A crisis center and shelter in Missouri’s capital now has bright, efficient lighting thanks to a dozen IBEW volunteers who were proud to lend a hand.
“They were super stoked,” said Jefferson City Local 257 President Joel Vanderslice, who helmed the project. “It kept 12 of us busy for a big part of the day.”
Their time and talent helped the community’s Rape and Abuse Crisis Services, known as RACS, spare funds that are badly needed to aid and shelter victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Through energy audits, RACS leaders learned that a lighting upgrade could save thousands of dollars in coming years, with the additional, vital benefit of making their two-story building safer and more secure.
They invested in high-quality, American-made LED lights, hoping to offset the expense with donated labor. But only if they could recruit volunteers who were “well-trained, qualified, licensed professionals,” said Randall Werner, RACS building and maintenance chair.
Inevitably, his search led him straight to Local 257. “We’ve been here 95 years,” Business Manager Don Bruemmer said. “We support our community any way we can.”
Vanderslice met with Werner earlier this year and had a team of journeymen and apprentices ready to go just as COVID-19 shut everything down in March. On a Saturday three months later, they were just as eager to get to work.
The building, which can house up to 36 residents, was largely vacant at the time, as the pandemic forced RACS to spread out its services.
“It all went really smoothly,” journeyman wireman Zack Fischer said. “We were able to go around and get in the rooms without having to knock. We had the lights back on by about 2 o’clock.”
“When you’re with good company, the pace goes pretty fast,” said fellow journeyman and executive board member Brad Heckman, who worked on kitchen, pantry and laundry areas.
Heckman hadn’t realized how many services the center provides for victims and children. Helping create a lighter space for them for them felt good, he said, describing the before and after.
“If you’ve ever seen an old fluorescent tube that was pretty much at the end of its life span, dim and dull, the new lights, the retrofitted LEDS, really brightened things up,” he said.
It’s an accomplishment shared by two organizations that care deeply about their community.
“We were glad to answer the call. That’s what we do as IBEW members,” Vanderslice said. “And we want to thank RACS for everything they do, and for being such a great organization to work with.”
The respect and gratitude are mutual.
“All of those guys, most of whom are family guys, gave up a beautiful Saturday to install the LED lighting,” Werner said. “Not only did it relieve a significant financial burden for RACS, but we can also rest easy knowing that the job was done right and that our clients are safe.”