Volunteers 'Ramp It Up' to help pay back veterans

CINCINNATI – Several organizations and corporations donated their time, energy and tools Friday to help the wife of a deceased local veteran remain safe in her home.

In partnership with volunteers from UPS, the organization People Working Cooperatively (PWC) built a wheelchair ramp and performed repairs at the home of Doris Amos, 80.

Friday’s effort to install the structure at the Middletown house was part of the Ramp It Up For Veterans initiative. In total, 11 veterans and/or their families benefited this week from the home repair campaign.

In addition to putting in the ramps, participants planted trees, repaired roofs, landscaped public spaces and more.

Amos is a longtime resident of the Delaware Avenue property. She shared the home with her husband John, a Korean War veteran, before he passed away 10 years ago.

"It's nice for them to help," Amos said. “Oh, it’s awesome. I just thank God, you know, for everything. It's a true blessing."

Greg Schneider, volunteer coordinator for UPS, said those involved felt great pride for being able to help those who've given so much to them.

“The feeling you get, working alongside your colleagues to improve the quality of life for our veterans and their families are positively overwhelming," Schneider said. “We are literally changing people’s lives.”

One of the people whose life they changed is Amos, a proud homeowner who explained the difficulties she used to face while trying to scale the steps at her residence.

"When I come up the back steps I will have to hold the rail and then I need my stick and I come in the back way a lot," she said.

Ron Henlein, with People Working Cooperatively, said the efforts of his organization and the volunteers who help make it possible are a nice way to payback those who’ve served their country.

But it’s also a form of preventative health care, he said. Henlein says such efforts can help cut down on long-term medical problems and expenses that would typically be incurred by the family or the community.

"An emergency room visit is about $1,800 and should she check in to the hospital, it grows to an amazing $29,000,” Henlein said. “We feel like we really are doing a lot of preventive medicine."

Friday’s efforts were made possible impart by the Cincinnati Community ToolBank Mobile Unit, which deployed for the first time for the event in Middletown.

The ToolBank is a nonprofit tool-lending program that serves charitable organizations by putting high-quality tools in the hands of civic-minded volunteers.

“ToolBank’s resources empower all nonprofit organizations to perform larger, more ambitious, and more frequent service projects in the community,” according to executive director Kat Pepmeyer.

Since opening in July 2012, the Cincinnati ToolBank has served 107 charitable organizations, enabling them to equip over 45,000 volunteers with nearly $770,000 worth of tools used to complete over 2,600 community projects.

On Friday, ToolBank leaders joined representatives from PWC, UPS Regional Executives, Colerain RV, FastSIGNS Colerain and John Boehner’s staff to unveil the trailer before venturing out to perform their 

“People Working Cooperatively is excited to be a part of this initiative, which will go far to help our mission of serving very low income homeowners, including veterans, with the critical home repairs they need to safely live in their own home,” said President Jock Pitts.

Use of the Cincinnati ToolBank Mobile Trailer will be limited to collaborative efforts with PWC until the organization are able to secure funding and/or support of a truck to transport the trailer.

“Our long-term plan has always been to launch a delivery program to support our member agencies," Pepmeyer said. "With the donation of a trailer and the ToolBank being selected as one of five finalists for the 2014 Impact 100 Grant our plans have progressed much faster than we anticipated."

If chosen as one of the grant recipients, the ToolBank said it plans to use the funds to support a new delivery program to benefit all of the organization’s charitable member agencies by transporting large quantities of tools and equipment to volunteer sites in the future.

More about the organizations

About the Cincinnati ToolBank
The Cincinnati ToolBank is the fourth affiliate of ToolBank USA, the parent organization of the new national network of ToolBanks.

"The growing networks of ToolBank affiliates are modeled after the highly successful Atlanta Community ToolBank, which has served greater Atlanta’s charitable sector for more than 20 years," according to the organization.

Membership is free and once an agency has completed the application process, they can then check out tools online in one-week increments for up to eight weeks at a time for a small handling fee equivalent to 3 percent of the tool retail value.

"By housing, maintaining, and lending tools to charitable organizations ToolBanks enable nonprofit agencies to be more efficient, productive and to complete more skilled volunteer projects," the organization's

website reads.

About People Working Cooperatively
Established in 1975, People Working Cooperatively (PWC) serves 20 counties in southern Ohio, Northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana.

PWC completes over 10,500 home repair services annually to low income, elderly, disabled and Veteran homeowners who are unable to complete the repairs themselves. With over 6,000 volunteers, PWC is one of the largest volunteer corps in the region.

The Cincinnati ToolBank is accepting donations to help fund the tool-lending program. For more information about the Cincinnati ToolBank or how you can support its community efforts, please call Pepmeyer at 513-246-0015

People Working Cooperatively is accepting donations for its “Ramp it Up for Veterans” campaign to assist low income elderly and disabled veterans with emergency repairs and home modifications. For more information about PWC visit pwchomerepairs.org or please call Henlein at 513-351-7921

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