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Strengthening a community through accessibility – Volunteer group builds accessibility ramp for disabled Midway resident

Thursday, March 14, was a special day for Midway resident Katrina Bailey.

On this day, a group of volunteers built her an accessibility ramp that will give her the freedom to safely and easily enter and exit her home as she wishes.

The project was made possible by the non-profit organization FL Cares, along with volunteers from Killearn Methodist Church.

Among the volunteers were members of the church’s youth group, who sacrificed a few hours of their Spring Break to help a person in need.

“We think this is a great learning experience for everybody,” said Project Leader Eric Evans. “There are plenty of mentors around to show them the ropes and help them with power tools and things like that.”

The project began at 8:30 a.m. and was finished by noon.

“We’re at the residence of Katrina Bailey, and she’s gotten to the point where climbing steps has become really difficult for her, and she’s had a couple of falls,” Evans continued. “So for future concerns, she’s asked us to build her a ramp, and we’re out here, happy to do that for her.”

Evans explained that FL Cares is a charitable organization that specializes in home accessibility.

“We’re building wheelchair ramps like you see today, or accessible half-steps (steps that are much shorter than standard steps, designed to reduce the distance a person must climb to reach the next step). We’re encouraging them with these projects to live independently, so that they feel comfortable in their home, not trapped.”

FL Cares is now in its sixth year of operation, and serves disabled residents of Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, and Wakulla counties.

“We had a banner year in 2023,” said Evans. “We had 300 projects, which is unheard of. Most agencies are good to do a couple dozen a year. So doing 300 was a big milestone for us.”

As a charitable organization, FL Cares projects are funded by donations.

“Our business plan is pay-as-you-go,” Evans explained. “So we have to have financing before we can start construction. In this case, Killearn Methodist Church is sponsoring this project, so they’re not only providing the sweat, but they are underwriting the cost as well.”

Evans feels that his work is one facet of a much bigger picture:  

“One of our cornerstones is that we’re seeking solutions to brighter futures. We are not the entire solution to a very complex problem, but we may be one of the first steps that people take, where they have a better chance to feel more comfortable entering and exiting their home, which allows them to go to the doctor, or the store, or just get out more and interact with their neighbors and their community. And that’s our goal: to strengthen our community.”

For more information on FL Cares, including how to benefit from their services or how to volunteer, please call (850) 347-1445.

Stephen Klein – Gadsden County News Service