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Madison Rotary Strikes Again!  Helps Ability 1st erect Metal Ramp in Greenville

Wednesday, February 10, 2016. What do you do when a family member becomes ill? When they can no longer walk, or tend to themselves? How do you take care of them? How do you roll a wheelchair down a set of wobbly steps?

For local resident Shirley Proctor, of Greenville, these questions and a multitude of others have been on her mind since her sister Deborah became immobilized last October. So what can you do when your world is completely turned upside down?

Shirley called Ability 1st, the Center for Independent Living of North Florida. Working with Kevin Ogden, program manager for the Access to Independence: Accessibility Program an independent living plan was started and, after the application was completed; the process for Deborah’s ramp giving access to the outside was green lit.

Enter Wayne Conger, Madison Rotary Foundation Chairman. “Eight years ago I was immediately drawn to the Rotary principle of ‘SERVICE ABOVE SELF’ and was impressed by the Rotary commitment of helping the less fortune.” The Madison Rotary has teamed up with Ability 1st to put “our words” into practice and have committed to doing several projects within the county.

Wednesday’s project brought Rotarians Dale Stone, Steve Ersch, Wayne Conger, and Jim Catron to the Greenville home where the sisters watch from the indoor comfort while the “guys” braved the piercing north winds under a clear frosty blue sky with brilliant yet cooling sunbeams.

This is the 12th Metal Ramp Loan for Ability 1st this year, in addition the agency has built 32 wooden access structures (ramps &/or steps), in the six county service area since Oct 1. This is project #4 for the Madison Rotary Club during the same time frame.

Member Jim Catron, City Commissioner, says the Rotary principle needs to be “translated to action not words; [it’s about] results... at the end of the day we can see real progress... when it helps someone… basically get out,” it becomes beneficial to all, which matches the fourth criteria of the Rotary four-way test.

“This is sweat equity and sweat equity makes a difference. Do the work and let people see you are doing what needs to be done, [… make an impact],” he added.

Today’s ramp is a Metal Modular (MMR) comprised of angle iron frame, expanded metal deck and tubular railings, said Kevin Ogden. “They’re portable, yet durable and easy to set up and transport, which makes them an excellent asset to have and use.”

Typically these ramps cost several thousand dollars, but Ability 1st has been very fortunate to have several systems donated for further use. “This ramp is from Jefferson County, and perfectly fit the family’s needs,” Kevin provided.

“WOW! Thank you! [The guys] were GREAT! I really appreciate [this ramp]... I wish I could give them [Rotarians] all a great big hug. My sister is smiling again she is so excited,” said Shirley Proctor. “[Deborah] hasn't been out of the house since she arrived in November. There [are] so many sick people out there now and everybody needs help... this [ramp] is key to their transportation and getting them out. My sister will now be able to go outside... to go to the doctors… This is so Great!”

“I think we are passing the [Rotary] test, but we begin to realize there is so much more that needs to be done; and I would encourage others to think, ‘What can you do?’” says Jim Catron, when asked how to get other groups involved.

The Madison Rotary Club’s commitment to helping Ability 1st build better, safer, and more confident means of access has a HUGE impact to the Madison community. “With dwindling funding sources, civic minded groups, churches, businesses and any organization wanting to give back to their community should follow the Rotary’s Exemplary Example,” Kevin added. The need in Madison is growing exponentially!

To volunteer, donate, or for more information, contact Kevin Ogden, 850-575-9621 x106, email to: kevinogden@ablity1st.info.


Valentine’s weekend will see a twofer, where on Saturday 2/13, a local motorcycle club will assist in the repair of an existing ramp where the door landing has started to sag and drop down from the door – preventing the family of Chastity Vickers from being able to get her and her wheelchair out.

Additionally, on Sunday 2/14, Friends and Family will build a small landing and set of half-steps (with 4 – 5 inch risers) for Mrs. Lorene Alexander’s Valentine’s Day gift.

The Madison Rotary Club is scheduled to build again in March.


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