for continued service. Their strategic use of volunteers and Service Enterprise structure (more on the SE concept here ) will enable them to engage more volunteers and rapidly deliver aid while requiring minimal movement of people and supplies.
Pro bono has a place in the conference room of every nonprofit in the country (and trust us, TR is using pro bono resources for their organizational needs, too). But the pro bono that TR makes possible through their domestic and international missions couldn’t be happening any further from the safety of office walls. And for the veterans that are signed up and ready to help when the need strikes, that may be just what they are looking for: pro bono without PowerPoints. We think that’s a pretty cool thing.