On January 12, 2010, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was struck by an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude, followed by eight aftershocks. Two Marines, Jake Wood and William McNulty, decided to contribute to the relief effort, particularly emphasizing those who needed to receive adequate aid from other organizations. They gathered a small team and crossed the Artibonite River into Haiti from the Dominican Republic, much like Julius Caesar once crossed the Rubicon on January 10, 49 B.C.E., into Rome from Gaul, almost 2,059 years prior. They called themselves Team Rubicon, acknowledging that, like Caesar’s trek started a civil war, this was a “point of no return” for them. Afterward, they would be devoted to helping others. Indeed, since 2013, Team Rubicon has trained 29,765 volunteers to respond to disasters, run 785 field operations, logged 1,212,383 volunteer hours, and saved communities over $35,000,000.
In addition to providing free disaster relief to underserved communities, Team Rubicon is unique because of the makeup of its squad: military veterans, first responders, and medical professionals working together to deliver aid.
Veterans, in particular, are adequately prepared from their prior training, and in return, they get a continued sense of purpose, community, and identity after leaving military life. The 22 million veterans in the U.S. are “America’s greatest national resource,” Team Rubicon states on its website.
Among the most important supporters of Team Rubicon’s work is Ford Motor Company. Before June 2023, Ford had invested $1.5 million in the organization and supported its mission through vehicle donations and volunteer hours. Ford provided vehicles and funds to help Team Rubicon’s response to 2017’s Hurricane Harvey and donated $300,000 in the aftermath of 2022’s Hurricane Ian. Plus, 34 Ford employees joined Team Rubicon’s local volunteers – called “Greyshirts” – this year to repair 45 homes in Detroit that were damaged by floods in 2021.
Photo courtesy Team Rubicon.
On June 20, Ford Motor Company and the Ford Fund announced even more support for the humanitarian group by launching Team Rubicon Powered by Ford, a five-year partnership for disaster relief.
As part of the new effort, Ford is investing $2.5 million in Team Rubicon’s Ready Reserve Fund, which supports the Greyshirts’ training and allows the organization to launch relief efforts immediately. A total investment of $5.8 million is in the pipeline. Plus, through the Ford Volunteer Corps, a program that provides paid time off in exchange for volunteer hours, employees at the auto company will have more opportunities to work on the ground alongside the Greyshirts. Detroit and Houston will be the first cities to experience the benefits of this collaboration.
It is not the first time Ford has contributed to such causes.
Over the last several years, Ford has provided $7 million for disaster relief efforts. The Ford Volunteer Corps launched after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake rocked İzmit, Turkey, in 1999. According to the Ford Fund, its employees have volunteered 1.7 million hours since 2005.
The automotive conglomerate is also donating 17 trucks and SUVs to help the volunteers clear roads, pull skid steers and compact track loaders, and carry food and medical equipment, thus raising Team Rubicon’s total number of Ford-made vehicles to 47. Ford’s Project Apollo, which churned out and distributed personal protective equipment like masks and respirators to employees, at-risk communities, and patients during the Covid-19 pandemic, provided the funding that made this donation possible. Team Rubicon’s newly acquired fleet consists of 10 F-150® XL PowerBoost® Hybrid trucks, three Ford F-150® Lightning® Pro pickup trucks, two Ford Super Duty® F-350® XL trucks, and two Ford Bronco® 4-door SUVs.
All trucks have Pro Power Onboard, enabling them to act as mobile generators that can export power to run vital communications and medical equipment when operating in areas that have lost electricity. The Broncos are equipped with the Sasquatch package, providing enhanced off-road capabilities through 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels and 35-inch mud-terrain tires. The wrap design on the cars features reflective surfaces to improve visibility at night. Ford also guarantees five years of service maintenance, warranty coverage, and Ford Pro™ Fleet Management software for all vehicles, ensuring timely assistance in the case of any technical difficulties.
Team Rubicon explained in a blog post, “This partnership will help us get more shit done. More sawing and sweating; more swamping tornado-toppled trees to the curb and stapling tarps to hurricane-tattered roofs; more getting stuff done.”
Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company.