Ramp Guys: As viewed by a grateful beneficiary
The Ramp Guys are a group of men in Centenary church and Avoca who build ramps (as for wheelchairs) for people. They all have, says Dan Reppert, two things in common: They are all retired and they have all had heart attacks (except for one, who has another kind of heart ailment that lets him in).. Besides these, there are volunteers not yet retired who help when they can. Their inclusion amounts to building the group's continuity for the future.
Among the Guys one individual, Dan Reppert, is most clearly entitled to wear the sign Harry Truman kept on his desk throughout his Presidency -- "The buck stops here." Dan is the one who first comes to your house and explains their program, which essentially is that they will build you a ramp. The resident can pay for the materials or else Pro-Action funds, to which Centenary contributes, will pay. All the labor is free, a donation of time and skill by the Guys.
Next, Dan makes careful measurements of your situation. With a confidence-building air-revealing, long experience with such things, and with all due reference to the Building Code, he creates with hand gestures alone, a model of your special ramp. If you like it, his next move is to make a Bill of Materials (Which turns out to have an absolute minimum of waste) and orders it delivered to your yard.
On the designated evening hour of the appointed day you see the crew for this particular project arriving. As they come, they break up into pairs and trios, who set about almost wordlessly, after exchanging guy-type greetings, at various tasks which they know to be, from much experience, (mine was the twenty-second ramp they'd built together) the necessary order of work.
Dan Reppert lent a hand anywhere as he also moved about his special task with steel square, level and tape, of laying out and marking out the over-all plan as he went along so all would come out right. While doing this he seemed to have eyes in the back of his head, like the proverbial mother, as he turned to one pair working behind him and said, "No, not there - a little more this way.
There, that's it." They gave no objection, they knew he was right. Another time two components that needed to meet properly were nearly an inch apart when put in place. Reppert was consulted. Taking in the problem at a glance. he said "Hit that right there," pointing. They did, and the two met as required. On my job he had a couple of men with enough experience in building, to assist him in such supervision, he gladly used their help. Bit by bit the lumber pile came to look more and more like a ramp until it became a usable one. With a break for a picnic meal my daughter set out, they dispersed when it was so dark drop lights could no longer suffice, The next morning three men instead of nine returned and, put 'on the finishing touches and cleaned up. They left a ramp that is level where it needs to be, plumb where it needs to be that, and handsome, with the gracefulness of practicality. There had been no hammering as nails were not used - power-driven screws instead throughout.
The Guys ask that when the user no longer needs the ramp it be given back to them: They will then rapidly disassemble it into component sections by backing out certain key screws and store it until they find a layout where the same dimensions will serve. Then that ramp will go into place in sections with amazing speed!
This is a wonderful unique service they provide. It amounts to expanding the horizons of the disabled, like locking a canal boat from one level to another. I don't use a wheelchair much yet, but this ramp lets me move an electric scooter from the house to the ground level where I can move about my yard and garden and beyond.
Their work could also be a powerful bit of evangelism, more effective than some that have been tried. Seeing their enjoyment as they work makes one think of the joy the early Christians displayed, the joy that made observers say, "That looks good--we want some for ourselves," and go from there.
This all causes me to say "If you need a ramp or know someone who does, the Ramp Guys want to know about it." They're rolling-I can't imagine what could stop them. Just in case I still haven't made this clear, they have my deep gratitude.
John Rezelman - Bath