LANSING, Mich. — “One of the first people that we worked with had not left his house in two years, because he could not get out of his house,” Judith Taylor began.
“And he crawled around to get to the door…to open the door…he had rug burns on his arms and his knees… it was awful,” Ed Brown finished.
Habitat for Humanity Capital Region has received many letters of appreciation in the past 25 years. In that time, Ed Brown and his ramp crew have built 834 ramps for community members in need.
“I’ve been a registered carpenter since I was 7 years old," Brown and Taylor, his wife and partner, laughed. "…plus I’ve surrounded myself with people that are brighter than I am in a lot of areas, and we just synergize each other…it’s the people – not just the crew, but the people we work with who you know…that’s my passion.”
Brown and Taylor have streamlined their process over the years. Ahead of each build, they assess the project, take measurements and estimate materials needed as well as total cost.
“I can’t think of one time in – maybe one time in the three or four years I’ve been doing this that we were short some supplies” Laska Creagh, ramp crew volunteer, said. “Three years, Ed, or four?”
"It seems like 10 but I think probably 3 or 4," Brown replied tongue-in-cheek.
While it seems like a lot of hard work, the ramp crew has fun together, and they are changing lives.
“…and it’s been a great – it’s just a great thing…People come out crying sometimes they’re so happy to have freedom,” Creagh continued.
“Everybody needs safe, decent and affordable housing, and accessibility is a key point in having safe housing," said Talonda Moss-Mulgrew, Homeowner Services Director for Habitat for Humanity Capital Region.
This year, the ramp program received grants from the Joe D. Pentecost Foundation and the R.E. Olds Foundation to cover the cost of materials for 15 ramps. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, costs of materials for making these ramps have gone up, and Moss-Mulgrew predicts that will carry over into 2021.
“Our goals for the 2021 ramp season would be to secure funding, so that we can offer all ramps at no cost to the recipients. We are still in search of that funding, so that is still absolutely something that is very much needed, and would be a huge help to our organization,” Moss-Mulgrew said.
Individual donations are accepted. To donate specifically to the Ramp Project, indicate "ramps" on the check, in a letter or in the comments section if donating online. For those that are interested or in need of a ramp, contact Habitat for Humanity Capital Region at (517) 374-1313 to request an application. Or, apply online at habitatcr.org. Need for the ramp must be able to be exhibited, and an income qualification must be met. The program serves up to 80 percent of the area median income. In-person volunteering is temporarily on hold due to the pandemic.