One Woman’s Journey of Empowerment Through Volunteering

The Year of Self-Reflection Made Tawnia DuVall Heed The Call of Duty


Donning the Greyshirt. Tawnia DuVall and a few other volunteers from all walks of life, united with a common goal to improve other people’s lives.

Tawnia DuVall has been with Rob Rice Homes since 1999 and truly values her work as the group’s accountant. An accomplished woman with a growing family and a loving husband, Tawnia saw the past year as an opportunity to take on several self-improvement goals — everything from completing a half marathon to enrolling in a shooting school in Nevada. She is the kind of person to continually push herself to grow.

Category 4 Hurricane Ian devastated Florida in September 2022, and hundreds of people were affected and lost their homes. “The amount of destruction was unbelievable,” Tawnia shares. Seeing this shattering effect on other people’s lives sparked her strong desire to volunteer for Team Rubicon.

Team Rubicon is a veteran-led humanitarian organization founded in 2010 that aims to provide urgent assistance to communities before, during and after disasters and crises. Created by a group of retired military personnel, the organization became an opportunity for veterans and civilians to find their purpose. Tawnia shares that the group’s no-BS attitude (often associated with military culture) is what attracted her and several other civilians and veterans to the volunteer ranks.

When she saw the news, Tawnia immediately became “interested in helping out with disaster relief.” A week before Thanksgiving she and 84 other volunteers flew to a small community in the area. Although it meant missing the holiday, her family members were exceptionally proud of her and the work she set out to do.

Tawnia underwent volunteer training and conducted site surveys, which meant she looked around the location and talked to people to find out what was needed. “From there, we went back to Team Rubicon and discussed what we could do to help. I did physical mucking out and cleaned a lot of gross stuff!” The experience pushed Tawnia out of her comfort zone, away from family and the convenience of her home.

She recalls that despite the hardships, the residents just wanted to talk to somebody. Having those meaningful conversations can bring joy into other peoples’ lives. As she encountered numerous stories and connected with people in the area, she was moved by their resiliency and positivity. “Everybody was just so happy to be alive! Many times I just cried my eyes out.”


Tawnia DuVall and her growing family.

In November 2022 Hurricane Ian struck Florida, prompting Tawnia and several other volunteers to extend aid through Team Rubicon.

It was a life-changing encounter that capped off her year of self-discovery and empowerment. “I met a lot of people — from 20-something young volunteers to veterans in their 60s!” She continues, “When you’re there, you realize it’s not always about money or things or what we don’t have.” Learning this has given Tawnia a newfound perspective on what truly matters: finding joy in uplifting others.

In a time of need, it’s inspiring to see how one person can make an immense impact, and Tawnia is a remarkable reminder of how much can be achieved through selfless action. She shares, “It was a very fulfilling experience. I want to go back and volunteer for as long as I can because I just want to give back. I want to be able to say I made a difference with somebody.” Her story even encouraged her husband to join in on a similar endeavor!

Perseverance and determination leads to empowerment — these are some of the qualities the Rob Rice Homes team possesses, and what has helped push the business to succeed. We are thankful for members like Tawnia who continually strive for self-growth and excellence, making a significant impact not just in the office but in greater communities.

If you want to volunteer for Team Rubicon, you may get in touch with them directly.

Want to learn more about Rob Rice Homes? You can visit their website here.

Rob Rice is Thurston County’s largest local homebuilder and was voted the Best of South Sound numerous times, building more than 3,500 homes over the last 30 years.