Volunteerism and giving thrive at Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU). Throughout the year, employees give their time, skills and money to help those most in need.
This week, Gov. Jay Inslee recognized that, and awarded TPU’s Community Connection program the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for employer-based programs. Tacoma Public Utilities is the first organization to receive the award.
“We were impressed that employees volunteer on their own time and give their own money to support the community,” said Serve Washington Executive Director Debbie Schuffenhauer. “The volume of the activities and the impact they make stood out. It was an easy choice to select Tacoma Public Utilities’ Community Connection program for this award.”
In 2015, TPU employees volunteered 2,200 hours after work and on weekends participating Community Connection activities. They donated nearly $318,000 in cash, product donations and volunteer hours.
Community Connection has a mission to match employees’ unique skills and resources to help meet the most pressing needs in the communities where TPU serves. The Community Connection program offered more than 40 volunteer and giving opportunities to TPU employees in 2015 through 13 local nonprofit agencies.
“Our employees have unique skills that can be costly for nonprofits to procure,” said Community Connection Program Manager Erika Tucci. “Our employees bring construction, energy and water conservation, plumbing, electrical, and logistic skills to projects like the annual Rebuilding Together South Sound event and the impact is unbelievable.”
According to the United Way, utility bill assistance is one of the top needs in Pierce County each quarter. Community Connection helps fill the gap by addressing basic household needs, like food security. TPU volunteers repack food at the Emergency Food Network at least one Saturday each month. Last year, TPU employees repacked more than 226,000 pounds of food.
TPU volunteers serve hot meals and bag groceries at least one Monday each month at My Sister’s Pantry, an organization that supports people who are struggling financially.
Two events, a bake sale and motorcycle ride, raised more than $3,300 for the TPU Senior Assistance Fund, which provides one-time, $100 utility bill assistance to low-income, senior customers.
The annual Bowl-A-Thon raises about $16,000 each year for the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound.
During the holidays, employees donate hundreds of gifts through the Salvation Army Giving Tree and through the Adopt-A-Family program.
About Tacoma Public Utilities
Tacoma Public Utilities was established in 1893 and is one of the oldest municipal utilities in the nation. Nearly 1,400 employees work in three divisions: Tacoma Power, Tacoma Water and Tacoma Rail.