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Uplifting help

Kiwanis members build ramps to provide easy accessibility for others

July 2, 2011
By Kelly Fosness ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - It's been some time since 90-year-old Grace Landstrom left home to have lunch with her girlfriends or run errands.

"Maybe a month or two," she said. "It was getting difficult to get my heels up over the steps to get in the house so I haven't been out."

Thanks to Kiwanis Club of the Copper Country, coming and going will now be a bit easier.

Article Photos

Daily Mining Gazette/Kelly Fosness
Ninety-year-old Grace Landstrom stands outside her Houghton home on the newly constructed ramp installed Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the "Nail Benders," a community service committee of the Kiwanis Club, installed a 50-foot long wheelchair ramp at the back entrance of Landstrom's Houghton home. Members, who do the work voluntarily, said it was the second ramp the organization has installed so far this year.

"Quite often we can put up a ramp in two or three hours," Rich Brooks said early afternoon Wednesday. "This one might be a little bit longer."

The crew began Wednesday morning by clearing brush and stumps from the backyard. Once the landing was installed near the door, the rest of the ramp was expected to come together quickly, he said.

Table saws, weed trimmers, chainsaws and other power tools were on site, as well as a trailer filled with lumber and additional building materials.

"The way her house is laid out, with the door way back there, which is kind of on the uphill side, we've got to get her down to the ground," he said. "We need about a foot of ramp for every inch of drop. That involves about 50 inches of drop, so 50 feet of ramp."

Sections of ramp are constructed ahead of time in their shop, Brooks said, which saves them time during the installation. Some of the sections are recycled from previous ramps removed from residences.

"Any customer that calls up and says they don't need their ramp anymore, we get it out of their way," he said. "They're good for many years."

While the work is done voluntarily, there is a cost for the homeowner to cover the materials.

Brooks said the Kiwanis Club has been has been building ramps at homes around the Copper Country for more than 20 years and estimated they've installed around 200.

They're expecting to start another ramp installation in the next week or so, with another two to follow.

Landstrom said her husband belonged to Kiwanis and was also part of the Nail Benders crew.

Just after 5 p.m. Wednesday, sunshine and blue skies greeted her as she stepped outside for the first time in weeks.

"This is fancy, my goodness sakes," she said. "It looks wonderful."

When asked what kinds of plans she had for an upcoming outing, she said, "I've got a couple of things I have to do."

"I have to get to the bank and I have to go to the dentist," she said. "Then I will go out to lunch with some girls once and a while."



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