Since its inception in 2004, Rebuilding Together Kent County has installed dozens of stick-built wheelchair ramps for neighbors in Kent County, thus contributing to its local reputation as “the ramp people,” despite the many other types of repair work Rebuilding Together has engaged in over nearly 20 years.
At an award luncheon for Qlarant Foundation grantees last year, Rebuilding Together Kent County staff were inspired by an aluminum ramp program offered by Bay Hundred Community Volunteers in Talbot County. With their help and also guidance from Rebuilding Together-Lincoln County in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, who has been installing aluminum ramps for several years, the organization decided to shift its focus from stick-built ramps to aluminum ramps.
This was a smart decision for a number of reasons: aluminum ramps offer a high-quality material with a modular design that allows for flexibility and customization; they are durable and require little maintenance; and, they are able to be assembled easily by trained volunteers. Moreover, when the homeowner no longer requires the ramp, Rebuilding Together Kent County can retrieve the parts, clean them thoroughly, and reuse them for another neighbor with mobility challenges, truly making this a gift that keeps on giving!
Thanks to a Health Disparities Grant from the Kent County Health Department, on Wednesday, March, 22, 2023, Rebuilding Together officially “ramped up” its game when it launched its Lifetime Loaned Ramp Program. Despite a chilly start to the day, eight volunteers gathered to ensure Mrs. F, a Rock Hall neighbor recovering from hip surgery, can get safely in and out of the home where she has lived since it was built 55 years ago.
Bill Shrieves, who spearheads the aluminum ramp builds for Bay Hundred, was joined by his fellow Bay Hundred volunteer, Bernie Miller, to train the local crew on the proper way to get the job done for the Rock Hall homeowner. Larry Dinoff, Vice President of the Board of Rebuilding Together Kent County, took advantage of their expertise by participating in one of their projects last year, and observed them closely as they managed the flow effortlessly on Wednesday. In just two-and-a-half hours, this generous group assembled the ramp and made a huge impact. That pace would not have been possible with wooden construction.
Joanne Boyle, one of the six local volunteers, summed it up by saying, “Thanks to sound planning by Rebuilding Together Kent County and under the expert tutelage of Bill and Bernie from Bay Hundred Community Volunteers, the first aluminum ramp build went without a hitch! As a new volunteer, I found the team work both inspiring and fun. But the best part, by far, was seeing the happy homeowner when we were done.”
Rebuilding Together Kent County’s mission is repairing homes, revitalizing communities, rebuilding lives. They leverage gifts of time, money, skill and labor to repair and rehabilitate homes for income-eligible seniors, veterans, those living with disabilities, and families with children in Kent County. They are dedicated to ending substandard housing. All work is done at no cost to homeowners who meet the eligibility criteria. This is an equal opportunity program. Learn more at RebuildingTogetherKCMD.org.