Sun, fishing and a nice dog at your side – for a good number of people, those three things are foundation of a perfect day.
But combine them in the way that TECO team members at Big Bend Power Station did earlier this year? Then you’ve got the foundation of a better life for people who can benefit tremendously from the help a good guide dog can provide to tackle challenges that others take for granted.
The story’s backdrop is the years of caring for the community that the team at Big Bend has demonstrated – doing good things for too many people and organizations to name here. As part of that effort, a great idea to make helping fun appeared five years ago like a bright (but energy-efficient) light bulb: why not have a fishing tournament for people who work at Big Bend, with money raised through entry fees going to charity? Since the bay waters immediately around the station are off-limits to public fishing, the potential for making great catches was tremendous.
If that’s the backdrop, this story’s prologue is the help the team gave last year to Southeastern Guide Dogs, a nonprofit organization that breeds, raises and trains dogs especially suited to helping disabled veterans and the blind. These are dogs that excel at the intricacies of basic tasks – something like knowing when and how to resist its owner’s command if that command might lead them together into traffic. Southeastern Guide Dogs provides for the active service life of the dogs at no cost to the owner. Magnificent friendships are formed.
And like one of those heartwarming stories where a lost dog treks long distances to find his family at their new home, the Big Bend team was drawn back to Southeastern Guide Dogs this year.
“‘Supporting the pulse that energizes our communities’” is the mission statement for the Energy Supply Services (ESS) group here at Big Bend,” explained Darryl Schumacher, supervisor of ESS Fleet Services. “We feel that giving back to the community is a big part of that and our 5th Annual ESS Fishing Tournament gave us an opportunity to do so. Saturday, May 20 was an awesome-weather day and more than 80 people caught fish along the Big Bend Coalfield Docks. We had employees, Big Bend vendors, and contractors fishing in the tournament – all people whose desire to fish was outmatched only by the size of their hearts.
“When we toured the Southeastern Guide Dogs facility last year, we were amazed at what they do for individuals in need,” he went on. “They also provide dogs for disabled veterans and those with post-traumatic stress disorder – all done at no charge. We were so impressed that we chose them as our charity recipient again this year.”
In June, the Big Bend team presented a check for $7,000 to Southeastern Guide Dogs.
“Outstanding partners such as TECO make it possible for Southeastern Guide Dogs to provide freedom, independence and confidence to people with visual impairments and to veterans,” said Southeastern Guide Dogs CEO Titus Herman. “Their generosity and support of our mission helps transform lives each and every day and makes a difference in the quality of life of our community.”
For the team at Big Bend, it all added up to another hard day’s rewarding work, which goes far beyond providing the safe, reliable power that keeps the community’s lights on. And while the old saying says that dog is man’s best friend, the true friends of the community might just be the hardworking men and women who match the right dog with the right person in need – building a better world for everyone in the end.