Jim White, left, looks on a Bryant Sparks takes a measurement as they help build a ramp for a Canyon Lake resident on Saturday Morning
New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung
By Molly Block | May 31, 2014 | Photos by Laura McKenzie
Alma Dooley, a 74-year-old Canyon Lake resident, recognizes that if it weren’t for the efforts of Bryant Sparks and his team on Saturday, her lack of mobility could very well have forced her to leave her house for a nursing home.
The Texas Ramp Project, a statewide incorporation that was developed in 2006, is an organization that builds wheelchair ramps for disabled or elderly people who cannot afford to buy one. Since its inception eight years ago, they have built more than 4,563 ramps across the state that assist in a variety of ways. The members of the Texas Ramp Project hope to change a person’s life in just one short day, and that is just what Bryant Sparks and his volunteer team of 13 people accomplished on Saturday morning at Canyon Lake.
Sparks, who is the Texas Ramp Project team leader and a Canyon Lake resident himself, said their chapter centers around Comal and Guadalupe counties. The group operates on a strictly volunteer basis, and much of the materials they use are acquired through grants, donations, gifts and other means. On Saturday, the volunteer group traveled to Dooley’s residence, where she lives with some of her children, and constructed a ramp for Dooley, who is disabled and unable to walk without assistance.
“This chapter formed about five or six years ago,” Sparks said. “We build about 10 ramps per year, limited only by funds. This is actually our 10th ramp to build this year, so we’re a little ahead of schedule. Our team members are all volunteers from local churches, and I’m just the guy who keeps tabs on everything. I have very little to do with the building.”
According to Sparks, the organization selects their clients from referrals, health care agencies and other people associated with the care of elderly people. To be selected, the person must have a disability that requires a wheelchair or a walker and be in financial need. The Texas Ramp Project does not build for people who can build on their own, said Sparks. After the group selects a client and sets a date to build, they travel to the person’s home on that day and normally spend all morning building.
Jim White, a Canyon Lake resident and member of the Texas Ramp Project, believes the gratitude they receive after building the ramps for local residents is unmatched. On Saturday morning, White was one of the 13 volunteers who helped build the ramp for Dooley.
“We do it just because it’s a good service outreach for the church,” White said. “There are four or five members of our church who come out at different times to help build the ramps. We always do what we can do to help them. It’s a good group to work with. We’re always kidding and carrying on, but we get work done. Everyone so far has thanked us for the ramps.”
Dooley, who admits she could never truly express her gratitude to the men who built the ramp for her on Saturday, knows that her life is forever changed.
“I have prayed and prayed for someone to come and help me, but no one ever did,” Dooley said. “When the men came to build the ramp, I knew they were sent from God. I would’ve been in a nursing home without their help, so I really believe God can do anything. I’m just happy to have this home and a roof over my head.”
For more information about the Texas Ramp Project or how to qualify for a ramp, visit their website at www.texasramps.org.
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