After Losing My Father, a Greyshirt Steps In
When I saw a job posting in July of 2019 for a major gifts officer based out of Atlanta, GA for an unnamed nonprofit that “serves communities by mobilizing veterans to continue their service, leveraging their skills and experience to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises,” I was very intrigued. My family has a strong history of military service on all sides, but my dad was first to come to mind as I mulled over the post. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy as a Seabee in the late 1980s, and never stopped serving his community after being medically discharged in ’89. He went on to become a firefighter for more than 17 years, and spent much of this past decade as an EMT. I identified the unnamed nonprofit as Team Rubicon from a Google search, and called my dad after my initial interview with the recruiter.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that conversation about Team Rubicon was the last I would ever have with my dad. We talked about how eerily Team Rubicon aligned with his values and how excited I was to be considered for the position. He said it sounded like a unique opportunity and he asked me to keep him updated. But the day before one of my final interviews, my dad passed away of a massive heart attack in his line of duty as an EMT. Everyone at Team Rubicon was incredibly supportive as I had to step back from the interview process to make funeral arrangements and say goodbye to my dad. (Spoiler Alert: I got the job!) I have no doubt my dad would have heartily approved and I know he eventually would have signed up as a Greyshirt himself.
As I went through onboarding and started learning the ropes, I met Jim Flory, who serves as Deputy Director of Regional Operations for the Southeast. We got together at an Atlanta-area brewery to get to know each other and chat about Team Rubicon over a beer. I learned that Jim had also served in the Navy and then as a firefighter for many years before eventually making his way to Team Rubicon. I remarked then how similar his career trajectory was to my dad’s, and we talked about the difficulty of losing a father, no matter when or how. Jim has been a wonderful thought partner and so easy to work with, but he’s also filled the shoes of my dad in many conversations since we’ve met.
Very recently, Jim and I were speaking about my plans for a home birth with my second baby girl, who is due in mid-July. After I shared my plans with Jim, he was so supportive and said he trusted everything would work out great, but made sure to remind me to have an emergency plan in place. I laughed because I know it was almost verbatim what my own dad would have said, given their backgrounds. Jim couldn’t have known what that meant to me, but I really do feel as though that was my dad’s way of letting me know he had my back as I prepare to birth my baby in the midst of a global pandemic. Jim gave me strength and made me feel cared for and less alone at a critical time in my life. That’s what dads do. I’m so grateful to have him in my corner.
Editor’s note: Jazmin’s story ran in our 2020 story on father figures in Team Rubicon.