Colorado State University Students partner with Encore Electric to Make a Difference

February 2, 2022 – Ft. Collins, Colo. Encore Electric began a new partnership with Colorado State University’s CM Cares program in 2021. Established in 2011, the program instills traits of service, leadership, team building, and ethics through construction-related community service. Encore Electric volunteers have provided hands-on electrical support as well as donor contributions to four families in the Rocky Mountain Region including the Elke Project. We look forward to participating in future projects that help make a difference in local communities.

Stephanie Kliewer is thrilled that her daughter, Elke, is seven years old. “It’s a fantasy happening in real time,” she says. And so is knowing her daughter’s day-to-day life is more comfortable and easier at home because of living space rebuilt just for her.

Elke needs special care every day. Diagnosed at two months with a rare form of spinal muscular atrophy, a disorder that affects muscles used for movement, she lives with her family in a home where, for Elke, taking a shower has been impossible. Her parents and nurse caregiver looked for ways to make Elke’s home care routine easier. They found the answer in Colorado State University’s Construction Management Program, CM Cares, with help from Encore Electric.

The student-led Construction Management team of Cayden Fish, Eryn Dominguez and Joshua Houser worked with Encore Electric to transform part of the Kliewer home for Elke. They enlarged a bedroom and installed new hardwood flooring for easier movement. A partial bathroom was converted into a full bathroom with a wheelchair accessible roll-in shower. And an old office space was remodeled into a nurses’ station.

Working side by side, Encore Electric volunteers Brian DeKay, Spencer Stringari, Austin Miller, and project manager John Kacillas installed new LED can lights with a dimmer control to reduce the light shining on Elke, who spends much of her time lying on her back facing the ceiling. They also added new USB outlets at the nurse’s station, new GFIs and an electric wheelchair charging port in the bathroom.

Working in a private residence came with some unique challenges. To mitigate dust and dirt during construction, the team used a negative air machine to protect Elke—who could not be moved—as well as her family during construction. Routing new circuits also required the Encore Electric team to work through an insulated attic to connect to the electrical panel located at the opposite end of the house. The team got the job done, even triple checking each installation to reduce the chance of future maintenance problems, which can be especially disruptive to a family caring for a child with special needs.

Thanks to monetary and material donations, volunteer labor and fundraising, the project was completed at less than half the projected construction cost. Working on their own time, the Construction Management and Encore Electric teams finished just in time for Christmas.

At a banquet hosted for the volunteers, Elke’s mother tearfully thanked the Construction Management and Encore Electric teams for their hard work. “These are things that we really didn’t think would happen,” exclaimed Mrs. Kliewer, “so it’s pretty cool to live your fantasy in real time. That’s pretty great!”

Speaking for the Encore Electric team, DeKay agreed, “It’s not every day that we get to see how our work directly affects the lives of others. But that’s exactly what we witnessed working with the volunteer students from the Construction Management program. We tried to finish to make someone’s life better…working toward a higher purpose. I felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride to say I work for Encore Electric.”

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