CSU construction management alumni return to help those in need through CM Cares

Note to media: Journalists who wish to cover the construction project at Schlicting’s home at 501 Smith St. in Fort Collins April 20 or April 27 can contact Khristy Jesse at 970-222-3620.

Students at the CapolungoA host of Colorado State University alumni working in the construction industry have returned to the community this spring to lend their expertise and materials to projects in CM Cares, the annual program to make building accessibility improvements for nonprofits and people with disabilities.

The three CM Cares projects chosen by CSU’s Department of Construction Management (CM) this semester all have corporate sponsors where alumni of the department now work, and those graduates have jumped at the chance to give back. One alumnus employed by Swinerton Builders, Mark Norin, is working on an addition to the home of his former counselor in the Student Disability Center on campus, Terry Schlicting. Other CM alumni with Swinerton who are working on the project include Zach Alves and John Spight.

About CM Cares

CM Cares is a service-learning course held each spring in which teams of CSU students are paired with corporate sponsors on construction projects that benefit northern Colorado families and organizations in need. This year, in addition to Schlicting’s home in Fort Collins, crews are improving the homes of Michael Capolungo in Milliken and Tyler Panella in Fort Collins. All three use wheelchairs and need accessibility improvements to their homes.

Student using a sawIn the Schlicting project, students and Swinerton employees are constructing a home addition that includes an accessible bedroom and bathroom, as well as a path leading from the front yard to a new deck and patio area in the backyard, all surrounded by landscaping.

“Terry’s a plant lover, so this whole area will be covered with plants,” Leigha Huck, one of the student project leaders, said during a tour. “We’re going to take him shopping so he can pick them out.”

She added that CM Cares is more than a course.

“When you sign up for this class, you anticipate a great experience,” Huck said. “At this point though, it’s not about a class anymore. We’re all really good friends with Terry, and we want to make an impact for him that will last a long time. This class shows you what it means to be really invested in a project.”


Schlicting said he’s deeply appreciative.

“It’s selfless, and it’s supporting one another,” he said. “That’s a human quality that sometimes gets lost in our modern world. None of these students have ever treated me like a charity case. They’ve never made me feel like I’m inspirational; it’s just been matter-of-fact, and I’ve really respected and appreciated that.”

Schlicting said one of the things he’s most excited about is his new bathroom, which features a wide door, a non-slip tile floor and a large shower.

“I’ve never had a bathroom that was designed for me,” he said. “It’s all really a dream come true.”

Another student project leader, Matt Burns, said the project has been expanded thanks to generous donations from the industry. They started with a $5,000 budget, and in the end it will be a project worth more than $60,000.

“We’ve been very lucky with the support of the industry,” he said. “We just went bigger on everything.”

Saleh Bawareth, another student project leader, agreed with Huck that CM Cares is more than a class.

“It’s an elective now, but it should be a requirement,” he said. “We’ve made a new relationship with Terry, and we’re changing someone’s life. This project has taught me more in the last two months than I’ve learned in the rest of my time on campus. We just want to give Terry everything we can.”

Other projects

The Capolungo project involves expanding Michael’s bedroom and relocating a closet to allow easier access to his bathroom. Capolungo, a 27-year-old who has cerebral palsy, lives in the home with his mother, Angela Gill. Alumni Ty Eberhart, Grant Frevert, Dan Proud and Steve Walker are involved with the project as employees of corporate sponsor FCI Constructors.

In the third project, the CM Cares team is adding an accessible deck and carport to the mobile home of Panella, who is getting a powered wheelchair that will grant him extended mobility. The alumni involved in that project, Aaron Peterson and Nick Troudt, work for corporate sponsor Milender White.

For more information on CM Cares, visit its website or contact Khristy Jesse at khristy.jesse@colostate.edu. The Department of Construction Management is in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.