No Burden Is Too Heavy if We All Lift Together

By Giving List Staff   |   November 26, 2022
Bucket Brigade Academy is a youth leadership training program that teaches students life-saving skills and how to safely lead volunteers in response to a community crisis.

The origin story of the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade is the stuff of legend – and for good reason. In the aftermath of the 2017 record-shattering Thomas Fire and 2018 debris flow that devastated Montecito, the Bucket Brigade emerged from the mud leading an army of volunteers to dig out homes, clear open spaces, and restore trails to reconnect the community. 

In the following five years, while over four million acres of California burned and we endured a global pandemic, the Bucket Brigade continued to work, reestablishing five miles of neighborhood trail and restoring riparian habitats in areas affected by the debris flow. During the pandemic, they launched the Bucket Brigade Academy, volunteers sewed and delivered 40,000 masks to critical service workers, built and delivered home victory garden kits throughout the region, and delivered food and supplies to vulnerable seniors.

 “In the wake of larger and more frequent disasters, just wanting to help our neighbors is no longer enough,” says Abe Powell, the Brigade’s co-founder. “We need to become good at helping each other as a whole community.”

In Montecito, the Bucket Brigade has broadened its scope from immediate disaster relief to include projects that build long-term resilience, including neighborhood organizing efforts like the Walk Montecito! safe-routes-to-school campaign. 

Looking ahead, the Bucket Brigade has two major Community Uplift Projects that it wishes to expand with donor support: the Bucket Brigade Academy and Bucket Brigade Humanitarian Garden. The Academy is a youth leadership training program where students learn advanced volunteer leadership skills to prepare to lead relief efforts in their own communities in a time of need. Located at Elings Park, the Humanitarian Garden is a seven-acre public space where volunteers come to connect and develop urgently-needed community restoration skills. The garden is a safe space where local leaders and volunteers from all around come to learn and train in habitat restoration, regenerative agriculture, community organizing, and disaster relief.

“To train a generation of climate leaders, we need to create a safe space where community members can learn and grow together,” Powell says.


Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade

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(805) 568-9700
Co-founder and CEO: Abe Powell


The Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade was created to prepare for and respond to natural disasters and community crises through volunteer training, coordination, and deployment.

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During a crisis, the Bucket Brigade turns helplessness into helping by enabling the community to lead its own recovery effort. The inclusive, welcoming approach gives ordinary people a chance to become neighborhood heroes in a time of need. This is something every community needs right now.
Greg Tebbe
Bucket Brigade President and Volunteer

You Can Help Build Resilience in Santa Barbara County

The Bucket Brigade resilience model focuses on people and community. 

“The feel-good factor of volunteering is overwhelmingly powerful, especially since we are so privileged in our own lives,” says Hy Rosario, a Bucket Brigade volunteer.

“The opportunity to give is returned ten-fold and cannot be overstated.”

You can become a Bucket Brigade Member or Sponsor today by visiting and clicking the red donate button. Donations can also be made by mail to P.O. Box 50640 Santa Barbara, CA 93150. Your donations help the Bucket Brigade keep the doors open and provide the safety equipment, materials, and leadership needed for year-round community action and uplift.

“Now is the time to reconnect with the Bucket Brigade community,” says Co-founder Abe Powell. “Join us as we remember what it means to be good neighbors in a time of need – not just with words, but with deeds.”

Key Supporters

Zegar Family Foundation
The Muller Family
Ann Jackson Family Foundation
Christina Kirby and Josh Kulkin
Eric and Wendy Schmidt
Geoff Slaff and Dale Zurawski
The Brittingham Family Foundation
Audacious Foundation
Sharon Bradford/WWW
Tony and Kyra Rogers
Jackie & Jeff Schaffer
Nati & Michael Smith
and Anne Smith Towbes