Monday, January 8, 2024

Volunteer Spotlight: Tracey Tate

 Whether it’s a pandemic or the sight of neighbors in need, Tracey Tate, Reliability and Power Quality believes in stepping up to the plate and helping our community. Lending a hand, helping a neighbor or someone in need, feeling the joy of volunteering. “That’s the joy that makes me laugh it feels so good!” he says. Tracey started working at MLGW on August 7, 2000 and has been here 23 years. He started in the Electric Distribution Underground Department at Brunswick Center as a Utility Worker.

Tracey spent most of his early years learning his job and getting an education so that when opportunities arose, he would be prepared, having degrees, and sustaining good working relationships with his coworkers. In Electric Distribution, Tracey installed new utilities and conduit underground in new subdivisions, trenching, laying pipe, installing the wire and hooking it up. Then in Distribution Support, he worked with a troubleshooter tracking down problems to help restore power to customers.

He continued to pursue his education earning an associate degree in Electric Engineering Technology from State Tech, then a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology Management (ITM) from Christian Brothers University (CBU) which helped him earn a position as a Computer Software Specialist in Reliability and Power Quality Engineering where he now works on software development. He also has a master’s in divinity from Memphis Theological Seminary (MTS). 
“I started volunteering more with MLGW in early 2020,” Tracey remembers. “I believe it was the MLK 2020 Service Project that propelled me into volunteering more. Cleaning up the neighborhood in the north Memphis communities of Klondike and Smokey City off Chelsea for that service project on Martin Luther King Jr. Day helped me realize some of the needs facing Shelby County residents.” So, what inspired Tracey to begin volunteering at MLGW? “I believe MLGW breeds the right kind of environment to make you want to volunteer more,” Tracey answers.

“They even dedicate hours so employees can volunteer more in the community. Beverly Perkins (Supervisor of Corporate Social Responsibility) and her team do an awesome job getting employees to come out and join in the volunteer opportunities they have. She makes it easy to do whatever you choose by instructing, directing and showing you what is needed to make the volunteering events a success. All you need to bring is some sweat equity. Also, as a bonus they take care of their volunteers throughout the year.” “It’s a caring environment,” Tracey says. “MLGW makes it easier to come aboard. If you take advantage of the opportunities the company puts forth, it’s to your benefit, as well.”

“I got involved in some of my main volunteering efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Tracey recalls. “I just wanted to help people relieve some of their anxiety, uncertainty and depression surrounding lifestyle changes that people were facing. So, I decided to volunteer for the Neighborhood Christian Center to deliver mobile food boxes to those who were affected the most which included the elderly and low-income families. I began delivery in June 2020 and finished in October 2020. Over that time, I made 10 mobile deliveries that included over 36 hours of volunteering. Folks were grateful.” As you can see, Tracey is inspired to help his neighbors. He has volunteered with MLGW to help hand out cases of bottled water after the Christmas Eve ice storm to BingHampton and Hickory Hill residents.

He has walked through the neighborhoods to help distribute MLGW energy saving kits to homes in the South Memphis community of Soulsville and in Binghamton for Martin Luther King Day in January 2022 and 2023. And this past February, he joined MLGW volunteers to pack food boxes for hungry neighbors at the Mid-South Food Bank. “Including a bunch of sweet potatoes! They have a good system,” says Tracey. “With all kinds of good food, keeping it at the right temperature, the right environment.” In other MLGW volunteer efforts, Tracey has worked the MLGW booth educating customers about utility usage, giving out brochures with energy-saving tips and letting visitors spin the wheel for LED lightbulbs at the Mid-South Home Show at the Agricenter, Africa in April in Church Park and the Stone Soul Picnic. Last spring, he bowled in the Bowl-a-Thon to raise funds for Junior Achievement. “It was my first Bowl-a-Thon. I’m not an avid bowler, averaging about 120. Once I hit 100, I feel good, picking up spares, a couple of strikes” he says. “Interestingly, I was part of the Executive Team.”

He helped welcome students back for the first day of school August 7 at Craigmont Middle, MLGW’s Adopt-a-School. He also helped-out at the Kentucky-Tennessee Water Professionals Conference at the Renasant Convention Center at the end of July. Tracey has been actively volunteering outside of MLGW, as well, serving prepared meals at FedEx Family House, giving out new and gently worn clothes to the homeless and poor at Manna House, serving meals at First Congregational Church, stocking and arranging donations given by the community at Friends for Life, mentoring youth at Sherwood Middle School during their lunch period for Memphis/Shelby County Schools Lunch Buddy Program, delivering mobile food boxes for the Neighborhood Christian Center and preparing food boxes for distribution in the community for the Food Bank.

“My favorite MLGW volunteer events?” Tracey ponders. “Any events that put a smile on people faces and gratitude in their heart such as serving meals, distributing food boxes or distributing bottled water. For employees who might be thinking about volunteering, I’d say find a purpose for volunteering and do it from the heart,” he advises. “What can you do to help? Just lend a hand. It’s easy to volunteer here at MLGW.” “Throughout my volunteering journey, I have had the opportunity to see people cry, laugh, be surprised, be happy, be angry, be frustrated, but most of all be thankful,” Tracey reminisces.

“Volunteering is just a joy! It makes me realize how blessed I am. I believe that volunteering can change a person’s outlook on life and at the same time make others’ lives a little more manageable. Volunteering isn’t only for the recipient, but the giver can gain a greater appreciation for their own life situation which is much better than you often think it is.” Truer words were never spoken, and we can all be inspired by what motivates Tracey Tate to be a volunteer. Don’t stand on the sidelines, step up and help our community by volunteering. 

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