Small acts of kindness: Lions Club and Alabama Rehabilitation Services install service ramp for Lawrence resident

Volunteers with the Lions Club members of North Alabama, Bethel Church of Christ in Athens, and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitaion Services met in Trinity on Tuesday to build a service ramp for Yolanda Donegan. Pictured from the left: ADRS rep. Bynum Duren, Friend of the Lions Tommy Hargrove, Bethel Church of Christ member Stan Harrison, Friend of the Lions Rick Collins, Bethel Church member Preston Hunt, Center Lion Lanny Starr, Moulton Lion Janie Wilson, Athens Lion and Bethel Church member Donny Moore. Not pictured are Athens Lion Tim Carter and Bethel Church member Sam Keyes.

One Lawrence County resident gained mobility to and from her home on Tuesday after local and state volunteers met to construct a wheelchair ramp outside her front door.

Yolanda Donegan, a Trinity resident who lives near the Lawrence and Morgan County border just north of East Lawrence, welcomed The Lions Club District 34A Team and their partner, Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, who completed the ramp at her home earlier this week.

Athens Lion leader Tim Carter and ADRS representative Bynum Duren showed up Tuesday morning with nine other volunteers to complete the project by that afternoon. 

“All our volunteers have worked out of their own pockets—we’ve had no sponsorships—to build about 30 ramps with the Department of Rehabilitation Services in the last year. We’ve built ramps from the northern Alabama-Tennessee-Mississippi corner all the way down to Cheaha Mountain (near the town of Delta),” Carter said. 

When the Athens Lion Club first partnered with ADRS last fall as part of the State of Alabama Independent Living (SAIL) program, Carter said it was difficult to find helpers willing to assist. 

“Now I can send out an email and we can expect at least 10 to show up,” he said. “The group is mostly made up of retirees from different walks of life.”

He said the group consists of several regular volunteers from Bethel Church of Christ in Athens, two Athens Lions Club members, and two Friends of the Athens Lions Club, who were joined Tuesday by a volunteer from Moulton’s Lions Club. 

“This is a great opportunity for Lions to really make an impact in a family who needs mobility,” Moulton Lion President Jerome Thompson said. “We’re especially proud of Moulton Lion Janie Wilson for her efforts in the project.”

Of the 30 ramps constructed by the Lions Club and ADRS, Carter said the partners most recently constructed a mobility ramp for a 16-year-old Alta resident, who was paralyzed from an injury he sustained in the gulf. 

“The family sought help from ADRS and expressed a need for the ramp before the young man was released from the hospital, so we got to work to make it happen,” he said. 

This summer, the Lions Club team was asked to build the ramp for Donegan, who was also an ADRS client, Carter explained. 

The community service projects are made possible solely due to the work of willing volunteers, Duren added. He said ADRS supplies the resources to build the ramps, but the work is largely made up of volunteers from local service organizations—like the Lions Club—churches, and even family members of the ADRS clients. 

“Especially with the COVID-19 circumstances going on right now, we’re seeing more and more families stepping up to build the ramps,” he said. “We don’t pay for labor so we can build more ramps for more residents. It takes a network of community resources to pull this off.”

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services provides support to children and adults with disabilities in Alabama homes, schools, in the work place and throughout the community. For those who may benefit from the ADRS SAIL program, contact 1-800-671-683 for more information. 

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