Ramping It Up in Erie-Meadville
Ramp-building ministries are thriving in several areas of the Western PA Conference, making a difference in the lives of many who face difficulty with mobility. The Ramps of Hope Ministry in the Erie-Meadville District, which helped "give birth" to some of those in other districts, is particularly active. Rev. Debbie Hills, an ordained deacon who guides the ministry, describes an amazing amount of activity by various volunteer teams that came after a planned blitz-build.
By Rev. Debbie Hills
To say we have had a busy post Blitz Build period in the Ramps of Hope Ministry would be an understatement! Our teams have been out and about in both Erie and Crawford counties serving God and our neighbors in some amazing ways.
On Thursday evening June 15, the Glenwood team was out near their church meeting a need that was a little different than normally encountered. What was needed was a small ramp at the threshold of the door down onto an existing porch. The biggest challenge for this family was that the decking on the existing porch was deteriorated to the point that the wheelchair wheels were breaking through it, making it very difficult to get to the either the existing ramp or the new chair lift that had been installed. By Thursday evening, that problem was resolved with new decking and an integrated ramp at the door.
In another location, Friday morning saw a few brave and adventuresome souls trying out another new thing. We had a really nice metal ramp donated to us, so we disassembled it and moved it to help a young woman who is terminally ill with cancer. Her story broke our hearts, and we really wanted to get a ramp in for her so she could enjoy the summer weather a bit and be able to come and go from her home with more safety and comfort. She has had to be carried in and out of the house and with the cancer in her bones, this has been not only unsafe, but also quite painful for her. We thought the task would be easy, but it was much more time consuming and difficult to reconfigure it than we had anticipated. It was also a very hot day and we were working in direct sun most of the time. But we got it in and were blessed to know it will make our recipient's life a little better. The additional joy of the morning was in seeing the lady who donated the ramp so glad that it was going to help someone else. Although she is still mourning the loss of her husband earlier this year, she was so thankful that she was able to help someone else in need.
Saturday a team was in Waterford doing a more typical ramp installation of a little larger than usual ramp. A great team of folks gathered to get this one done. I took the day off, but from what I heard it went smoothly and quite quickly. They were finished up around 11 a.m.
On Tuesday June 20, we gathered again, at 1 p.m. in the afternoon, this time in Conneautville to install a ramp for a retired volunteer fireman. After a bit of difficulty with code enforcement there, we were finally able to get it done. We had several folks come out to help who had never worked with us before, but they all pitched in and in about two hours we were finishing up. The woman who cares for our recipient (another volunteer firefighter) was in tears when she saw everyone who came out to help them and was delighted with the completed ramp.
Thursday evening we gathered in Franklin Township at 5 p.m. to install a ramp for a member of the Franklin Center UMC. Our recipient used to have a fairly well known local band and one of our regulars remembered hearing them play. They had a great time recalling old times together. The ramp was a larger than typical one but we had a great turnout of folks to get this one done, including a number of youth. We were gathering for a prayer and a picture around 8:30
We were blessed time and time again with food and refreshments, lovingly prepared for us and our recipients, weather, that despite the prediction of rain, held off to allow us to do the work needed, enough help to do all the parts of each outreach, and a spirit of joy as we did the work. Our God is Good. Prayers were lifted up for each of our recipients and their families and caregivers, blessings were asked for each ramp and team, and a lot of fellowship was enjoyed throughout, making the work go quickly and joyfully.
Thanks to everyone who helped with all these activities. You are the Body of Christ at work in the world and I thank God for each one of you.