Early in 2023, the “Reidland United Methodist Men & Friends Ramp Ministry” is on schedule to build their 1,000th handicap accessibility ramp since the inception of the ministry 27 years ago.
In 1995, what started out as part of the Helping Hands ministry of the local group soon became its key focus. Within ten years, the group was averaging a ramp per week almost continuously. Building ramps in western Kentucky became the major focus of the group, averaging more than 60 ramps in each of the past two years, and more than 50 ramps per year for the past decade and a half. They have continued uninterrupted over that time period, even devising special building techniques and practices to keep us safe through the height of the COVID pandemic.
During the past 27 years, it is estimated that:
- This group has built between seven and eight miles of handicap ramp.
- They have utilized over three-quarters of a million dollars in (current dollar) funds (including recycled ramps) to build the one thousand ramps.
- Contractor-constructed value is approaching $2,000,000 (current dollars).
- They have volunteered–as a group–over 30,000 man-hours of skilled labor to this ministry, or almost 15 man-years of full-time work. It is appropriate to use the term “skilled labor,” as they are widely recognized throughout the region as being the most competent and efficient builders of ADA approved and compliant ramps of any construction source available.
The ministry has become a multi-denominational effort in recent years–thus the group being renamed “Reidland United Methodist Men & Friends”–with key builders representing local Roman Catholic, Baptist, and Independent congregations.
On any given build, they rarely have less than six or seven of the core group of ten or so men who are regularly available to work. Almost all are flexible enough with their available workdays that they can select from multiple days of the week to take advantage of the best weather and personal situations. This group has not missed a week of building ramps in the past 18 months.
Worth noting! Over the past 15 years, at least two other groups of builders have been spawned–at least in part–from our group. Mount Carmel UMC in Marshall County (KY) started the Marshall County Ramp Builders around 2010, and Walnut Grove Church of Christ Ramp Builders was initiated in early 2021. All three groups have worked together to coordinate our efforts (and sometimes funding) to do the greatest amount of good works for God’s Kingdom.
Also worth noting! The average age of the group is 69, with builders ranging in age from 54 to 82! Proof that one is never too old to do God’s work, and to be God’s hands and feet for those in need.
Ramp #997 was built in the third week of December. Based on the expected schedule, they anticipate building #1,000 during the week of January 9. They are celebrating that milestone by pre-building a section of the ramp in their church bus shed and setting up to allow anyone who has ever worked with or financially supported the ministry over its history to participate in the assembly. This will include widows or other survivors of builders who have since passed.
All will be encouraged to drop by the ramp section and put a screw in a deck board on this special section; all will then sign a large poster of commemoration for the “Building of Ramp #1,000.” This section will be used in the ramp, and a special plaque will be discreetly placed somewhere on the structure to seal its place in their Ramp Ministry history! In addition, a reception or luncheon/dinner is also being planned around the time of construction, to allow family members and friends who have supported the work to interact, meet others’ family members who have been supportive of this ministry, and to have an opportunity to meet and recognize the highly valued members of the crew who are not members at RUMC.