A Colorado Father's Day in the Midst of Disaster

Eric Jones and Rick Traeger celebrate Father's Day
“I’m so proud of my son for the sacrifices he makes and the people he helps.” - Rick Jones, speaking about his son on Father's Day

Disaster relief workers involved in the Red Cross response to Colorado wildfires got to pause in their busy day and spend a few moments with their loved ones during a special Father’s Day picnic for disaster operations staff on Sunday, June 16.

The Red Cross hosted a brief Father’s Day picnic so that workers’ family members could spend a few moments with Dad before he went back to work helping the Red Cross deliver essential basic needs for people affected by the Black Forest Fire and other fires in the state. Food was donated by Catering By Design.

One of the fathers who experienced a moment of joy with both his son and his own father is Eric Jones, Red Cross State Disaster Officer for Colorado. Jones just recently returned from a harrowing, 16-day deployment to Norman, OK, where he had to hunker down during a massive tornado that passed over him and his disaster workforce.

Shortly after completing his assignment as Assistant Director of the Red Cross relief operation in Oklahoma, Jones returned to his home in Lakewood – and almost immediately jumped right back into another major disaster response as wildfires erupted in numerous locations in Colorado on June 11.

Jones, like other Red Cross volunteers and employees, has been working nonstop 12- to 14-hour-days since, and has had little time to spend with his family. He said he had been looking forward to pausing for a moment to celebrate Father’s Day with his family at the Red Cross headquarters.

"We're all working hard today and will tomorrow, and so will the fathers out there on the front line,” Jones said. “As a side note, it touches my heart that my family is willing to come be a part of this celebration of spirit.”

Jones exchanged Father’s Day cards with his son, Traeger, 2, and his father, Rick Jones, at the event.

“I’m so proud of my son for the sacrifices he makes and the people he helps,” Rick Jones said.

For his part, Jones said he learned the importance of service to others from his dad, who retired as a government civil servant after more than 30 years. Rick Jones is still serving to this day, now as a volunteer for a local Sheriff’s Auxiliary. And Eric hopes to instill the same spirit of service and sacrifice in his own son.

Last year, Jones and other Colorado Red Cross staff also worked through Father’s Day and July 4th as they responded to a busy wildfire season. “We're all appreciative of the Red Cross family and for all of those who chose to serve on this special holiday. The Red Cross is all about mobilizing the power of communities and the generosity of donors - and today Dads especially,” he said.