Volunteers build wheelchair ramp, giving back family’s independence

Posted at 6:48 PM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-22 20:02:55-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- On the hottest day of the year so far, volunteers spent the day building a wheelchair ramp, giving back one Grand Rapids' family's independence.

For 25 years, the Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids has partnered with Home Repair Services to build projects for families in need on these community repair days. Friday, volunteers finished the ramp for the Peters family.

Opening their screen door, Renee Peters pushed her 16-year-old Jesse's wheelchair for the first time down their wheelchair ramp: both smiling, turning the corner with volunteers applauding.

"Wow!" said Peters. "Oh, this is beautiful."

Peters, a mother of five, moved her family into their home on Grandbrook Circle SE June 24. Since then, she's only been able to get her son Jesse outside their home in his wheelchair once. Peters held two long boards up and explained to FOX 17 she tried to make her own ramp down the front steep stairs, but it wasn't safe.

Most of the lumber, the crew and their time is donated. Home Repair Services Executive Director Joel Ruiter said, "It's a hot day, but we would rather be no place but here."

As construction buzzed outside, the commotion lit Jesse's eyes with joy: smiling into the camera, from the outside looking in, he was eager to get outside.

“It just makes me want to cry because I mean it’s just freedom for him and for me, the whole family really," said Peters.

For Peters and her family, she says this ramp means everything.

"I had been looking for four months, trying to find something that was wheelchair accessible, and things are going for rent really fast right now and they're expensive," said Peters. "I saw this, and I knew we had to have it. That [ramp] was the one thing we needed."If you would like to donate building material or volunteer your time, call Home Repair Services at: (616) 241-2601.