Civitan clubs build wheelchair ramp for Helena woman

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter 

HELENA — Two branches of Civitan International, a volunteer organization, recently partnered together to help an elderly Helena citizen by building a wheelchair ramp to help her have more access and independence.

The individual in need was Helena resident, Doris “Dot” Webb, whose need was identified by a Civitan member and nominated as someone who could use help in the form of a wheelchair ramp.

Civitan International is based in Birmingham but does service projects throughout the world designed with a mission of  “impacting lives at the grass roots level through local service clubs,” according to their website.

Two service clubs local to the Birmingham metropolitan area, the ACTION and Perimeter Clubs, regularly partner together for local service projects.

“We try to look around and see what kind of projects need to be done,” said ACTION Club’s Brian James. “With people like this lady, they may not be able to afford a wheelchair ramp like this, who might be stuck in their house and have to resort to calling the fire department or an ambulance to get them out in an emergency.”

Edward Thomas, from the Perimeter Club, echoed these sentiments, adding that when this need was passed down to them from a member they wanted to act to help improve the life of Webb.

“Often times we do these projects for children with disabilities or for elderly people who are in a walker. This woman was in a walker and was not able to use stairs,” Thomas said. “In a lot of cases, like this one, they need to go to doctor appointments, and it can be quite an ordeal to get people to help them out of the house and down stairs. These ramps help them be able to get out more easily without needing a lot of help.”

The ramp was built by members of the clubs and was completed rather quickly. Once it was done, they got Webb to test it and make sure she could properly use it. Both men said that she was very grateful and expressed how much it would help her.

“She was very grateful for the ramp,” Thomas said. “Other than having to use her walker, she was still able to get around, but the steps on her house were a hindrance. She was very happy to be able to get out of her house more easily.”

Thomas explained that the Civitan Clubs do their own fundraising throughout the year to fund projects like these. The members of the club participate in these projects because of the tangible effect that it has on individuals, the club and the community at large.

“We enjoy building something, having a hands-on project. If we are helping someone with a difficulty like being stuck in your home, we are helping someone who needs it,” Thomas explained.

James said that projects give him a similar sense of pride in being able to accomplish something for the community.

“It gives you a sense of a good feeling in helping someone. You can look them in the eyes and see that they have a sense of relief. I get the feeling of pride in helping someone out,” James explained. “We all enjoy building something, having a hands on project. If we are helping someone with a difficulty like being stuck in your home, we are helping someone who needs it.”