Jeremy LeClair: U.S. Coast Guard, Air National Guard — I was part of the first mold remediation class in Texas during Operation Hard Hustle. I spent the remaining week doing mold assessments looking for a house we could work on. One family was living with their 1-year-old in a camper in the back yard. When my partner and I told them why we were back (Team Rubicon volunteers previously mucked out their home), the mom started crying. They couldn’t rebuild their home until mold remediation was done and they couldn’t afford the $3,500 the contractors requested. It was such a humbling experience. I can’t thank our donors enough for giving enough to help us make such a difference in people’s lives.
Jason Meadows: U.S. Army — My first deployment with Team Rubicon was short notice. I deployed to Beaumont, Texas, to distract myself from the most trying, depressing time of my life. Clearing out flooded homes, bonding with my fellow Greyshirts, joking, singing, hugging, and telling stories, we exhausted ourselves completely. Our crew was mostly new Greyshirts, from all different backgrounds, and it was surreal.
It was the most dirty, most tiring, and most backbreaking work I’d ever done. And it was the best week of my life.
Chris Sherwood: U.S. Army Reserve — My favorite memory of the year was being part of a small team in Dominica, regardless of our roles, Greyshirts First. We represented everything Team Rubicon stands for. Adaptable, pliable, self sufficient, and most importantly, not increasing the burden on the local government or people. We found the places we could make a difference, while working in concert with so many other great organizations.
This was due in large part to the great work done by the team before us who set us up for success. Varied experiences, backgrounds, and reasons brought us to the Island, and while eventually our time to return home came, Dominica and what we were able to do there will never fade. It was an amazing experience to be among so many resilient people who had suffered such loss, but immediately began to help one another. I left as a better person and with so much respect for my awesome TR team.
Paul Scott: Kick-ass civilian — We did a remote mission into a mountain town called Morovis, with a local Puerto Rican aid group. They brought water, cooked meals, and freshly slaughter young cows, which one of the aid group donated. One of the residents let us use her covered patio area to set up as small clinic, we didn’t see tons of patients, but those we did were extremely thankful.
When we went to leave the entire community wanted to take photos with us, the elderly woman who let us use her patio thanked each of us, she stood less than 5 feet, she came to me took my face in her hands and said, “You are all God’s angels. Thank you for coming and taking care of our people.” That moment will live with me for the rest of my life.
Lori Whittington: Kick-ass civilian — No matter how big or small the deployment, the thanks and appreciation from the folks helped is most memorable!
Prince Thomas: U.S. Army — I’m the type of individual that needs an immediate return on my investments (ROI). I do not have a lot of money, so my time is my most valuable asset. I live in Region VIII but I served with the Region V on Operation Fearless Mary in Grand Rapids, MI. It’s safe to say, I provided a service to the TRibe and they provided a service to the City of Grand Rapids. The TRibe cleared an area in preparation for a school and nineteen new homes.
This was an excellent use of my time and the ROI can not be measured. I’m not heavy equipment, sawyer, nor IC qualified. I’m a chef and I loved providing the food service for my sisters and brothers. There is no better feeling than to provide service to volunteers that are making a positive impact in the lives of others. We served over 1,000 meals. I live a life of service because I owe someone for all the blessings I have received in my life. It was truly an honor to be a part of Operation Fearless Mary.
Meredith Schofield: Kick-ass civilian — There are a million memories that stand out of 2017. But peeling off sweaty Tyvek and washing our hands and sitting outside in the driveway sharing lunch, praying and talking with our hard-working homeowner was so humbling and memorable.