Bridge Over Troubled Step

Building a ramp could be defined as community outreach at its finest as the Williamsport Community Woodshop bridged a gap for Albright LIFE.

Albright LIFE medical director Dr. William Keenan approached the Williamsport Community Woodshop for assistance after a member of Albright’s team identified an issue with a step that was threatening a LIFE participant’s independence.

The participant had recently relocated to the Hughesville area, and her new apartment presented a mobility issue. The threshold plate from the bathroom to the kitchen was several inches higher. This issue was identified through Albright LIFE’s home evaluation process.

The finished product, a ramp custom built by woodworker  Richard Brown of the Williamsport Community Woodshop, as he presents the ramp to Zoe Oldt OTRL, Occupational Therapist for Albright LIFE. The ramp was requested by Oldt for installation in a participant’s home for safer transition between rooms. (Photo courtesy Albright LIFE)

The finished product, a ramp custom built by woodworker Richard Brown of the Williamsport Community Woodshop, as he presents the ramp to Zoe Oldt OTRL, Occupational Therapist for Albright LIFE. The ramp was requested by Oldt for installation in a participant’s home for safer transition between rooms. (Photo courtesy Albright LIFE)

Zoe Oldt OTRL, Albright LIFE Occupational Therapist visited participant Beverly Seese shortly after she enrolled in the program. Oldt identified the room-to-room transition issue and had concerns for Seese’s safety. She approached the other LIFE team members with her safety concerns for the participant during one of the daily morning meetings. Conversation ensued how to best address the issue. Oldt felt a ramp would satisfy the concern, but the question was where to find someone with the time and skills to make a custom ramp to fit this need.

Dr. Keenan offered information about the local Williamsport Community Woodshop and said he would contact them and see if they could suggest a solution. Keenan contacted the wood shop and they offered to build the ramp to minimize the safety issue. The workshop would build the ramp and Oldt would install it. “Without this ramp, she would not be able to safely stay in her apartment,” noted Dr. Keenan.

In stepped woodworker Richard “Rick” Brown of Williamsport. The measurements for the size and rise of the ramp were provided to Brown. Brown dug through some scraps of wood around the shop and was able to construct the ramp to fit the threshold area for the participant. Brown, retired from the military, is currently a student at Pennsylvania College of Technology studying business administration. He said, “I’m happy to be able to help out.”

Fluid footsteps are shown after the ramp installation for participant Beverly Seese in her apartment.  The transition between the two rooms is now flawless with the ramp. (Photo courtesy Albright LIFE)

Fluid footsteps are shown after the ramp installation for participant Beverly Seese in her apartment. The transition between the two rooms is now flawless with the ramp. (Photo courtesy Albright LIFE)

The Williamsport Community Woodshop, located at 1302 Memorial Avenue in the city is a non-profit entity. One of their outreach services includes building requests for other non-profits. Director John Meyer said the woodshop provides the labor for free and only the materials are a cost for non-profit requests. Unless of course in the case of the ramp build, scraps can be found around the shop from leftover projects which can then be assembled to fulfill requests.

“It’s a labor of love,” said Meyer, which is why the woodshop came into existence two years ago. As a non-profit they rely on membership for growth. The woodshop program currently has 35 members but could accommodate 150. “It’s like shop class with all the equipment at your fingertips,” he commented. All members must go thru a 4-hour safety and machine review. Meyer and Brown donate their time to keep shop open Tuesday through Saturdays. Mondays’ are maintenance days around the shop. The equipment has been donated, consigned and some members have brought personal equipment so there’s a full array of machinery.

Upon completion of the ramp, the Community Woodshop contacted Oldt. She then picked up the ramp and installed it in Seese’s apartment. Oldt felt a sigh of relief, “I feel better knowing that this ramp has decreased her risk for falling when transitioning between the two rooms.”

Seese now has a smooth transition between the two rooms and is able to walk up the ramp without any obstacles.he Williamsport Community Woodshop bridged a gap for Albright LIFE.

Located at 901 Memorial Avenue, Williamsport, Albright LIFE (Living Independently for Elders) is Pennsylvania’s version of the nationally recognized PACE program (Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly). LIFE’s comprehensive array of services meet the social, medical, emotional, spiritual and nutritional needs of individuals 55 and older. This mix of services allows participants to remain healthy and active in the place they call home for as long as possible. In addition, LIFE services are a blessing for both participants and their families and caregivers, who appreciate the support and benefits the program provides. To learn more about Albright LIFE, call (570) 322-5433 or visit AlbrightLIFE.org.