“The right people in the right place at the right time” could describe a March women’s wellness event where Dawne Gee of WAVE TV in Louisville served as an emcee. Ms. Gee was discussing the challenges her former colleague Nelson Ewing was facing after a stroke. This included difficulty leaving the home since he was wheelchair-bound. Sitting at the same table was Shannon Boaz, at the time associate pastor at Centenary United Methodist Church in Shelbyville (Frankfort District). Rev. Boaz mentioned that Centenary had a mission project of building ramps. Ms. Gee followed up with church member David Pratt, and by the end of September, Mr. Ewing had a ramp for his Louisville home.
It is the 14th ramp the ministry has built in three years. Mr. Pratt, the Centenary ramp project leader, designs and engineers all the ramps. He has a specific, detailed plan for organizing the projects and getting the job done efficiently.
On Friday, September 28, volunteers met at Portland Promise Center’s warehouse to prepare materials: cut the boards, assemble the ramp pieces, and transport them to the Ewing home. Over 20 volunteers, including a group from Centenary, members of Dawne Gee’s family, and WAVE employees, worked on Friday. They made quick work of it and were ready to load the materials on the trailers by late morning. After lunch, they traveled to Mr. Ewing’s home to unload the wood and ramp pieces. They laid them in the front yard and on the porch, arranging them by size and type, so that everything was ready for building the ramp the next morning.
Some of the volunteers returned to the Ewing home on Saturday to help assemble the ramp, add the decking and the side rails. They were joined by numerous others, including a large group from WAVE and members of Quinn Chapel AME, making it an ecumenical endeavor. The group of around 30 people worked on the ramp project and did some yard work for the Ewings.
Ms. Gee’s mother and sister provided breakfast and lunch both days of the project. Laughter and conversation punctuated the time the volunteers spent together at the warehouse and the Ewing house.
Karen and Larry Crouch, a retired couple who are active in the ramp ministry, worked both days on the Ewings’ ramp. Mr. Crouch remarked that each ramp project draws many people from Centenary and that people have been generous in their monetary support as well.
“I’ve been a member since 1976,” said Mr. Crouch, “and we’ve never had any ministry as exciting and fulfilling as this.”
Nelson Ewing’s wife expressed appreciation for the new ramp. Shirley Ewing had been renting heavy portable ramps that she had to fold up and carry in and out of the house. The permanent ramp at the Ewings’ home will provide a needed savings, but it means more than that to the couple. Ms. Ewing will no longer have to push her husband uphill in his wheelchair or try to keep the chair from slipping downhill.
“It’s going to mean not so much stress and strain on me and fear for him,” she said.
The design of the ramp, which goes around the side of the house, will allow Mr. Ewing to be in the backyard again. He loves the outdoors and used to work in the yard frequently. Now he will be able to join his wife as she works outside.
Willard Knipp, the pastor at Centenary UMC, came to the church in June and enjoyed working on his first ramp project. Rev. Knipp believes that this type of ministry could be on the cutting edge as the population continues to age. He mentioned another benefit as well.
“We don’t often get to see results of ministry. This is very tangible.”