Texas Ramp Project provides greater independence for Rusk resident


A Rusk resident has a new ramp allowing better entrance into his home, thanks to the volunteers of the Texas Ramp Project.

“It’s a blessing,” said Lewis Harmon, who received the ramp.

Harmon, who had his leg amputated more than a year ago, said he had heard about the Texas Ramp Project through a rehabilitation nurse. Harmon said there is an approximately three-foot slope from his kitchen door to the drive, which becomes difficult to navigate when wet or icy. The ramp was further necessitated because Harmon must sometimes use a wheelchair.

It took eight volunteers approximately three hours to construct the ramp, according to Regional Coordinator Jerry Halpin.

“When I applied for it they told me, ‘Mr. Harmon, there is a long list of people that applied for this and you’re at the bottom,’” Harmon said. “I never thought it was going to happen.”

Harmon said even though it took a year, the group kept its word and the volunteers were all very nice.

“It’s a great thing that they do,” Harmon said. “I’m really glad that we have organizations like that.”

Harmon said he wished he could go out and help them, but since he can’t, he plans to send a donation so the organization can help someone else in need.

This build was the seventh to date this year in the three-county region, which includes Cherokee, Anderson and Rusk Counties.

During 2023, 49 ramps were built within the Jacksonville region, compared to 25 in 2022. Halpin said the group was budgeting for 55 ramps this year, at an estimated cost of $40,000.

A recent increase in volunteers has doubled the number of teams available, from two-and-a-half to five complete teams, accounting for the greater number of ramps completed since 2022. Each build team consists of seven to 12 people.

Texas Ramp Project provides training for all its volunteers.

The local Texas Ramp Project team buys materials for the ramps at Harry’s Building Materials, for builds in Cherokee and Rusk Counties, and from McCoy’s Building Supply for builds in Anderson County.

With the discounts provided by the two businesses, Halpin estimates the savings allow for an additional three or four ramps each year.

To volunteer, contact Jerry Halpin at 972-922-9726 or send an email to volunteer@texasramps.org.

For additional information about the Texas Ramp Project, visit texasramps.org.

By Michelle Dillon mdillon@jacksonvilleprogress.com, Jacksonville Progress, March 19, 2024