Helping is Contagious

Adam Peterson

Adam Peterson is a Team Rubicon volunteer residing in California. He's also an ordained minister who's spent 15 years overseas, living in five different countries.

I joined Team Rubicon because of their reputation of being effective. I didn’t want to join an organization and hand out water bottles and wish people well–I wanted my skills and capabilities put to good use.

I hesitated to join; I expected it to be military based and I figured I wouldn’t fit into that brotherhood. Now that I’m here I realize TR is its own family.

There is a brotherhood here and every Greyshirt is included. There is something for everyone. We all did something different. If pulling nails was your thing, you pulled nails all day. If you wanted to swing a sledgehammer all day, you could do that, too, but we all worked, and sweated, side by side, all day long.

There are people here I would never have gotten to know and here, we’re all close. My strike team was incredibly diverse. We worked well together and we worked hard. Meeting the homeowners was harder than I expected. I wanted to ask how they feel, I wanted to console them, even crack a joke but I realized it’s ok to just be with them. Be sad with them, try to understand what they feel. I realized that made a difference; just us being there.

In some cases, the Greyshirts were sadder than the homeowners–they’d accepted the situation by the time we arrived and when a Greyshirt was sad, they consoled us, told us they were excited we were there.

It hits you when you’re taking all of their belongings out of the house–VHS tapes, photo albums, clothes, everything. It’s incomprehensible–almost insurmountable. We had to look at small victories; one pile at a time, one room at a time. I’ll absolutely come on another operation. Helping is contagious.