The call came in at 7 pm on a Friday night. Not just after work hours, but solidly into the weekend. Ted McCreary, a Behavioral Health Case Manager, was calling his boss, Jeff Tourdot, about a Phoenix water customer who was in desperate need of water at the height of the summer.
The woman had her water turned off in April 2018 for non-payment. All summer long, she and her disabled daughter had been living in a home with no running water.
Not knowing what else to do, she called local TV station, ABC 15. They have a consumer advocate whose team looks into problems like this and tries to find a solution. One of people who worked on this case, a volunteer researcher named Barbara, tells it this way:
After working through the City of Phoenix water department PIOs (public information officers), the response was simply: "no pay, no water." Determined to help this woman, I began research into organizations that work with and assist the elderly. After many phone calls, I managed to find Jeff Tourdot. He was a gift to this case.
Jeff was immediately aware of the danger of no water for the woman and arranged to have one of his case workers go immediately to the address and speak with the client. The situation was found to be dire and the case worker arranged to have drinking water delivered as well as having social workers visit to evaluate the entirety of the situation.
Jeff and his team managed to get the bill waived/paid somehow and the water was turned back on...BUT the pipes burst in her house and the water was turned back off again. I tried to get Habitat for Humanity and other similar organizations to fix the pipes to no avail. However, Jeff is working with the City of Phoenix and we hope that the City will agree to have the pipes repaired considering the seriousness of the client's living situation.
Jeff credits a great staff filled with people like Ted, who made that Friday night call as he scrambled to find a plumber who could help fix the pipes. But it wasn't just Jeff and Ted. Jeff notes the collaboration needed to address this type of situation. "The City of Phoenix staff worked diligently with SASD (Senior and Adult Services Division) after being fully informed of the situation, eliminating the water bill balance and working with Ted to find funding to repair the broken water pipe," he says. "Without the ability to reach out to their staff the situation would remain dire."
The ABC 15 researcher, Barbara, says it was Jeff's response that stood out:
From my first conversation with Jeff, I recognized immediately that he was genuinely shocked by the situation and CARED. The fact that he was able to get someone to do a home visit that same day speaks to his professionalism and understanding regarding the elderly. Jeff and I have worked together over several weeks to resolve this case. It is now at the point where he and his team are handling it completely and I have every confidence that this client is in exceptional hands.
As Jeff says, "Each of these situations challenges us to make a choice to commit to doing the right thing by those we are privileged to serve. I can only hope that is reflected in the way SASD goes about its business on a daily basis."
Maricopa County is proud to highlight service like that of Jeff, Ted, and their team. It's just one story, but in it, you see proof that we can all make a difference in our community one person at a time.