Tyler Lions Club helps woman with wheelchair ramp

Published on Saturday, 28 June 2014 22:23 - Written by Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Sue McHenry is accustomed to staying in her Chandler apartment.

The 65-year-old, who is wheelchair-bound, said she isn’t able to go to the mailbox or the parking lot because, to her, it’s uphill.

But once she moves into her new two-bedroom, two-bath house, she will have a wheelchair ramp that allows her to get out and about. It’s all because of the Tyler Lions Club, as well as others, which helped make the ramp possible.

“That’s everything,” Ms. McHenry said. “I couldn’t get up in the house at all. We couldn’t figure out how to get me up in there.”

“It means the world to me because I can get up in my house finally,” she added.

The Lions Club became involved with the wheelchair ramp project about six weeks ago.

Ms. McHenry couldn’t afford a wheelchair ramp after spending money on the house, and a Chandler police officer suggested contacting the Lions Club, her caregiver said.

Tyler Lions Club incoming president Earl Smith said Wayne Barton, a member of the organization, learned that Ms. McHenry had a new mobile home but couldn’t access it without a wheelchair ramp. And following a vote, the Lions Club agreed to help build a ramp.

The organization had to ensure that state regulations were followed, so it recruited Trey Greer, who attends Southern Oaks Baptist Church with Tyler Lions Club members, Smith said. He said Greer has a background in carpentry and gave a safety meeting to help make sure there were no accidents while building took place.

Most people worked on the ramp, he said, while others brought lawn care equipment and cleaned up the property. He said most of the tools were provided by Southern Oaks Baptist Church, and the Tyler Lions Club purchased the materials. Smith said he, as well as Lions Club President Jeremy Johnston, Wayne Barton, Kay Butts, Roy Savage, Tammie Barton, Josh Barton, Jim Chewning, Bill Dipprey, Rip Duncan, Lauretta Smith, Nick Kunzman, Chris Kunzman and Jim Brown worked on the ramp.

The project took place on June 21. Workers started at 8 a.m. and were done by 3:30 p.m.

Smith said the project fit in with the Lions Club charter mission, which is “to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs.”

“These are the things we like to do,” Smith said, adding that the Tyler Lions Club also has helped with various other things, such as vision screening for children and providing food for people.

“About half the people (Tyler Lions Club members) are retired. The other half is working but contributes time and money on projects such as this. When she (Ms. McHenry’s caregiver) contacted us, it was an opportunity to do what we do.”

This is the first house that Ms. McHenry has owned.

Beginning in September, her caregiver looked at and researched various house options, sharing photos and information with Ms. McHenry along the way. Ms. McHenry eventually decided what she wanted and custom built the home using inheritance money from her father.

Inside the new home, which is on Pioneer Drive off Texas Highway 31, doorways are handicapped accessible. The kitchen is standard, just as it is in Ms. McHenry’s current apartment. Her caregiver said Ms. McHenry can reach anything she needs in the kitchen in her apartment and wanted to have a standard kitchen in her new house as well for the sake of independence. The kitchen in her new house also has a dishwasher — something she hasn’t had in her apartment. Additionally, Ms. McHenry will be able to do her laundry in her new house.

In the future, her caregiver plans to build a ramp in the back of the house that would tie in with the ramp that was recently built.

Meanwhile, Ms. McHenry said she looks forward to being on her own in a house.

She does not have a specific move-in date set, but her caregiver said she might get to move in at the end of July, depending on the weather.