Wheelchair ramp project strengthens club
Members of the Rotary Club of Madison County, Georgia, USA, christen a new wheelchair ramp built by the club. Photo courtesy of Roy Gandy
On a hot day about 13 years ago, as the mercury hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Rotarian Roy Gandy delivered an air conditioner to a polio survivor.
As Gandy was leaving, he saw the man crawl across his lawn to get to his truck and realized that without a wheelchair ramp, the man had no other way to leave his house on his own.
Moved by the sight, Gandy, a member of the Rotary Club of Madison County, Georgia, USA, returned a week later to build the man a 24-foot-long ramp that met Americans with Disabilities Act specifications. Since then, Gandy and other members of his Rotary club have built more than 400 wheelchair ramps.
"You can't imagine how some of these people are really hurting," says Gandy of the recipients, most of whom would be isolated without a ramp. Even if recipients have a spouse, the spouses are often elderly and are not strong enough to lift them out of the house on their own.
A wheelchair ramp can cost as much as $1,500 to have a contractor build, and many of the people in Gandy's rural community can't afford that. In the United States, if someone is not a war veteran, that person may not be eligible for federal funds for a ramp. And Gandy said state and local funds are typically unavailable in the Madison area.
At a cost of just $300 to $600 for materials, Gandy and his fellow club members build ramps for those who don't qualify for federal funds. The recipient pays nothing, although some decide to make small donations.
At first, Gandy didn't think his club would be building so many ramps, because the community only has about 25,000 people. But as word spread and the local newspaper printed an article on the effort, Gandy's club received more and more requests.
By necessity, club members have become more efficient. What once was an all-day project now takes a crew of 20 members less than two hours. The club owns a trailer loaded with everything needed, including a generator.
"It's gotten so we've done enough of them that we pull the trailer up and everyone knows what to do," Gandy says. "I'm so pleased with the program. It's a wonderful way to serve the community."
But the program has done more than help the community: It has also strengthened the club by attracting younger members who want to be part of the ramp-building effort, Gandy says.
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