Veterans and civilians make up the big, service-minded family better known as TR Nation. Allow us to share the path of two leaders hailing from Pennsylvania, and get some juicy insight on their backgrounds, motivations, and a few pearls of wisdom for any volunteers aspiring to take on a leadership role within TR.
Name: Matthew Bell, Air National Guard
TR Position: Regional Training Officer (2014), Eastern PA District Coordinator (2013)
Current occupation: Technical Analyst
Name: Lisa Barca, civilian
TR Position Western PA District Coordinator since 2012
Current occupation: Business Analyst
What drew you to join the organization?
MB: I first heard of Team Rubicon on the news during Superstorm Sandy. It was billed as veterans giving back by helping with disaster relief, and given my firefighting and military background, that mission appealed to me on several levels.
LB: I wanted to help people in need AND support veterans.
What was your first operation?
MB: I served on Operation: Starting Gun as a heavy equipment operator in May 2013 after the tornadoes that struck the towns of Moore and Minco, Oklahoma.
LB: My first was Operation: Greased Lightning in November 2012. I spent seven days in New Jersey doing anything from cleaning up downed trees and sorting through debris for personal belongings to transporting homeowners over to Mantaloking, NJ.
What made you consider stepping into a leadership position and why?
MB: After returning from Oklahoma, I became slightly obsessed with TR. I deployed every chance I got, supported service projects, and attended every social event I could get to. I wanted to do more for the organization and applied for a state leadership role. Deploying on ops and working with like-minded individuals within TR really has had a measurable impact on my life for the better. I figured if a little TR is good, then a lot is better, and I have yet to be proven incorrect.
LB: I love everything about TR and wanted to get things moving in western Pennsylvania. Still pushing to get more people engaged and active in our mission.
Is there someone you look up to or consider a mentor in TR?
MB: More than I can count, since TR is chock full of people I consider mentors. Some of the best advice I have gotten has been: Don’t run anyone over, hydrate, and don’t fall off the roof.
LB: Region 3’s Planning Manager and 30-year U.S. Coast Guard veteran Jim Bordell. I’m a civilian, and Jim had the confidence in me and assured me I can handle the District Coordinator position. Furthermore, he’s always available to offer sound advice.
Think you might be interested in taking on a bigger role at TR? Reach out to your regional leaders and learn what opportunities exist.