Ramping Up for a Good Cause

There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to make a community initiatives endeavor even more fun.

That’s what volunteers from two DPR project teams discovered when they took on the construction of two separate wooden wheelchair ramps for local residents in need, as part of Rebuilding Together’s Arizona Ramp Project. Five- and six-person teams from the Banner University Medical Center Phoenix Campus (BUMCP) and the Arizona Center for Law and Society (ACLS) projects squared off to see who could deliver the highest-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, explained DPR’s Tyler Ausherman, who helped organize the project and serves as a 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 prefabrication work, and we provided the people to get it done.”

According to Kate Warren, program manager for Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun, it’s not just manual labor that gets the job done—it’s also skill and experience.

“Both of the ramps built needed design modifications to make them suit the homeowner’s needs and fit in the available space. DPR’s volunteers help us get these projects completed, and quickly,” said Warren.

For example, at the first ramp location, the BUMCP team quickly realized that the landing area at the top of the ramp was too narrow for the homeowner’s electric wheelchair to turn around safely. To resolve the issue, the team doubled the width of the landing and modified the ramp and handrails to accommodate the change.

At the ACLS team’s site, the ramp was a more complicated out-and-back design without a concrete foundation. After several calculations of the length and slope of the ramp to meet the size of the site, the team doubled-down on quality “extras,” including cross bracing at all walkway supports, gap filler between the ramp and house, a curb runner along the entire ramp, and added stability for railing posts. To top it off, the team added solar-powered lights to the end of the ramp, carpentry detail, and mounted an American flag to the handrail.

While everyone came out a winner in the end, the ACLS team’s ramp project took the prize thanks to points earned for all the extra bells and whistles the team added.

DPR has been involved with the ramp building program since its inception in 2013. To date, Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun has completed more than 60 ramp projects with volunteer groups like these.

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