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Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Ramp Ministry

By Mike Weaver and Wade Wingard

The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Ramp Ministry evolved from a project that was one of the early Inasmuch events about 11 years ago. In the early years, the team leader would visit the work site and create a list of materials to complete the project, and the volunteers measured, cut, and nailed to the best of our abilities. They weren’t perfect, but they were functional and the families that were helped, were happy. Hardly any of us had much knowledge about building codes, and how a ramp should be constructed. With each ramp came a bit more knowledge, better ideas in problem solving, and more efficient ways to get the job done.
Now, 11 years and 100 ramps later, we have a pretty good system going. There is a line item in the GSLC budget for materials, Thrivent funds, and a testamentary gift helped jumpstart funding. Scraps are almost nonexistent, and 7-8 volunteers can complete a 25-foot ramp in about 5 hours. That is a lot better than the early projects.

One of the most memorable ramps was in a neighborhood near Columbia Mall. The house was small (2 bedrooms, one bath) and the woman who lived there had an 18-year-old son who was quadriplegic. He looked to be about 6 feet tall and gangly, but the mom was petite and unable to lift that size child. The mother told us the boy had not been outside in 2 years, and the only medical attention the boy received was if a doctor came to the house.

While we were building the ramp for this family, the woman made us sandwiches for lunch, and provided water and cups. (That is a very rare treat!) When we were finished, the woman raced out of the house with huge tears of joy, shouting “Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus” while pushing the wheelchair with her son, down the new ramp. The boy in the wheelchair had a huge smile on his face. It was a bit emotional for all of us. The mom hugged all of us and was the most grateful of the recipients of any ramp we’ve made.

Our volunteers range in age from age 14, to just under 80, and both men and women participate. There is a lot of heckling between volunteers which makes the work easier, and we are like a close knit family. I am most impressed with the skill and eagerness of our younger volunteers. One teen earned his eagle scout badge by being in charge of one of the ramp projects.

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Contact Information

ELCA South Carolina Synod
1003 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Telephone 803-765-0590
Fax 803-252-5558

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