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Community builds accessibility ramp for Indianapolis resident

The leader of a volunteer group said as Baby Boomers continue to age, demand for the ramps they build will grow.

INDIANAPOLIS — The demand for accessibility ramps continues to grow.  

"We'll build about 230 or 240 ramps this year statewide," said Bob Richmond, executive director of Servants at Work (SAW), a Christian organization that builds free accessibility ramps.

Referrals come from health care providers and churches.  

"The backlog is tremendous. It's about 250 (people)," Richmond said.  

Richmond said as Baby Boomers continue to age, the demand for ramps will continue to grow.  

"We have about 10,000 people turning the age of 65 every day. The need for our ramps just keeps accelerating," he added.  

The cost of making the ramps has skyrocketed during the pandemic.  

"Our lumber prices have gone up about 120% this year," Richmond said.

That hasn't stopped SAWs from providing them for free to families that need them. They’re on schedule to build their 3,000th ramp this summer.

Richmond said the organization has been building ramps since 2003 and they haven't slowed amid cost increases.

"An average ramp that would be about 22 or 23 feet is about $1,700, roughly," Richmond said.

Volunteers help make it happen. 

Richmond said teams sometimes come out as co-workers or corporations. On Saturday, the volunteers — aged 7 to 16 — were all queens from the Miss Circle City Pageant.  

"Our pageant serves girls from 0 to 109 (years old)" said pageant Director Nichelle Miller. "We're all about being the change we want to see in the world, so our girls are out on a Saturday morning building a ramp for someone who needs it."

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The northeast side resident who receiving the ramp has long prided himself on being independent. Family members said he gets in and out of the house with "a lot of assistance" and that in the past, they've had to carry him. 

Alexis Coats, his wife, said the ramp means her husband will get back some of that independence and that she felt very blessed that so many people cared to volunteer their time. 

"It's almost unbelievable that there are people that still do what these people do. They don’t have to do what they do and it's just wonderful," she said.

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