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Rotary Club builds 100th wheelchair ramp for homebound residents
Rotary Club of Gainesville members Rick Young, Brian Gracey, Dick Young, Jerry Williams, Jeannie Hanlin, Mike Freeman and Larry Jewett were all part of a team that helped construct the 100th wheelchair ramp Saturday afternoon in Gainesville. Rotary Club members believe in service above self and participate in several community service projects. - photo by HAILEY VAN PARYS

The Rotary Club of Gainesville believes in service above self, and local members have put that motto into action.

Contractor Dick Young and architect Brian Gracey combined their talents to start the club’s wheelchair ramp project in 2008, which led to building their 100th ramp Saturday afternoon in Gainesville.

Members of the club, including Young and Gracey, set aside their extra time to work on the ramps.

“It’s just so rewarding, every time,” Young said.

For him, watching the people in need use the ramps they spend eight hours building is worth all the hard labor.

Gracey also still participates, creating each architectural drawing for each ramp. Saturday’s ramp was 19 inches high from the back door to the ground and 19 feet long.

Each ramp takes about 12 to 15 volunteers, including Jeannie Hanlin.

“Quality of life is why we do it,” Hanlin said. “Some of the people we’ve made ramps for haven’t left their house in two or three years. It’s just so worth it.”

Member Larry Jewett said the home receiving the 100th ramp has two wheelchair-bound residents, one who will undergo spinal surgery soon.

“If we can bring joy and quality even in the smallest way, it’s definitely an honor,” Hanlin, who is one of 178 members of the Hall County based club, said. “We’re just thrilled that we can provide this service.”

Gwendolyn Johnson, who lives across the street from the ramp home, donated two boxes of doughnuts to the crew. Her mother, who lived with her sister before she died, was also a recipient of a wheelchair ramp five or six years ago.

“Because of the generosity of the club, she could leave the house and get to doctor’s appointments,” said Johnson, who herself is fighting breast cancer and says she knows how it feels to need help.

Home Depot, Kipper Tools, Johnny’s BBQ and McDonald’s donated tools, food and wood to the project. The trailer that carries all the supplies they need was also donated.