Giving back is part of our company culture. In honor of Volunteer Month, meet three volunteers committed to making a difference.

Employee Takes Steps to Raise Awareness

After his 8-year-old son was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, TEP employee Eric Raatz wanted to connect with other families and do something to promote understanding of the ailment.

Because it was during the pandemic, the Raatz family and another family gathered about 30 to 50 people for an informal walk in a Vail park in 2022. Although the local Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation had previously hosted a similar event, Tucson Take Steps, it was sidelined during the pandemic.

Since then, and in large part through the leadership of the Raatz family, the local Take Steps event has flourished. This year, on April 6, more than 200 participants on nine teams participated in the walk and other activities along a 1.5-mile route at Brandi Fenton Park. Raatz organized a 15-member team of TEP employees, friends, and family members to join in. The event raised more than $40,000.

“It’s important to us to raise awareness, as well as support our son,” said Raatz, Manager of Transmission Control for TEP. “It’s a hidden disease and you can’t tell when someone is in pain and you can’t see what’s going on inside.”

Raatz didn’t know much about Crohn’s, an autoimmune type of inflammatory bowel disease, when his son, Hudson, started showing symptoms at the age of 8. Within three or four months, Hudson lost about 15 pounds. He was barely eating a meal a day, but his parents attributed it to the stress of the pandemic and his frequent mask wearing. Even though he didn’t complain about pain, Hudson got so weak he passed out at school.

Through bloodwork, an endoscopy and colonoscopy, doctors discovered inflammation and ulcers up and down his esophagus and stomach, tearing up his intestines. “We had no idea that he was as sick as he was,” Raatz said.

Now 11 years old, Hudson is on a low dose of chemotherapy, taking a pill every Saturday night and biologics to help suppress his immune system. He avoids dairy and popcorn.

Other than that, Hudson leads a healthy lifestyle, playing on a basketball team that Raatz coaches and recently joining a flag football league. Hudson loves his dogs and math, representing his school in the Math Bowl.

At the Take Steps event, Hudson led the “Hudson’s Herd” team and was recognized as one of the Honored Heroes. Read Hudson’s story in his own words.

This is the first year that Raatz sought a sponsorship from TEP, which supports the causes most important to employees. TEP made a $2,500 donation toward Take Steps.

“TEP has been a great company to me. They support a lot of community events and I thought this was another opportunity to support the community,” Raatz said. “This shows how TEP gives back.”

Employee Finds Giving Back Lights the Way

TEP’s Monette Greer gets emotional when she thinks about all the needs in the community.

That’s why she spends so much time volunteering, ranking among the top TEP employees for the number of volunteer hours. Last year, she recorded 258 volunteer hours.

“This world can be a little dark and negative and volunteering provides a light. It makes you feel good and there’s inner joy to it,” said Greer, TEP Principal Chemical/Environmental Engineer.

Greer dedicates time to volunteering through TEP-organized activities, including assembling food bags at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and participating in the Thin Mint Sprint with the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona.

Most of her volunteer hours were in support of Salpointe Catholic High School, which her two sons attend.

Through her workplace contacts, Greer arranged for an in-kind donation of 11 used wood pallets from TEP to the Salpointe’s Earth Club in early January.

On each Thursday this semester, groups of Salpointe students traveled to Lineweaver Elementary School to design and build compost bins out of the pallets. Lineweaver pupils are using the bins to compost excess food from their cafeteria and material from school gardens.

“Your generous donation will not only benefit our schools but also contribute to fostering a sense of environmental consciousness among our students,” wrote Christopher James, Salpointe’s Science Teacher and Earth Club Moderator, in a note of thanks to TEP. “By engaging them in hands-on composting activities, we are teaching them the importance of waste reduction, organic recycling, and sustainable practices. These valuable lessons will stay with them for a lifetime and empower them to become responsible stewards of our planet.  We are proud to have partners like Tucson Electric Power who share our vision for a greener, more sustainable future.”

Because Greer works in the environmental field, Greer said she was proud to make the connection. “We get so many pallets at TEP and it’s so much material that sometimes we’re paying for disposal. We’re always looking for ways to reuse and recycle,” she said.

In addition at Salpointe, Greer devotes many hours to supporting her sons’ sports teams, from staffing the snack bar to driving players to events. Sophomore Jordan plays football and volleyball and senior Tyler played on the basketball and volleyball teams.

Greer’s volunteer hours qualified for a $500 donation through TEP’s Dollars for Doers program, which allows employees to request contributions to local nonprofit organizations based on their contributions to our community. Greer directed her donation to Salpointe’s Boys Volleyball Team.

For her volunteer work, she especially enjoys working with youth. “There’s so much need in the community,” she said. “It’s never ending.”

The wood pallets were given through our in-kind donation program, which includes both services and items given to schools, charities, and nonprofit organizations. Learn more about our donations and make a request through the button on this webpage.

Employee’s Most Important Role: Dad and Coach

Randy Vidal fell in love with sports at age six, where he started playing flag football and soccer.

From there, he took up tackle football. basketball, baseball and boxing.

Now the Systems Administrator and father of three is watching his 10-year-old son follow in his footsteps as he participates in a variety of sports, from boxing to soccer and basketball. When his son decided to join the football team last year, Randy thought it seemed like a great opportunity to continue learning about teamwork.

“Football teaches a lot about yourself when others are depending on you,” he said. “It gives youths the perspective that they don’t have to be the ones carrying the ball to have an important role.”

Randy has been coaching youth sports since he was 16, when he was offered a coaching spot for a boxing class in exchange for a free membership. It was a natural fit when he was asked to coach his son’s team.

“Volunteering is important to me because kids look up to the adults in their lives who are their coaches,” Randy said. “I hope that they remember these relationships as they grow up.”

In 2023, he logged 170 volunteer hours as a coach for the Tucson Jaguars, a local youth football and cheer association. During nightly conditioning and practice sessions, Randy kept the team busy with classic conditioning drills: bear crawls, duck walks, tackling drills, and push-ups.

As the season advanced, he taught the players basic football calls and other skills to prepare them for high school play. His team made it to the city championships in the 9-10-year-old division. While they did not win the final game, Randy was proud of the team for their hard work.

“I feel like the kids learning to accept loss was bigger than the game itself,” he said. “The coaches, who are all mentors down to their core, recognized that and gave each kid something to be proud of leaving the field that day.”

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