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2023 SRP Presidents’ Volunteer Spirit Awards Spotlight Outstanding Community Contributions

Employees from Chandler, Phoenix and Scottsdale Honored for Helping the Homeless, Hearing Impaired and Overlooked Communities

SRP Volunteers continue to offer their time, talents, skills and hearts to make a positive impact and change lives in our community. Today, three Salt River Project employees and one retiree earned top-honors by being named 2023 SRP Presidents’ Volunteer Spirit Award (PVSA) recipients for their exemplary dedication to help people and nonprofit organizations.

“The notable award recognizes employees and retirees who are leaders in volunteerism and serve as outstanding examples of the power of caring,” said SRP President David Rousseau. “The PVSA represents SRP’s rich heritage as well as the enduring support of our elected leadership for the volunteer efforts of our employees.”

SRP has a long history of volunteerism. It’s a legacy that was born when the not-for-profit utility was founded 120 years ago. In honor of the four outstanding volunteers, SRP presented checks for $2,500 to their respective nonprofit partners.

Last year, SRP employees and retirees volunteered more than 35,000 hours to 177 Valley and state nonprofit organizations and donated approximately $64,500 through our Dollars for Doers program.

The 2023 SRP Presidents’ Volunteer Spirit Award honorees and the nonprofits they assist:

Denisse Delos Santos, Chandler resident 
Asian Corporate and Entrepreneur Leaders’ Volunteer 2023 PVSA Winner Denisse Delos Santos
SRP Meter Engineering Employee 

Denisse Delos Santos first became involved in the Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders (ACEL) after the Chief Executive Officer of the organization personally reached out to her. He had read about her immigration story in the Filipino American Journal and was impressed that she was Grand Canyon University’s top engineering student in the class of 2019, as well as the first Filipina to graduate with honors in engineering. ACEL’s CEO invited Denisse to join him in supporting the mission to advance the Asian American community by providing a network of resources in professional development, cultural awareness, community service and mentoring. For the past three years, Denisse has supported ACEL as a member of its leadership conference planning committee, vice chair of ACEL’s Celebration Gala and coordinator of numerous networking events.

She even sang the national anthem at ACEL’s key events in 2021 and 2022. Denisse is grateful for the opportunity to support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community through her volunteer work bringing current and aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders together in a space where they feel safe and proud of who they are.   

Karl F. Abel Award Recipient 2023 PVSA Winner Erika Castro

Erika Castro, Chandler resident 
Chandler Cultural Foundation/Chandler Center for the Arts’ Volunteer 
SRP Supplier Diversity Program Manager 

Erika Castro has been giving back to the community for many years. She has taken advantage of the many opportunities available through SRP Volunteers and always happy to go where she is needed.   

The mother of three is actively involved in supporting the Chandler Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee, Chicanos Por La Causa, Arizona Educational Foundation, ALL In Education, Girl Scouts, the Women’s Business Enterprise Council-West and SRP’s employee network group called ¡Hablamos SRP! among other organizations.   

In 2021, Erika was looking to serve her community on a deeper level. She discovered an opportunity to volunteer with the Chandler Cultural Foundation, which is the fundraising arm of the Chandler Center for the Arts (CCA). CCA strives to make visual and performing arts available to the entire Chandler community. Since has served as a member of CCA’s board of directors where she has focused on cultivating new support for the organization. She invites groups to tour the facility, learn more about CCA and find out how they can become patrons. Erika has also served on the special events committee where she helped provide recommendations on catering, entertainment, fundraising and communication to support key events.  

Finally, she serves as a CCA ambassador. In this role, she attended a retreat with other arts institutions from across the country where attendees learned about a new framework to foster more diversity, equity and inclusion within their organizations. Erika also served on the City of Chandler’s Arts Selection Committee to help select art projects for funding opportunities. In her time at CCA, Erika has made a measurable impact and helped increase the number of patrons providing financial support, as well as students participating in the Connecting Kids Program.   

She is grateful for the many opportunities she has to help make the community a better place for future generations. Because of the depth and breadth of her volunteer work in the community, Erika is the recipient of this year’s Karl F. Abel Volunteer Recognition Award. 

Nancy Brooks, Phoenix resident 2023 SRP PVSA Winner Nancy Brooks
Helping Hands for Homeless Hounds’ Volunteer 
SRP Revenue Protection Specialist 

Nancy Brooks is passionate about helping those experiencing homelessness, whether they are humans or pets. Since 2013, she has been volunteering for Helping Hands for Homeless Hounds, an organization dedicated to reducing pet overpopulation, illness and euthanasia rates by providing support to those in need in Guadalupe. Over the years, she has made significant contributions to the organization, such as securing quality veterinary care for pets, transporting pets and supplies to and from clinics, and helping vulnerable pet owners create a homey living space where they and their pets can thrive after they find housing.

In late 2022, Nancy realized that many families the organization serves couldn’t afford holiday meals and gifts. To meet this need, she collected, wrapped and delivered gifts for more than 100 children who would have otherwise gone without. Nancy has always had a soft spot in her heart for people experiencing homelessness, and it’s even softer when they have pets. She feels blessed to be able to make a difference in so many lives.  

Kim Higgins, Scottsdale resident
Arizona Hands & Voices’ Volunteer 
SRP Retiree  2023 PVSA Winner Kim Higgins

When Kim Higgins was taking American Sign Language classes, she was looking for a way to keep her skills sharp outside the classroom. In 2020, that led her to Arizona Hands & Voices, an organization dedicated to supporting families and children who are deaf or hard of hearing with the ultimate goal of helping them reach their highest potential.

Kim averages 100 volunteer hours each year for Hands & Voices, which has included helping at fundraisers, distributing information and supplies, preparing for events and making calls on behalf of the organization. Her work has helped raise funds to send deaf and hard of hearing children and their families to camp where the families can learn sign language and access other resources. Kim finds great satisfaction in using her creative thinking to help children with hearing loss and their loved ones feel supported and empowered so they can enjoy improved communications, positive educational outcomes and a high quality of life.   

“One of the truly remarkable aspects of the SRP employee family is the unwavering commitment to volunteerism that spans the entire organization,” Rousseau added. “Employees from all areas of SRP help build stronger communities through their personal commitment to volunteering. This volunteer spirit provides vital services in the community and helps define SRP in the eyes of those we serve.” 

Selection Process:

This year, SRP received 46 nominations for the SRP Presidents’ Volunteer Spirit Awards.

Nominations come from employees, coworkers and retirees. Nominees must complete an application, provide information about the nonprofit for which they volunteer, tell how long they have volunteered at that nonprofit and enter the average number of volunteer hours. Nominees must describe the role and specific contributions made to the organization; how their volunteerism impacted the nonprofit, the community and the clients served by the organization; how the volunteer became involved with the nonprofit; and how they have personally been affected by the volunteer experience. An external panel reviewed the applications and selected the final SRP Presidents’ Volunteer Spirit Award recipients.

To learn more about SRP volunteers, visit srp.net/SRPvolunteerrequest.

About SRP

SRP is a community-based, not-for-profit public power utility and the largest electricity provider in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, serving approximately 1.1 million customers. SRP provides water to about half of the Valley’s residents, delivering more than 244 billion gallons of water (750,000 acre-feet) each year, and manages a 13,000-square-mile watershed that includes an extensive system of reservoirs, wells, canals and irrigation laterals.