Mathew is a middle school aged boy who has a permanent disability that confines him to his wheelchair. Mathew’s mother had been carrying him in and out of the home but could no longer physically do so. Recently, a team of 10 volunteers graciously gave their time and talents to build Mathew’s ramp. As the ramp was finished and Mathew came out to try it for the first-time tears of joy were shed by not just the family but by the crew of volunteers as well. In fact, one volunteer commented that even the dog cried! Mathew smiled from ear to ear. his was freedom! Freedom to go to school, freedom to play outside with his friends, freedom to be a young boy. Matthew’s ramp was made possible by our generous volunteers and donors.
We’ve all heard the expression “your life can change in an instant.” This past Fall, SAWs received a call to build a ramp for a young teenage girl. We were asked late in the season as the weather was beginning to turn cold and there were not many ramp-building Saturdays left; the schedule was full. It was suggested to Talica’s mother that March or April would be a better date. Then we learned the rest of the story.
Talica, a basketball player for Indianapolis Crispus Attucks High School, had just graduated in the Spring of 2020. Several weeks earlier, Talica and a friend were sitting in an apartment parking lot waiting on a friend to join them. Shots rang out and a stray bullet hit their car and struck Talicia. She would end up being paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
As we spoke with her mom, Talica was in rehab awaiting a safe way to get home in her wheelchair. Her story brought tears to our eyes and a passion to complete the project before the end of the season. SAWs volunteers went into action and immediately planned the build for the upcoming Saturday. For a Saturday in December, the Lord blessed the team with 60 degrees and sunshine all day. The usual SAWs ramp team of 6-8 volunteers swelled at one point to over 20 volunteers with willing hands and a giving heart.
As the build was being finished, Talica’s sister and mother, Shelicia, prepared a buffet of fried chicken, coleslaw, and drinks for the SAWs crew. As the final screws were being drilled in place, Shelicia called Talica and they FaceTimed with the Project Managers. She witnessed the completed ramp from her hospital bed. Talica could finally come home!
This is the essence of the SAWs mission.
“When firemen know you by first name, it’s not so good.” Gloria said as she explained that the only times she had left her home in the past four years was when she called the fire department to take her to the hospital.
Gloria no longer has to call the fire department to leave her home. In fact, she roll down her new SAWs ramp to visit her neighbors, go to church or anywhere else she pleases. “God bless you,” she said through tears as she came out her door and onto her new ramp. “God bless my angels and may God bless you and be with you forever for this. This is freedom for me!”
Gloria’s words capture our mission. Celebrate Gloria’s freedom with us as well as St. Joseph County SAWs 100 ramp! Such a beautiful and heart warming video.
Eight years ago, Hannah’s life suddenly changed when she was hit by a driver running through a red light. Her well-meaning husband found some spare plywood to build her a ramp that lasted for a little while, but with each year it’s deteriorating condition made it more dangerous to use. Finally, Hannah would only use it for emergencies for fear that it would give way at any time.
When SAWs volunteers built Hannah’s ramp, she could hardly contain her excitement. After cutting the ribbon at the top platform, she jubilantly cried, “I have my independence back!” and “Thank you! I love it, I absolutely love it!” as she rolled all the way down to celebrate her newfound freedom by having some lemonade and cookies with the volunteers who built it.
Because SAWs uses only treated lumber and builds to ADA standards, Hannah will be able to use her ramp for many years with the confidence that its sturdy construction will stand the test of time.
Melba and Roy had suffered a series of setbacks. Not only was Melba fighting cancer, but she had been doing so while living in a mold-infested home. Learning of an opportunity to move into a trailer near their daughter, they jumped at the chance. The only problem was that Melba used a walker and experienced a great deal of difficulty in entering and exiting the trailer.
When SAWs volunteers built Melba’s ramp, she was all smiles. Now she can safely get out to see her daughter whenever she likes, and her husband doesn’t have to worry about her trying to navigate a series of stairs with her walker. Everything from going to the doctor’s office to getting a breath of fresh air is easier and safer now that her ramp is installed.
Renee was enjoying her internship, preparing for a career in physical fitness, was just 21 when she was hit by a drunk driver and forced to abandon those plans, at least for the short-term. Because of injuries sustained during the accident, Renee spent several weeks in a rehabilitation facility with half of her body paralyzed. Once her condition had improved, the rehab facility required her to have a ramp installed at her home before they would discharge her. They knew that in order to enter her home, Renee would have to be able to climb fifteen stairs leading to her front door, an insurmountable task given her partial paralysis.
When SAWs learned of Renee’s dilemma, we immediately went to work. Because of the ramp we provided, Renee was able to return home the night before the installation. Upon completion of the ramp, Renee came onto her front porch, rolled to the ramp platform, cut the ribbon on her brand new ramp and traveled down to the bottom to enjoy some cookies and lemonade with SAWs volunteers. Renee continues to recover from the accident and in the meantime is able to get outside and connect with her community.