Weather lets Tuesday Toolmen help more seniors

Posted: 8:13 AM, Dec 23, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-23 08:13:53-05

This week's warm temperatures are allowing a local charity to grant more holiday wishes for those in need, but a drop in funding is limiting what they can do.

Tuesday Toolmen, a program run by the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition, spent Tuesday building accessibility ramps and making safety improvements to homes of seniors who otherwise couldn't afford the help.

Daniel Estrada is happy he made the group's list. Just two weeks ago, getting in and out of his home was a challenge for the double amputee.

"Every time I'd go down the ramp, it was a suicide mission," Estrada said.

His old accessibility ramp wasn't built the way it should be. Not only was the ramp falling apart, it was so steep Estrada couldn't get his wheelchair on it without help. That often left the Lansing man waiting on the sidewalk until a passerby or neighbor would stop to give him a push.

"It's a big plus when you don't have to wait on somebody to give you the independence that you need," Estrada added.

His new ramp is all thanks to Tuesday Toolmen, and it's group of nearly 20 volunteers who are all seniors.

Program Coordinator Brady Calkins says the mild weather also helped.

"As soon as the ground freezes we can't put the poles in the ground, we can't dig out footing, so there's a lot of things that this year changed for us," Calkins said

Calkins says that's letting his volunteers do more work than they could in a typical December, but it also means funding is tight.

"Our grant money has pretty much been spent at this point," Calkins added.

That's leaving the group relying on leftover materials to start new projects. This Tuesday they used leftovers to add balcony railings and patch a leaking roof at a home in Clinton County.

"Our guys want to do whatever they can just to help the people so we try to do what we can," Calkins noted.

All the work the Toolmen do comes at no cost to the people they help.

"A ramp for an individual to hire out would probably be around $4,000 - $5,000. We're able to provide it just for the cost of materials, and our volunteers all show up and do the work for free," Calkins said.

That's why Estrada is counting himself as lucky, grateful the Tuesday Toolmen were able to make his ramp a reality.

"They gave me that freedom. They took that security, they gave me that security--not only for me, but for my family. You can't ask for more than that," Estrada said.

Donations to the Tuesday Toolmen can be made online or by sending a check to GLHC at 600 West Maple, Lansing, Michigan 48906.

GLHC will be also selling art by the late Mel Leiserwitz on Tuesday and Wednesday, with 25% of all sales going to support GLHC's programs. The sale runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.