HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – CASA of Madison County’s mission is to provide needed services to aging/homebound individuals that allow them to remain in their homes and age in place.
Among a myriad of other projects, CASA volunteers build and install dozens of wheelchair ramps at the homes of elderly clients every year.
This weekend volunteers have a mission to complete a total of 17 new ramps at homes all across the community.
Project lead Ricardo Jaramillo has volunteered with CASA for nearly a decade but has been focusing on wheelchair ramps for the past 4 years – in that time he has gained a lot a stories, and seen hundreds helped.
“We built a ramp once for a 32-year-old man who could never get out of the house until we built his ramp and you should have seen the smile on his face,” Jaramillo recalls. “He was like, I’m the king of the world, now.”
Friday a group of a dozen volunteers were working at the home of Errol Hudson.
“We all need some help.”
Hudson has been unable to walk since December of last year. He says the change has been a rough transition not only for him but his wife. Hudson says despite her devotion, he understands his wife has grown weary of pulling and tugging on him to accomplish every move he’s needed to make for a year now.
“I can get in a wheelchair and wheel out, but I’ve got to get someone to push me out.”
Hudson has been on the CASA waiting list for about 6 months and says a volunteer’s knock on his door early Friday morning was a Godsend.
“It’s a joy,” said Hudson from the hospital bed in his room.
Project leader Ricardo Jaramillo says the biggest gift the ramp bring to clients is freedom.
“To me it would be embarrassing if someone had to carry me up the stairs,” Jaramillo admits. “I don’t care how old or young you are – this really helps out a lot – a feeling of self-worth, that they can continue to take care of themselves.”
“For men to volunteer to do something like this,” says Hudson of his newfound friends, “It’s remarkable.”
CASA volunteers have a goal this weekend before Christmas to check as many handicap accessible ramps off the waiting list as possible.
Jaramillo says you can help and you don’t have to have carpentry experience.
“Basically what I do as the lead is, there are organizations in town that want to help out, they have a group who is not very skilled at building ramps and they’ll call me up and say hey, ‘Ricardo we have a church group, a boy scout troop, whatever – can you lead them?’ So I grab them by the hand, we come out here and start building the ramps.”
And when CASA says anyone can help – they mean anyone.
“We have older ladies who say ‘no, not me, look at my hands, I can’t do it’. Well I tell them hey, I can use you. They say ‘what can I do?’ I say can you talk? ‘Yes I can talk.’ Well okay, you’re my socializer.”
A ‘socializer’ is the liaison for the client. They allow the project leader to lead while clients may be asking questions or raising concerns about the construction of their ramp.
And the look on the face of the elderly client as volunteers pull away – no matter your age or skill level – lets volunteers know they have really made a difference.
“This really helps a lot.”
If you want to volunteer or donate to make a different sand improve the quality of life for the aging and homebound in our community, please contact CASA at 533-7775 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Download a complete list of CASA Accepted Donations.