MARY ANN O'TOOLE HOLLEY
St. Charles, MO – Despite the 100-degree heat index and the invisible threat of coronavirus, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 have been volunteering their skills and time to speed construction of an adaptive Smart Home, built from the ground up to meet the special needs of former Rock Hill Police Officer Matt Crosby, who was shot and paralyzed during a domestic call in 2010.
Local 1 members employed by Vision Electric pitched in to have the home fully wired when the “smart technology” arrived.
“A crew of about 30 did one big weekend, then we had hit or miss items as they came up later,” said Steve West, Vision Electric’s director of Labor and Safety. “Basically, all of our foremen went out; Doug Brewer, owner of Vision Electric agreed to the financial issues and our guys donated labor. We were there and doing the job and they loved it. We had apprentices and general foremen. We barbecued and had a great time. The guys were all glad to help.”
West said he was approached a couple of years ago by an architect trying to build the house, then received a phone call from one of Vision’s own employees who had played hockey with Crosby as a teenager.
Vision Electric donated materials and labor and service trucks, West said. Butler Supply – a Local 1 distributor – also donated materials. Butler donated about $15,000 in materials and IBEW Local 1 members donated about $35,000 in labor.
The 100-percent-mortgage-free home will ease the daily challenges faced by Crosby and his family.
ALWAYS READY TO HELP
IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs says he’s proud of the Local 1 membership, who are always ready to pitch in to help.
“In the past several years, our Local 1 members and our IBEW Local 1 contractors have donated thousands of man hours and equipment to help those in need. We have worked on several of the Smart Homes for injured police officers and are glad to help bring some level of normalcy to their lives. We’re glad to be able to help.”
Ground was broken on the new “dream home” for Crosby and his two boys, Luke and Ian last year.
Hundreds of individuals, area businesses and charitable organizations helped raise funds and pledged materials and labor to build the Smart Home, including BackStoppers, the organization that helps fallen police officers and their families. St. Louis-based Schaub & Srote Architects designed the new home free of charge and donated the project managers.
But even as construction began, raising sufficient funds continued to be a struggle.
That’s when IBEW Local 1 stepped up with a major weekend sweep to get all wiring and appropriate outlets in place in time for the drywall to be installed, and the Gary Sinise Foundation agreed to pick up the balance on expenses.
“They said whatever wasn’t raised, they’d pick up the difference,” West said.
The Gary Sinise Foundation’s First Responders Outreach provides critical funding for emergency relief, training and essential equipment to ensure these heroes can live their lives to the best of their abilities. The Foundation has now helped build eight Smart Homes for St. Louis area officers who were injured in the line of duty.