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My Ramp Story

by | Jul 16, 2018 | SAWs Ministry, United Methodist Men

Have you ever wondered what would happen if all of us could pull together to achieve a common goal? What level of accomplishment is obtained when we commit with our time, our muscles, our minds, our money, and yes, even some sweat? What would be the results of this kind of effort? As you read further, you will discover that it’s possible for you to share the joy of a great accomplishment – one that provides gratitude, pride, and a sense of giving.

My story began late last summer when one of our church members requested an access ramp to enable her husband a better way to exit and enter their home. If you are not disabled, it may be difficult to imagine that a simple thing like a threshold or a small step could be an insurmountable barrier against leaving your home. A site survey was conducted, a ramp design was made, and building permit requirements were addressed. A special discount on materials was given by Lowe’s, and delivery to the site completed. The Spit and Shine volunteers at our church worked hard for five full days and finished a wooden ramp meeting all ADA and Cochise County standards – and, the ramp was nice looking too.

Sometime last November, the newly installed president of DSC UMM, Dave James, introduced himself to all UMM Presidents. At the time, I was president of the Fishermen and that introduction began a relationship. Dave had just gained some exposure to ramp building, and our conversations continued along those lines. In December, Dave asked me to consider filling the President slot in the South District. Word was received that the General Council (GCUMM) liked the idea of providing ramps for the low income handicapped and challenged the Desert Southwest Conference to develop a Pilot Program to grow this Ministry within our conference. Many people at all levels within our Conference bought into this ramp project idea, and we initiated planning and arrangements to make it a reality.

We are partnering with a not-for-profit Christian organization from Indiana called Servants At Work (SAWs) (www.sawsramps.org), who have been building handicap ramps since 2003. We plan to utilize SAWs experience, ideas, and methods to get our Pilot Program off and running. SAWs have agreed to help us along. We also have been in contact with Texas Ramp Project (TRP), (www.texasramps.org) an organization in Texas who started building ramps in 1998 and to date have produced over 14,000 ramps all over the state. In fact, it was TRP who helped SAWs get their start. So again, as with SAWs, we plan to incorporate the best TRP experiences, ideas, and methods into our operational plans and build upon what both of these organizations have proven to work.

Fast forward to today finds the status of the Ramp Ministry as follows:

  • Servants have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) At Works (SAWs) and DSC UMM. This agreement allows SAWs to assist in getting SAWs Desert Southwest up and running. SAWs send more information and assistance on a daily basis.
  • Arrangements have been made with Central UMC in Phoenix to use part of one of their buildings for a Carpenter Shop to prefab the many ramp components. The plan is to prefab as much as possible in sections at the Carpenter Shop and then transport the sections to the site for erection.
  • A typical ramp historically has taken about 5 hours to build on site.
  • SAWs will conduct training sessions for UMM people in critical positions beginning mid-August. Our volunteer training can be done electronically from your home.
  • As the funds from an $8,000 grant are prepared for use, many more grant possibilities are in the works as well as other fundraisers.
  • Electronic depositing has been established through VANCO to receive donations.
  • A telephone system has been selected to provide services to handle incoming requests.
  • We should be building our first ramps within two months.

Besides funding, we are looking for volunteers who are willing to help. Help can come in many different ways. Therefore, if you are interested in becoming a member of this team, please contact me (520) 266-2492 cell). I can explain the positions and how they interact so you can get a better understanding of how you would be involved. These are the positions open to volunteers:

  • Administrative – Some of the administrative positions can be performed over a computer link from your home.
  • Survey Team – 2-person teams to go to the ramp-site and take pictures, record measurements, note terrain, employ FaceTime to communicate with SAWs personnel so the design of the ramp can be determined, four openings available.
  • Finishing Team – A team to follow up on any deficiencies/problems with a ramp and make necessary repairs/modifications as needed, 2-4 openings available.
  • Volunteer Coordinator – Recruit other individuals who will assist in installing the ramps at a client’s home. These individuals will come from outside of UMM and could consist of volunteers from sponsors, organizations, clubs, or neighbors of the client.
  • Project Manager – Runs the work on site assuring a smooth operation including up-front planning/arrangements, design requirements, material procurement, supervision, safety, client relations, coordination, documentation, and close out.
  • Area Coordinator – Has responsibility for the oversight and coordination of all activities related to his/her geographic area of construction including the roles mentioned above.

I am excited about being a part of this Ramp Project Ministry! I encourage you to check out the listed websites and especially the videos. Our goal is two-fold. We want to provide ramps to the low-income disabled to allow them to improve their lives by gaining access to the world outside of their imprisoned walls. The other goal is to get various volunteers involved with building a ramp, whereby they can experience the joy on the faces of the recipient client. This feeling of happiness gives the volunteer a sense of accomplishment and gives them a way to pay back perhaps what’s been lacking in their own lives.

Thanks and many blessings,
Dale O’Neill
President, South District,
Desert Southwest Conference, United Methodist Men

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