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Congregational Church of Tryon builds ramps for the handicapped

MILL SPRING — A wheelchair bound Mill Spring woman is no longer trapped in her home.

She can now go shopping, visit friends at the senior center and escape in the case of a fire.

The Congregational Church of Tryon’s Outreach Team built a ramp from the side door of her home to the driveway.

“This is the longest ramp we’ve built so far,” said member of the Congregational Church Board of Outreach, Clifford Joens, who is also the point person for the ramps projects.

Because of the lay of the land, the team had to first build an 8-foot-by-10-foot deck and then build the 40-foot ramp off the deck. The project took 15 men divided into three different crews working March 1, 2 and 3.

“This is the 14th handicap ramp our group has built since 2008,” said Joens, who has a background in drafting and design and has been a member of the church for 13 years.

According to Joens, most of those helping to build the ramps are volunteers from the church plus a few members of the community.

“Many do it because they enjoy the work and enjoy working with a group,” Joens said. “They also enjoy helping somebody that has a need.”

The reason Joens volunteers is because people helped his family when he was young.

“My dad died when I was 16. We needed to pick the corn and there was just myself and my two brothers,” he said. “All the neighbors for miles around came and helped pick the corn in one day. There were a lot of them I didn’t even know. I think [building the ramps is] part that model of being a good neighbor.”

The Church works with Thermal Belt Outreach Ministries and St. Luke’s Hospital to determine when somebody needs a ramp built. The two organizations do the vetting and alert the church about the need.

When they are alerted to a need for a ramp, Joens visits the site with another person to spec out the job. He then sends out an email to all those who have helped in the past, and makes an announcement to the congregation asking for volunteers. Those who work on the ramps range in age from 24 to 80. They have all levels of expertise, including professional contractors.

“Most are do it yourselfers,” Joens said.

Anyone interested in helping with the ramp building can contact the Congregational Church of Tryon at 828-859-9414 or visit their web site at www.ucctryon.org.