On Saturday, August 27, seven members of the Oswego First United Methodist Church met to install a new wooden ramp with railings for Oswego resident, Pat McMahon. Pat sustained injuries in her back and neck from not just one but three accidents. She has limited mobility and uses a scooter to get around the neighborhood. She needed the ramp to safely enter and leave her home.
The Oswego County Ramp Program is an ongoing community project. It is administered by ARISE, a non-profit Center for Independent Living dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities live independently in the community. The agency raises funds to purchase materials for ramps, but relies on members of the community to design the ramps, build ramp sections, and assemble them on site. The Oswego First United Methodist Church first chose ramps as one of their local mission projects several years ago. More than sixty ramps have been designed and built by members of the church.
While watching the volunteers, McMahon shared a little about her own journey. She worked locally in the field of literacy education and was furthering her own education in college before a terrible accident resulted in a permanent injury that cut her education short. Years of physical therapy and depression followed. A vagus nerve stimulation device has given her some relief.
Three years ago, McMahon discovered some Native American heritage in her genealogy, and began making dolls dressed in native clothing. She was impressed when she attended a Native American Festival in Mexico when people focused on the detailed and beautifully-sewn outfits and not on her disability. That meant a lot to her. “We are people with feelings and like to be part of our community”, she said. McMahon also crochets baby blankets and prayer shawls, which she donates to Oswego Hospital for new mothers and cancer patients. “I have decided to turn what I have been through into something positive.”
Everyone who has been part of giving McMahon a chance to get out safely again was pleased to see her outside just a few hours later. The volunteers stated they were so glad that they could make it possible for her regain the independence to deliver the special items to those who will be touched by them.
ARISE is a non-profit Independent Living Center run by and for people with disabilities. The organization has been providing advocacy and services since 1979, and each year ARISE works with approximately 4,000 people of all ages who have all types of disabilities. ARISE has offices in Onondaga, Oswego, and Madison Counties and operates ARISE at the Farm, a 77-acre recreational facility in Chittenango, NY, and ARISE & Ski at Toggenburg Winter Sports Center in Fabius, NY.