SAN ANTONIO – Sylvia Cooper lives in a mobile home community in far Southeast San Antonio. Her health has deteriorated during the last several years, forcing her to rely on a walker to safely move throughout her home.
“I have anemia, chronic kidney disease, and I’m a diabetic,” Cooper said. “It’s hard for me to walk. I lose my balance real fast.”
Although the walker provides mobility on a flat surface, Cooper feels like she’s trapped in her own home as the only way out is through the use of a staircase. The entrance of her home is about three feet above the ground.
“I don’t want to fall, that’s what goes through my mind,” Cooper said. “About a month ago, (while) coming up, I lost my balance and went back.”
According to Cooper, she twisted her ankle, causing a small fracture on her toe. For Cooper, this is a risk she deals with daily before and after dialysis.
“VIA (bus) picks me up in the mornings to go to dialysis at 4:30 in the morning, and it’s dark,” Cooper said. “It’s been hard (to go) up and down the stairway. They’re very nice, though. They come in and help me.”
As of Saturday morning, that staircase was replaced by volunteers equipped with tools and materials. Clients like Cooper have to be referred to the Texas Ramp Project by a third-party health care provider.
The Texas Ramp Project, a statewide nonprofit, along with a team of volunteers from the Saturday Morning Men of CBC group, built Cooper’s path to independence.
The ramp build is in celebration of Texas Ramp Project’s reaching 100 miles worth of ramps for low-income older adults and people with disabilities.
“75% of our ramps are built for people 60 or older here in the state of Texas, and we service probably a higher percentage than that here in San Antonio,” George Swarner said. Swarner is the Texas Ramp project coordinator for San Antonio.
It’s a mission they couldn’t make possible without the time and labor of volunteers.
Mat Tillotson, organizer for the volunteer organization, says they’ve been volunteering for the past 12 years and build about 250 wheelchair ramps every two weeks in San Antonio.
“It takes anywhere from three hours to five hours to build,” Tillotson said. “The ramp provides access not only for the client, but for EMS.”
All ramps meet the Americans with Disabilities Act’s compliance codes including height, slope and clear space for Cooper to safely make her way in and out of her home.
“Thank God for what they do,” Cooper said.
For more information on the Texas Ramp Project, click here.
If you’re a healthcare provider and want to submit a request for a wheelchair ramp for a client in need, click here.