For many military veterans, dedication to the greater good lasts a lifetime—and that’s something that Jenna Brandolini knows well. “Studies say that more than 90 percent of people who have left the military want to continue serving their country or their community,” she says. Jenna volunteers as the Pennsylvania Engagement Coordinator for Team Rubicon, a national non-profit group that organizes military veterans for emergency disaster relief across the world.
And when they aren’t responding to a disaster? In September 2014, Team Rubicon volunteers converged in Philadelphia for three days to help us build and repair homes—part of Boots For Building, a veteran-focused community service event planned in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation. Since then, Team Rubicon volunteers have dedicated over 1100 volunteer hours to Habitat construction projects across the city.
The partnership made sense. “We’re always looking for events and service projects in the community that connect to Team Rubicon’s mission,” says Jenna—and Habitat For Humanity was the perfect fit. “It’s recognizing someone else in the community that wants to work really hard for a mission, to achieve their goal of homeownership. Our members really see the benefit in that and want to support future homeowners in achieving their dream of getting a house.” Over the three days of Boots For Building, Team Rubicon volunteers pushed construction forward on six new Habitat homes, and helped Habitat complete major home repairs for a Vietnam-era veteran homeowner in Germantown, completely transforming his house.
“A lot of these guys and girls have skill sets in building and construction from their outside careers,” says Jenna. “So they are able to quickly jump into a Habitat site and support the work that’s being done.” And the years they’ve spent in the military means that Team Rubicon volunteers are natural leaders. Jenna says that’s one of the most important things about Team Rubicon. “They have leadership skills that they’ve spent years developing—and that we often forget about when they come back home.”
And that’s why our partnership with Team Rubicon is about more than just volunteering. Jenna says it’s also a way for veterans to re-engage at home while putting their military training to good use. “A lot of people come out of the military and don’t know what to do because no job feels the same—they’re missing that service and leadership piece,” she says. “Habitat reconnects them with that sense of purpose that they may have lost after leaving the military. They see that this is what they’re good at. They can handle this.”
Volunteers are essential to our mission—from individuals to corporate sponsors, investment from the community is the lifeblood of our work. Interested in putting your skills to work with us, or getting your team involved at Habitat? Visit our website to learn more.