• Submitted By: Ability 1st

It May be Cold Out There, But Dreams are Built by Madison Rotary Club

Ability 1st Partners with Madison Rotary Club to Build Accessibility Ramp

Saturday, January 23, 2016, seven members of the Madison Rotary Club braved the cold and the wind to build an accessibility ramp for Madison resident David Keeling. In partnership with Ability 1st, the Center for Independent Living (CIL) of North Florida, the Madison Rotary Club has taken on the challenge to sponsor 6 projects within the coming year. This was the third Madison County project completed, within the fiscal year starting Oct 1st, and the 29th project built in the six county service area (Madison, Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla, Gadsden, and Leon). Rotary members included: Mark, Buescher, Wayne Conger, Dale Stone, Chad Arnold, Jennifer Johnson, Jim Catron, and John Walt Boatright. Though the day's overcast skies kept the temperatures on the cool side, and the occasional brisk gusts of wind would definitely be felt to the bone; the volunteers measured, sawed and then assembled the pieces into the needed ramp, all within the shortened day's light. “I was drawn to the Rotary… commitment of helping the less fortunate... I believe in helping others as a Christian principle and duty. Being a Rotarian gives me a since of involvement in helping others who are in need. It’s also a chance to fellowship with others who are similarly committed,” said Wayne Conger, Rotary Foundation Chairman. "These are truly rewarding [projects]... where it's great to contribute... and help others." Mark Buescher, Club President stated. "Partnering with the Madison Rotary Club is a Wonderful and Exciting Opportunity!" Kevin Ogden, Accessibility Program Manager for Ability 1st stated. "There is a tremendous need for this type of enterprise and having a community service organization like the Rotary Club step up and volunteer is an Incredible Asset as well as a truly great way of giving back to the community," Kevin added. Last year, Ability 1st completed 112 construction projects (ramps and accessible half-steps), as well as 15 repairs on existing decks, ramps, steps; and placed 23 metal ramps into service for a total of 150 consumers served in just the construction phase of the Access to Independence Program. "The program typically receives 8 - 12 applications a month, throughout the 6 county service area," Kevin stated. The program seeks to serve low income individuals who need assistance in continuing to live independently, within their homes, where everyone should be the most comfortable and continue to be productive and active members of the community. Other program services include medical equipment loans and disposable medical supplies, when available. On average, the Access to Independence Program will serve between 900 - 1000 consumers in a 12 month period, from the six counties served, Kevin confirmed. “[The] Access to Independence and similar programs are desperately needed since there are so many handicapped and elderly individuals who have little freedom if they do not have the ability to become free of being homebound. I believe that [this] work is vital and certainly follows the Rotary Motto of ‘SERVICE ABOVE SELF’”, Wayne added. The 5ft wide x 6ft run door landing and 30ft of ramp has a retail value of $734 but Ability 1st was able to secure discounts to bring the total costs of the project at $557. "Keeping costs down is fundamental to the program's continued success,' Kevin said. "The Access to Independence: Accessibility Program can only function using an all volunteer workforce. Having a civic minded organization like the Madison Rotary Club is an Inspiring and Truly Remarkable Blessing," Kevin stated. Ability 1st ramps continue to use the older Florida Accessibility standard and are constructed with a 45 inch clear width and have the required 1:12 pitch (where 1 inch in height requires 12 inches of travel). All landings have a minimum 61 inch clear width, which exceeds the State and Federal ADA guidelines. Ability 1st provides all designs and secures the materials necessary for each project, as well as provides a crew chief able to assist in leading and building each project. "What is needed is more volunteers and financial support from the community," Kevin implored. Madison resident David Keeling uses a wheelchair due to a leg amputation, but has a good feeling that this ramp will provide him with the means to continue living at home and getting out into the community. "You all was Ready. This is amazing!” David said. He and his wife Cherry were so very grateful of the Madison Rotary Members efforts. "I finally got my blessing... Dreams do come True!” David exclaimed. This will make it much easier for me on the days when I must use the chair... and I won't have to use the steps with my crutches anymore. David assured the volunteers that nothing will slow him down now! Ability 1st is actively seeking new volunteer groups and community organizations that see the need for community involvement and helping their neighbors, friends, family and the community as a whole and would be interested in becoming a Community Partner. The Access to Independence Program follows the central tenant of the CILs philosophy of providing individuals, particularly those who are mobility challenged, the means to regain their confidence and continue living independently in the one place we all should feel the safest, and be the most comfortable – our own homes.

To volunteer or become a Community Partner, contact Kevin Ogden at 850.575.9621 x106 or email to:kevinogden@abilty1st.info.


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