I joined Team Rubicon in September as hurricanes barreled up the Caribbean. As I watched them, my sense of helplessness grew and I knew I had to get more active in assisting people in times of trouble. I researched a number of disaster relief organizations, but article after article pointed out that TR was a mission driven, agile organization that deployed in times of need to both large events and smaller ones around the nation and sometimes the world.
As a civilian member, I presumed there would be some bias towards veterans. I was prepared to be completely fine with that. However, what I soon realized was the organization celebrates diversity: diversity of personality, diversity of background, diversity of ethnicity, diversity of economic status, diversity of skill levels and diversity of age and gender. How does TR celebrate this diversity? By simply not recognizing those as factors. The only prerequisites are a passion for safety, a desire to help people in need, and to simply get things done.
I have been to Puerto Rico twice and to Erie, Pennsylvania once in addition to participating in some local volunteer events. As my TRibe colleagues and I have cleaned out homes, cleared downed trees, delivered food and water, and set up medical clinics we have been thanked time and time again by the local citizens and our friends. However, there is nothing I have given that is greater than what I receive – it doesn’t even come close.
What I receive is a sense of purpose, a pathway toward being useful in times of need, a tremendously diverse Tribe network, some new skills (like the chainsaw and core ops) and a feeling of a job well done. And I should point out that I have learned so much by getting to interact and participate as a civilian with this largely veteran group. To see the scars of war, both physical and mental, on my veteran colleagues is humbling. To see them once again raise their hands joyously and willingly to give a helping and protective hand when they have already served and sacrificed so much is nothing short of inspiring. I am so glad I found this TRibe. They are my sort of people.