Tuesday, Dec 06, 2016
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Navy ramps up volunteers

Sailors helping to make home accessible for wheelchair

  • Chief-Petty-Officer-selectees-work

    Chief Petty Officer selectees work on the 24-foot ramp.

    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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  • David-Shepherd-left-and-Keith-Bryska

    David Shepherd, left, and Keith Bryska of the Columbus-based Navy recruiting office, check a post for level.

    The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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Chief-Petty-Officer-selectees-work

Chief Petty Officer selectees work on the 24-foot ramp.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
Enlarge | Buy This Image

A 42-foot wooden ramp took shape outside a West Toledo home Monday with the help of some sailors who shipped into Toledo for Navy Week.

At times, as many as 10 sailors from Navy Recruiting District Ohio were working on the ramp, which was being installed outside a Wellesley Drive duplex for Terry Bailey, an Army veteran who lives there.

Keith Bryska, public affairs officer for the Columbus-based Navy recruiting office, said the sailors were working on the project with the Ability Center of Greater Toledo because of this week's celebration of the War of 1812. Still, he said, volunteer work is a regular part of their jobs.

"We always teach our younger sailors to give back to the community," he said. "It's easy to go away and go to war, but you have to remember where you came from."

David-Shepherd-left-and-Keith-Bryska

David Shepherd, left, and Keith Bryska of the Columbus-based Navy recruiting office, check a post for level.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Terry Lanning, lead carpenter for the Ability Center, said much of the ramp was prebuilt at the center's workshop so the build could take place in two days with as little disruption to the resident as possible.

Command Master Chief Aaron Shipley of Columbus said many of the sailors on the project in Toledo are Navy recruiters.

"Part of Navy recruiting, which is what we're all doing, is putting the face of the Navy in the community," he said. "Every sailor is very fortunate, so just to get out -- whether it's Habitat for Humanity or whatever it is -- we just try to get them out and give back."

It won't hurt, of course, if a passer-by notices the Navy personnel at work, or if Ability Center employees spread the word that the sailors donated some sweat equity. That might lead to some new recruits, he said.

"More important," Master Chief Shipley added, "it's just the right thing to do."

The Ability Center last year built wheelchair-accessible ramps, installed low-rise steps and hand rails, and did similar projects at about 150 homes, said Mindy Metzger, home accessibility manager for the center. She said volunteers, Navy personnel or not, always are needed.

Navy Week is going on in Toledo this week and will include band concerts, ships arriving into the port, and public ship tours, among other events.

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