Before Catherine Schladweiler began working for Tucson Electric Power, she knew the company had a strong culture of community service. She often would see employees volunteering at events throughout Tucson.
“We’d be out in the community, and we’d see TEP’s blue volunteer shirts everywhere. It was such an amazing thing,” Schladweiler said. “When I had the opportunity to join TEP, it’s one of the things that sold me.”
TEP’s strong commitment to volunteering is employee-driven, led by the company’s Community Action Team, which began in 1993. Employees volunteer more than 25,000 hours each year to hundreds of charitable groups and causes in our community. Employees motivate each other while pulling together a full calendar of volunteer events.
Schladweiler, the Community Action Team’s Vice Chair, helps provide meals each month at the Primavera Foundation Men’s Shelter.
“I get to come up with a plan for the menu, stick to a budget and do the grocery shopping. My kids help me with all of it,” said Schladweiler, who loves to cook. “At the shelter, my kids learn lessons you can’t teach, like empathy. The kids say, ‘When can we go back?’ They’re motivated by the gratitude when they’re side-by-side with the people they’re impacting. My kids realize they can make a difference.”
Volunteering strengthens relationships within TEP as well.
“When I first started here four years ago, I had co-workers, and now I have friends. When you volunteer together, you build a common bond that’s not work-related. This strengthens your work relationships and makes your job more enjoyable,” she said.
Julie Gomez, Chair of TEP’s Community Action Team, participates in events along with members of her family. “We can sometimes live in our own little worlds, but these events help us better understand our community. It’s always an amazing experience.”
Gomez was new to town when she first started working at TEP. She volunteered as a way to meet people and provide positive lessons for her young family. The well-organized volunteer culture at TEP made it easy to jump right in.
“The activities were fun and not run of the mill. That’s what really drew me in,” she said.
Each year, Gomez and her family volunteer at the downtown Parade of Lights, for the Special Olympics and at the United Way Days of Caring. They take part in new events as well.
For the various charities, having a partner in TEP means continued support. Community organizations know they can count on TEP.
Said Gomez: “Knowing we’ll come back and do it again next year is comforting.”