By UAW Ford Joint Programs
In Community Service
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UAW and Ford employees gathered at the Center for Accessible Living (CAL) to celebrate the completion of Louisville’s 100th wheelchair ramp built by UAW/Ford volunteers.
For some Louisville residents who are wheelchair-bound, simply getting outside of their homes is difficult without wheelchair ramps. Some of those residents have not been able to leave their homes at all. Approximately two and a half years ago, UAW and Ford recognized this need and originally donated $50,000 with the goal of building 25 ramps for local residents with disabilities. While this goal was quickly reached, the demand for ramps remained.
“Without these ramps, people become prisoners in their own homes,” said David Allgood, director of advocacy for CAL. “You can’t go to church, vote, visit friends or even go to the doctor. The ramp-building team is changing lives.”
The Center for Accessible Living has a ramp waiting list of 225 people and it can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months for a ramp to be built. Because of this demand within the Louisville community, UAW and Ford have continued the program. The 100th ramp was constructed approximately two weeks ago for local resident Thomas Wheatley.
“I want to thank the volunteers for building my ramp. Thanks to them, I have my life back,” said Mr. Wheatley after receiving the ramp.
To date, 25 Ford/UAW volunteers have donated more than 8,000 manpower hours, an estimated value of more than $200,000 in total volunteer time. Additionally, the Metro Council has also supported the effort by providing an additional $60,000 in material funding last year
“As we celebrate our 100th ramp with the citizens of our community, we must continue our program and grow new partnerships with other organizations and companies alike to achieve our goal of ‘zero wait’ for quality of life through the Ramp Team Program,” said UAW Local 862 President Todd Dunn. “Thanks to the combined efforts of the UAW/Ford Joint Programs and the vision of Vice President UAW National Ford Department Jimmy Settles, we have the opportunity to look back at the last two years and grasp as a team what we have achieved.”
“Today’s milestone was brought about through an extraordinary partnership and ongoing collaboration between Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers,” said John Alkire, human resources manager at Kentucky Truck Plant. “We are proud to work together to help build a stronger Louisville and assist our neighbors throughout the community.