Valparaiso | Porter County Aging and Community Services’ ramp program puts special skills and a strong volunteer spirit in the spotlight.
The program has been in place for more than 10 years and has relied on those community members who have the time and talents to install a way for those in need to move more easily in and out of their homes.
At this year’s United Way Day of Caring, the Task Force Tips team returned for about the 10th year to make a difference in the region.
“We absolutely could not accomplish what we do without our volunteers,” said PCACS Executive Director Bruce Lindner. “We are honored that the TFT team has found value in being such a vital component of our ramp program and has selected our project to work on for so many years.”
Crew members were able to revamp an old ramp that was in need of updates. This was not a ramp that had been worked on by the team in the past.
“We’re re-decking and making the transition from the house easier as they had to pick up the wheelchair,” said Kim Hale of the Task Force Tips team. “We also put wider stairs down the front.”
Hale said she has no problem finding volunteers for projects.
“We have good luck getting the crew together. I send a note to the entire plant and the team is filled in one day,” she said.
Looking back to a tough ramp project a couple years ago, Hale emphasizes how now is the time to make an impact.
“You give back while you can. We joked two years ago that it was such a big job and we said, “Boy, we’re beat after this,” she said. “You give back while you can.”
The TFT team this year included not only Hale, but also Will Foy, Mike Hammonds, Mike Hartman, Matt LaMotte, Rob Cole and Bill Wilfinger.
The PCACS ramp program is in place for those who have had surgery, face an illness or other challenges that affect their mobility. Volunteers can put in a permanent wood structure or something more temporary out of steel if the need will not remain.
While those struggling financially will be given priority, anyone is welcome to apply to participate in the program, which also partners with the UAW/Ford Community Service team, Thrivent for Lutherans, Habitat for Humanity and the Valparaiso Noon Kiwanis Club.
To learn more about the ramp program and to download an application, visit https://www.portercountyacs.org/ramp-program/.
The PCACS team is also accepting donations to help fund ramp supplies in order to meet the continued need of community members.
Lindner said he hopes to extend the season into December as there are many more clients on the list.
To donate to the program, visit https://www.portercountyacs.org/how-you-can-help.
PCACS’ mission is to extend a helping hand to seniors, those with disabilities and low-income residents by providing services to improve their quality of life, including transportation, energy and emergency assistance, Section 8 and ramp programs.
For more information, visit www.portercountyacs.org.
With photos: Kim Hale and Will Foy work on a ramp as part of the United Way Day of Caring.
Kasie Tenbarge, director of development at the United Way of Porter County, thanks volunteers of the Task Force Tips ramp-building team, from left, Rob Cole, Bill Wilfinger and Will Foy.