Mesa resident and SRP lineman Raymond Powell is passionate about two things: outdoor activities and veterans.
He melded the two by volunteering for the Kingman-based Veterans Sportsman Alliance, which gets injured and disabled veterans out of the house or hospital and into the therapeutic surroundings of nature.
Thanks to his work, Powell was one of five SRP employees who received the Presidents’ Volunteer Spirit Award. The award recognizes employees who are leaders in volunteerism and who serve as examples of the power of caring.
“Actively supporting the communities we serve is central to our mission,” said SRP President David Rousseau. “These employees exemplify that responsibility and serve as a great example to the rest of us.”
Last year, SRP employees and retirees with help from their friends and families donated more than 35,000 volunteer hours to 237 Valley and state nonprofit organizations.
“I appreciate SRP,” Powell said. “It’s very beneficial to this organization. When you get the Presidents’ Volunteer Spirit Award, there’s a nice financial donation given to the nonprofit.
“We’re a pretty low-budget nonprofit. There isn’t a lot of money. This is a 100-percent volunteer organization. We beg, borrow and steal to get things done.”
For the past three years, Veterans Sportsman Alliance has enabled veterans who have endured double- and triple-amputations to experience outdoor adventures they most likely would be unable to do on their own.
A Colorado native, Powell has been deeply involved in Veteran Sportsman Alliance’s Arizona chapter, where he has logged more than 200 volunteer hours each of the past two years leading the creation of an annual pheasant hunt and coordinating other outdoor activities, like elk hunting, for veterans and their families.
“He was instrumental in starting this annual pheasant/chuckar hunt for our heroes and securing donations, volunteers and other organizations to donate their time for instructional shooting, guides and cooks,” said Sheila Martin, the organization’s Arizona Chapter president.
She added Powell secured a grant to pay for hotel rooms, and his dedication has helped the Veterans Sportsman Alliance grow in the Phoenix and Tucson areas.
“Raymond is no stranger to the outdoors or us,” she said. “He is an avid outdoorsman and we have had the pleasure to call him and his family friends of ours for the past 10-plus years. We have called on him numerous times to assist with veterans on elk hunts all over the state. When we took on this chapter of VSA, we immediately asked Raymond if he would be interested in helping, he did not hesitate to say yes.”
Powell said spending time with veterans inspires him to see more positivity and give more of himself to others.
“Our numbers are increasing, and we see changes in people,” he said.
The activities are free for veterans, who enjoy the time out. Before they travel to the hunting location, everyone undergoes shotgun training. When they’re not hunting, they’re sitting around fires, eating and enjoying the company of others.
“I can see the change on the pheasant hunts,” Powell explained. “On the first day, they’re apprehensive and nervous. By the time they leave two days later, their whole demeanor has changed.”
The father of three children, Powell is inspired by his work with Veterans Sportsman Alliance.
“To be with these men, to see the sacrifice they made, it’s great,” he said. “They want to go. The organization is all about them.”
For more information, visit veteranssportsmanalliance.org.