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How Team Rubicon is Helping Puerto Rico: A Carpenter’s Perspective

Team Rubicon has been investing more than $4 million in Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria. We have hired local contractors to rebuild more than 400 roofs and a minimum of three houses by the end of 2018. But these numbers do not tell the whole story; the whole story can only be told by talking to the people’s whose lives have been changed by this investment, to homeowners, the local construction crews who are doing the work and the local Team Rubicon rebuild associate. The following article is part two in a three-part series that explores this investment from the people most affected.

Master carpenter Anibal Rosado pounds nails into a roof frame on the second story of Aurora Agosto’s home in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico. He sings a bit as he works. When he climbs down a ladder to the stand on the floor of the second story, he says in Spanish, “I love wood and I love this job.” Rosado travels a minimum of a half an hour one way to get to each job, but to him it is well worth it. This is the fifth house he’s worked on with a local contractor and Team Rubicon.

 

 

Before Team Rubicon decided to invest money into rebuilding Puerto Rico, the construction industry wasn’t as robust as it is today, and carpentry work was scarce. Rosado says he supported himself as a karaoke disc jockey and by singing. He worked five days a week from 5 p.m. until midnight. He enjoyed it, but missed working with wood.

“When the contractors started expanding, they put out ads looking for more workers. They interviewed us and kept only the best,” Rosado says, grateful that he was one of those chosen for full-time work. But then he hurt himself—not on the job but by falling at home—and he couldn’t work so he lost his job. He went back to disc jockeying and singing to try to make ends meet, while he healed and waited in the queue for the contractor to need another carpenter.

 

 

He was so happy when he got the call to come back to work. “I love people and being able to help,” he says. He calls himself “hyper” and says “I like to be busy” so climbing up and down ladders and roofs all day suits him. He still sings and disc jockeys on the weekends, both because he loves it and so he has a fallback job in case the construction surge ends.

He’s so grateful to have a steady income. “Team Rubicon is the best,” he says, before his break is over. He climbs back up the ladder and back to work.

Jill L. Ferguson is an artist, consultant, entrepreneur and author of eight books, most recently of the book Creating a Freelance Career (Routledge, August 2018).