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The Volunteers You Won’t Hear About

Bobbi Snethen

Bobbi hails from Madison, WI, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin where she studied journalism and strategic communication. Following a stint as a freelance reporter, she served as a public relations professional in the nonprofit sector working to enhance community service through storytelling and online engagement.

The news hits— thousands of casualties, thousands more injured or missing as a result of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal. Amidst the online clamoring here in the States, dedicated members of Team Rubicon immediately pulled together an ISR (initial situation report) for a potential international relief operation.

Less than 36 hours later, a recon team was en route to Kathmandu. Soon after, additional teams followed to conduct impact assessments and medical operations.

So what does it take to get a highly capable team of doctors, logisticians, UAV specialists, and disaster management professionals across the country to provide aid in an area devastated by disaster? A lot more than you’ll ever read about in the news.

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Volunteers and staff assemble medical supplies courtesy of Direct Relief, Inc. for teams departing for Kathmandu during Operation: Tenzing.

Here’s a short list:

  • At any given time, six to ten volunteer planners hunkered down over keyboards, scouring online reports about the situation on the ground, pulling together an execution plan and identifying objectives and potential safety hazards for those in or en route to Kathmandu. They’re compiling data, reaching out to contacts and partnering agencies to get real-time info, and thrilled to do it because they signed up to serve.
  • There’s a motley crew coordinating immediate travel from cities across the globe to Kathmandu. That’s departures, arrivals, layovers, delays, pick-ups, and drop-offs to a city 20 hours away by plane. That’s ensuring every hard-charging member of TR who answered the call gets to Nepal to do good work and returns home safely. It’s no small task, and we’ve got a kick-ass trio logging serious hours at the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) making it all look easy from the outside. Decaffeinated beverages not allowed.
Volunteer Kate Browne details flight itineraries at the EOC during Operation: Tenzing.
  • Volunteers within driving distance of Los Angeles and others from across the country replied “absolutely” when the email dropped asking for their on site support at the EOC. They’re delivering hot meals, dropping members off at the airport, answering phone calls from supporters, and ensuring those deployed have everything on the packing list, among other essential tasks. They’re the monster bond glue that keeps shit together.
  • Regional Membership Managers and other leaders stepped up to help vet eager volunteers who registered their availability to deploy. It’s nothing short of incredible to see so many with families, full-time jobs, hectic semesters in college, etc. willing to donate their time and skills, and while not all who wish to deploy to Nepal will have the opportunity, it’s a testament to the selfless type of individual who joins this team.
  • Let’s not forget those who support Team Rubicon with their hard-earned dollars. Something compelled them to back up this crew with cash, and without their generosity, our volunteers simply could not keep serving. Have you checked out all the support and good feels happening on our Operation: Tenzing fundraising page? Highly recommended.

And the most beautiful thing? This happens across the country every day — volunteers dropping everything to support their communities in need, whether it’s from the comfort of their recliner in Any Town, USA or downrange in Kathmandu.

So when you see that photo of a former Army combat medic applying bandages to an open wound or the Marine veteran navigating a UAV to log damage assessments down a street rocked by Mother Nature, don’t forget who’s backing them up.