Local residents with mobility challenges now have a new resource to help move them from here to there.
Community Action Team (CAT) has created a new program designed to repurpose wheelchair ramps and wheelchair lifts after use.
“We have named this new program Revolving Wheelchair Ramps and Lifts Program,” CAT Coordinator Neal Jones said.
St. Helens resident Patricia McMartin is the first participant in the mobility assistance program.
McMartin was recently diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease affecting brain and spinal cord nerve cells. The disease has affected McMartin’s ability to walk, climb steps and live a lifestyle she had just a year ago.
When people find their mobility declining, either from aging or disease, even getting out the door of their own home can become an impossible feat — and accommodations to make movement possible can be cost-prohibitive.
Knowing that her life was rapidly changing, McMartin said she started searching for a new home that is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible and found a home that met some of her ADA needs but lacked access to the house.
After having difficulties finding contractors, Patricia reached out to the CAT team for assistance.
Jones evaluated McMartin’s needs and constructed a plan to provide her with a wheelchair lift and material to construct a landing. The project would be no cost to McMartin under the condition that she donate the lift it back to CAT after use.
“Her son Ian McMartin and his father Jim McMartin offered to construct the wheelchair landing and mount the wheel chair lift,” Jones said. “Their combined efforts in conjunction with Community Action Team played a key role in making this project affordable.”
Materials were delivered, and construction immediately began and over two days the wheelchair lift was erected, and the wheelchair platform was completed, according to Jones
“Patricia now has safe access to her house thanks to Community Action Team, Ian McMartin and Jim McMartin,” Jones said.
“The lift is really instrumental in making it easier for me to go in and out of my house,” McMartin said. “I was using stairs before the lift was installed.
McMartin had used a walker to go up and down the home stairs to reach her car. She said the wheelchair lift provides her the opportunity to be more mobile.
“I will be in a wheelchair eventually,” she said. “I am not going to be getting any better. So, this is a big help. I can’t say enough good things about CAT. They are like angels.”
McMartin said she recommends CAT for anyone needing such mobility services.
“I really appreciate all of the help that they have given me. It has just been great,” she said. “This is a long-term loan as a lift. When I pass away, or become too immobile, the lift will go back to CAT and they will have it to offer to another client.
Jones said the CAT lift project’s value is estimated at $10,000.
CAT had the lift in storage when the agency received the call from McMartin for assistance. The cost for the lift was about $2,500 and paid for through donated funding, according to Jones.
To learn more about ALS visit www.als.org.
To make donations to support the Revolving Wheelchair Ramps and Lift Program or if you have a wheelchair ramp or wheelchair lift and would like to donate it now or after use, contact Neal Jones at the Community Action Team at 503-369-6922. Check or money orders can be sent to Community Action Team, Attention CI Dept. 125 N 17th Street, St. Helens, OR 97051.