Many military veterans like Nick Haskell want to keep serving their country long after they are finished with their service. Team Rubicon, a national non-profit group that organizes military veterans for emergency disaster relief across the world, gives them that chance. And when they’re not responding to disasters, many TR members volunteer at Habitat Philadelphia, proving that the group is synonymous with hard work and dedication to a good cause.
Nick is a former Air Force Military Police Officer, and he’s been involved with Team Rubicon since its beginnings in 2010, after the earthquake that devastated Haiti. A small group of American former military medical personnel—no longer serving but knowing that their skills were needed—headed down just three days after the quake to provide relief efforts. Nick, who was deployed to Haiti, spent time with those veterans as they created what would become Team Rubicon. “It was very interesting to see it from the start,” Nick says. He has a heart for service (he’s also a volunteer fire fighter) and after finishing his time in the military, Team Rubicon was the first thing that came to mind. “It was what I needed,” he says. “I wanted to get out and meet people and do work.”
As a Team Rubicon member Nick has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity several times, but he says his favorite experience so far has been the Builders’ Challenge in North Philadelphia this past summer, when over 75 volunteers came together to frame five new Habitat homes in just three days. “What we got accomplished in the three days was unreal. There were about 15 members from TR. We worked alongside side some other groups and the homeowners, which was pretty cool.” When asked how his experience with Team Rubicon differs from other volunteering that he’s done, Nick said it’s the work ethic that sets TR members apart. “I’ve done volunteer work with other organizations, but it seems like with veterans, they never slow down. They just go, go, go, until the day’s over. I think that’s what stands out the most.”
Since his experience helping in Haiti, Nick hasn’t forgotten the importance of volunteering overseas as well as in his own community. This past fall he joined a Habitat for Humanity Global Village team that travelled to Nepal, another country recently devastated by an earthquake. He and other volunteers built a house for a local family in four days. “We really didn’t know what we were getting into because the details weren’t really ironed out until we were on site,” he says. Once the team got there, they found out they’d be building everything, from the foundation to the roof. “It was an awesome experience! We met the village and they cooked us lunch every day. The homeowners were also there building with us.” It was the only Habitat house being built in the village, which Nick thought made the trip even more special. He plans to join another Global Village trip as soon as he can. Maybe he’ll recruit some other Team Rubicon volunteers to come, too.
For all of their hard work, Nick still describes the Team Rubicon community as easy-going. “It’s just like being in the military again—but fun,” he says. “The friendships that you build in the military are different than the ones that you build in the civilian life, and you kind of get that feeling again with your TR friends.”
Interested in volunteering with Habitat, too? Visit our website to learn more.