Services for Independent Living builds ramps for homes

Sunday, November 4, 2012 | 5:01 p.m. CST; updated 4:26 p.m. CST, Monday, November 5, 2012
On Saturday morning, volunteers built 14 ramps at the homes of those who need greater access to their houses.

COLUMBIA — After Pat Renner recently fell off her porch and severely injured her ankle, she realized mobility is becoming more of a concern.

"She’s pretty bad, so she wants to get a ramp so she can get in and out of the house easier," said Lowell Renner, her husband who has arthritis and a bad back.

After Saturday, the Renners and 13 other homeowners won't have to worry about safely entering and leaving their houses.

A group of more than 100 people built 14 ramps for residents in need in Callaway, Audrain, Boone and Montgomery counties on Saturday as a part of the Ramp Up project, organized by Services for Independent Living.

The ramps built Saturday will make up nearly half the ramps built annually by Services for Independent Living, said Scout Merry, who oversaw the Ramp Up project with Sara Snodderley and Mike Miller.

Amy Wehmeier, executive director of Services for Independent Living, said the project fits in with the organization's mission of "empowering people with disabilities to maximize their independence." 

Services for Independent Living partnered with organizations such as United Access and Home Depot for its Saturday ramp-building project.

Eleven volunteers set out Saturday to complete the Renner's ramp on New Haven road in Columbia, including building experts from United Access, Menards and Home Depot, plus one staff member from Services for Independent Living.

Home Depot donated the materials for the Renner's ramp. Before Saturday, many of the workers had already dug and placed the posts that support the frame of the ramp, said Bruce Emig, assistant store manager of Home Depot and project manager for the Renner’s ramp.

Emig said he wanted to volunteer because he's seen how people who are helped often become volunteers themselves.

"You don’t realize what you have until you see people that don't have things and what it means to them," Emig said.

The Renners got put in touch with Services for Independent Living after Pat Renner's ankle injury sent her to the hospital. The organization keeps a running list of people who say they have accessibility issues to their homes.

This year, everyone on the waiting list in Montgomery and Audrain counties who needed one got a ramp through the Ramp Up project. Even so, more requests have come in since the deadline for Saturday's event, and another event will definitely be necessary, Merry said.

Lowell Renner said that, on a fixed income, he and his wife wouldn't have been able to afford putting a ramp up to their porch, and he was thankful to Saturday's team and Services for Independent Living for coordinating the event.

"They deserve all the credit," he said. "They are doing a real fine job."

People with mobility needs can contact Services for Independent Living at 800-766-1968 or go to its website at

Supervising editor is Alison Matas.

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