Once Strangers, Now Family

Jonah Thompson

Matt embarked on his first mission with TR and didn’t just change other people’s lives, but his own, too.

Ever since I was a child and saw disasters unfold on the news, I have always wanted to find a way to get involved with helping people get back on their feet. When I heard about Team Rubicon, I knew that this would be the opportunity I was looking for to make a real impact on peoples’ lives. I embarked upon my first deployment on Operation Tridge, in Midland Michigan, to help the community recover from the worst flooding since 1986. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew it was going to be an adventure.

When I first arrived at the forward operating base, I was amazed by how welcoming and friendly everyone was to me and each other. I didn’t know half of their names, but I knew we’d become a family as the week progressed.

The first day out in the field we assisted a family and removed gallon after gallon of mud from their basement while also trying to salvage what we could of their personal belongings. When we were carrying their damaged belongings out to the street we found the home owners discharge paperwork from when he served in the US Army. When we returned the paperwork to the man, his face went from an individual who was dealing with the emotional stress of losing so many of his belongings, to a smile from ear to ear that we had managed to save this paperwork marking a great memory from long ago.

The next home I was assigned to need to be gutted because the first floor took on approximately 21 inches of water. The homeowner stated that he was able to canoe around his property with the amount of water at ground level! Two full days of work later our task was completed. The homeowners came over to us and told us that we were “real life heroes.” The homeowners stated that they had lost all hope and were convinced that they would lose the house to black mold.

When they heard that Team Rubicon was coming, they felt saved.

The family even went out to the local grocery store to buy each member of the team the local newspaper, which had our Team Rubicon operation at their home on the front page. The kind words from the family showed me how much all of the work we had done as a team really meant to the community. It was touching to see what a huge impact our efforts as a team made in their lives.

When I left my home in Boston to join team Rubicon in Michigan, I had no idea what to expect. I am an EMT-B with no military experience, I was not sure how receptive the team would be of that. However, everyone on the team is now in what I consider my Team Rubicon family. My experiences here are comparable to no other. I will always remember the friends I have made here and the lives of the individuals we were able to help in their time of crisis.

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