Thursday, January 14, 2016

Community Ramps Up

Last week my minivan’s rear hatch quit staying up on its own. For a few days I either propped it open with a ladder or asked my husband or a kid to hold it open while I unloaded groceries and the detritus moms cart around. I had two problems, 1. my car was broken and 2. I had no TIME to get it fixed. My dad was kind enough to help me out with the second issue. And now my minivan works just fine (Thanks Dad).

Who do you call when YOU need a hand? Who would you ask for help if you were on a fixed income?

Most people know that Habitat for Humanity builds homes. Did you know that Habitat Cabarrus also has a home repairs program? There is more than one way to address affordable housing solutions and repairs provide Habitat Cabarrus an avenue to reach greater numbers of residents.

The Hamilton’s needed a hand when Mrs. Hamilton’s knee function deteriorated and limited her mobility. Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton are seniors who live in Concord. They’ve been a couple for a long time, since high school in fact. They raised children and cared for an aging parent in their home. Now they live the slow and modest life of retirees.

A Concord police officer saw the Hamiltons struggling to go up their front steps as he drove by. He stopped his vehicle and helped Mr. Hamilton maneuver his wife into their home. The officer casually mentioned that Concord Fire might be able help them get a handicap ramp and left after they safely reached the door.

It’s difficult for most of us to admit we need help and the Hamiltons were no different. We’re Americans. We take pride in our rugged individualism and our ability to handle things on our own. Two weeks passed and the Hamiltons finally admitted they needed help and called the Concord Fire department. They were directed to Chief Ray Allen who listened to their plight and said he thought they could help.

Concord moves at its own unique pace and direction. People talk to each other here and this is a community that takes pride in looking after its own. There’s an invisible river of care that flows beneath the surface and creates a tangible sense of kinship. And the Hamiltons had just reached into the river.

Chief Allen knew Mike Ransom, the president of Concord Rotary Club. Mike Ransom really wanted to expand the types of community service Concord Rotary Club performs in the community. Mike knew that Katie Page - a fellow Rotarian - works for Habitat Cabarrus and asked her about ramp construction. A project was born.

On Nov. 11th - about four weeks after the Hamilton’s asked for help - fire fighters from Concord Fire Station #3, Rotarians from Concord Rotary Club, and Habitat Cabarrus converged on the Hamilton’s front lawn. It was a beautiful crisp, sunny, Fall morning – perfect for physical labor. Three different groups merged time and talents to dig holes, cut wood, install posts and boards, and constructed a ramp.

What does that ramp mean to the Hamiltons?

Mrs. Hamilton can go outside and enjoy her flowers again. Mr. Hamilton can leave home to run an errand and not feel he’s left his wife housebound. Mrs. Hamilton can get the exercise she needs to become eligible for knee surgery. Both Hamiltons can go to church, the library, the grocery store, and to visit family and friends. The ability to leave is huge. That ramp is the difference between freedom and dependence.

The Hamiltons needed help. A casual comment led to a phone call. A phone call steered several conversations. Conversations guided actions. Concord Fire, Concord Rotary Club, and Habitat Cabarrus reached out as one and provided a hand up.

Cabarrus County really understands what community means. Sometimes community looks like a ramp.

If you or someone you know is in need of a home repair please click HERE to apply for Habitat Cabarrus’ Home Repair program.


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