Thank You, TEP Volunteers

Tucson Electric Power’s employee volunteers enthusiastically support a wide variety of agencies across the city. Each year, they volunteer more than 35,000 hours of their personal time to assist more than 400 community organizations.

Thankful for this support, four nonprofits described the impact that TEP volunteers have on the work they’re able to accomplish in the community.

The Physics Factory

Since it began 10 years ago, The Physics Factory has received ongoing support from TEP through the company’s Grants That Make a Difference and other programs.

A bus-based mobile outreach program, The Physics Factory and its off-shoot, the Arizona Math Road Show, gives school kids a whiz-bang exposure to science.

Bruce Bayly, a University of Arizona Math Professor, was one of the founders of The Physics Factory, working to present the world of science as vibrant and exciting.

“TEP likes the work we do with teachers and youth-oriented groups. Through Grants That Make a Difference, we were able to work directly with youth in TEP’s service area,” Bayly said.

The Physics Factory has grown from presenting in just Pima County to taking its bus on the road to Nogales, Prescott, Lake Havasu City, Flagstaff and Springerville. The expansion wouldn’t have happened without TEP’s support.

“TEP’s support has been very crucial,” Bayly said. “The TEP decal in our window gives us credibility with educational organizations and other fundraising groups.”

Aviva Children’s Services

Aviva Children’s Services partners with TEP volunteers to put on the annual Holiday Kruzin’ for Kidz fundraising motorcycle parade event.

Bob Heslinga, Aviva’s Executive Director, said the TEP employees help brighten the spirits of the children the agency supports. Aviva works with children who are under court supervision, removed from their parents in circumstances of abuse or neglect.

“They help us collect toys for the kids, which we distribute through our holiday gift program,” Heslinga said. “It’s always a pleasure to work with TEP’s volunteers. We’re extremely grateful for their ongoing support, and we hope the company’s example will encourage other businesses to do the same.”

In addition to Kruzin’ for Kidz, Aviva was the beneficiary of this year’s TEP Employee BBQ Clothing Drive, and Aviva is a past recipient of TEP’s Grants that Make a Difference, receiving $15,000 for tutors and Life Books. A Life Book tells the story of a child in foster care in a sensitive, accurate and truthful way, all in a scrapbook format. The books validate a child’s memories and work to bolster their self-esteem.

“TEP is outstanding example of a true business partnership,” Heslinga said. “They’re helpful and supportive. I know of no other business in town that does quite what they do.”

Tucson Urban League

The Tucson Urban League has benefited from TEP’s Days of Caring volunteer efforts.

In 2013, dozens of TEP volunteers washed windows, cleaned, installed bulletin boards and helped remodel the agency’s lobby, waiting area and restrooms. Volunteers also worked outside on the two community garden plots.

“They painted, and they provided furniture for our family waiting area so that families have an enjoyable place to wait for services,” President and CEO Debbi Embry said. “There are books for children to read and a little house they can play in. It’s a much brighter space now.”

TEP employees regularly serve on the Tucson Urban League board. Currently, Georgia Hale, a Manager in Financial Accounting at TEP, is Vice Chair of the board, on which she has served for more than four years.

“She’s not only committed to our mission, but provides her expertise on finance committee,” Embry said.

The Tucson Urban League also works closely with TEP on its Customer Assistance Program and limited-income home Weatherization Program. The Urban League and TEP’s Customer Care team work together to ensure eligible customers can obtain the help they need quicker and more efficiently.

“TEP is a tremendous corporate leader and true corporate citizen. It’s a responsible company, and that is evident by the support it provides to nonprofits,” Embry said. “TEP believes in economic opportunity and is a great community partner.”

Habitat for Humanity Tucson

TEP began its longstanding partnership with Habitat for Humanity Tucson in 1998, and each year, employees volunteer about 200 hours of their own time on Habitat Tucson projects.

Over the years, TEP and its employees have helped fund and build dozens of homes with Habitat Tucson in what has become one of the company’s strongest community service partnerships.

“We’re always so excited about TEP’s level of involvement with Habitat for Humanity,” said T. VanHook, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Tucson. “The level of commitment TEP has made to the work that we’re doing just thrills us.”

It’s not just single-day building efforts that connect TEP volunteers and Habitat for Humanity Tucson. TEP employees have served on the organization’s board, lending their expertise to help with things like the corporate structure and finances.

Currently, Kevin Larson, TEP’s Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, serves on Habitat Tucson’s local board of directors. Larson and his wife also partnered with a family preparing to purchase a Habitat home, encouraging them and giving them insight on the topics they were studying in home ownership classes.

“Some organizations have one day of service and we love that, but at TEP, every day is a day of service,” VanHook said.

Habitat Tucson was TEP’s first partner on energy-efficient homes for limited-income homeowners and set the model for the use of solar hot water to keep home energy affordable. Habitat also works with TEP’s shade trees program to include shade trees with every home it builds. TEP’s corporate donations and in-kind publicity assistance have helped spread the word far and wide and brought in other volunteers for Habitat Tucson.

“TEP’s volunteerism goes beyond the employees themselves. We’re always meeting their family members and friends they bring to the sites,” VanHook said. “Their reach goes much further than most people realize.”

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