Volunteers in October dedicated a new flagpole installed at a community park with support from Tucson Electric Power (TEP).
The flagpole honors Willie Blake, who has devoted decades of his retirement to reducing crime and promoting economic opportunities in the Western Hills neighborhood near South Kino Parkway and Interstate 10.
A neighborhood park at 3525 S. Naco Vista is named after Blake, who lives right across the street. But the park’s lack of a flag or flagpole attracted the attention of Tucson Police Officer Charley Foley, founder of the nonprofit group Flags for the Flagless.
Foley turned to community partners to assist with funding for a flagpole at the multi-use park. TEP contributed $5,000, and real estate developer Don Bourn contributed $2,000. Flags for the Flagless installed a solar powered light and battery so the flag will have proper illumination at night.
“I’ve never had the honor of recognizing a man who is such a living legend that he has a park named after him,” Foley said. “Here’s a man who has done so much to support his community and foster a sense of civic pride. We wanted to do something to honor those efforts and to do our part to help bring the community together at the same time.”
Blake said he had long wanted to install a flag at the park – a focal point that helps tie the community together – before being approached by Foley. Raised in Arkansas, he said he remembers saying the pledge of allegiance in school.
“At the beginning of the day, the teacher and all us students, we pledged allegiance to the flag. We honored that flag and I feel like, ‘Let’s go back to where we came from,’” said Blake, who was the business representative for Teamsters Union Local 104 before his retirement. “All I can say is thank you. I appreciate the flag. When prayers go up, blessings come down.”
Wendy Erica Werden, TEP Manager of Community Investment and Philanthropy, said TEP was pleased to assist with the effort. “As a symbol of hope for the ideals of justice and freedom, this flag will help support the sense of community pride that Mr. Blake has so carefully cultivated over his many decades of living in the area.”
TEP assists Flags for the Flagless with about 20 flag raisings a year by providing a bucket truck and crew to install the flagpoles. In June 2017, TEP helped Flags for the Flagless raise its 100th and largest flag to date in Tucson: a 12-foot by 18-foot flag located near the Victory Worship Center on Ruthrauff Road.
TEP’s philanthropic contributions come from corporate resources and are not recovered through customers’ rates. Our community partners use our contributions to sustain programs with measurable success built over many years.