Fellow Friday – Billie Depra
Community supporter Billie Depra finds connection, camaraderie, and appreciation through Team RWB
Connection. Community. Camaraderie. Those are the three words that Billie Depra, Team RWB Bronx volunteer Chapter Captain and 2019 Eagle Leader Fellow, uses to describe her experience with the organization. Those three words reflect her personal feelings about the organization and the positive impact she’s seen it have on others.
Depra doesn’t have an immediate connection to the military, but grew up around family who served in both the Air Force and the Navy. She has many fond memories of visiting them at Sumter Air Force Base in South Carolina as a child and has always had a great appreciation for service and sacrifice.
Today, Depra is one of thousands of civilian Team RWB members who are helping breaking down the civilian-military divide at the local level, supporting veterans in their communities, and making Team RWB a place where all veterans belong.
Billie Depra was first introduced to Team RWB in late 2015. The team members she met quickly became lifelong friends – so much so, that many will attend her wedding next year. The closer she became with her teammates by participating in events, the more she knew that she wanted to give back by volunteering with Team RWB.
“This organization is unique because we don’t hand out free things, but what we offer is genuine connection and a sense of community. We lift each other up and really find purpose in connecting with every veteran that comes to our team. You come as you are,” said Depra.
Depra took a step towards doing something more after her friend Germany Vargas Silvestre, a young Marine, suddenly passed away. Team RWB affected his life greatly, and he was wearing his red shirt even at the hospital. He is the reason that she stepped up to serve as a volunteer leader in her chapter, and later to become an Eagle Leader Fellow.
“That really made me realize the impact our organization has on our veterans. I wanted to be part of that cause, to change lives, one connection at a time,” said Depra. “Our veterans need leaders and members in their communities to lean in and make them feel that they belong, that there is hope, they are loved, and heard.”
Billie Depra was drawn to the Eagle Leader Fellowship because she wanted to ensure Team RWB chapters in her region carried a consistent passion and motivation to help veterans in their communities.
Throughout the fellowship, Depra has done a “deep dive” into who she is as a person, where her life is heading, and how she can help inspire others. Depra helped plan and lead two Eagle Leadership Experiences as well as an “Eaglepalooza” – a regional event that drew more than 13 chapters together in honor of Memorial Day.
Along the way, she offered guidance and mentorships to chapter leaders, helping to cultivate more consistency and growth among their chapters, particularly in New York City. She also attended leadership seminars and workshops, which will enable her to continue her support of Team RWB even after the fellowship comes to a close.
“I am far from finished. I have so much fire in me and want to continue to be a part of increasing the quantity and quality of veteran engagement in our organization,” said Depra.
Taking on New Challenges
Outside of the 2019 Eagle Leader Fellowship, Billie Depra’s teammates encourage her to challenge herself daily. Last year, they inspired her to try a triathlon and she developed a love for the sport.
“We look out for one another and our goal is to make sure your goals (big or small) are accomplished. When you win, we win,” said Depra.
In 2020, Depra aims to get to the finish line of an Ironman 140.6 race at Lake Placid, and she knows that Eagles will be there to cheer her on throughout her training and race journey.
When asked what she would say to someone considering joining the team. Depra said, “I have this mantra, ‘Just show up.’ The world awaits to bless you with amazing experiences. I know it can be overwhelming to attend an event when you don’t know anyone, but I highly suggest contacting your local chapter captain or leaders and ask them if you can meet for coffee or tea to get to know each other, so when attending your first event, it won’t be too nerve wracking. If physical activity isn’t your thing, there are many social events that our chapters offer.”
Learn about how you can join Billie Depra and volunteer with Team RWB by contacting your local chapter.