Tucson Electric Power’s culture of community service encourages widespread employee volunteering and, for some retirees, leaving the company’s workforce means they devote even more time to the causes they hold dear.
Dave Crobbe, the company’s Volunteer of the Year in 1993, gave back to the community throughout his career at TEP. Since retiring in 2007, Crobbe has made volunteering even more of a focus in his life.
Crobbe serves on the Board of Directors of Community Home Repair Projects of Arizona, an organization that helps with home repairs for low-income seniors in Tucson and Pima County. The emergency home repairs — fixing a leaky roof or a broken air-conditioner — make a huge difference, Crobbe said.
An Army veteran, Crobbe started at TEP in 1973 after graduating from the University of Arizona and retired as Director of Materials Operations.
Encouraging others to pitch in is a skill he honed at TEP. “I found I wasn’t shy about asking other employees to join in projects,” he said. “It’s just a matter of asking.”
While at TEP, he actively volunteered with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and TMM Family Services, which works with at-risk children.
“When people come up to say, ‘thank you,’ it means so much,” he said. “It’s very rewarding. So many people out there are in need.”
Crobbe stays in touch with his former colleagues as a member of TEP’s Community Action Team, which coordinates employee volunteer efforts across the company.
“The reason I still volunteer is because it’s still the same company. It’s a family, and we serve the community well.”
Rosemarie Cortez retired from TEP after 31 years, ready to turn to a new chapter in her life.
“I was extremely excited, but I questioned what type of quality life would fill my days after so many years working,” she said. “I thought of the many blessings I have, and thought I had to give back to the community and help others in need.”
Cortez’s favorite organizations to volunteer for are the Gospel Rescue Mission, Family Life Radio, Tucson’s Fox Theatre and public broadcasting. Over Christmas, she helped a team from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers adopt a needy family and deliver a food box and gifts.
She serves on the Board of Directors for her townhouse association, helping to keep the community clean and enjoyable. Also, after her mother suffered a stroke, she started spending at least 15 hours a week at the nursing facility.
“I’ve gotten to know most of the staff members and many of the patients, so I get asked if I want a job there,” she said. “But to me, that’s volunteerism.”
Cortez, who worked in Finance, Shareholder Services and Customer Service, retired a little over three years ago and was pleased to have more time for volunteering.
“I did a lot of volunteering when I was working,” she said, “but it was a lot more difficult to squeeze in many things. Now that I’m retired, my days are still filled.”
Cortez said she regularly consults TEP’s calendar of volunteer events, finding the diversity of options more impressive than ever.
Said Cortez: “I really feel that TEP has done a fantastic job of giving back to the community.”
Margaret Mahoney, who retired in 1999 after 31 years at TEP, said she made her volunteering connections through the Community Action Team but also helps friends and family on her own.
“I have friends who are older who aren’t able to get around as well as they used to, so I take them to various doctors’ appointments, physical therapy appointments and to the grocery store and bank,” she said.
Most of the organized volunteer activities she signs up for now are on the weekends, such as shopping with kids for Christmas or working with hospice patients.
“I’ll do whatever comes up. It doesn’t make a difference what I do, just as long as I get out and do something,” she said. “You do things for other people who are less fortunate or need help, and you feel good about it. I think everybody owes that to people. Maybe someday I’ll need help.”
Mahoney said TEP’s culture of community service is the same as the values she learned from her family.
“My father had a business here in town for years — a small family owned drug store — and he was friends with the customers, helping them out,” she said.
Mahoney also checks TEP’s calendar regularly for volunteer opportunities and appreciates the chance to keep in touch with friends she made over her years working.
Said Mahoney: “I’m going to continue to volunteer as long as I’m able.”