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We Rise by Lifting Others

Kate Brown

Kate is an outdoor enthusiast, not-so-weary traveller, and certified wilderness EMT with a knack for quick problem-solving after spending several years supporting operations in the airline industry.

At the worst moment of your life when you aren’t sure how you’re going to get through today, let alone move forward, the smallest act of kindness can save you. It can get you through the day and eventually to a place where you can say, “I don’t know where the other shore of this dark sea is, but I’ll get there somehow.” It can give you the courage to keep paddling and return the sense that you deserve to be saved.

Sometimes it’s a tornado that tears your life to bits, sometimes it’s an injury. When I hurt my back a few years ago, I found myself utterly lost and completely alone in the obliterated space that had been my whole life. I lost all sense of who I was if I couldn’t work or even lift my own groceries.

I was drowning, and I’m not sure I would have even realized I already knew how to swim had it not been for simple acts of kindness.

The moment I started to move forward I wanted to help others do the same. I didn’t know what lay ahead of me, and in many ways I really still don’t, but I was absolutely sure helping other people along the way was the best way to get there.

I’ve been following Team Rubicon since I first heard about them in the wake of the Haiti earthquake, but I wasn’t sure I could be of any use as a volunteer if I couldn’t get dirty and do the heavy lifting. I registered as a volunteer, but I never signed up for deployments because I still felt helpless. When I finally worked up the courage to reach out and say I want to help but I don’t know how to if I can’t swing a sledgehammer, I was hit with life-saving kindness. “Of course we can use you! There’s always something to do, even if you can’t haul debris all day!”

Kate_Brown_Hawaii_Steadfast
Kate deployed on Operation: Steadfast in Hawaii in August 2014 and lent her smarts to the planning section.

Team Rubicon welcomed me and reminded me again that being less physically able than I once was doesn’t make me any less valuable. I had an instinct to help other people begin to find their way out of the darkness, even if it was just by tearing out some carpet and drywall, but before I even stepped foot on a pile of debris, I got so much more than I could ever give.

I realized that by focusing on what I couldn’t do anymore, I forgot how much I can do. I’ve been on two deployments now, and I can promise you that if you’re sitting at home feeling like you can’t contribute, you’re wrong. You are not only useful, you’re invaluable, and all you have to do is say, “I want to help and this is what I can do.”

Civil War veteran Robert Ingersoll said, “We rise by lifting others,” and he could not have been more right. When the seas are dark and rough, we’re better off paddling together.

On Operation: Come As You Are in Washington, Kate learned a little about muck-outs while assisting residents affected by flooding.
On Operation: Come As You Are in Washington, Kate learned a little about muck-outs while assisting residents affected by flooding.
  • This article had me in tears. I can relate. I have faced many adversities in life myself and understand what losing all is like, what homelessness is like; feeling destitute, desolate, forgotten, betrayed, rejected, etc., is like…I have been a service provider and caretaker since childhood and have always known that this “is who I am.” I was on the Prime Beef Disaster Relief and Military Exercise and Training Mobility Team for 9 years while on active duty. We were on call 24/7 and 365.. Bags always packed and ready to go at a moments notice. We were always the first to arrive as the set up, supply, services and support team who built tent cites and reopening old facilities that were sometimes closed for years. Providing the necessary needs of food, shelter, latrines, care, etc.. A small group of us would be sent in to set up and provide the services for hundreds and thousands at times.. Amazing what a handful of services, civil engineers and supply personnel can do. We were that readiness team! I too became physically disadvantaged by injuries to my back, shoulder, hernia, etc., with surgeries to follow, while on active duty. This was from the hard work and heavy lifting that we all did. I am now a medically retired Veteran; considered unemployable by VA due to my service connected injuries. However, I have so much to offer with my life long experiences in Business Management, Food Service Management, Inventory and Supply and The Care industry; past and present. It seems a waste to not be volunteering my time, knowledge and training abilities to help others, as I always have done. I like to serve and care for others.. If this means feeding, counseling, directing or training others in need, I think I can still do something to help out; so long as it does not interfere with the physical limitations. I am happy to see an organization giving opportunity to Veterans, including disabled and medically discharged Veterans and qualified civilians, in order to obtain peace of mind and soul by having a sense of self worth. This alone makes this organization and the opportunities to serve, a jewel in the crown of glory! I feel that the founder and all who are involved are God sent. This is smart and shows great love and care for others, by allowing the practice of hope, faith, grace, mercy and love “on both sides” as we all help one another during hard times and disasters, sharing all things in common. This article has me seriously thinking about applying to join this team.