"The key to the success of our community engagement programs is our highly engaged workforce that we have today and that we will recruit and develop in the future."
POWER TO CREATE COMMUNITY
Local author Catherine Nixon Cooke loves writing fascinating stories. However, when asked to write about the history of a utility company, she initially wondered – how would that keep a reader’s attention? Catherine thought twice about writing a book covering our 157-year history as we celebrated our 75th year of City of San Antonio ownership.
But as she dug into “San Antonio’s journey from a dusty, dark frontier town – with more saloons than grocery stores or banks – to the seventh largest city in the United States,” Catherine jotted down words like, "delighted, fascinated and remarkable." She dove into a “treasure trove” of historic photos and articles found at our Main Office, discovering how HemisFair 1968, the South Texas Medical Center, Southwest Research Institute, SeaWorld, Fiesta Texas and Morgan’s Wonderland all began, powered by diverse energy sources from electricity and gas to now wind and solar.
The author penned Powering Our City, How Energy and Big Dreams Transformed San Antonio. Her nearly 200-page book became a hot item at a fundraiser luncheon on October 24, 2017, to officially celebrate our 75th Anniversary. Nearly 1,000 community leaders, business partners and others who have helped make San Antonio what it is today came together at the luncheon, raising $200,000 to assist families who work through tough financial times on their way to a dream.
The funds from the luncheon as well as partial proceeds from the book benefitted REAP.
For 16 years, David McCord has volunteered at St. PJ’s Children’s Home. So, he’s come to know a thing or two about the youngsters who depend on the home for stability in a shaken world.
“When they see a group of people here to show them love through service, it makes a big impact. It’s immeasurable. The more we give, the more they appreciate it,” says David. “So, I went to work one day and recruited 75 of my co-workers to paint rooms throughout the campus, sort and organize donations, and even wash bed linens.”
“I loved the idea because St. PJ’s is our neighbor at Mission Road Construction Center. We go about our lives every day and can easily take for granted what these kiddos don’t have and here they are living right next to us. Seeing the smiles on their faces while playing, eating and dancing at the park made us feel like we made a difference in these kids’ lives, showing them that generosity and compassion does exist in the world,” said Samantha Perez, David’s co-worker.
Whether it's a makeover at St. PJ's, packing food at the San Antonio Food Bank, or prepping plump turkeys for the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner, we want to meet needs and help those who are hurting. In 2017, we showed our heart for our community with more than 21,000 volunteer hours and $1.3 million raised for people served by United Way agencies.
Denise Barkhurst envisions a future where young people stay in school, stay out of trouble and graduate. Chasing a little white ball across 18 holes may not sound like the solution, but the President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas (BBBS) says the results are life-changing.
Together with our union and more than 50 business partners, we hosted our annual CPS Energy IBEW Local 500 Golf Tournament last June. While 240 players and multitudes of volunteers came out to play and have fun, they knew it was for a cause. The tourney teed off our yearly United Way campaign.
When all the chips, shots and drives came to a close and the final putt rattled to the bottom of the 18th hole cup, our local Big Brothers Big Sisters received a $130,000 check. Denise said it would fund a year of mentoring for nearly 120 young people.
“Thank you.” Two simple words spoken with such innocence and unabashed shyness that you just want to scoop up the five-year-old who said it. But we settled for handshakes with little Jaxson who came to one of our holiday blood drives to show appreciation to our team for giving the “gift of life.” For Jaxson’s dad, Juan, that phrase carries tremendous emotion because blood transfusions truly saved his son’s life.
It’s partnerships with the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center to meet the needs of our neighbors, and the coming together of donors like James Trevino and Maria Espinoza from different areas of our company that raised 1,155 units of blood last year. The center recognized us as the top company in its SA Step Up Blood Drive Business Challenge in 2017.
Whether it’s working with tongue twisters like Amelia Bedelia or finding out what adventure awaits if you give a mouse a cookie, Reading Buddy Dulia Ruiz and others leave our offices for local schools to spend one-on-one reading time with second graders. Trained by one of our signature education partners, San Antonio Youth Literacy (SAYL), we work with our buddies weekly to improve their reading skills. Reading is one of the fundamentals needed to make almost any dream come to life.
And, what’s better than spending your summer in a paid internship? At four area high schools where we mentor through the InspireU program, students can apply for summer internships to work with us. InspireU, a Communities in Schools (CIS) program, encourages at-risk students to graduate and pursue higher education so they, too, can live out their dreams.
The San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) honored us last year as a Friend of SAISD, while SAYL and CIS both recognized us as Corporate Partner of the Year.
When students enter the classroom without simple things like pencils, paper or scissors it can be difficult to get through the day. Ari Olivares, a teacher at Palo Alto Elementary, and her colleagues say giving those items to students is about more than making a donation, it’s about making a difference.
We partner with summer interns like Adam Carrasco, who once received donated school supplies, to lead our annual School Supply Drive. Before the first bell rang in Fall 2017, we knew teachers like Ari and her students would have 3,000 pounds of paper, folders, pens, crayons, glue and other supplies and be prepared for a successful school year.
Randy Hibbetts came across many families in need during his days going house to house on meter reading routes. He’s like a big kid at Christmas time and wants little ones in need to enjoy the holiday as much as he did when he was their age.
“Randy’s smile is contagious. He really enjoys being part of giving to Angel Tree. We enjoy seeing how excited he gets to bring in the new toys for deserving kiddos,” said Martin Robinson, Randy’s supervisor.
Randy and many of us start holiday shopping early so we can fill the big green mesh bags from the Salvation Army Angel Tree Drive with toys, bikes, clothes and shoes. It’s a holiday tradition for us as we wander up and down aisles imagining the kids named on the Angel Tree tags and how their faces will light up with joy as they unwrap gifts. Work spaces across our company looked like Santa’s shop as our elves brought in more than 1,000 gifts to make the holidays happier for little strangers who are tied to us through our hearts.