Local ministry builds wheelchair ramps for those in need
By Kara Witherow, Editor
Thanks to help from a local ministry, Agnes Futch can now enjoy sunshine, birds, and fresh air again.
In January, Fitzgerald’s Imagine Ministries built Futch a new wheelchair ramp. Her old one was dangerous, too steep, and caused her to careen out of control and break her ankle in three places.
“I’m so grateful,” said Futch, who had polio twice and relies on her wheelchair to get around. “I’m not scared to go down or come up anymore. It opens up entire worlds, and I can get out and enjoy fresh air and hear the birds and see the beauty of the trees and sky. It means everything to me.”
Begun 12 years ago after a mission trip, Imagine Ministries started as a home repair and yard work ministry and has evolved into a wheelchair ramp ministry that serves the entire Ben Hill County area. In the past few years they’ve built hundreds of ramps, sometimes three or four a month, said Susan Hughes, administrative coordinator of adult ministries at Central United Methodist Church in Fitzgerald and the director of Imagine Ministries.
“It’s been a beautiful thing, and I couldn’t be prouder,” she said. “This is one thing that has pulled us together; it’s a community ministry.”
There’s a need for well-built, ADA-compliant wheelchair ramps, says Tommy White, who helps run Imagine Ministries. Many people don’t have the resources to pay for them, and even if they do, they can’t always wait for a contractor.
“We saw a need in the community and realized how big the need was,” said White, a member of Arbor Baptist Church in Fitzgerald. “It’s really helping a lot of people. We’ve never built one that we didn’t get a blessing from.”
It takes about two to three hours for White and his team of mostly retired men to build a ramp. The Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostals, and others have a great time together, serving and sharing God’s love.
“It really changes folks’ lives, and I love to see that because that’s the name of the game, trying to help somebody and put a smile on their face,” White said. “It’s a major change in folks’ lives, a simple little ramp. It only costs a few hundred dollars, but you can’t put a price on it.”
Futch says that the ramp has given her a new outlook on life and the ability to enjoy the beauty God has created.
“These men have really helped me enjoy God’s creation more by what they’re doing,” she said. “It’s one of the most important things that has happened to me lately, that ramp, and it’s all made possible by that group of men. I can never thank them enough.”