After the installation of a ramp at her Valparaiso home, Judy Hood is appreciative and thankful for the help she has received as she adjusts to life as an amputee.
“What stands out is the independence. It has made a big difference. I get emotional when I think about it,” she said. “I can’t say enough about it. It was quite a shock to go through this and the ramp has improved my quality of life.”
Hood underwent surgery after suffering from gangrene due to vascular vein disease.
“It’s only been about 2½ months since the surgery so everything is new,” she said. “I told my former husband, Robin, if I had a ramp that would be a big deal and he graciously looked into it for me.”
She is receiving physical therapy and looking forward to regaining her independence.
“I will be getting an artificial leg and foot and I will be able to be more independent. The doctor says things are looking quite good,” she said. “My son, Terry, is handicapped with cerebral palsy so the ramp is a blessing for both of us. It has touched me in such a way – it really has.”
The ramp was a culmination of efforts by Porter County Aging and Community Services, Rebuilding Together Valparaiso volunteers and donor Wayne Bovenkerk, who lost his legs in 2005.
Wayne, of DeMotte, has helped six individuals in Jasper County obtain ramps by fund-raising throughout the community and he now has expanded his energies into Porter County.
A ramp donated for his use at his mother- and father-in-law’s house planted the seeds of generosity that he has since passed along to others.
“I got a lot of support from the church and community to help me get back to normal again. I believe in passing it on to other people.
Honestly, it’s a passion for me – to give back,” he said. “I hope to continue this as long as I am able and I hope to do more.” The Rebuilding Together team installed the ramp at Hood’s home as they continue their mission to assist region homeowners.
“Helping homeowners remain in their homes not only impacts the lives of the homeowners, but also their families and our community. While we repair homes or provide ramp systems, the focus is the homeowner and helping that individual stay in their home: warm, safe and dry,” said the Rev. John Albers of Faith Memorial Lutheran Church in Valparaiso.
“The ramp system we installed at Judy’s home is one of 15 we have placed in the last several years at homes throughout Valparaiso and Porter County as we work with Rebuilding Together affiliates in Portage, Chesterton/Porter/Liberty Township and Hebron.”
The Rev. Albers is currently the Rebuilding Day Chair and Ramp Committee Chair but has served in several capacities with Rebuilding Together since 1996. The organization also assists low-income homeowners with repairs and renovations.
“Our typical homeowner is someone whose homeownership is threatened by deferred maintenance or major projects that are out of reach financially,” he said. “Rebuilding Together volunteers work on everything from new roofs to new sidewalks to landscaping and cleaning.”
He said the system installed at Hood’s home is more expensive to purchase than treated lumber but it has several benefits and some components have been used more than once.
“They can be put up quickly with volunteers of every skill level at any time of year. The ramp at Judy’s home was assembled in about 2½ hours by four persons,” he said. “The components can be disassembled when no longer needed and then re-configured for another installation.” Hood is embracing the small steps as her recovery continues.
“The people who did it are fantastic. They did a beautiful job – I take great pride in my house,” she said. “I love being outside. Now, I have the freedom to go out on my ramp and without it I couldn’t even get in the house.”
Rebuilding Together Valparaiso has ongoing projects and is seeking volunteers. Anyone interested in taking part should contact the Rev. Albers via email at email@example.com or call and leave a message on the info line at (219) 548-4827.
“There is no ‘typical’ volunteer, since volunteers come from every walk of life and nearly every age group, from students to professionals, from office workers to skilled laborers,” the Rev. Albers said.
PCACS’ mission is to extend a helping hand to seniors, those who are disabled and low-income residents by providing services to improve their quality of life, including transportation, nutrition programs, energy assistance and activity centers.
For more information, visit http://www.portercountyacs.org/.