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Sempercares Initiative

Semper Cares Initiative
Support Deserving Veterans

Founded to provide relief to veterans from high energy costs by blessing them with energy independence and security. We need the public to help identify these warriors to tell their stories and make a difference in their lives.

ANNOUNCING THE RECIPIENT OF SEMPER CARES INITIATIVE PROJECT MIKE, BRUCE AUTRY! STAY TUNED OVER THE NEXT MONTH AS WE SHARE HIS STORY.

Semper Solaris Semper Cares Initiative

Semper Solaris is deeply connected to our nation’s military, both past and present. Many men and women have given so much for our freedom that Semper’s founders, Kelly Shawhan and John Almond, felt strongly about giving back to our veterans.

This desire was the start of the Semper Cares Initiative, an ongoing program to help deserving veterans and their families with major home improvements. The Semper Cares Initiative has found tremendous support from local and national charitable groups.

Special thanks to:

Veteran Charity Support

NOW TAKING NOMINATIONS FOR OUR NEXT SEMPER CARES INITIATIVE, PROJECT NOVEMBER

Semper Cares for Veterans

Nominate

Semper Solaris brings a military focus onto every job and mission. Humanitarian efforts have been part of American military history and this tradition continues with the Semper Cares Initiative. Explore our past missions and take part in nominating the recipient of our next effort!

Explore Our Last Mission

Project Mike

Bruce Autry

Bruce Autry
Branch: Army
Allies: Silfab Solar

The Mission:

Bruce Wayne Autry grew up between Philadelphia and New York City. He enjoyed school so much that he applied himself and graduated at the age of 16. Because of his age, it was difficult for him to find work, so as soon as he was of age, he enlisted in the US Army and joined the 169th Engineer Battalion. Upon his honorable discharge, he moved from New York City to Los Angeles. He went back to school and graduated with an Associates Degree in Law Enforcement and Corrections. Bruce attended Rio Hondo Police Academy, graduating as a California Peace Officer. He worked for The Housing Authority, most times patrolling the area projects as a lone, solo officer. Stolen vehicles was one of his specialties. He then moved to the San Bernardino Police Department when the Housing Authority Police Department was disbanded. In September 2001, while maintaining his status as a full time Peace Officer with San Bernardino, He was hired as an Investigator for the federal government, specifically the EEOC. On 9-11, he was in a training class at the Pentagon when the US was attacked. Because of his law enforcement background and clearances, he was utilized for a couple of days in Washington DC, aiding their first responders wherever needed. For several years he worked 2 full time positions, Peace Officer with San Bernardino and his current full time position with EEOC. Continuing to this day, he has taken on many off-duty police officer positions. He has worked in and around Los Angeles as a private bodyguard for many celebrities, politicians, as well as working at many movie premieres, and political events like the DNC. Other jobs have included working at Staples Center, the Rose Bowl, and NASCAR to name only a few. To this day (up until COVID), he has enjoyed teaching bodyguard practices to others. For the last 10 years, in addition to the off duty police positions, he has continued his full-time career with EEOC, while supporting his wife and two step children. As a consequence of his exposure to agent orange while in Vietnam, in 2013, he was diagnosed with and is currently being treated for Prostate Cancer. Being the only living child of 7, the care of his mother falls entirely on his shoulders. In March of 2020, with the start of Covid-19, his EEOC office in downtown LA was evacuated due to confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the building, Leaving his wife (who has several health issues) and kids he set up his EEOC office at his mother's home, affording him the opportunity to both work from home and take care of his 96 year old mother without the added worry of possibly contaminating his home. He has applied for home health assistance but due to his mother's age and several health issues, no one is willing to attend to her. He is an extremely hard working man, striving to give his family everything they need. His family means everything to him and he is so grateful to still have his mom in his life.

