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Go Forth and Get Dirty

Nathan Williams

Nathan is a Milken Scholar and Army ROTC scholarship recipient currently studying Government at Harvard College.

During Operation: Come as You Are, I was amazed by Team Rubicon’s ability to balance efficiency with kindness. In most mission-driven organizations, the human element is often sacrificed in order to maximize effectiveness and complete an objective as quickly as possible. However, the members of TR never lost sight of the fact that, behind all the extensive flood damage, the most severe damage done was to the citizens of Aberdeen themselves.

Nathan (far right) spent several days sweating and mucking out basements in Aberdeen, WA in January 2015.
Nathan (far right) spent several days knee-deep in mud while mucking out basements in Aberdeen, WA in January 2015.

Team Rubicon went beyond physical labor; each volunteer actively sought out to comfort those who had lost so much. Just as impressive as the compassion of my fellow volunteers was the almost immediate bond formed between them. Upon arriving in Aberdeen, I was quickly integrated into the team despite my late arrival. Although I never deployed with TR before, I was treated as a close friend by even the most experienced volunteers.

Never before have I worked with an organization with such a strong sense of community between members from all walks of life.

Regarding volunteering itself, many individuals, especially those from the civilian world with little experience with disaster relief, may feel unqualified for the work Team Rubicon sets out to tackle. However, despite my young age and inexperience, the leaders on the ground were quick to assign me to a team and put me to work where I was most effective. In addition, I had the honor of working with veterans from all branches, a rare opportunity for most in the civilian world.

Nathan, 19, felt at home sweating through his deployment T-shirt among veterans from all branches.
Nathan, 18, felt at home sweating through his deployment T-shirt among veterans from all branches.

For those of you reading this who have never deployed with Team Rubicon, I don’t have the words to describe how amazing my experience was. It’s just one of those things you’ve got to try for yourself, so go forth and get dirty.

  • Great article. I look forward to my first deployment.