Episode 34 | Invictus Academy

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The non-profit school Invictus Academy had a dire electrical issue. Students and teachers struggled with harsh fluorescent lighting, broken lights, and loud electrical buzzing. Teachers covered many working lights with sheets of paper or garbage bags, but students continuously suffered from headaches, eye strain, and frustration.

Fortunately, a City Electric Supply (CES) employee stepped up to make a difference and provided new lighting installation for free. Learn how the school received an unexpected gift that improved the lives of dozens of students and faculty.

CES Answers the Call for New Lighting Installation

“Invictus Academy is a not-for-profit private school that caters to students who either are non-speaking or unreliably speaking,” said Joey Otero, Curriculum Advisor at Invictus Academy. “We help them find reliable communication through letter boards. We also provide an age-appropriate curriculum so they can graduate with a high school diploma.”

The school’s lighting situation created daily struggles for everyone at the school, especially students who are neurodiverse or affected by a sensory processing disorder.

“You could see in the students’ behavior, body language, and overall demeanor,” explained Melissa Elliott, Communications Specialist at Invictus Academy. “Many of our students spell to communicate, and that bright light was a big problem.”

And that’s if they worked at all.

“Half the lights were out when we got here. Two or three per room weren’t working,” said Otero.

The school’s business manager contacted City Electric Supply, and Outside Salesman Bob Schultz visited to give an estimate.

“When I first walked in, a lot of the lights were out. And those that weren’t were covered to try and block the light. The buzzing was distracting too,” said Schultz.

Although Schultz provided several different options for lighting, it became clear that any electrical overhaul would run over the school’s budget.

“They couldn’t afford to do any lights — new or retrofitted,” said Schultz.

He knew he had to find a solution, and fast.

Getting the Community Involved to Donate Lights and Volunteer Time

Schultz immediately visited longtime customer Nick Ellis, Electrician for Duckworth Steel Boats, to tell him about the condition of the school.

“Bob wasn’t his normal cheerful way. It was too much for him to handle,” said Ellis. “I said if you can get some donations, I’ll help put them in. I’ll be your first volunteer. I’m all over that for the kids.”

Next, Schultz went to CES Land O’ Lakes District Manager Dan Pippin to share the story. Pippin agreed to donate half the lights, then contacted lighting manufacturer Keystone Technologies, who agreed to donate the other half for the new lighting installation.

“It’s important to give back when the need presents itself,” said Pippin. “To be able to do something like this for the community with the resources we have as a company is incredible.”

“It was like a three-hour turnaround from that estimate to Bob sharing that lights would be donated,” said an astonished Elliott. “It was an exciting time for all of us.”

Two Great Electricians Replace the Entire School’s Lighting

Once they had the material, Schultz and Ellis worked nonstop until they finished the job.

“We worked 16 or 17 hours in one day to make this happen,” said Schultz. “When we walked out of that parking lot, it was a great feeling. Nick is a special kind of guy, and this formed a bond between me and my customer that will never be broken.”

“When we finished, I was very satisfied,” said Ellis. “It’s important to get out there when you can and give back.”

And the school was overwhelmingly thankful for the new lighting installation.

“We received pictures after the kids came back that Monday morning, and they were thanking us. It was very emotional and made this all worthwhile for sure,” said Schultz.

“The day after the installation was life-changing and instantly lifted a big weight off all our shoulders,” said Elliott. “It’s a much better environment for learning, and the students are much calmer and happier. We’re thankful for each day with the new lights.”

“I was here while they installed the lights, so I know how hard the work was, and they were very impressive,” said Otero. “I would like to express my gratitude for everything they’ve done without prompting from us. Everything that CES, Duckworth, and Keystone donated, from the materials to the service, is a huge deal.”

And Schultz and Elliott aren’t done yet.

“It’s inspired me to search for other opportunities. Nick helps veterans, so I’ve been going to help them out as well,” said Schultz.

“If you have anything to give, even something you wouldn’t normally think of like a lightbulb, it can really make a difference,” said Otero.

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