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On Independence Day 2021, the Semper Cares Initiative awarded Vietnam Veteran and former police officer Bruce Autry a free solar panel system as part of Project Mike. After hearing Bruce’s incredible story serving our country in Vietnam, and then again on 9/11 when a plane struck the Pentagon, provided more than enough reason to help him and his family with their electric bills. This project was made possible by Silfab Solar who donated the solar panels for this project, as well as Semper Solaris installers who provided the installation of the panels for free. We are honored to give back to Bruce after the sacrifices he made for our country!

Project Lima

Robert Blumenstock

Robert Blumenstock
Branch: Navy
Allies: Solaria, SolarEdge

The Mission:

After attending college for two years, Robert enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman. After boot camp, he was assigned to Dental Technician School in San Diego, where he attended Basic and Prosthetic Schools. Upon graduation, he received orders to the Fleet Marine Force, 3rd Marine Division Vietnam. Prior to shipping out, he attended Field Medical School at Camp Pendleton for Marine corpsman training. He arrived in Vietnam in early 1968, as the Tet Offensive was still Active. He served as a Dental Technician near the DMZ. His duties included fabricating prosthetic devices, oral surgery assisting, triage of the wounded, as well as forensic identifications on Marines who were killed in action. During his deployment, he was sprayed with Agent Orange. He spent the rest of his four years active duty at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina where he was also exposed to toxic chemicals in the water supply and has had residual medical issues ever since. His military awards include The Navy Achievement Award w/combat valor device, Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnam Service Award w/Fleet Marine device, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Valor Cross, and Civil Action medal. He has been married for 35 years, has two grown children. He provides a home for several rescue dogs, and is still working as a dental tech to provide for his family.

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On Memorial Day 2021, the Semper Cares Initiative chose Vietnam Veteran and Hospital Corpsman Robert Blumenstock to be the recipient of a free solar panel system. This project was made possible by the generous donations from Solaria and SolarEdge who donated the system, while the installation was provided at no cost by Semper Solaris. We are proud to be able to give back to Mr. Blumenstock after everything he has done for our country, allowing him and his family to declare their independence from the electric company for years to come.

Project Kilo

Jack Lyon

Jack Lyon
Branch: Marine Corps
Allies: LG, Polyglass, SolarEdge

The Mission:

Jack Lyon, a Vietnam Veteran received a brand new solar panel system on behalf of Semper Solaris. Jack was nominated by two previous Semper Cares Initiative recipients, Povas Miknaitis and David Smith, as well as by the Warrior Foundation Freedom Station. Along with founding the Veteran's Village in San Diego, Jack has also spent countless hours at Balboa Naval Medical Center helping injured veterans. Jack is known as the "Angel" to these veterans within the medical center. He has done so much for the community and has never asked or needed anything in return. Semper Solaris was thrilled to be able to give back to Jack and his wife. Thank you, Jack, for your continued dedication and compassion to all of the veterans you have helped!

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On Veterans Day 2020, The Semper Cares Initiative was able to give back to former Marine and Vietnam veteran, Jack Lyon. With the generous assistance of trusted partners, Jack was given a brand new complete solar panel system from LG and Solar Edge, as well as a protective roof coating from Polyglass. Semper Solaris and all involved parties were more than thrilled to be able to donate the materials, time and labor to Jack for all he has done and continues to do for the veteran community. Both Jack and his wife Barbara are extremely thankful to Semper Solaris and all who were involved in Project Kilo, and they look forward to the benefit of freedom from the electric company.

Project Juliet

Denise Renfro

Denise Renfro
Branch: Navy
Allies: LG

The Mission:

Denise Renfro, a former U.S Navy hospital corpsman, was recently chosen as the lucky veteran for the Semper Cares Initiative. We were inspired by how she joined the Navy right after high school, did 4 years of active duty as well as 4 years of active reserves. She was also called back into action for "Desert Storm" & "Desert Shield". An amazing backstory to all this is how she met her husband while being an active reserve. Semper Solaris is truly inspired by this story and couldn't be happier with our Veterans Day choice for Semper Cares Initiative while installing 18 beautiful black on black panels for free for the Renfro family. Thank you for your service, Denise, and we hope you enjoy your new solar panel system!

