POWHATAN – When Frances Rose explained the problem her husband was having safely exiting their home, she never imagined help wasn’t too far away.
During a call with Claudia Farr, who was volunteering to call Powhatan seniors to check on them, Rose told her that because her husband Warren suffered a stroke last fall, he was having issues falling. This made traversing the stairs outside their home particularly dangerous for him.
The couple had been struggling with the issue for months and they were trying to get the money to install a ramp, but it hadn’t happened yet, she said.
But on Saturday, June 6, a crew of five men - Charlie Towler, Winston Jones, Don Roebuck, David Pollard and Thornton Holt – showed up at the Roses’ home with a ramp and a willingness to volunteer their time and effort to install it for free. Under blisteringly hot heat, the men worked all day and then a few hours of the following day to install the ramp to make sure the Roses had safe access in and out of their home.
“It was great. It was like angels were sent to me. That is the way I see it,” Rose said.
It was inspiring to see the men come out and work so hard out of the goodness of their hearts, said Jayne Lloyd, Ride Assist Services program coordinator and instrumental organizer of wide-reaching efforts to look after local seniors during the pandemic.
When Farr passed on the information about the Roses to her about six weeks earlier, she thought of Holt, who had told her about a men’s group he belonged to in Powhatan that had previously helped another senior replace a window. But she had no idea how predestined this call would seem to be as the group agreed to take on the project, including the expenses.
Holt, who is a Shriner, had previously been given a ramp for his brother-in-law by another Shriner. But when his brother-in-law was given a ramp by a veterans group, Holt held onto the ramp. He had done work with Ride Assist Services, and when Lloyd reached out to him about the Roses’ need, he was able to tell her he had a ramp he could donate.
Holt belongs to a nondenominational men’s ministry group that meets on Friday mornings. He approached them with the project, and four of the members offered to help. It took about six weeks from the first call to the installation between getting their schedules to match up as well as making sure they did the job right.
“I went to the county and got a permit to make sure that we did it the right way. We didn’t just go in and do something and expect it to be right,” Holt said.
It took the group about 11 ½ hours to install the ramp because they had to purchase and create many of the parts, Holt said. Some of the parts had been stolen when the ramp was being stored, so they had to remake those parts. They also widened the platform at the top of the ramp.
“It was a long day and we picked probably one of the hottest Saturdays we have had this year, but you know what, it was still very rewarding. We had a prayer before we got there and a prayer before we left and Mrs. Rose cried during that prayer,” said Holt, whose granddaughter Lola Holt also helped the crew all day Saturday.
The men’s ministry has done projects to help others before, but this is its largest to date, Holt said. It was a grueling task because of the heat “but nobody wanted to leave. That is what we are all about; we want to help others.”
Rose said she watched the men install the ramp, and despite it being “hot and humid, those guys continued to work in all that heat. I said, ‘Y’all can come back another day.’ They said, ‘No ma’am, we’re going to finish it up.’”
Holt said that the Roses’ took care of them throughout the day with refreshments and making sure they were OK.
“It was a joy at the end of the day to really take care of them, and they needed it. The Lord blessed us being able to have a ramp to put up for them,” he said.
Although it had only been a few days, Frances Rose said having the ramp had already made life easier and brought her peace of mind.
“I just wanted to express how grateful I am. For those guys to be so kind and have that generosity and do this for us – it is a blessing,” she said.
Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.