Rebuilding Together builds 150th ramp

Lisa Depies
Volunteers with Rebuilding Together Henry County install the organization’s 150th wheelchair ramp on Thursday, Aug. 31. Pictured are, counterclockwise from left: Jim Sorenson, Terry Sears, Jim Snyder, Ted Blean, Greg Patton, Dick 
VanKeerebroeck and Don Simpson.

Rebuilding Together Henry County volunteers rolled into a milestone as they constructed the group’s 150th wheelchair ramp.

“We started building ramps in 1996, and it took us until 2011 to build our first 50 ramps,” said Rebuilding Together Henry County executive director Sarah Snyder. “But it only took us from 2011 to 2016 to build our 100th ramp.”

Less than a year later, the group has already hit the 150th milestone.

“Each year we’re progressively getting more and more ramps installed,” said Snyder, adding the group has pending requests for 10 more ramps.

On Thursday, Aug. 31 a larger-than-usual volunteer force gathered at Jim Bowton’s rural Geneseo home to build the milestone ramp.

“Most ramp builds take eight to 10 volunteers, but because this one’s a milestone, we’ve got extras working,” said Snyder.

To mark the occasion, volunteers received special bright yellow “ramp crew” T-shirts.

Rebuilding Together volunteers utilize a modular system to make the ramps.

Ramps are pre-built in sections and then transported to the installation site.

The ramps are made from treated wood and can be re-used when there’s no longer a need for a ramp at a house.

Local Rebuilding Together volunteers base their ramp construction on the modular concept created by the Minnesota Division of Rehabilitation Services.

When a Rebuilding Together ramp is installed, the ramp remains under the ownership of Rebuilding Together.

When it’s no longer needed, volunteers will remove the ramp and reuse or recycle it.

“Over the years, because we’ve been able to re-use sections, our cost-per-ramp has decreased,” said Snyder. “A ramp costs $1,200 to $1,800 to build new, but we’ve been able to get our cost down to $800 or $900-per ramp.”

At its core, Rebuilding Together Henry County is an organization designed to provide home repairs to low income homeowners.

However, the wheelchair ramp building portion of the organization’s mission has become a major part of the group’s identity.

“People see the ramp’s in the community. They’re visual reminders of what we do,” said Snyder.

Though the home repairs offered by Rebuilding Together are for low-income homeowners, the wheelchair ramps are offered to all, regardless of income. However, those receiving a ramp are asked to make a donation to Rebuidling Together.

“We ask them to donate whatever they can afford,” said Snyder. “Some do a donation all at once, others will give donations over a duration of time.”

Rebuilding Together officials attempt to have a ramp installed within at least 60 days of an initial request being made.

“That’s our policy, but the reality is sometimes it takes longer, sometimes we can do it quicker,” said Snyder.

“We realize we live in an aging community. People are living longer and want to stay in their homes,” said Snyder.

For more information, visit or phone 944-6442.