In March 2010, Colleen Nickolas woke up and found she could not stand up. She was admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of pneumonia; however she was soon also diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. After intensive rehabilitation in a nursing home, she was released home at the end of May.
Unable to navigate stairs on her own, the split-level home where she resides with her husband and children became a barrier. â€œGetting in and out of the home twice a week for physical therapy was dangerous and scary, and required considerable help from my family,â€ Nickolas said. The transition was difficult for the independent woman who enjoys the outdoors.
On June 19, Colleenâ€™s life changed again when the ARISE Oswego County Ramp Project building season began with a ramp on her home. She was so excited the night before, she couldnâ€™t sleep.
â€œItâ€™s like Christmas,â€ she said, as she watched the volunteer crew install the ramp.
With the assistance of Senator Darrel J. Aubertine, ARISE recently received $20,000 in funding from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to purchase materials required to build ramps for individuals with disabilities. Volunteers build sections of ramps in the basement of the Oswego First United Methodist Church, and then assemble the ramp on site. Members from Elim Grace Christian Church and the Alliance Church on Thompson Road also volunteer with the construction and installation.
Colleen and the extended Nickolas family thanked the volunteer crew who worked through the hot and humid day. When asked why, several of the volunteers agreed that it makes them feel good to help people get in and out of their homes.
â€œWith the ramp, I am getting my independence back,â€ Colleen said.
There are over 20 people like Colleen on the waiting list for a ramp this year. To learn more about the project or find out how you can help out, please contact Jim Karasek at ARISE at 342-4088 ext. 206.