For the next week, we got dirty. Our team was assigned to a neighborhood in the northeast side of Houston. My team encountered a residents who had just returned to their home. They were displaced and not much had been done. Once we were allowed to go in and assess the property, the homeowners broke down and shared their story. The home flooded with about 3 feet of water and they did not have flood insurance. They also had limited resources and did not have family in the area. The husband works a full-time job and is often exhausted after working a 12-hour shift; he could only work on their house when he could. They had been at a hotel, but needed to move out by the end of the week. Before we left, the resident also shared that she had been praying for help. She knew they needed help and didn’t know where to turn. I looked at my team and there was not a dry eye.
In December of 2015, I was at home with my family enjoying the rest of the holiday season when multiple tornadoes hit the Dallas area. We later found out that some of our friends were impacted by one of the tornados. My natural instinct was to get in the car immediately to provide the support they needed. In all honesty, I did not have a plan. I just wanted to help.
“If I had one thing to say to my fellow veterans, it would be this: continue to serve, even though we have taken off our uniforms.” — Clay Hunt, USMC
This is where Team Rubicon found me. Through social media, I kept getting notifications about the organization and the great work they were doing in the area. The more I read about Team Rubicon’s story, the more I was convinced I needed to get involved and use the skills I developed during my time in the service to help others during natural disasters. When I completed all the necessary requirements, I received my first deployment orders with Team Rubicon, and I have not looked back. It is a great honor working alongside fellow veterans, First Responders and motivated civilians.
Since I’ve joined, there have been other weather-related incidents. But Hurricane Harvey was different. Again, I had a strong feeling that I couldn’t sit on the sidelines. When I received my orders, I was sent to Katy, TX. A local church was more than willing to accommodate us, and the community accepted us with open arms. Sleeping in cots with fellow Americans, Norwegians, Canadians and Australians, we were ready to help. As I surveyed the room, I realized we all had diverse backgrounds and various skills that we could bring to the table. But we also all have one thing in common: we were built to serve. We were ready to rebuild the local community.
There is still a lot of work to be done. This is the first time in Team Rubicon’s history in which several natural disasters have occurred at the same time. Volunteers from all over the U.S. and other countries are still flying in to Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico. With the mass mobilization of volunteers, there are resources and assets that are still needed on the ground. When I was told about AT&T’s efforts with the text-to-donate campaign for disaster relief, I was proud to attest that the support goes a long way. Contributions to the disaster relief campaign are used to train current and future Team Rubicon volunteers. They are also used in the rebuilding efforts of communities in need. If you are looking for organization to support, please consider texting 80077 to donate $10, and AT&T will match your donation up to $1 million. Together, we can rebuild.
Learn how we are thanking heroes like Chaz this Veterans Day at att.com/thankourheroes.