More United Than Divided

Deanna Bitetti

"There was a deep and unabated feeling of acceptance. Regardless of our differences, there truly is more that unites us than divides us."

I never told my teammates on Operation Hard Hustle how their dedication, compassion, and unyielding commitment pushed me to be better every day. I never told the people of Rockport, Texas how their resilience, even in the face of what seemed like insurmountable challenges, inspired me. I didn’t tell the mother who put masks on her children before entering their bathroom to protect them from black mold spores, or the 80-year old woman who divulged she was hauling away debris by herself an hour a day. I didn’t have the chance to thank Team Rubicon for the experience which reinvigorated my devotion to public service as I witnessed the deep and lasting impact the organization had on the communities we served and the people who volunteered.


Pictured left: Deanna in Rockport, TX.


When I signed up as a volunteer with Team Rubicon, I had little foresight about what the experience might bring. Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25, 2017. Although I knew the area had been hit hard, when I responded to my deployment notice and headed to the airport, I did so with trepidation. I knew I had to do something – anything – but I wasn’t sure if I was adequately prepared.

I ended up spending nine days with a diverse and inspirational team. My initial hesitancy was gone within moments of getting in the field. Everyone I encountered was welcoming and willing to get me up to speed on how Team Rubicon operations worked and freely shared their own expertise on everything from operations to logistics. My teammates and I slept on cots in the same room in a local civic center where we woke up at 0600 every morning to eat breakfast before heading out into the community. We got to know the people of Rockport and Aransas Pass. We sweat alongside homeowners as we worked together to clear debris and remove wet and moldering drywall. We were even invited in for glasses of sweet tea which helped us briefly forget the heat and humidity. We shared tears for all that had been lost and hugs for that which had been gained.



In the evening, we came together around the Forward Operating Base (FOB), veterans and civilians alike, from cities across the U.S. and countries around the world. We listened to each other’s jokes and shared stories about our lives. There was a deep and unabated feeling of acceptance. Regardless of our differences, there truly is more that unites us than divides us.

So I am taking a moment to say thank you to my team, the people of Texas, and Team Rubicon. My life is richer after having the opportunity to serve. I look forward to continuing that service, and I can only hope to live up to the standards set by my teammates in Texas.

See you in the field.

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