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The Semper Cares Initiative chose Navy Veteran Denise Renfro to be the Project Juliet recipient on Veteran’s Day 2020. A complete solar panel system was generously donated by LG and Solar Edge, while the installation was provided at no cost by Semper Solaris. Along with her Navy Veteran husband David, Denise was humbled to find out she was chosen as the Project Juliet recipient. Denise and David are excited to see the outcome from the relief of paying high electric bills each month. Thank you for your service, Denise, and we hope you and your family enjoy the freedom from the electric company for many years to come!

Project India

David Smith

David Smith
Branch: Marine Corps
Allies: LG

The Mission:

Project India was formulated to honor David Smith, a 5-year Marine Corps Veteran who served as an Infantryman and is decorated with a Purple Heart. He suffered severe injuries to his right leg, internal bleeding and a traumatic brain injury while on duty in Afghanistan when a truck near him ran over an IED. These injuries left him with speech pattern issues and a need to relearn how to walk; which he persevered through upon returning home, taking time to recover and rehabilitate. He went on to pursue higher education, graduating from the University of North Texas, studying and writing a thesis on traumatic brain injuries.

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The Semper Solaris Semper Cares Initiative gave back to David Smith by gifting him a solar panel installation thanks to LG and SolarEdge. The solar panels were generously covered by LG and SolarEdge stepped in to complete the package with an inverter. Semper Solaris employees, many of whom are veterans, were more than happy to volunteer their time and services when it came to logistics support and the installation. Overall, with combined efforts, this mission was a success! David and his family are thankful to Semper Solaris, LG and SolarEdge for granting them energy independence. They look forward to enjoying savings from this honor for years to come.

Project Hotel

Stephen Fanter

Stephen Fanter
Branch: Army
Allies: FOX5, KFMB, OWENS CORNING, GOODMAN, LG, and SOLAREDGE

The Mission:

Project Hotel was a mission crafted to honor deserving Vietnam Army Veteran, Stephen Fanter, who is highly decorated with a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart during 18 months of active duty. After returning from service, Stephen spent a year recovering from his wounds in the hospital. He then went on to continue protecting local citizens as a Los Angeles Police Officer, Sky Marshal and eventually as a Federal Agent in San Diego where he worked against the war on drugs. Now retired, his friends and family have never heard him ask for anything.

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The Semper Solaris Semper Cares Initiative gave back to Stephen Fanter by providing him with a new roof, solar system, HVAC and battery storage with the help of several partners. An amazing lineup of brands made this possible, including Goodman Manufacturing who covered the HVAC, Owens Corning donating all the roofing materials, while SolarEdge and LG completed the package with a full solar panel system. The new Owens Corning roof on Stephen’s home came with the 50-year manufacturer's warranty so he and his family can enjoy safety and security for years to come. Semper Solaris employees, many of whom are veterans, took care of the rest and were more than happy to volunteer their time and services when it came to logistics support and installation hardware. Energy and HVAC worries are a thing of the past for Stephen and his family now. He is grateful to Semper Solaris and everyone involved for the honor. He looks forward to enjoying the freedom from high energy bills.

Project Golf

Mark Creighton

Mark Creighton
Branch: Army
Allies: Panasonic HIT, KCBS, KSFO

The Mission:

Mark Creighton damaged the nerves in his arms while serving in the Army and was honorably discharged in 1979. In his 30s, he became legally blind and at age 55, Mark was placed into the Yountville Veterans Home. He felt his life wasting away and that he was too young to be placed in a home. So, Mark reached out to a volunteer, Marilu, to help find him a way out and finally after five years of multiple living arrangements, they were able to purchase a home. Semper Solaris is excited to help with the high cost of electric bills in their new home.

