KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Lisa Thompson left the United States Air Force, the Clinton, Missouri, woman realized how much she relied on the structure and camaraderie of the military.
Five years ago, she discovered Team Rubicon, a nationwide volunteer agency geared toward giving veterans a chance to use the skills they learned in the military while helping communities recover from natural disasters.
“[I missed] having a purpose, having a mission,” Thompson explained.
Now she’s the Missouri state training lead for the nonprofit, and just last week she coordinated fellow volunteers at a mass vaccination event at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
Thompson said she normally meets people on their worst day - after a hurricane or tornado destroys their home. There’s a different feeling in a proactive event like a vaccination clinic.
“They are happy, they’re excited, they’re relieved,” she pointed out. “They’re grateful and thankful. It’s really nice to be a part of that really good, feel-good environment straight off the bat.”
The role of volunteers like Thompson doesn’t go unnoticed. The Kansas City Health Department said it could not pull off events without help.
“It is critical for us, in terms of this vaccine rollout, to have partners like Team Rubicon,” deputy Director Frank Thompson - no relation to Lisa - said plainly.
Over the course of the pandemic, Lisa Thompson has worked at food banks, testing clinics and on the Navajo Nation. For her dedicated service, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, headquartered in Kansas City, recognized her in its #StillServing campaign. The initiative highlights veterans who continue to serve their communities upon leaving the military.
Thompson brushes aside special attention, saying it’s been amazing to see how so many volunteers - veterans and not - have stepped up during the pandemic.
“It really brings out the best in people. You see neighbors getting out and helping each other and doing what needs to be done,” she said.
If you know a veteran making a difference, you can submit them for recognition through the VFW’s website.
During the pandemic, 41 Action News wants to spotlight people, organizations and companies helping the community. To share these stories, use #WeSeeYouKSHB on social media.