Ramping Up


Men's Group Goes Modular To Increase Effectiveness

By Fred Koenig

When someone is injured or recovering from a surgery, most people just want to be home. But sometimes getting through the front door can be a challenge. The entryway to many homes involves a step or two. If you’re in a wheelchair, a couple of steps can amount to an unsurmountable wall. The solution can be building a ramp, but that can get complicated. 
Don King is part of a men’s group at Christ Community UMC that addresses such concerns. More than once the group had worked on constructing a ramp for someone, but the ramp wasn’t used much before it was no longer needed. 
“We were kind of getting burned on it, but God wouldn’t let it go,” King said. 
His pastor, Rev. Chris Sloan, agreed that the traditional method of constructing an access ramp for a home had its problems. 
“Ramps are expensive, and it would take a long time to get one built,” said Sloan. “Everything had to be custom designed and made. Then when they weren’t needed anymore they were useless. We could remove a wooden one, but it probably wouldn’t work any where else.” 
The solution popped up on King’s phone one day when he was shopping for fishing tackle for a friend. Someone was trying to sell a modular aluminum access ramp for a home. He gave them a call and made a deal. 
“I thought we would store one and use it occasionally, but now we can’t keep them in stock,” King said.  As it goes with internet shopping, once King had purchased one his phone kept showing him ads for more. They have purchased ramps from Arkansas, Oklahoma and various locations in Missouri. They have done about a dozen installations in the past few years. The aluminum ramps are assembled at a home when needed, and then disassembled and moved to a different home when they were needed no longer needed at the present one. 
In some cases a ramp may just be in place for a few months, like when someone is recovering from a surgery like a hip or knee replacement. In other cases, like with a disabled senior citizen, the ramp may be in place for the last year or two that person spends at home before they need to move to a care facility. 
Money the men’s group earns from selling smoked chickens and turkeys that they prepare in the church’s commercial smoker are used to purchase materials for the ramps. They work with the local Veteran’s Administration to find people who need the ramps. They’ve recently upgraded to power ratchets to put the ramps together. It typically takes a group of four men a couple of hours to take remove one of the ramps. Installs are harder, but a larger group can get it done in a weekend. 
“We have lots of young men in this church. It’s a different hodge-podge of people every time we do one of these,” Sloan said. 
The men’s group at Christ Community had done a lot of work in disaster response and recovery after the tornado in Joplin in 2011. The ramps have filled they void since they have been caught up with emergency needs. 
“This has helped get our men’s group active and back to having a mission,” King said. “It’s good to be needed.”