The Wildwood United Methodist Church in Magnolia, Texas, reached out to our Technical Training Manager, Billy Viars, knowing that our hardware could help their efforts to build wheelchair ramps for people in need who were unable to afford them. Wildwood UMC volunteers have been building charitable ramps in Montgomery County since 2019, but the rising cost of lumber has strained their resources. Simpson Strong-Tie has stepped in to help by providing hardware for this cause. Hear from Robert Tonti, ramp program coordinator at Wildwood as he discusses the need for these wheelchair ramps.
Our Wildwood church team has built three wheelchair ramps so far this year, one in March and two in June. We are thankful to Simpson Strong-Tie not only for their donation of hardware for these projects, but also for their quick response to our solicitation. One of the ramps was an emergency because the client was coming home from the hospital in a wheelchair for the first time on June 3, with no safe way to enter his house. Providing a ramp in this case was especially important to us personally because the ramp was for the uncle of one of our church custodians. The ramp needed to be in place with only one week’s notice for survey, design, procurement and construction—everything.
Our church Community Assistance Ministry funded the lumber for the ramp, and Simpson Strong-Tie donated 15 lb. of deck screws. This included a 5 lb. box of 3 1/2″ T25-head deck screws, a 5 lb. box of 2 1/2″ T25 deck screws and a 5 lb. box of 1 5/8″ T25 deck screws. Thanks to Dan Scullion at Simpson Strong-Tie, the screws arrived just in time! We got the wheelchair ramp done just two hours before the client returned home from the hospital.
Construction of wheelchair ramps is an ongoing need seemingly not met by any governmental programs or medical insurance. The retail cost of an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramp is simply beyond the financial capability of many individuals who need one. Time permitting, there are private donors operating through the Texas Ramp Project (TRP), a statewide nonprofit organization, to whom our Wildwood Church and many volunteer groups across Texas can apply for financial help exclusively for ramps–but funds are limited and do not stretch far enough.
Ramps built through a TRP application are submitted by medical personnel and/or social workers for the benefit of clients who have both medical necessity and financial need. For instance, the ramp pictured below was built by Wildwood volunteers in March for a nurse caregiver to help her elderly mother. She simply could not get her mother in and out of the house without a ramp. Simpson Strong-Tie provided the 15 lb. of screws needed, and TRP funded the lumber.
The next ramp (below), built June 14, 2022, with screws from Simpson Strong-Tie and lumber funded by our church and TRP, was for another daughter-caregiver living with her elderly mother who caught pneumonia earlier this year and had to be lifted down the stairs by ambulance personnel on an emergency call. Because there was no ramp, they had not previously made even a routine doctor visit, care that might possibly have prevented the emergency. The daughter told me, “We are so grateful for the ramp and that I can now get my mom in and out of the house safely.”
There are numerous mobility-afflicted patients in our communities, either trapped or feeling trapped in their homes, for lack of a ramp. They are dialysis patients needing frequent visits to clinics, the elderly needing to see doctors, amputees, or accident victims in the hospital unsure how to get into their homes when they first come home in a wheelchair.
We are thankful to organizations like Texas Ramp Project and Simpson Strong-Tie for providing supplies so our volunteers at Wildwood UMC and volunteer organizations across Texas can assist these patients with their mobility and comfort.