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Veterans Day 2019 was reserved for Mark Creighton, an honorably discharged Army vet, who became legally blind in his 30s. Semper Solaris and Panasonic HIT partnered together with KCBS and KSFO to provide Creighton energy relieve through solar panels and a roof replacement. Our team of veterans was excited and proud to help a fellow veteran in need. “Mr. Creighton sacrificed so much for our country, and we’re humbled to have the opportunity to say thank you,” said Kelly Shawhan, Co-Owner of Semper Solaris. “As a former Marine Captain, I know how important trust is, and we’re honored that Mr. Creighton trusts us with the roof over his head.”

Project Foxtrot

Michael Gallardo

Michael Gallardo
Branch: Army
Allies: Panasonic HIT

The Mission:

Michael Gallardo is from Los Angeles. He gave up a baseball career to join the military because he felt as though it was a calling. That, and a sign. The sign, was 9/11, which is also his birthday. Serving in Iraq, Gallardo was severely injured when the Humvee in which he was riding, in a split second decision, intentionally ran over an IED to protect other soldiers on the ground. The ensuing explosion and vehicle damage led to serious injury to Sergeant Gallardo’s left leg. After months of attempts to save his lower left leg without success, Sergeant Gallardo was rendered a below-the-knee amputee. He was awarded a Purple Heart. We salute Sergeant Michael Gallardo for his bravery, selflessness, and dedication to the service of our country!

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On the Fourth of July 2019, Semper Solaris and Panasonic HIT came together to honor Gallardo and his family with a brand new solar system for his home. What a great way to celebrate independence than by veterans coming together and giving energy independence to a fellow veteran. We are proud to say that Project Foxtrot was a success and that Gallardo will have many years of low electric bills.Thank you, Sergeant Michael Gallardo, for your bravery and dedication to the service of our country and your inspiration to keep pushing!

Project Echo

Tony Ybarra

Tony Ybarra
Branch: Navy
Allies: Panasonic HIT

The Mission:

Tony Ybarra, a native Bay Area resident, served as a Navy Corpsman through the entirety of the Korean War. After the Navy, he taught middle school and coached kids sports for over 35 years in Campbell. He is still well known by hundreds of former students. He has always supported environmental issues and renewable energy.

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Alongside Panasonic HIT, Semper Solaris had the opportunity to honor the service of Tony Ybarra with Project Echo on Memorial Day 2019. Between both companies, Tony was provided with the labor and materials for a new solar system for his home. While there, Tony gave Semper Solaris workers a brief history of his service and his photography and showed them some of his handy work. All in all, Project Echo was a success and Tony will now have lower electric bills for years to come. Thank you for your service, Tony, and for letting us see your amazing photos and for letting us serve and support you.

Project Delta

Antonio Rangel

Antonio Rangel
Branch: Army
Allies: Purple Hearts Home, Owens Corning, Sea Air Federal Credit Union

The Mission:

Project Delta was formulated to support Antonio Rangel and the repairs needed on his family’s home to remain safe and accessible. Rangel served as an Infantryman in the Army during the Korean War and was honorably discharged in 1954. He then returned to his hometown, where he has been an active member of the local American Legion and has volunteered to sponsor 17-year olds to go to Cal State Sacramento for a week. Rangel suffered from a stroke in both 2017 and 2018, now his three grandsons and daughter live with him and he says his daughter is his “right-hand man”.

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Semper Solaris called on the help of Owens Corning and Purple Heart Homes to carry out Project Delta. On President's Day 2019, Semper Solaris had the honor to provide the labor and support to get the job done, while Purple Heart Homes also honored Antonio Rangel and his family by partnering with Sea Air Federal Credit Union and Owens Corning to complete the project.

