Richard “Rick” Tauber wheeled himself out the front door of his Maplewood neighborhood home Saturday afternoon and took a test roll on the new ramp that the crew from Edmonds-based Chermak Construction had just completed “Wow, this is great,” he said.
“I’ve had one (ramp) for over 20 years and didn’t realize how inadequate it was until this one was put in,” Tauber said.
A wheelchair user since he was injured in an auto accident 35 years ago, Tauber was one of two Edmonds residents who received new wheelchair ramps Saturday, thanks to the annual Master Builders Care Foundation’s annual Rampathon event.
Shoreline-based Irons Brothers Construction built the other ramp, in the Aurora Marketplace neighborhood, for Arlene Shields, who lost both legs due to complications related to heart disease.
Employees from both companies donated their time for the duration of each project. Each company also supplied tools and materials, although in the case of the Chermak project, most of the materials were donated by Dunn Lumber, and for Irons Brothers, donations were received from The Home Depot Foundation, Greenworks Concrete, Foundations, Etc. and Stanwood Readi-Mix.
MBCF is the philanthropic arm of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties and coordinates community events throughout the year. Since 1993, more than 300 ramps have been built by MBA builder captain members for neighbors who have disabilities and financial need. Even though the economy has made it tougher for many construction companies to donate time and materials, this year 16 builders and remodelers participated in the event, said Melissa Irons, officer manager of Irons Brothers.
Kathy Hashbarger, Chermak’s marketing manager, said that Chermak employees were able to pull out Tauber’s old wood ramp and build a new one in a day, starting at 8 a.m. Saturday. Tauber’s current ramp was ‘insufficient in many ways,” she said. It was awkwardly designed, making it a challenge in wet or snowy conditions, and also lacked safety guide rails. An added bonus was cedar provided by Dunn Lumber for the rails, allowing for a smoother gripping surface, she said.
Irons Brothers, on the other hand, was replacing an old concrete sidewalk in front of the Shields’ home that was uneven and unsafe due to tree roots. The crew broke up and removed the old concrete on Thursday and a new concrete ramp was poured Friday, with finishing touches made Saturday morning. In addition to building the ramp, the company performed some minor landscaping and a small bathroom modification to make it easier for the homeowner to get in and out of the room.
“There is nothing more rewarding than using our skills to improve the lives of others,” said Joseph Irons, owner of Irons Brothers.
To learn more about the annual Rampathon projects and how to donate to the effort or apply for next year, visit the website.
Chermak Construction employees who assisted in the project included Howard Chermak, Judy Chermak, Jon Elkins (Project Manager), Kathy Hashbarger, Mark Lowe, Darrin Mock, Royce Napolitino, Catherine Schmidt, Jason Griesbach, Spencer Leeds, Gary Lundberg and Chuck Koressel
Irons Brothers Construction donors, volunteers and staff who participated in the event included Joseph Irons, Melissa Irons, Tod Werner, Arne Strand, Elizabeth Strand, Scarlet Haney, Rhett Irons, Ralph Siemering, Kitty Kelleigh and Dan Otsman.