Loading…
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
HomeNewsLocalNorth
Published: Wednesday, 8/11/2010

Union volunteers help man gain mobility

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ERIE — Joseph Walker, an unemployed carpenter, last week drove nearly 50 miles from his home in Dearborn, Mich., to join volunteers in a community service project that moved Dean Barron to tears.

Mr. Walker and about 10 union carpenters built a wood wheelchair ramp on the back of Mr. Barron's Erie Township house.

The ramp outside his home was the 123rd “Project Ramp” to be completed in Monroe County by volunteer union carpenters and union laborers since 1989.

A joint project between the AFL-CIO Community Services Program and the United Way of Monroe County, the program uses state money, cash contributions, and in-kind donations to build access ramps to homes in the county.

Mr. Barron, 53, struggled with his emotions as he watched the men saw treated lumber and build the inclined plane that will give him access to the world beyond the walls of his home.

“This is the greatest thing to ever happen to me,” he said, wiping tears from his face. “There is no way I could afford something like this.”

Charles Brewer measures and marks a board for the ramp. Four more ramps are planned this year in Monroe County. Charles Brewer measures and marks a board for the ramp. Four more ramps are planned this year in Monroe County.
THE BLADE/LISA DUTTON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Stricken with a blood circulatory disease, the former truck and trailer mechanic lost his leg about three years ago because of severe blood clots.

Mr. Barron, who uses a nonmotorized wheelchair, had to use his arms to crawl on his belly to navigate the stairs outside his home.

Mr. Walker, a member of Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters Local 687, has been out of work since September.

Although it was the first time that he donated his time and labor for Project Ramp, Mr. Walker went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to help his church rebuild homes.

“This is a good project.

Anything to better somebody's life is worth it,” he said. “If more people would give, it would be a much better world.”

Charles Brewer, also a member of the carpenters local, said he hoped improving Mr. Barron's accessibility would improve his outlook on life.

“He is definitely in need of the ramp. It should help him a lot,” said Mr. Brewer of Westland, Mich.

Mike Smith, AFL-CIO community services liaison to the United Way of Monroe County, said that the cost to build each ramp is about $2,000, well below the estimated $6,000 it would cost to build if lumber, nails, and other materials were not donated.

Erie Grocery Store-IGA; Tad Cousino, owner of the Frog Leg Inn, and the Monroe County Correction Officers Union provided in-kind donations such as pizza, beverages, and cups and plates for the volunteers who showed up for Mr. Barron's ramp.

At the same time volunteers were at Mr. Barron's home, another crew or union carpenters from the same local were tackling a ramp outside a home on Virginia Court in Monroe.

Mr. Smith said the program plans to build four more ramps this year in Monroe County.

In addition to the unionized skilled trades, juvenile offenders at the Monroe County Youth Center help on the ramp projects.

Mr. Smith said the teenagers work with professionals to gain exposure to a trade that could help give them the skills to improve their lives as they move forward. Mike Smith, AFL-CIO community services liaison to the United Way of Monroe County, said that the cost to build each ramp is about $2,000, well below the estimated $6,000 it would cost to build if lumber, nails, and other materials were not donated. Erie Grocery Store-IGA; Tad Cousino, owner of the Frog Leg Inn, and the Monroe County Correction Officers Union provided in-kind donations such as pizza, beverages, and cups and plates for the volunteers who showed up for Mr. Barron's ramp. At the same time volunteers were at Mr. Barron's home, another crew or union carpenters from the same local were tackling a ramp outside a home on Virginia Court in Monroe. Mr. Smith said the program plans to build four more ramps this year in Monroe County. In addition to the unionized skilled trades, juvenile offenders at the Monroe County Youth Center help on the ramp projects. Mr. Smith said the teenagers work with professionals to gain exposure to a trade that could help give them the skills to improve their lives as they move forward.
THE BLADE/LISA DUTTON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Mike Smith, AFL-CIO community services liaison to the United Way of Monroe County, said that the cost to build each ramp is about $2,000, well below the estimated $6,000 it would cost to build if lumber, nails, and other materials were not donated.

Erie Grocery Store-IGA; Tad Cousino, owner of the Frog Leg Inn, and the Monroe County Correction Officers Union provided in-kind donations such as pizza, beverages, and cups and plates for the volunteers who showed up for Mr. Barron's ramp.

At the same time volunteers were at Mr. Barron's home, another crew or union carpenters from the same local were tackling a ramp outside a home on Virginia Court in Monroe.

Mr. Smith said the program plans to build four more ramps this year in Monroe County.

In addition to the unionized skilled trades, juvenile offenders at the Monroe County Youth Center help on the ramp projects.

Mr. Smith said the teenagers work with professionals to gain exposure to a trade that could help give them the skills to improve their lives as they move forward.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.