Ramp program gives gift of accessibility

Ramp program gives gift of accessibility
By: Beth Ireland Last Updated: November 26, 2019

It’s the Thanksgiving season, and Frank Yates is thankful that he will be able to safely leave his house. 

A Vietnam veteran, Frank has had health issues that have left him housebound for six months. When he does get a chance to leave the house, it requires a great amount of manpower from family members. Thanks to Life Care Center of the Willow, Kiwanis, and Porter County Aging and Community Services, he’ll have safe and easy access to the outside world again.

“I’m really happy. It’s hard for me to get in and out, and now I’ll be able to get in and out much easier,” Yates said. “I appreciate everything.” 

Life Care Center of the Willows Wheelchair Ramp Building 2019

Life Care Center of the Willows Wheelchair Ramp Building 2019 10 Photos
Life Care Center of the Willows Wheelchair Ramp Building 2019Life Care Center of the Willows Wheelchair Ramp Building 2019Life Care Center of the Willows Wheelchair Ramp Building 2019Life Care Center of the Willows Wheelchair Ramp Building 2019

On Tuesday morning, volunteers from the Kiwanis Club of Valparaiso gathered outside of the Yates’ home to build a metal ramp so he can easily get in and out of his home. His porch steps are too difficult and dangerous for him to navigate without it. Through the Kiwanis Ramp Program, many veterans such as Yates are gaining greater mobility and independence. And the Kiwanis couldn’t do this without the help of their partners, such as the Life Care Center of the Willows.

“The donation from Life Care Center of The Willows helps us to buy more parts so we can put more ramps in,” said Bob Westfall, ramp coordinator with Kiwanis. “We love our partners, they’re what makes it happen for us. Without our partners, we couldn’t do this.”

This is the second year Life Care Center of the Willows has donated proceeds from its annual Spaghetti dinner to the Kiwanis Ramp Program. Their gift of more than $700 toward the ramp built for Yates is a gift that will continue to give.

“It’s a blessing to see these ramps installed,” said Brandi Costello, director of business development at The Willows. “We get to assist with giving him a small piece of his life back. This is a really great organization. It’s such a small thing that equals such a big thing for a family.”

The ramp project is an excellent way for Life Care Center of The Willows to extend the high-quality care they give to those who are in need within the community. 

“We have several residents who, when they discharge for home, are in need of this type of service and don’t have the ability to fund it themselves,” Costello said. “We have chosen this project, not only because it benefits seniors but because it benefits all ages. Even though we specialize in long-term care, we’re also a facility that does short-term rehabilitation, as well.”

Working with the Porter County Aging and Community Services, the Kiwanis Ramp Program installs ramps throughout Porter County, giving hope and relief to those in need. This year, they have installed around 26 ramps. With an aging population, the need is large and growing. 

“There’s a large portion of the population that’s aging and as you get older, managing stairs can become more difficult. You become a prisoner in your home if you don’t have a safe way to get out. It’s an expanding need,” said Bruce Lindner, Executive Director for Porter County Aging and Community Services (PCACS). 

Using modular, metal ramps, the Kiwanis Ramp Program can install a ramp within hours. They can also be broken down quickly to be reused when a resident no longer needs it. This gives greater sustainability to the entire program. But the most joyous benefit of the ramps is the gratitude it brings out in those who receive them.

“There are so many smiles and tears all along. The folks are very appreciative of what we’re able to do because it gives them an opportunity to get outside safely,” Westfall said.

Today, the Yates family is grateful for a chance to get back to life, just in time for the holidays. And what is the first thing Frank is going to do now that he can get in and out of the house easily?

“I’m going to go to the store,” he said as his face lit up with joy.

The greatest need to continue and expand the Ramp Program is monetary donations. This Thanksgiving, consider giving the gift of accessibility by donating today. You can find more information and ways to get involved here: https://www.portercountyacs.org/ramp-program.

For more information on the Life Care Center of the Willows, visit their website: http://lifecarecenterofthewillows.com/.