Detroit Stories Episode 71: 'Team Rubicon' (PODCAST)

How a ragtag band of volunteers launched a global disaster relief organization after Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010

(0:04) Kelly Anne Ruda, a retired travel agent and teacher, unexpectedly becomes a valuable member of Team Rubicon, a veteran-led nonprofit assisting disaster-affected communities. Despite lacking typical disaster-relief skills, Kelly embraces the challenging work of hauling debris and using a chainsaw during her deployments, finding fulfillment in contributing to Team Rubicon's mission.

(4:37) Initially started by military veterans in response to the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, Team Rubicon grew from a small group led by Bro. Jim Boynton, SJ, to a global organization that includes diverse volunteers and provides disaster relief around the world.

(9:33) Bro. Jim describes leading volunteers and medical professionals treating victims during the first hours and days after the earthquake, bandaging wounds and responding to overwhelming needs.

(13:43) Seeing and treating so much pain, Bro. Jim talks about the need for volunteers to decompress and find fraternity among themselves. He describes his appreciation for the military veterans who lent their skills to the effort.

(17:25) After the earthquake, word about the group’s efforts spread. Bro. Jim talks about where the name “Team Rubicon” came from, and how in the years after the earthquake, the effort to respond to natural disasters around the world quickly expanded.

(24:33) Gary Gamble, a 62-year-old Marine Corps veteran, talks about his experiences since joining Team Rubicon after the flooding in the city of Detroit in 2021.

(29:09) Kelly talks about the unity felt among members of Team Rubicon, whose grey shirts serve as a visible sign of their fraternity and common mission. Although the work is exhausting, she says, it’s a unmistakably rewarding experience to help those who’ve suffered regain their lives. She talks about what makes it all worth it.

Reporting by Daniel Meloy; narration by Gabriella Patti; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

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