April is National Volunteer Month. About one out of every three UniSource Energy Services employees volunteer, either on their own or through events coordinated by the company’s Community Action Team.
To celebrate their contributions, we’re sharing stories about just some of the employees who give back to the community during their off hours. While their volunteer work varies greatly, they all share a passion for making a positive difference in other people’s lives.
Phillip Rose, Gas Field Supervisor, Show Low
Phillip Rose, pictured above, decided as a youngster that he wanted to be a firefighter after watching a church burn down in his small Kentucky hometown because there wasn’t a fire department nearby.
“We watched it catch fire and it took the fire department a long time to arrive,” he recalled. “I decided that being a firefighter was something I wanted to do.”
The Gas Service Supervisor fulfilled his calling 14 years ago when a friend asked if he’d be interested in serving on the Holbrook Volunteer Fire Department.
“I didn’t have any background or experience,” said Rose. “I started as a rookie ‘hose dragger’ and then worked my way up the ranks.”
Now, Rose balances his time between his full-time job at UES and volunteering up to 50 hours a month as the department’s Fire Chief for the second year in a row. When the fire alarm sounds – sometimes in the middle of the night – Rose responds to help those in distress.
“As first responders, we get called out at any given time for a wide range of incidents. I like helping people and possibly saving someone’s life. We’re a small town, and everyone knows each other. I like giving back to the residents of Holbrook,” he said.
Rose’s 17-year old son, Logan, seems to have caught the firefighting bug as well. He hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps, becoming a “hot shot” wildland firefighter.
Wendy Shelton, Gas Customer Service Representative II, Cottonwood
Cancer is no stranger to Wendy Shelton.
The Customer Care Representative in the UES Gas Cottonwood office has seen friends and family members – including her mother – diagnosed with cancer. Some are survivors like her mother, and others succumbed to the disease.
So when a friend whose sister had died of cancer invited her to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Valley Verde Relay for Life fundraising event 10 years ago, she said yes.
“We walked and talked almost all night during the relay,” said Shelton, pictured above. “When they had the luminarias ceremony, I was really moved by it. I realized that everyone is touched by cancer in some way.”
For the past nine years, Shelton has served as champion and team captain for the UES Relay for Life team, the “Cancer Kickers,” which has raised about $20,000 to help fight cancer.
Shelton plans to continue participating in the annual Relay for Life. She also has competed the American Cancer Society’s Climb to Conquer Cancer numerous times.
“The cause is so near and dear to me. It’s touched me,” she said. “It makes you feel good to be a part of an event that is making a positive impact.”
Paul Martin, Power Line Locator, Kingman
For the past three years, Paul Martin, a 15-year UES Electric Power Line Locator in Kingman, and his wife, Sheila, have organized outdoor and recreational adventures for about 35 injured or disabled military veterans to help them heal and lead fuller lives.
The Martins began serving as statewide coordinators for the Veterans Sportsman Alliance (VSA) after learning that a friend had founded the nonprofit organization in California.
A Marine Corps veteran himself, Martin and his wife volunteer “hundreds and hundreds of hours” each year by arranging and hosting activates for veterans. “The reality is that we’re either working or volunteering for VSA,” he said.
The outings depend on the veteran’s interest. They range from hunting, fishing, camping and hiking trips to car races, hot rod shows and baseball games.
“We feel that it’s our duty to help veterans in our state who served our country and came back from combat or war,” said Paul Martin, pictured above. “We couldn’t do this without our core of 25 volunteers. Once we host veterans, they become our family. We’re a small and tight-knit group.”
Paul Martin offers the use of his personal gear or equipment if needed, and all costs to the veterans and their families are covered by donations and fundraisers. “We get to do what we love, and we help our vets and their families heal.”