Tucson Electric Power’s nearly 20-year partnership with the Beacon Group, which provides employment opportunities to people with disabilities, is stronger than ever.

The Beacon Group began placing workers with TEP in 1998. They help clean and maintain equipment, keeping our employees’ gear in good working order.

“The Beacon Group provides us with a staff of motivated individuals who perform our ‘soft’-skill tasks in the Warehouse, allowing our TEP workforce to focus on our core tasks,” said Roger Marsh, Manager, Materials Management Services.

“The Beacon workers are a huge help, and we’re committed to this mutually beneficial partnership,” he said. “At TEP, we consider the Beacon workers a part of the family, and every morning, they arrive with smiles, high-fives or hugs.”

Their long list of daily tasks includes taking care of the Warehouse recycling, sorting parts for reclaiming, disassembling various electrical equipment such as meters and street lights, washing and detailing Warehouse delivery trucks, yard work and cleaning line covers and blankets in the Electric Repair & Test Facility.

The Beacon workers know their jobs and work efficiently, said Brett Burton, T&D Supervisor II, who acts as a liaison between TEP and Beacon and handles the safety instruction for the workers.

“We couldn’t function like we do without them. We have a great relationship and mutual respect between TEP and Beacon,” Burton said. “We have a really good connection, and these guys know the job. They really like it, and they feel like a part of the team here.”

TEP’s stature in the community has served as a testament to Beacon workers’ capabilities and has helped opened doors for Beacon to expand its number of worksites in Tucson.

“A lot of people have a misperception about the work we do and how we do it and the age and capability of the people we work with,” said Beacon’s Patrick McCarthy. “We do work with some severely challenged people, and yet we are able to give them the opportunity to do real work, and they meet the challenge.”

Beacon, active for more than 60 years in Tucson, serves more than 1,200 people with disabilities annually. In addition to the Beacon workers on site at TEP, the organization handles assembly and packaging of various products and information for TEP, as well as document shredding.

For the Beacon workers, some of whom have more than a decade of experience working for TEP, the challenge of dealing with electrical equipment – such as meters, switches and some protective goods – is something that can unlock their potential. And as part of the TEP family, they’re invited to company picnics, parties and potlucks.

“They want to prove they can do it. It’s exactly what they’re looking for. They’re treated for all intents and purposes as employees,” McCarthy said. “That level of acceptance, that level of interaction, is very helpful for many of them to make that final leap to a full-time regular job.”

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