On Saturday, Jan. 23, seven members of the Madison Rotary Club braved the cold and the wind to build an accessibility ramp for Madison County 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 of sponsoring six projects within the coming year. This was the third Madison County project completed within the fiscal year starting on Oct. 1.
The Rotary members who were involved in the build were 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 chilly side and the occasional brisk gusts of wind could be felt to the bone, the volunteers measured, sawed and then assembled the pieces into the needed ramp, all within the day. “I was drawn to the [Rotary’s] commitment of helping the less fortunate,” said Rotarian and foundation chairman, Wayne Conger. “I believe helping others is a Christian principle and duty. Being a Rotarian gives me a sense of involvement in helping others who are in need. It’s also a chance to fellowship with others who are similarly committed.”
"These are truly rewarding [projects] where it's great to contribute and help others,” said the club’s president, Mark Buescher.
"Partnering with the Madison Rotary Club [has been] a wonderful and exciting opportunity," stated Kevin Ogden, Accessibility Program Manager for Ability 1st. "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.”
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 [were] ready. This is amazing,” said Keeling. He and his wife, Cherry, were so very grateful of the Madison Rotary members efforts. "I finally got my blessing,” added Keeling. “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!
The five foot wide by six foot run door landing and 30 ft 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,” said Ogden.
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 CIL’s philosophy of providing individuals, particularly those who are mobility challenged, the means to regain their confidence and continue living independently in the one place they should feel the safest and be the most comfortable – their own homes.
To volunteer or become a Community Partner, contact Kevin Ogden at (850) 575-9621 (extension: 106) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.