When a disaster hits and a community is shaken, it truly takes a village to rebuild it in every sense.
Each year communities across Canada and around the world are affected by disasters and humanitarian crises, and Team Rubicon Canada strives to help those communities begin their path to recovery sooner.
The volunteer group is made up of military veterans, first responders, medical and technology professionals who are skilled and passionate about serving others.
Cochranite Ric Henderson is among the volunteers with the Team as well as fellow Cochrane Residents Doug Noseworthy, Jerry Peddle and Guyle Colling.
"My career was with the RCMP and I was stationed in Cochrane back in the '80s," explains Henderson. "I was a volunteer with the Fire Department as was Guyle Colling. He and I joined the Fire Department on the same day back in 1984. Doug Noseworthy was a career firefighter in Cochrane and he's also a military veteran as is Jerry Peddle.
The four Cochrane residents recently stepped up to help with the aftermath of a devastating wildfire that struck Lytton B.C. on June 30.
"Team Rubicon Canada initially sent a group to Kamloops to work in the operation centre for the village," explains Henderson. " Then in August, we transitioned into helping individuals go through their properties in Lytton; through the rubble and the ashes looking for property that might be recovered from those buildings."
The group of volunteers spent 91 days in the community working alongside Lytton leadership and Lytton First Nation, to help with that recovery process.
In not wanting to be an added burden on the already shaken community members, after spending their days working, the recovery team spent their nights sleeping on cots first at a vacant home donated by the local YMCA, and later in a school.
Henderson says that during this period they were able to help about 60 homeowners return to their properties and recover valuables from the ash and debris.
He describes his experience in Lytton as "very overwhelming."
"A town of two hundred and some people who now have no homes and now they're scattered in many different places throughout B.C.," recalls Henderson. "But the people we dealt with were very resilient. We were looking for whatever we could get out of their property that was important to them and sometimes we found things that they didn't even remember [they had]."
Since launching the operation in mid-July, Team Rubicon Canada deployed 92 volunteers, many of whom were deployed multiple times and contributed close to 7,500 hours of their time and service.