OSWEGO, NY – What does freedom mean to you?
Does it mean that you can vote, or live wherever you choose?Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â For most of us it means that we can leave our home.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â It is hard for anyone to imagine that this is not possible for some of our neighbors in Oswego County.
LetÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s meet Helen.
When she contacted ARISE, a Center for Independent Living, she told the Housing and Ramp Coordinator:Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI cannot walk or stand by myself without help. So I cannot not go outside anymore.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Fortunately for Helen, Melissa could help because of a grant from the United Way of Greater Oswego County, a member item from the former Senator Jim Wright, other donations and the wonderful volunteers at First United Methodist Church in Oswego.
The coordinator met with Helen and determined that she qualified for the Ramp Program.
She contacted Glen Suckling, ramp coordinator at the First United Methodist Church, who went out to see Helen, conducted a survey of her house, and created the blueprints.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â With the grant money paying for the material, a group of volunteers from the church built the ramp sections inside the church basement.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Those sections were then taken to the site.
On the day that freedom returned to Helen, a group of men constructed the ramp on his house.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â They gave up their Saturday to make life better for her.
When the ramp was completed ARISE received a note addressed to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe staff that worked so hard to get my freedom back.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Helen was one of 22 individuals in Oswego County who received a ramp this year built by the members of the Oswego First United Methodist Church.
This church has chosen again to conduct some of their mission work locally.
A group of about 15 men work in three construction teams through the summer to reach out to those in need of access.
With the help of volunteers and the generous support from RabyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Hardware Store, who is charging a reduced price for the project materials, the average cost per ramp can stay around $1,000.
If those projects were sent out to bid the average cost would climb to over $4,000.
Regina, who also received a ramp, writes: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI am very glad there are people who care about us getting around easier. They are wonderful. Thank you ARISE and volunteers at First United Methodist Church.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Anyone who receives a ramp accepts that it will be returned to the church for someone else to use if they no longer need it.
As the ramps are built in sections, this can be done.
This makes good use of the material and helps others.
The ramp building season is coming to an end. The need is always bigger than our ability to assist. Anyone interested in helping with the construction or in starting a project in their area is encouraged to contact Suckling at First United Methodist Church at 343-6335.
Another recipient added: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI have received a ramp through ARISE. To many this would not seem that important, to me it has given me the freedom to come and go to the store, bank, the doctors, to my family gatherings that I hesitated to go to. Before I had the ramp I used a brick and a thick book to get from stair to stair into my house with assistance.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Now I can do these things on my own. Without the ramp I would still be homebound.”
Donations towards the cost are always appreciated.
Will there be funding for next year?
At this point, no member item has been secured following the retirement of Senator Wright.
Efforts are being made to find funding.
We are off to a good start with a donation of $1,000 from a grateful family member of a former ramp recipient.
Anyone who would like to make a donation may send it to ARISE Ramp Fund.
For more information, contact Sabine Ingerson, director at ARISE, at 342-4088 ext. 210.