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CSU's CM Cares: Making a Difference, One Small Construction Project at a Time

Grace Hood

Colorado State University’s Construction Management Department has launched a new outreach program this year. CM Cares completes small construction projects for families in need, teaching students leadership and other skills along the way.

The program is providing huge relief for Ginger and Danny Dodge in Loveland, who need a wheelchair accessible ramp for their seventeen-year-old son, Nick. He has Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that impacts him physically and mentally. Ginger says despite all their years in the house—almost two decades—they’ve never built a ramp for Nick’s wheelchair.

“It’s becoming very physically hard on us as Nick gets bigger,” says Ginger, who lifts 100-pound Nick up and down their front steps several times every day as she takes him to school and other appointments. “So this will be really good for our family.”

Behind Ginger, CSU senior Daniel Jones fires up a small skid loader in front of the Dodge’s one-story home. He and three other students in florescent green vests are starting to break ground for the ramp, and a patio. Jones says he’s learned the power of coordination and scheduling when it comes to making a project run smoothly.

“You have to make sure everything is in place when you start a project, even a small community outreach project like this,” says Jones, who will be moving to Utah after graduation to work as a project engineer. “You have to coordinate inspections—everything. It’s good for us to be part of a project before we graduate.”

Standing at a close distance with a small video camera in his hand is Nick’s dad, Danny. Throughout the process, Danny is filming and posting videos on a Facebook page dedicated to the project, CSU CM Cares: The Nick Project.

“I’m documenting for the family, but I’m also doing it for [the students’] promotion,” he says. “What these people are doing is so incredible for us. I want to return the favor.”

While one goal for the students is helping families along the Front Range, Head of CSU’s Department of Construction Management, Mostafa Khattab, says another is instilling key skills that can help students weather any economic downturn.

“If you look at us today and if you look at the failure of our financial system two years ago, it’s not lack of education for these people that’s responsible for the failure,” he says. “It’s lack of passion, drive and citizenship.”

Khattab says so far CM Cares has been very popular with students, who will wrap up the ramp project for the Dodges in about two weeks.

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