Meet Project Sanctuary’s Newest Board member, Jess Peonio!

If you’ve ever taken a peek at our Humans of Project Sanctuary page to get to know our team, there’s no doubt that you noticed how many amazing individuals we have contributing to our work, helping military families heal and thrive! We are proud to launch a new feature that showcases some of the people who make Project Sanctuary such a success. 

This month, we chatted with our newest board member, Jess Peonio, vice president of Drilling and Regulatory for Axia Energy II LLC for a Q and A to help you get to know him a little bit better! Jess joined our board in March after raising funds for our organization for several years through the annual Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Poker Classic.

We talked to Jess about why he supports Project Sanctuary.

How did you get first get involved in Project Sanctuary?

In 2012, I decided I wanted to host a Texas Hold ‘Em poker event to benefit charity.  I wanted to target a charity that was Colorado-based, provided benefit or services to military or children, and where the contribution would be meaningful.  I started working down the list of Colorado nonprofit organizations and came across Project Sanctuary, which in my opinion, benefits both military AND children.  I made a call to Project Sanctuary and had a conversation with Heather Ehle, who was very excited about partnering with me, and made it clear that any kind of donation or contribution would be meaningful.  After six years of partnership, we have been able to contribute over $140,000 to Project Sanctuary and the Rocky Mountain Oil & Gas Poker Classic event continues to grow every year.  This is in large part due to Project Sanctuary’s mission and responsible allocation of the money we have given.

Why is Project Sanctuary’s mission important to you?

The organization’s belief that the entire family serves really resonated with me.  I believe people (adults and children alike) thrive in a solid family environment, and Project Sanctuary’s focus on that aspect of deployment and military service is important to me.  They work to address any issues that can be alleviated through therapy and counseling, and the family retreat is crucial in giving people tools to maintain a positive family environment.  The focus on not only the service member, but also the spouse, children and family dynamic continues to impress me.

Have you ever attended a Project Sanctuary retreat?

I have attended a retreat for a brief period of time, and the only way to describe the experience is “life changing.”  To see the professionalism, respect and services provided to the entire family blew me away.  To see the transformation of servicemen and women, their spouses and their children, in a relatively short timeframe is truly amazing.  The impact the retreats, the counseling and therapy have on the families is obvious and fuels me to do whatever I can to continue to support Project Sanctuary.

What made you decide to become a board member?

I was surprised but honored to be asked to become a board member of Project Sanctuary.   I have not served in the military, although my father, grandfather, aunts and uncles have served, which has shaped me to hold servicemen and women in very high regard.  I was reluctant to accept a board position due to having not served in the military, and not experiencing first-hand what difficulties servicemen and women and their families face.  Through meeting with several board members, and expressing my concern, I was convinced that I could be a valuable member of the board and bring my previous experiences to benefit Project Sanctuary.  I feel that what Project Sanctuary has accomplished, and the lives touched to date is phenomenal, and want to do whatever I can to support the mission and smartly grow the organization to touch and benefit more servicemen and women and their families.