Operation Bad Ax was Team Rubicon’s first op in Wisconsin—my home state—so I was happy to get out there for a few days and help some homeowners deal with the devastating flooding.
My strike team was assigned to a residence that had sustained substantial damage both inside and out. TR members had been to the home a number of days earlier, but there was still work to be completed. We finished up and closed out the work order that morning.
As I was carrying some equipment from the house to the team truck, I watched a vehicle I didn’t recognize pull into the driveway. My first thought was, one of our members who arrived after we departed the FOB this morning was coming to supplement the strike team, but it wasn’t a TR member at all. It turned out to be a local resident who was passing by. She stepped out, looked past me, examining the damage with a worrisome expression. I introduced myself, and she shook my hand. She was a concerned neighbor, and she commented on the extent of damage to house. She mentioned how she has received help from gracious people a few times over the years when she needed it. Her voice was shaky, and she appeared to be choking back tears.
The kind, neighborly woman told me she wanted to do something for the homeowner, despite having never met them. She asked me for a name and proceeded to write a check, which she had pulled from her purse. I was tasked with simply delivering the gift, an anonymous act of generosity. She handed me the check and expressed her gratitude for all TR was doing there before driving off.
I made my way back inside with my team to carry out my task of delivering a check meant to help pay for damages and ease the homeowner’s grief if just in a small way. The recipient sat in his chair, appearing as if he holding back tears while just staring at that check. You could see on his face that he was clearly in awe by the gesture.
The check was not for a large amount of money; in fact, it would barely scratch the surface of what he needed for the amount of damage. Of course, none of that matters. What’s important was the empathetic exchange of one Wisconsin neighbor to another, and the look of awe on the homeowner’s face. It matters to know there are still people who are willing to reach out, to selflessly give to others in their time of need. And that, for me, was all I needed to sum up why TR exists and why we launched Operation Bad Ax.