The Texas Ramp Project helps make the world more accessible to those who need help getting in and out of their house, the local chapter organizer said.
Jerry Gritter has been running the Bryan-College Station chapter of the Dallas-based organization for 11 years. The group built 34 ramps its first year. In the past year, volunteers with the Texas Ramp Project have constructed 90 ramps for people in a seven-county area, he said.
“Every one of them fills a need,” he said. “It really gives the volunteers a feeling of satisfaction. That’s what keeps us going.”
For some it is a disability or an injury that makes it more difficult to get in and out of their house without a ramp, but for others, it is just getting older.
Jerry Criddle’s Parkinson’s disease made it necessary for him and his wife, Jean, to get a ramp attached to their mobile home in Bryan. The stairs had become too dangerous, Jean Criddle said.
She said her husband does not use a cane or a walker but has fallen several times due to problems with his balance and being unstable on his feet.
“He’s been great with the ramp, and it’s just made his leaving and coming to our mobile home so much safer,” she said. “That was the big thing was safety, so it’s really increased. It’s given us more peace of mind with his walking.”
Without Texas Ramp Project, Criddle said, her husband would have had to risk falling on the stairs.
“It’s something that we needed, but we could not afford,” she said. “There was no way that we could have afforded to have a ramp built, and so it was a very wonderful, gracious gift to us.”
The state Texas Ramp Project organization was founded in 2006, but the Dallas Ramp Project that formed as an outgrowth of the Richardson Kiwanis Club built its first ramp in 1985. The Bryan-College Station chapter of the Texas Ramp Project formed in 2008.
Each ramp, Gritter said, costs about $15 a foot, making a typical 30-foot ramp between $400 and $500.
The majority of the organization’s funding comes from the United Way of the Brazos Valley, with additional donations coming from churches, businesses and individuals. The chapter also has a program through the Brazos Valley Area Agency on Aging, operated under the Brazos Valley Council of Governments.
Though known as the Bryan-College Station chapter, the local Texas Ramps Project covers the same seven-county area as the Brazos Valley Council of Governments and typically builds at least one ramp in each county every year.
Of the ramps the organization has built in its 11 years in the area, Gritter said, one that stands out was for a young boy, about 4 or 5 years old, who was able to gain the freedom to leave the house without assistance and play with other children.
There have also been some cases in which a ramp addition has allowed someone to return home from rehab after an injury or surgery.
After taking over the chapter as something to do in retirement, Gritter said, “Now I can’t give it up.”
Ramp recipients must be referred to Gritter and his volunteers through their rehab center, clinic, doctor or home health agency.
After receiving a referral, he said, representatives from Texas Ramp Project will survey the project and get the materials and volunteers together.
Each year, Gritter said, the chapter receives about 140 referrals and is able to complete 90 to 100 ramps.
There are usually 10 to 15 volunteers available for each build, but there is no set schedule, Gritter said, and a typical build takes about three hours to complete using pre-constructed modules.