City Electric Supply Branch Gives Back to Local School

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — It’s always a great time to give back, but nothing beats giving a long-overdue donation to children the week of Thanksgiving. City Electric Supply’s New Port Richey branch member spent 11 hours on Saturday, Nov. 21, replacing 104 lights for Invictus Academy Tampa Bay, a non-profit that teaches students with motor and sensory differences. A job that would have cost $4,000 or more was completed for free.

The school’s energy costs were cut in half by replacing the existing fluorescent lamps with LED tubes that provided them with a more dim, white light that won’t bother the students.

“There were 52 fixtures – two lamps in each fixture. For material, labor, and recycling all the florescent lamps, it would have cost $4,000 or more,” said CES’ New Port Richey Outside Sales Rep. Bob Schultz. “It was a total team effort. Hopefully this gets others to step up and help a great cause!”

It all began when Schultz received a call from an Invictus Academy Tampa Bay employee inquiring about lighting solutions because the bright lights in the school were bothering the children.

“I went up to look at the lighting they had. They had old fluorescent and bags over them to help with the lighting. Even the ballast was old, and the humming was bothering them as well,” said Schultz. “I recommended LED tubes to take care of the buzzing and bright lights. When I mentioned it to her and let her know of the cost, that was when it started.”

“We’re a small non-profit with big needs, and the day that Bob Schultz came out to look at what I thought would be a very simple thing, he basically said that we needed to overhaul our fixtures before we could even get to the lamps,” said Invictus Academy Tampa Bay Co-Director Jennifer Mulry. “It was quite disappointing to say the least, because that’s not what I thought would be the case.”

What the school expected to be a very minor issue turned out to be a costly fix, and they were forced to pass.

Luckily for them, that didn’t sit well with Schultz.

“It was the worst sales call I ever made in my life. I left feeling like a jerk. And they didn’t even have a maintenance man that could do it for them,” said Schultz. “I went to my next sales call to one of my big customers — Nick Ellis with Duckworth Boats. He asked what was going on, and I told him. He instantly said that he’d donate his time to install all 104 lights if I could get them.”

“Even if there are 140 lights, somebody had to do something about it. I’m glad to help,” said Ellis. “We want to help the kids. With the pandemic and everything going on, people need to step up. Whatever we have to do, we’re going to do it.”

Ellis’ eagerness to help changed everything.

From there, Schultz went back to the CES New Port Richey branch and made some calls. Keystone Technologies agreed to donate half of the lights, and City Electric Supply District Manager Dan Pippin agreed to donate the other half.

“I was excited to be able to help. The pastor that hosts the school also shared with me the need to fix the lighting and how it would significantly benefit and help the kids there,” said Pippin. “The current lighting was very poor, and CES had an opportunity to provide a serious upgrade to what they had.”

Schultz was excited to share the good news with the school. It was only a few hours after leaving the academy disappointed that he was able to return with better news.

“It was a matter of hours before our landlord got the call that this would happen. It was shocking; this is terribly needed,” said Mulry. “We serve children with very specific visual sensitivities. The current lights are hard on everybody. Even us typical adults, within an hour of being in them, want them off. They’re so tiring. For the kids to be able to visually work all day under these lights is very difficult, and I’m just so excited to see what’s about to happen. We couldn’t be more grateful.”

“This is significant because it’s going to support [the students] and the learning that will help them be successful,” added Invictus Academy Tampa Bay Founder Dana Johnson. “To complete their schoolwork, to be able to reach their goals of graduation — it’s not just a change for today. It’s a big deal for the long run.”

“Alongside our students benefiting from this, our staff and teachers are as well,” said Invictus Academy Tampa Bay Co-Director Maddy Ishmael. “Due to COVID-19 and having virtual students, our teachers have a lot more on their plate. We know that the lights affect us, and we constantly want to turn them off. They exhaust us. Having soft lighting when they also have to be looking at their computers so often is going to be so beneficial to them and will help them get relaxation so they’re able to teach.”

For students, the donation will make their school days much more productive and tolerable.

So many people are excited to see the change in the school, and so many people have already stepped up to help – Pippin, Schultz, Ellis with Duckworth Boat, CES New Port Richey Branch Manager Justin Torregrossa, City Electric Supply, Keystone Technologies, and Scott Robbins with Metra Associates who assisted in the Keystone donation, to name a few.

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