I joined Team Rubicon after Hurricane Harvey. I was drawn to the idea of an organization that went out and did physical labor to help people. Actual, hard work.
I expected devastation after seeing footage of water over the tops of people’s houses. But in truth, it was even worse than I’d expected. At this point, it was weeks after the hurricane had passed and some people were just getting help for the first time.
We went to one home and knocked on a door even though it was open. The homeowner was on her hands and knees, pulling nails out of the floor, alone and crying. We introduced ourselves and went out to stage our gear. When we went back in the house, she was on the floor again, pulling nails. We said, “what are you doing, stop, we’ll do that for you. We’re here now.” We walked her over to a chair to sit while we worked. She started crying again–this time I think they were tears of joy and relief.
It was awesome to be there, to see her tears switch from sorrow to joy. We were told, “treat this house like it is your own” and really, we treated it better than that. We all have the means to hire people to do that kind of work at our own houses–we knew Ana and her mother didn’t have those resources so we did every single thing we could before we finished.
I’m 52, and I was the second youngest person on my team in Magnolia and we just crushed it all week long. We brought a lot of experience to the table and not a lot of ego–after about the first hour, it was like we’d worked together for years.
On the way home, after a week at Magnolia, I didn’t think I’d go back. Not anytime soon, anyways. I have a business and family and responsibilities at home. When that email came a few weeks later, though, saying they needed help in Texas? I said yes again without hesitation.
When I got to Kashmere Gardens, they made me the Operations Section Chief. I missed being on a strike team, but I enjoyed being in Ops, too. It’s not the same as sweating alongside a team in a house, or wringing your underwear out in the porta-potty. However, the camaraderie was still there.
After a week in Ops, I went out to the field and met a homeowner who really touched my heart. An elderly disabled veteran on a fixed income, working on his house, alone. He was over the top excited and thankful for the help we were giving him. It was great. After a week in the office I needed to be reminded of what we were doing there, and he brought it all back home.
He cried, I might’ve cried. It was an awesome experience. This is a fantastic organization and I’m proud to be a member. I’ll be back—locally, regionally or nationally.