District builds 153 handicap ramps

Since 2011, four teams in the Indiana District of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference have built 153 ramps for the elderly and people with handicapping conditions.

“Ramps of Hope” is a ministry composed of two teams in Armstrong County and one each in the Indiana and Jefferson counties.

Doug Hilliard, a director of the Indiana County ministry, says the county team has built 50 ramps. Ten were recovered from places they were no longer needed. The team has received requests for nine additional ramps.

The ministry is primarily funded through the district which gives $500 towards each ramp. If the material cost exceeds this amount, the recipient is encouraged to contribute. If the recipient can’t afford to contribute, the group looks for funding through other sources such as private gifts, grants, churches and other community organizations

“Over the four years the ministry has in place, we have seen on numerous occasions where God’s timing and provision have always come through,” said Hilliard.

Grant from Discipleship Ministries

The ramp ministry received a $2,500 grant from the Committee on Older Adult Ministries of Discipleship Ministries; $1,000 was used to purchase tools and the balance was used for materials.

That grant was part of a series of grants to 31 churches in the U.S., Africa and the Philippines by a sub-committee of the Older Adult Ministries Committee.

“The original purpose of the grants was to help churches address older adult poverty in their communities, said William Randolph, director of the Office on Aging for Discipleship Ministries. “We wanted to partner with churches to develop models which can be easily adapted by other churches, whose communities face similar circumstances. The grants are also designed to call attention to the many forms of hidden poverty and opportunities for older adults to serve their neighbors, communities, and church.”

Additional teams planned

Ramps of Hope teams have received requests for 19 new ramps along with requests for no-longer-needed ramps to be removed. In order to address those needs the district ministry hopes to form second teams in the Indiana and Jefferson Counties.

Ramps of Hope provide more than hope for people who are coping with difficult health conditions. The ramps provide a way for people to make their own way out of their homes and they enable recipients to regain independence.

Peck is a retired clergy member of New York Annual Conference and a representative of the General Commission on United Methodist Men on the interagency Older Adult Committee.

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