Telling the Story of Team Rubicon

When it comes to telling the story of Team Rubicon, Navy veteran Victoria Young's got her elevator speech down, but a recent encounter with a mother and new supporter left her reflecting on our mission.

Team Rubicon is not very big in Iowa yet, but that doesn’t stop me from sharing about our organization. While I have had homeowners cry on my shoulder and volunteers open their hearts to me (I have come to expect this when in operational mode), something recently happened that left me feeling a little bewildered. I’ve never encountered someone be so powerfully affected by my description of our mission.

I just met Nancy, who discussed the 2008 flooding in Cedar Rapids and the devastating effect it had on the community. We discussed how communities are resilient and how one of Team Rubicon’s goals is to help residents move forward after a disaster. I told her we weren’t yet an organization back in 2008, but we are here now.

Victoria deployed on Operation: Rock Steady in Rock Rapids, Iowa last summer to support homeowners affected by flooding.

Victoria deployed on Operation: Rock Steady in Rock Rapids, Iowa last summer to support homeowners affected by flooding.

I shared our mission and ability to bridge the gap – for homeowners, veterans, and non-veterans. We bridge the gap between our veterans and the communities they help by providing an opportunity to continue serving and reconnect with the general population. We bridge the gap between our veterans and non-veteran members because when it comes down to it, we are all humans with a desire to serve others. We bridge the gap from the moment a disaster strikes to the point long-term recovery takes over. For some, Team Rubicon has been the bridge between (what feels like) insanity and (what feels like) sanity.

In life, there are many gaps, regardless of where you came from or what you’ve done. When I look at the TR logo, I cannot help but think about all of the ways this organization helped me build a bridge and allowed me to help others bridge that gap.

Victoria helped salvage  Air Force and Korean War veteran Besides the four years he served in the Air Force, Korean War veteran Don Berg spent his entire life in the same home in Rock Rapids, Iowa.  While clearing out Don's basement, our team recovered his Air Force uniforms covered in muck and took them to a local dry cleaner and jeweler who cleaned the uniforms, brass buttons, and medals at no cost. It was an honor to present Don with his keepsakes and help him get back on his feet after last month's flooding.

On Operation: Rock Steady, Victoria helped salvage the Air Force uniform of Korean War veteran and Rock Rapids resident Don Berg after.

I often feel like I monopolize the conversation, so during a pause I asked Nancy what she did. With tears in her eyes, she responded, “I’m so connected to what you’re saying it is making me emotional right now, and I need a moment to process.” I was frozen, unsure what to do, not having realized how my words had affected her. So I gave her a hug, and she told me she was a mother before excusing herself and said we would talk later. There was something so powerful, so alive in that discussion. Words are powerful, but even more so when one person’s soul speaks directly to another to the extent that no words are needed to make a connection. My soul rejoiced in our conversation, as I hoped her tears were positive.

I am blessed to be able to share the story of Team Rubicon, our volunteers, and the communities we help. This woman gave me a special gift and my soul reciprocated with a powerful story of purpose, truth, and love. Several weeks later, I learned the rest of Nancy’s story. She lost her son, an Army veteran, to suicide five years ago. She cried because she wishes he had found TR to help him find a reason to make it through. I knew I couldn’t fix it, so I simply told her, “I can’t bring your son back, I’m sorry for your loss, and thank you for your sacrifice. You are not alone and your son is why we do what we do. You are part of my family now and anything you need, I’m here; a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.”

While disaster relief brings us together, it’s encounters like this that truly fuel the mission.

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