Ramps of Hope
submitted by Rick
I love meeting new people and learning about what makes them tick. With Mission: Mobility, I have been provided the unique opportunity to “meet” many new people from across the country. Although most I have only met via email, a few over the phone, and a few when “meeting in the middle” to pass off some wheelchairs. Many of these who I have met are now part of the infamous “facebook friends” world. Although Facebook is viewed as both good and bad, I have embraced it now as a vehicle to attempt to strengthen our wheelchair collection network.
It has been amazing for me to observe vicariously through this electronic portal, how my new friends are serving in their local communities. When seeing how many are doing AMAZING things to serve those in their communities, I am humbled and thankful that they take the time to join Mission: Mobility and collect wheelchairs. Observing these various people with the photos and stories they share on FB it has truly been an encouragement to me. One of these ministries has really struck my attention, because of it’s LOCAL involvement in serving those with Mobility needs.
Meet Debbie Hills.
Debbie is our Mission: Mobility partner in West Springfield, Pennsylvania. Debbie was one of the first to eagerly join us in our efforts to collect equipment. Unlike me, a farmer/insurance agent who had no history with ANYTHING mobility related, Debbie’s past truly lends itself to Mobility Assistance ministry.
Debbie practiced for 32 years as a Pediatric Physical Therapist before going into full time vocational ministry. She is an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this, she is called to “connect the gathered community of believers with the needs of the world and lead them out into the service IN the world.”
Debbie has been in Guatemala 3 times with her home church serving with different missionaries and with Bethel Ministries 5 or 6 times. Often times working in the orphanages fitting the children with specialty wheelchairs. “I absolutely love the Maya People and their gentle and strong spirits.” I echo that Debbie!
She has also served 8 or 9 times in Honduras, working with Joni & Friends’ Wheels for the World, doing wheelchair distributions. (WFTW also partners with Bethel Ministries in supplying a HUGE portion of their wheelchairs) El Salvador has also been the destination for 6 mission trips for large wheelchair distributions.
While in Honduras and El Salvador, Debbie has also spent much time teaching with Occupational and Physical Therapists in the government rehab system. Debbie’s husband has also travelled with her on most of these trips, “he is an ace wheelchair mechanic”.
To quote Debbie, ” I have a passion for reaching out to those in the margins that the world largely says are “less than” and letting them know that they are loved and valued and not alone. I love equipping others to go out to those who really need to hear the good news that can only be found in our Lord and Savior”. Very well said Debbie!
She also serves as the chairperson of the Western PA Conference of the UMC Disability Concerns Team. This works to be a resource to nearly 900 churches who strive to become places of welcome and inclusion for those who are affected by disability.
Ok, this is some amazing background. Most of which I just recently learned from Debbie. The above in-and-of-itself is a blogpost. But the following was what I have seen on Facebook that I wanted to share.
Since last February when we first “met,” I have seen many, many posts of events she was a part of. It quickly became obvious to me that these were not occasional “random acts of kindness”, but a serious organized effort to SERVE! https://www.facebook.com/RampsofHope is their Facebook page.
Debbie is the executive director and founder of a disability ministry called “All God’s Children Ministries.” 4 ½ years ago, they started “Ramps of Hope.” ROH operates mostly in a 2 county area in NW Pennsylvania. They have a core of about 40 volunteers who often help and 50 who help on an occasional basis. The regular volunteers come from a dozen different churches. (the group is growing and branching out into nearby communities)
On a typical outreach, a group of 10-15 volunteers will construct wheelchair ramps for local people in need. Materials are acquired at a local lumber yard that is owned by a strong Christian family. They provide a discount and free delivery of materials.
They have averaged building 3-4 ramps each month. Her local core group has built 36 ramps in the past year. Since April 2010, 131 ramps have been built. Each project takes approximately 2-3 hours. Ramp sections are prebuilt in “modules.”
This allows for quick installation and also ramps can be reclaimed and reused if the recipient no longer requires use of the ramp or moves to a different location.
In reviewing the hundred of photos from their building events, it became obvious to me that this is a phenomenal group. They build rain or shine. Winter doesn’t even stop them!
What Ramps of Hope is doing in their local community reminds me so much of what Bethel is doing in Guatemala. ROH isn’t just about building a ramp for a disabled person. Debbie says “my absolute non-compromise is that I must have a promise of pastoral support in proximity to the ramp installation before we proceed. I feel building relationships is key. The heart of the project is evangelism/offering them CHRIST. That is done best through relationship. Relationship is best built in proximity”. AWESOME! Well said Debbie!
Amazing Ministry! Truly inspiring! A lifetime of service to the disabled both domestically and in Central America. Debbie has a huge heart for the Lord and a huge heart for SERVING those in need.
Thank you to the many volunteers in the Ramps of Hope group! Thank you for your dedicated service to your neighbors in need! Thank you Debbie for all you do in your many outreaches!Romans 12:11 GNT
Good News Translation
Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.
Ps. Debbie said that Ramps of Hope could easily be replicated, anywhere. She welcomes inquiries of how a similar program could help people in your community. You may contact Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org