Arizona Generation and Transmission Cooperatives supports community organizations and youth
By J.D. Wallace
From donating to the local food bank to contributing toys to a family in need, acts of generosity often increase at the holidays. However, supporting those in need and helping people who are working to improve their lives are year-round efforts for Arizona Generation and Transmission Cooperatives (AzGT) — the power generation, transmission, and energy services provider for much of rural Arizona.
Donation matching by CoBank—a cooperative lender—and the initiative of employees extend AzGT’s influence from its home base in Benson.
“I was thrilled to be able to raise the donations for the Ronald McDonald House because of the wonderful way they give back, not just to this community but to anyone who has a child in the hospital for life-threatening issues,” says Rebel Jones, AzGT auxiliary operator III.
He and his wife, Jessica, raised $500 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona with the help of their friends and family. AzGT continued its annual sponsorship of the charity through El Tour de Tucson, an annual bike race in November.
Ronald McDonald House Charities provides a place for families to stay while their children receive medical treatment in Tucson. The families who receive free room and board must be from outside the Tucson metropolitan area and at least 30 miles from the Ronald McDonald House, which means supporting the charity supports the needs of families from many communities AzGT serves.
“My sister-in-law and her family stayed there while my oldest niece was going through cancer treatment for leukemia,” Rebel says. “I am sure that having a place to stay while a child is going through treatment is a worry best not having.”
CoBank’s Sharing Success program continues to help cooperatives such as AzGT maximize the impact of contributions to organizations that support the economic and educational growth of rural communities.
Matching donations of $2,500 to Willcox Theater and Arts have helped it continue to offer STEAM programs—science, technology, engineering, arts and math— to local youth the past several years. The organization continues to expand its arts and culture programs. Its Matinee My Way program provides families of children with autism an opportunity to view first run movies in a sound-down, lights-up atmosphere to accommodate the children’s needs.
Through AzGT, the Sharing Success program continues to help Cochise County high school graduates and nontraditional students pursue professional opportunities at Cochise Community College.
Matching donations of $5,000 from AzGT and CoBank to Cochise College Foundation provide scholarships for students seeking professional development while also improving the local workforce and the economy.
The donation also gets AzGT employees involved in the Pathway to $150k Virtual Run/Walk/Cycle. Participants register on an app to log their miles throughout the month of March, which also promotes daily activity.
“Arizona G&T’s support of scholarships through the Cochise College Foundation demonstrates its commitment to investing in education and improving the quality of life for Cochise County students, their families, and their communities,” says Denise Hoyos, executive director of the Cochise College Foundation. “Between 8 and 20 local students will benefit from the senior or nontraditional student scholarships they will receive to enhance their education and pursue their potential.”
For years, AzGT has recognized the needs of teachers as they improve the quality of education in their communities. The Cochise Education Foundation provides a Teacher of the Year Award and offers classroom mini-grants to help educators fund projects or trips they might otherwise have to cover with their own money. AzGT has supported the foundation for years. In 2022, it found a unique opportunity with the Cochise County Sheriff’s Assist Team by donating $5,000 that was doubled by the team’s annual poker run fundraiser. Cochise Education Foundation will receive more support this year not only for its regular programs but for training opportunities for educators in rural communities.
“AzGT and CoBank have been a part of our Cochise County family and have always been a great support and encourager to our community, especially to our educators,” says Jacqui Clay, Cochise County school superintendent.
A unique opportunity to support education presented itself when Benson Unified School District needed help starting a robotics program. At the heart of AzGT’s operations is STEM—science, technology, engineering and math.
AzGT donated $10,000, which was matched by a combination of member Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative donating $6,000 and energy trading cooperative ACES—which has its Western Regional Trading Center at AzGT’s Benson campus—adding $4,000. The program is expected to begin in fall 2023.
Organizations such as Northern Cochise County Seniors in Need and the Benson Area Food Bank continue to be mainstay holiday traditions for giving at AzGT. Throughout the year, a variety of athletic groups request support, and graduating seniors from each of four nearby high schools receive scholarships each May.
While AzGT has become known for its generosity and support in the community, it continues to seek new ways to make the giving go further and to make the most of precious resources in a time when they are needed most.