I sit here and reflect upon a day that had no shortage of sweat, laughter, exhaustion, and aches in both body and spirit. Today marks half way through my first deployment with Team Rubicon. Specifically Operation Hard Hustle in Wharton, Texas. Just a few days ago I found myself on a charter plane departing Washington D.C. The thoughts about what was to come within the next week ranged in tone from excitement to sheer anxiety:
“This is a veteran’s organization, right? How will I be looked at as a clueless female civilian? I can barely change a light bulb. What am I getting myself into? Will I regret this?”
Arriving in Houston, I listened to conversations swirl around the room highlighting impressive qualifications and service-related experience. I began to feel as if none of my skills or knowledge were at all assets to Team Rubicon’s mission. As a drug and alcohol addictions care manager, I talk with help-seekers and do paperwork for a living. I love my job, but it certainly never taught me how to muck out a home after a disaster. I started to think that perhaps… I should have stayed home.
Bethany Bonner (second from the left) deployed to Wharton, TX, with Team Rubicon in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
I could not have been more wrong. In fact, if I had stayed home, I probably would have sat on the couch watching a dumb show that Saturday night with some beer and pizza, stuck in the same cycle of monotony I was beginning to loathe.
Instead, I slept on a cot under a church roof with dozens of other volunteers looking to help those in need. We all woke up the next morning ready to get to work: male and female – Americans, Norwegians, Australians, Canadians – veterans, emergency responders, and civilians – we came together as one for a single purpose which was to “Get Shit Done.” At the end of the day we all sweat, struggle, and learn no matter our background. No one, and I repeat: NO ONE, at any point made me feel like less. I was embraced for what I am – for what I have to offer.
Veterans, first responders, and civilians are welcome to serve with Team Rubicon to help those impacted by disasters.
Team Rubicon has helped restore my faith in humanity. The extension of support shown from Houston locals to keep Greyshirts comfortable (and well-fed!) has been nothing short of gargantuan. The number of volunteers pouring into the area is astounding. The presence of non-U.S. volunteers at a U.S. disaster humbles me to the point of not being able to find words. I have met people here, TR and local folk, that I will never forget.
Thank you, Team Rubicon, for the warm welcome and for allowing me the opportunity to regain a fresh appreciation for simply being alive. We are all in this together.
Help build stronger communities through service and sign up to volunteer with Team Rubicon.