In 2008, NeighborWorks Great Falls joined a community-wide effort called Fix-Up Great Falls. The idea was that multiple organizations would join the movement and provide volunteers to help seniors in need of assistance. Our role in that program included providing wheelchair ramps for those in need, funded by the Benefis Foundation. Below is part of a Tribune article from 2008 that explains the project in fuller detail.
Through the group's Fix Up Great Falls Program, and thanks to a $20,000 donation from the Benefis Healthcare Foundation, NeighborWorks has bought four movable ramp systems for about $5,000 each. The company that sold NeighborWorks the ramps, All About Mobility, provides free installation.
"It's fantastic," said Mona Stephens, who lives near Sunnyside School and has painful knees and poor circulation. The Stephenses' ramp was installed in January. "It's a blessing," said Mona's husband, Gene. "You can change the configuration any way you want it." The ramps are aluminum and include handrails.
The Stephenses were not required to pay for the ramp, which is owned by NeighborWorks. Moyer said the Stephenses have donated to NeighborWorks, as did Blatter, who brought in the money people donated for ramp materials for his neighbors.
"We definitely wanted the ramps to be reusable," said Shelly Moyer, an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer at NeighborWorks. She said the ramps can be moved to a different location if a family moves elsewhere in the area or transferred to another family someday. "But we're not moving," Gene Stephens said with a chuckle.
Several neighbors who benefited from these ramps wrote to NeighborWorks to say thank you and explain all that these ramps did to improve their quality of life.
“I would like to thank you for the use of your ramp. Before, I couldn’t get down the steps without great difficulty. With my children’s help, I feel safe with the ramp.” – Mary
“When I was released from the hospital, the wheelchair was the only way I could get around. With four steps going into the house, the ramp made it possible to come and go. If it weren’t for NeighborWorks, I would be homebound. Thank you for being there.” – Dale
“Before the ramp was installed, we were unable to leave our home – even to the doctor. Last summer when the ramp was installed, we were able to actually leave our home, and we were able to enjoy the leaves while sitting on the deck. Before we couldn’t get out at all, and the ramp has made such a huge difference! We really appreciate it!” – Lucille
This project allowed for over 20 neighbors in Great Falls to receive new and recycled ramps from 2008 until 2012 when it was handed over to My Neighbor in Need. We are proud to be part of a community that continues to develop and implement neighborhood solutions throughout Great Falls.