Submitted by Joe Burkhead,
RUMM&F Ramp Ministry Coordinator
Ramp recently built for Mr. Gary Davis of Paducah, who is suffering from terminal cancer and came home from rehab the morning following this ramp build. Right to Left in Picture: Jason Moore, Chuck Bearden, Joe Burkhead, Stephen Douglas, Dallas (friend of Jason), Rose Davis (wife of recipient), Keith Williams, Ed Bach, Vince Kahne, Mike Clark, Anthony (friend of Keith). Unusually large group for this build!
Early in 2023, the “Reidland United Methodist Men & Friends Ramp Ministry” is on schedule to build their 1,000th handicap accessibility ramp since the inception of the ministry 27 years ago. In 1995, what started out as part of the Helping Hands ministry of the local group soon became its key focus. Within ten years, the group was averaging a ramp per week almost continuously. Building ramps in western Kentucky became the major focus of the group, averaging more than 60 ramps in each of the past two years, and more than 50 ramps per year for the past decade and a half. We have continued uninterrupted over that time period, even devising special building techniques and practices to keep us safe through the height of the COVID pandemic.
During the past 27 years, it is estimated that:
The ministry has become a multi-denominational effort in recent years – thus the group being renamed “Reidland United Methodist Men & Friends” – with key builders representing local Roman Catholic, Baptist, and Independent congregations.
On any given build, we rarely have less than six or seven of the core group of ten or so men who are regularly available to work. Almost all are flexible enough with their available workdays that we can select from multiple days of the week to take advantage of the best weather and personal situations. This group has not missed a week of building ramps in the past 18 months.
Worth noting! Over the past 15 years, at least two other groups of builders have been spawned – at least in part – from our group. Mount Carmel UMC in Marshall County (KY) started the Marshall County Ramp Builders around 2010, and Walnut Grove Church of Christ Ramp Builders was initiated in early 2021. All three groups have worked together to coordinate our efforts (and sometimes funding) to do the greatest amount of good works for His Kingdom.
Also worth noting! We’re definitely no band of “spring chickens” by any measure. The average age of the group is 69, with builders ranging in age from 54 to 82! Proof positive that one is never too old to do God’s work, and to be His hands and feet for those in need.
Ramp #997 was built in the third week of December. Based on the expected schedule, we anticipate building #1,000 during the week of January 9th – likely on the 11th or 12th. We’re celebrating that milestone by – among other things – pre-building a section of the ramp in our church bus shed and setting up to allow anyone who has ever worked with or financially supported the ministry over its history to participate in the assembly. This will include widows or other survivors of builders who have since passed. All will be encouraged to drop by the ramp section and put a screw in a deck board on this special section. All will then sign a large poster of commemoration for the “Building of Ramp #1,000.” This section will be used in the ramp, and a special plaque will be discreetly placed somewhere on the structure to seal its place in our Ramp Ministry history! In addition, a reception or luncheon/dinner is also being planned around the time of construction, to allow family members and friends who have supported our work to interact, meet others’ family members who have been supportive of this ministry, and to have an opportunity to meet and recognize the highly valued members of our crew who are not members at RUMC.
Joe Burkhead – RUMM&F Ramp Ministry Coordinator