For the past few years, the simple task of leaving your home, which many people take for granted, has been anything but simple for Ed Jamieson of Goodland, a disabled United States Navy veteran.
“My legs got so bad that it was hard to walk and there was no good way of leaving my home in a wheelchair,” said Jamieson. “We looked around everywhere for more than two years trying to find someone who could build me a ramp, but we just couldn’t afford what they were asking.”
After seeing an article in the Newton County Enterprise about a presentation the Servants At Work, Inc. (SAWs) did for the Kentland Rotary Club, local veterans’ advocate Randy Pruden made some calls and got the process rolling for getting a ramp installed for his friend.
“If it wasn’t for Randy, this wouldn’t have got done,” said Jamieson. “When I got the call from SAWs telling me that they were going to build the ramp at no cost to me I cried like a 6 month old baby.”
Before a ramp could be built, however, a new entrance from the main floor to the back yard had to be put in. Financial assistance for that project came from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Mary T. Klinker Chapter 27, an organization that benefitted from the Goodstock music festival held last year in Goodland.
“There are lots of cases where there are gaps in benefits for our veterans and that’s a shame,” said Lee Theesfeld, DAV treasurer. “We wanted to help out anyway we could and make sure Ed could get out of his house easily. Because a lot of Ed’s time during combat was while he was a sonar technician on a nuclear-powered submarine and is still considered classified, he doesn’t get all of the benefits that he needs.”
The money for the lumber to build the ramp came from the Kentland Rotary Club and the Goodland Lion’s Club, which was built by several members of the Kentland Rotary, SAWs project manager John Hunter and volunteers, Darren Lambert of Cruz Construction and Millwright LLC and Pruden.
Denny Ritchie donated his time to do a lot of the work converting a window into the new door at the back of the house. People’s Ready Mix also donated a lot of items for the project.
“I can’t even say how thankful I am to everyone who was involved with this,” added Jamieson. “This is truly a blessing and another example of how small communities can come together and help people out.”
The ramp construction started around 8 a.m. Saturday and was finished before 4 p.m.
SAWs is a non-profit, all volunteer ministry that builds wheelchair ramps to provide persons with disabilities and people with conditions of aging access to their world and the freedom to remain in their communities.