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Purpose on Steroids Brought to You by Team Rubicon

Pat Ross

Deputy Director of Membership Pat Ross III grew up in Connecticut and graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Political Science and the answers to all the world’s problems. For six years he supported Marine Infantry Battalions and advised foreign military forces. After finishing his time with the Corps, he completed a Masters of Business Administration at The Ohio State University.

Every day, I throw on my red TR hoodie and haul ass to my desk. On the rare day I actually run (like, for exercise) before TRing, I can easily rationalize cutting my run short because of a small eureka moment that I have to tell our Field Operations team about. It’s a common occurrence for our CEO, COO, and Director of Field Operations to tell us to go home. It feels good to know we have a purpose – deploy Greyshirts where they are needed most.

Membership operations associates Jon Chin and Kate Browne help coordinate deployments from the National Operations Center in Dallas.
Membership operations associates Jon Chin and Kate Browne help coordinate deployments from the National Operations Center in Dallas.

This week, we kicked off five operations around the country and continued our long-term operation in Greece without batting an eye. To most who don’t wear Red & Grey, our operational tempo seems extreme, insane, and ridiculous; for us, it’s just awesome. We doubled down on Project Clutch Proposition and Project Bust a Move, surging talent and bringing nerds, geeks, and logisticians to the National Operations Center and National Office in order to help carry the load. These humanitarians earn their grey shirt every day by building our systems to support even more operations.

Team Rubicon is managing six operations, the most concurrent responses in its nearly seven-year history.
Team Rubicon is managing seven operations, the most concurrent responses in its nearly seven-year history.

You can feel the energy. We’re always busy. We’re moving and working with focus and purpose. I am confident Mother Nature could deal us a one-two punch followed by a Roadhouse roundhouse and we’d respond with ease and a roaring “Let’s Do This!” The endless streams of emails and video conferences prompted me to reflect on how we make this massive Red & Grey machine work. Here’s what I remembered:

Who enables this momentum to build this organization?

Every day there are 450 volunteer staff members and over 30 Clay Hunt Fellows relentlessly chasing down tasks, bridging gaps, and preparing for the next operation.

Even from behind my screen, I can feel their indomitable spirit. They are tenacious. They are builders.

They donate their time, talent and experience to build training curriculums, host realistic training, and set the conditions for timely, efficient and effective operations. They make building and leading this organization their priority. It motivates me to no end when we see leaders jumping on Blue Jeans calls at all hours of the day regardless of if they are at work, on vacation, or at the bar. Some of my favorites: Inside of gondola, outside a funeral, hiding in a bathroom at work, and on shift in a fire truck, but I think that was our International Ops Chief, Matt Pelak…

Hundreds of volunteer leaders ensure we get Greyshirts to where they can provide the most help.
Hundreds of volunteer leaders ensure we get Greyshirts to where they can provide the most help when homeowners aren’t sure where to start.

I was blessed to participate in both the Region II and III Leadership Conferences. Both were cold, wet, and awesome (Hey, Region III, time for a motto). When I swung through Region VIII for a quick turn on the chainsaw during Burnt TRee, the sweat, sawdust, and smiles were endless. Their professionalism, competence and steady sense of purpose was energizing. These leaders of Greyshirts are on the move and are taking Team Rubicon to the front of America’s conscience when disasters strike.

Region VIII members crushed a long-term recovery project at Buckhorn Camp in Colorado, damaged by the 2012 High Park Fire.
Region VIII members crushed a long-term recovery project at Buckhorn Camp in Colorado, damaged by the 2012 High Park Fire.

What drives us to keep pushing the limit?

You know that feeling we get when we hear the Marines Hymn, the National Anthem, or Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”? You know how we stand up a little straighter and clench our jaw to take a pause when we’re rolling into the Forward Operating Base after a long day in the field? You remember that feeling when we stepped off onto our first deployment? Those feelings, which I can barely describe (because I think I am scared of feelings) come out when we read the story of Eli or Nancy.

We met Nancy on Operation Country Roads in West Virginia. The team helped recover her father's burial flag in the wake of severe flooding.
We met Nancy on Operation Country Roads in West Virginia. The team helped recover her father’s burial flag in the wake of severe flooding.

That passion and resolve to be there is always with us; it’s part of our TR ethos. It’s what drives the team to work until the task is complete. We know that feeling I describe above. We love that feeling (although we’re usually too humble to admit it or talk about it, because we’re professionals and we’re leaders in the community). We feel it every time the call goes out and we respond with a resounding Send Me.

Who is standing on the line?

Each week, 200 Greyshirts join the team as volunteers and commit to being there for their fellow human. The term “volunteer” is a powerful one because it carries the weight of service, compassion, and selflessness. This relationship between the disaster victims and the Greyshirts is one nuance which makes our organization special. We could walk away at any moment but we don’t. When the load is too big, the debris too heavy or the conditions too austere, we make a joke, swear at the situation, and keep working.

Crushing tasks without complaints on Operation Golden Oak in Santa Clarita, CA.
Crushing tasks without complaints on Operation Golden Oak in Santa Clarita, CA.

As volunteers, we could leave and no one could blame us, but we remain. We execute. That’s our purpose. Team Rubicon volunteers execute and they do so willingly without any incentive other than that tingly feeling we feel deep inside known as Purpose.

It’s healthy to pause and reflect, but right now, we should get back to work.

See you out there.