Senior Engineer Freddie Dobbins, Jr. has accomplished much in his nearly 35 years of service to SRP.
The spirit of giving back to the community
Recently, his service to the community was on display when Dobbins was honored with not one but two major awards: the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream Award and Volunteer of the Year at the AZ Business Angels Awards.
The Living the Dream Award honors Phoenix-area residents who contribute significantly to creating a compassionate and socially just community through their dedication to human and civil rights. The Angels Awards cast a spotlight on the nonprofits, individuals, business leaders, and organizations that are making the biggest impact on our communities.
We caught up with Dobbins to learn what inspires him in both arenas.
How did you decide to become an engineer?
Growing up, I was always curious about how planes fly, trains work, construction equipment operates. I happened to take some electronics courses in high school, which got me interested in an engineering career.
I ended up at SRP by accident. Three years after I graduated from college, I went back to New Mexico State University to recruit engineers. There, I met Buzz Smith, a new SRP recruiter.
Several months after that, a friend called and asked if I wanted to go to a hiring expo. Even though I didn’t need a job, I went with him. I noticed someone from SRP, it was the same recruiter that I had met before. Two months later I was in Phoenix.
What initially inspired you to give back?
My parents inspired us; they were always helping people. At church, we used to go and visit with the elderly, bring them food. They led by example, and that was probably the biggest thing. When I got into college, I joined Circle K International, which was sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, and I worked with an orphanage in Las Cruces. These catapulted me into community service.
What are some of the ways you’ve given back while at SRP?
Once I got to SRP, I joined the Black Board of Directors Project. They had a whole training series to help get Black and African Americans on corporate and nonprofit boards.
I started on board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley and with a mentoring organization called Special Friends, which turned into the Mentorship Education Network, sponsored by the Urban League and 100 Black Men.
Later, I got involved in Junior Achievement, United Way Funding Panel, Camp Future Force, the AZ Council of Black Scientists and the East Valley African American Culture Committee, which got the Juneteenth celebration going in Chandler. I also took part in an SRP program where engineers talked to schools.
My wife Rose and I have participated as mentors in the GAP Program for about eight years. I currently sit on the Board of Trustees for the Phoenix Boys Choir , as well as the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley .
Tell us about a particular moment or experience you have had while volunteering that stuck with you.
The Boys and Girls Club changes lives.
The Boys and Girls Club has a back to school shopping spree, which my wife and I frequently participate in. You are assigned one student to escort through the store to help them select the clothing items they need for school. The student is given $100 to shop with, plus whatever we choose to add in. When you go through this process, you find out what the student doesn’t have, and see how they are so focused on getting something for their brothers and sisters, mom or dad — instead of something for themselves. There is a great economic need out there.
I also want to share the Mona Dixon story. Mona and her family was homeless at one point in their lives. She came to the Tempe Boys and Girls Club and her fee was paid to join because she didn’t have the money. Mona went on to become the BGCEV Youth of the Year, Arizona State Youth of the Year, Regional Youth of the Year and BGCA National Youth of the Year. She attended Barrett’s Honors College at ASU. Received Her Bachelor’s Degree and Masters. She is now completing her Doctoral Degree at Grand Canyon University. For kids like Mona and others, that is why I volunteer.
What do these awards mean to you?
I am overwhelmed, surprised and very thankful for being recognized, but I don’t really do anything for recognition. If you ever want to make a change in society, you have to get involved and be dedicated to it. Change does not happen with you sitting by and being silent. You have to become active.
SRP works with community organizations across the Valley. For more information, please visit SRP’s Community Relations page, or call (602) 236-2536.