Project Charlie

Paul Dugas

Paul Dugas
Branch: Marine Corps
Allies: Panasonic

The Mission:

The third Semper Cares Initiative operation, Project Charlie, had the privilege to honor Paul Dugas on Veteran’s Day 2018. To find the deserving beneficiary for this operation, Semper Solaris requested nominations to learn more about the stories of the American men and women that are so deserving of our support and honor. After countless nominations, Paul Dugas, a former marine, was selected. Paul was nominated by his neighbor Dev Zaveri-Tabb, who is also a veteran. Dev shared Paul’s story with us — from his years of faithful service to his severe back injury to his fight with cancer, Paul always kept his perseverance and spirits high. It was an honor to meet Paul and stand alongside him through Project Charlie!

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To make Project Charlie possible, Semper Solaris counted with the help of Panasonic to donate the panels and SolarEdge to provide the inverter and hardware, while Semper was happy to provide labor to install the hardware and logistic support for analysis and permitting. On Veterans Day 2018 the installation was complete and the solar system was turned on. Semper and Paul’s community were able to come together to honor him that day.

Project Bravo

Povas Miknaitis

Povas Miknaitis
Branch: Marine Corps
Allies: Warrior Foundation, Freedom Station, Solar World, SolarEdge

The Mission:

Project Bravo was formulated to support former Marine Corps sniper, Povas Miknaitis. Miknaitis was wounded in Iraq by an IED, causing major damage to his head and face. Semper Solaris was introduced to Povas through the Warrior Foundation Freedom Station. WFFS operates a cutting-edge halfway house for wounded veterans, helping them reintegrate into the community.

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Semper Solaris called for help and SolarWorld responded with a new 5Kw solar power system for his home and SolarEdge again stepped up with the inverter and hardware to complete the job. For the installation, Semper Solaris’ call to action was answered by fellow Devil Dog Jason Spear and his firm, Combined Energy. Jason and his crew, including former military as well, donated all the labor to install. Semper Solaris has contributed the logistic support (analysis and permitting) as well as all the installation hardware.

Project Alpha

Carl Schaffrina

Carl Schaffrina
Branch: Navy
Allies: Habitat for Humanity, Owens Corning, Panasonic, SolarEdge

The Mission:

The Semper Cares Initiative was introduced to Carl through the efforts of Habitat For Humanity’s Veteran Programs. Carl served in the Navy for 12 years around the world as an Avionics Technician. After his discharge he returned to San Diego, where he met and married his wife, Jodi. Living in a residence owned by Jodi’s family for over 30 years, Carl recognized that the home was in desperate need of major repairs to the roof. Living on a fixed income from disability has made meeting their monthly bills harder and harder. The constant increases in electricity costs have hit their family especially hard.

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Kelly Shawhan, co-owner of Semper Solaris used his contacts within the industry to bring Owens Corning alongside to assist Project Alpha by donating all the materials to replace the roof on the Schaffrina home. A brand-new roof carrying a 50 year manufacturers warranty will ensure the Schaffrina family has a solid roof for the rest of their lives. Panasonic, after hearing the story, agreed to donate a 5Kw solar power system for the Schaffrina home as well. SolarEdge has generously donated the inverter and associated hardware to complete the solar system. The employees of Semper Solaris, many former military, stepped up as well. Semper Solaris donated the logistic support (analysis and permitting) as well as all the installation personnel, labor and hardware. Carl and Jodi are humbled and appreciative of this support and look forward to no longer worrying about the rainy season and further increases in electricity prices. At the end of the project, Jodi commented, “I can’t wait to go to church on Sunday and tell them, you don’t have to pray for us any longer. We received our blessing.”

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    Semper Cares Initiative Giveaway Rules

    Meet the Veterans of Semper Solaris

    At Semper Solaris, we bring the same discipline and attention to detail we gained in the military to all of our projects. We recognize that our reputation is on the line with each job that we take, and so we do everything we can to exceed the expectations of our customers.

    Meet Our Vets

     

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