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Disability Action Center NW

Ramps help to lift the community

  • By Garrett Cabeza, Daily News staff writer Dec 21, 2019 Updated Dec 24, 2019

Disability Action Center Northwest in Moscow, with the help of partnering agencies, has deployed about 23 modular aluminum ramp systems the past three years on the Palouse to improve home accessibility to those in need, said Mellowdee Brooks, DACNW Independent Living Advocate.

“(The ramps) promote independence and that’s what we’re about, is people with disabilities can be as independent as they choose,” said Vicki Leeper, DACNW marketing specialist. “So for most of us, that’s … ‘I don’t want to be in a nursing home. I want to stay in my home.’ … Nobody wants to be ousted out of their home just because they have a disability.”

The project was initially funded in 2016 with a $17,500 grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and a small grant from Moscow’s Stepping Stones, Leeper said.

Since those funds have been spent, DACNW has used donations and other grants to purchase ramp parts.

Leeper said the ramps are intended to be used on a temporary basis, so the ramp parts can be disassembled and used at other homes or buildings.

The Ramp It Up Project is great for people who are recovering from surgery at home, hosting a family event in which some family members require a ramp for accessibility or are waiting for a permanent ramp to be built at their home, DACNW officials said.

Leeper said the program is extremely popular and there is a waiting list for those who wish to have a ramp installed. Volunteers from Palouse Habitat for Humanity and the Moscow Central Lions Club install the ramps on the Palouse.

“It’s really been a great way to meet a need in the community,” said Jennifer Wallace, Palouse Habitat for Humanity executive director.

Leeper said the ramp installation, which only takes a couple hours, started in the Moscow-Pullman area and grew to northern Idaho and parts of eastern Washington.

She said once DACNW raises about $5,000, organization members typically start purchasing used ramp parts to save money. The parts are quickly used because the waiting list for the ramps is so long, especially since the service area was expanded to include all of northern Idaho and parts of eastern Washington.

In addition to donations, DACNW applies for grants.

Each ramp is different in size and layout because they are pieced together to fit he structure it is attached o and accommodate the person or people who need them. Leeper said the aluminum ramps have a gritty surface so they do not get slick during wet weather.

PHH volunteers installed an aluminum ramp last week at Patrick Karr’s home on East D Street in Moscow. Karr said he called DACNW looking for a ramp. But, since he was wanted a permanent ramp installed at his home, he said DACNW hooked him up with Bellevue Healthcare, a medical equipment supplier, in Moscow.

Karr purchased a ramp from the medical equipment supplier and said DACNW was extremely helpful coordinating the whole process.

He said the ramp will serve his mother and aunt when they visit, and potentially himself.

“We don’t need it necessarily right now,” Karr said. “Everyone can get in and out of the house but it’s going to help.”

Disability Action Center Northwest is always seeking donations to install more ramps as part of its Ramp It Up Project. To donate, visit dacnw.org/product/durable-medical-goods-exchange/.