Saturday, Jan. 9, seven members of the Madison Rotary Club in partnership with Ability 1st, the Center for Independent Living (CIL) of North Florida, built a five foot wide by four foot deep landing and a set of half-steps (having a riser between four – five inches), for longtime Pinetta resident Joe Albritton. This is the second project for the Rotary Club since Oct. 2015, in their commitment of building six Accessibility Projects within this year. Participating Rotary members included: President Mark Buescher, Dale Stone, Chad Arnold, Joe Boyles, Wayne Conger and Jennifer Johnson. In addition, Jennifer’s husband, Deputy Brad Johnson assisted with the build and was instrumental in helping his uncle, Mr. Albritton, apply for the Ability 1st Access to Independence: Accessibility Program through Kevin Ogden, Program Manager. Saturday’s build was the 24th construction project since Oct. 1, after Ability 1st hit a record of 112 builds in the previous fiscal year ending Sept. 30, all within the six county service area.
With the screams of two saws, the pounding of hammers and the pop-pop-pop of an air powered framing nailer, the Rotarians assembled the pieces of pressure treated wood into the bones of the landing and then sketched out the steps to create a new safer, stronger and more reliant means of access. Mr. Albritton and his family have been concerned recently due to the shakiness common in mobile home steps and the fact that the rise of the steps is so steep, which increases the danger of tripping and/or falling. “Now it will be so much more safer… and I need some at my house,” said Jennifer Johnson. Though the morning was misty and overcast, the four-hour project ended with lots of smiles and no rain, thankfully! “[These projects] are rewarding from both sides, for the recipient and also for [the club], for we are playing a part, contributing and that is what it is all about — helping others,” said Club President Mark Buescher.
Half-steps are considered when the consumer is able to walk with little assistance or perhaps with a cane, according to Ogden. The cost of a ramp is nearly four times more when compared to the half-step projects. A typical five by six landing plus 30 foot of ramp will usually come in around $700 – $800; whereas, Saturday’s build with a five by four landing and seven half steps cost only $221 (the retail value would be $336 with delivery). The landing was made accessible (at door level) for ease of entry into the home (no stepping down) and in the event at some future date a ramp is needed, Saturday’s new landing can be appended to for the ramp construction, according to Ogden. This year’s funding was reduced so all efforts are being made to make every dollar go an extra mile, having a community partner like the Madison Rotary Club is essential for the continuation of services within the Ability 1st six county service area (Madison, Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla, Gadsden and Leon), Ogden added.
Ability 1st is actively seeking new volunteer groups and community organizations who see the need for community involvement and helping their neighbors, friends, family and the community as a whole. 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 where 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 ext. 106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The next Rotary build will be Saturday, Jan. 23, for Madison resident David Keeling, who is in need of a ramp.