By LIBBY CLUETT
In just two and a half hours one recent weekend, 29 volunteers changed one resident’s life, giving her a new-found freedom.
Rotarians, members and the Mineral Wells High School Key Club joined members of several churches and the Mineral Wells Center of Life to build a 28-foot ramp for Margaret Stanton.
“I prayed to God to help me and he did,” Stanton said of her new ramp.
She said she needed a ramp. She previously fell on her stairs, bruising five ribs.
It’s the 12th Texas Ramp Project ramp built for Palo Pinto County residents and there are more to come, according to Gary Lovell, one of two local project coordinators.
He and Ray Mays oversee building and installing the local TRP ramps through the Center of Life. The TRP gives them a list of people in the county needing ramps and they organize about one per month.
In October and September, the all-volunteer corps built two ramps, but took a hiatus in the heat of August.
Lovell said the local organization has four remaining ramps, that he knows of, to finish before the end of the year.
The group builds ramps for people with all types of disabilities who cannot afford a ramp, “but whose steps have imprisoned them,” according to the TRP website, texasramps.org.
“It’s not just for wheelchairs, but for people using walkers or with other handicaps of any sort,” Lovell said. “We build wheelchair ramps for disabled or elderly people who can’t afford to buy one.”
He said Stanton’s health-care provider informed the TRP of her need for a ramp, because of depth perception issues. After she fell, Lovell said, even with assistance, she was afraid to descend the few steps from her house.
Built in a few hours on a Saturday, the new ramp now gives Stanton the freedom “so she can get down off her porch without that fear,” Lovell explained.
Lovell said they are always looking for volunteers and donations for the local TRP project. To help out, contact: the Center of Life, at (940) 682-5044; Lovell at Freeze Carpets, (940) 325-2269; or Mays at (940) 682-1753.
The TRP, an all-volunteer organization, administers the project and will provide a matching grant for any local donations of $500 or greater, according to Mays.
When a gift is given, he said the donor can earmark the funds to remain in Palo Pinto County and “100 percent of what they give goes to materials for those ramps the labor is provided by volunteers.”
Although funds and paperwork go through the TRP, Lovell said they purchase the supplies locally.
“A lot of the money we raise is from people donating in Mineral Wells so we want the money to stay in Mineral Wells,” he said.
They started building ramps in April 2011, when “one resident wasn’t able to go out of his house in over a year,” Lovell said. “Now he’s able to go down the ramp, get on his lawnmower and mow his and his neighbor’s grass.”
About a month after they built this ramp, he said the TRP contacted them to build more for people in need. He said the need is so great around here for ramps and they try to build them about once a month.
“Right now we have four on the list,” he said, adding that he hopes they do two in November and two in December.
They rely on volunteers to build the ramps, but said they have “a lot of fun and fellowship” during the construction.
Volunteers with the local ramp crew spend about an hour building modules on the Friday night before a Saturday installation. On-site assembly of the ramp typically begins at 8 a.m. and finishes by noon.
For those needing a ramp, Lovell said to visit the Texas Ramp Project at texasramps.org. The TRP has a referral page, located at www.texasramps.org, where individuals can recommend someone to receive a ramp.
Lovell said the ramps cost approximately $600 in wood and materials, which is paid for from a combination of local and TRP donations. He said the local organizers asks for donations and the TRP matches local donations amounting to $500 or more.
By LIBBY CLUETT
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