GREENFIELD — A crew of four men from three different churches gathered at a Greenfield home earlier this week to spread some goodwill — building an accessible ramp for the 89-year-old woman who lives there.
Leona Schreiber uses a walker, and stepping down from her porch to her sidewalk can be tricky, she said.
John Porter of Greenfield assembled the team of volunteers through SAWS, a nonprofit dedicated to creating accessible ramps for those who need them.
SAWS, which stands for Servants At Work, has built more than 3,000 ramps since its inception in 2003. Based in Indianapolis, the organization serves clients across Indiana as well as Virginia and Arizona.
According to its website, the faith-based nonprofit has transformed the lives of those with mobility issues by building high-quality, removable and reusable wooden ramps for those using wheelchairs, scooters or walkers.
The nonprofit has partnered with Rehab Medical to provide wheelchair ramps for low-income, permanently disabled individuals, which helps them overcome accessibility challenges and connect with their communities.
All ramps are built based on standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Most are built within a six-hour span by a team of volunteers, many of whom get involved through church congregations.
Porter and Rick McGill got involved with building Schreiber’s ramp through the men’s ministry at Park Chapel Christian Church in Greenfield. They were joined by Porter’s brother, Kevin Porter, who attends New Day Baptist in Pendleton, and Jim Peters, who attends Brandywine Community Church in Greenfield.
The men toiled away under cloudy skies Tuesday morning, making quick work of getting the ramp and rails framed in.
“They sure are good at this. They do quality work,” said Schreiber, seated atop her walker inside her tidy red brick home, into which she moved just six weeks ago.
She moved from Florida to be closer to family members like her son, Tony Schreiber of Greenfield.
“I think it’s a great service they’re providing,” said her son, as he stopped by Tuesday morning to check in. “They’re doing a fantastic job.”
Stepping down onto her sidewalk was pretty dangerous for his mom, he said, but the new ramp will give both mother and son peace of mind.
That’s exactly the goal of the SAWS organization, said Rik Hagarty, founder and vice president of operations.
After each build, volunteers typically gather around to watch the recipient cut a ribbon to officially christen their new ramp.
Most recipients break out into huge smiles when they first lay eyes on the new ramp connected to their home. Some break out in tears, Hagarty said.
The SAWS website shares that ramps provide dignity and independence, reopening the possibilities for recipients to connect with neighbors and their communities as a whole.
The hope is that the volunteers who build the ramps are as positively impacted as those who receive them.
“It’s a great feeling when you see how much the ramps are appreciated,” said John Porter, who helps coordinate volunteers for the SAWS projects in Hancock County.
Local crews have completed about 12 ramps in the county so far this year, he said.
For more information on how to obtain a ramp, or to volunteer, call 317-844-7664 or visit sawsramps.org.