February 2, 2015

There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to make a community service project just a bit more fun.

That’s what volunteers from two DPR project teams discovered January 26th when they took on the construction of two separate wooden handicap ramps for needy local residents as part of Rebuilding Together’s Arizona Ramp Project. Five- and six-person teams from the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center (BGSMC) and the Arizona Center for Law and Society (ACLS) projects squared off to see who could deliver the best quality ramp at two nearby mobile home sites.

The service event offered project team members a hands-on opportunity to get involved in the community and build comradery with co-workers for a good cause, according to DPR project engineer Tyler Ausherman, who helped organize the project for DPR and serves as liaison with Rebuilding Together. “It was nice to see the support of so many people from the project teams and their willingness to participate,” he commented. “Rebuilding Together provided the materials and did a little of the prefab work, and we provided the labor to get it done.”

DPR has been involved with the ramp build program since it first rolled out in the fall of 2013. It was conceived as a way to assist low income, disabled homeowners with a way to easily get in and out of their homes, according to Kate Warren, program manager for Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun. To date, the group has completed more than 60 ramp projects with volunteer groups like DPR, who helped with one of the first group ramp builds in September 2013.

“Having skilled and passionate DPR employees volunteer time helps us meet our mission of keeping low-income seniors safe in their home,” she commented. “The DPR employees have helped us complete tasks that we are unable to complete with our large pool of unskilled volunteers.”

On the most recent DPR ramp build day, nearly a dozen DPR volunteers from the two teams met at 8 a.m. They kicked off the day with donuts and coffee, stretch and flex to loosen up and heard from Rebuilding Together about their organization and a little about the homeowners who would benefit from the projects that day. After picking their respective sites through a game of rock, paper, scissors, the teams got to work.

“Being the construction guys we are, we modified the design just a little bit, then we just put our heads together and went to town,” Ausherman said. His team from Banner Good Samaritan had completed their job by noon. During the morning they had the chance to interact with the homeowner who provided the volunteers with coffee, cookies and lunch – but seeing her happiness with the new ramp was the biggest reward, Ausherman said. “At the end of the day, just to see the smile on her face was awesome.”

As for the friendly rivalry that inspired the day, the ACLS project edged out the BGSMC team for its innovative additions of solar lighting, a patriotic flag and carpentry detail. Both teams were clear winners, however, for delivering a major quality of life improvement to two very grateful homeowners and supporting an organization that is making a big difference in the Phoenix area.