‘Bravest’ dedication to injured war vet on 9/11

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September 14/21; Volume 30/Number 7

Carpet One, Mohawk partner on N.Y. smart home

By Nadia Ramlakhan

Staten Island, N.Y.—Building for America’s Bravest, a Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation program that raises funds to build custom designed, specially adapted smart homes for injured veterans, hosted a dedication ceremony here Sept. 11 in partnership with Carpet One Floor & Home and Mohawk Flooring. Army Sgt. Bryan Dilberian, who lost both legs below the knee and an arm below the elbow in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2011, received the keys to his new 3,000-square-foot smart home equipped with high-tech features that assist in regaining his independence.

For nearly two years, Carpet One and Mohawk have worked with Building for America’s Bravest through fundraising and marketing efforts as well as providing labor and flooring for multiple homes.

Local Carpet One members dedicated their time and efforts to constructing Dilberian’s home. For those who could not offer hands-on labor, Carpet One created a program that would allow all members to participate in the Building for America’s Bravest initiative.

“I think all of our members are so thrilled to have a non-profit they can leverage their talents with and, at the end of the day, who is more deserving than our service people and their families?” said Theresa Fisher, senior vice president of visual merchandising for Carpet One. “There are different homes throughout the country that a whole bunch of our members get to touch, but we also have this [in-store] campaign in which we ask our customers for $10 donations after every sale so that every Carpet One store in the U.S. gets to participate.”

Because each home is designed to meet the individual physical challenges each veteran (most of whom are triple- or quadruple-amputees as a result of IED explosions) faces, this particular house brandished more than a wheelchair ramp in order to adequately address Dilberian’s recovery needs. In addition to his arm and leg injuries, Dilberian also suffered shrapnel wounds to his face and neck and has undergone more than 20 surgeries. Building for America’s Bravest and its partners hope that his new smart home can enable him to become more self reliant.

Some features of the house include an elevator, motorized internal shelving in the kitchen cabinets that allow Dilberian to lower the shelves at the touch of an iPad, a motorized sink and stove that can easily be adjusted for height, a card access system that allows Dilberian to enter and exit the home without keys, and a multi-zone HVAC that regulates temperature levels in each room separately.

Other partners who contributed include UPS, MasterBrand, Hunter Douglas, Basset and Glidden, among others.

Dilberian said the home turned out to be more than what he expected. “The sinks elevate [and descend] when I’m in my wheelchair so I can wash things instead of hiring someone to wash them for me. The whole house is functional off of the iPad—lights, climate—and everything is voice recognized. The doors open for me and close at the push of a button instead of turning a knob, there is heated cement so I don’t have to shovel snow, ramps so I don’t have to go up any stairs and non-slip floors so I don’t keep breaking my leg every time I take a fall.”

Mohawk and Daltile were the exclusive suppliers for all of the flooring in the home, with Carpet One members providing labor and completing the installations. The entire first floor is LVT, a smart choice according to John Ponte, director of Building for America’s Bravest. “The flooring is important because with a wheelchair you cannot roll on carpet. Not only that, but this type of flooring doesn’t show the marks of a wheelchair. In a lot of houses you’ll see the lines all over and you can never get the house clean.”

The house’s 2.5 bathrooms incorporate tile while the entire second floor consists of hardwood from Carpet One’s Rustic River collection, featuring handscraping and distressed edges that allow any marks to add to its character. “Because of the nature of the product, it’s going to absorb a lot of wear and tear and not show that the way a polished floor would,” Fisher explained.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation was created to honor Stephen Siller, a first responder at the site of the Twin Towers during their collapse in 2001, and others who lost their lives that day. Building for America’s Bravest was launched in 2011 to assist other injured service members with their return home.

Frank Siller, chairman and CEO of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and brother of Stephen Siller, said one smart home takes about 18 months to build from start to finish, but the organization simultaneously works on multiple homes with the goal of completing at least 15 each year. “I am so proud to say today we have either handed over, broken ground or are in the design stage of 44 homes. But we’ve committed to 200 homes and I know we are going to get it done.”

For more information, visit ourbravest.org.

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