DETROIT - UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles joined Ford Vice President Jim Tetreault and United Way for Southeastern Michigan President and CEO Michael J. Brennan today to launch 40 Ramps in 20 Weeks, an initiative to triple the amount of ramps provided by the Ray West Memorial Ramp Project to disabled individuals in southeast Michigan.
The Initiative has been made possible through the generous donation of resources and labor totaling $200,000 from Ford Motor Company and UAW Ford.
“At UAW Ford we have a long history of giving back to our community,” said Settles. “We are proud to support our partners at United Way to provide services to those in need in our community. Working together through efforts like this makes a positive difference for families and our community.”
"Ford is committed to making a difference in the communities where we do business,” said Jim Tetreault, Ford vice president of North America Manufacturing. “Dozens of local families will have greater mobility and self-sufficiency through this project.”
The Ray West Memorial Ramp Project began as a coalition of nonprofit agencies, trade unions and volunteers united with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan to provide barrier free access ramps to individuals living with physical disabilities at or below the poverty level.
During the past 14 years, the Project, which was named after its steadfast advocate at United Way, has provided 300 ramps to people in need in southeast Michigan. The goal is to empower people with disabilities to maintain an independent lifestyle, become self-sufficient and have access to their community.
United Way CEO Michael Brennan indicated that the UAW Ford and Ford Motor Company investment will nearly triple the number of ramps that were built in 2011.
“With this commitment from Ford and UAW Ford we will be building 40 new ramps in the region, up from just 14 in 2011,” he said. “That is quite a powerful impact from just one sector of our supporters.”
The ramps are constructed of recycled and new materials at a centralized facility in Sterling Heights generously provided to United Way for Southeastern Michigan by the Detroit Media Partnership. At the plant, ramps are prefabricated, stored and then transported to families in need.
Recipients of the ramp today were the Mangrum family. Seventy-year-old Booker Mangrum has been helping take care of his sister, Mae, 66, since 2009 after she suffered a stroke.
After seeing the just-completed ramp, he was overcome with emotion.
“It was very emotional for me. Mae hasn’t been out of the house for three or four months – and that was for a hospital visit.”
Booker now can wheel his sister out into the sunshine. And while she can’t speak, Booker said he can see the joy in Mae’s face once she’s outside in the fresh air. The ramp also helps Booker feel more certain that he could help Mae in the event of a fire.
“My main concern was, ‘What do I do if a fire comes? How do I get her out of the house?’"
Booker also has limited mobility and uses a motorized scooter for long trips. He now enjoys walking up and down the ramp for some daily exercises.
“It’s a beautiful ramp, so well built. It’s awesome…it’s a beautiful piece of art.”
Information regarding the Ray West Memorial Ramp Project is available at www.liveunitedsem.org.