The sign says wel­come and ac­ces­si­ble to all

Old Per­li­can United Church raises $23,000 for chair lift

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH - BY DENISE PIKE

The con­gre­ga­tion of St. An­drew’s By the Sea United Church in Old Per­li­can be­lieves God helps those who help them­selves, es­pe­cially when it comes to rais­ing money. There­fore when the church needed to come up with $36,000 to pay for a wheel-chair lift they said a few pray­ers and started fundrais­ing. In less than three years those pray­ers were an­swered. The new vertical wheel­chair lift was of­fi­cially ded­i­cated Jan. 17.

“ This was a fundrais­ing project we an­tic­i­pated would take about 15 years to com­plete, how­ever we were able to do it in less than three years,” said Fred Cram, chair­man of the lift com­mit­tee. “The sup­port from the con­gre­ga­tion and pub­lic was phe­nom­e­nal.”

Ap­prox­i­mately $23,000 was raised through fundrais­ers and do­na­tions and the Na­tional Church pro­vided an ad­di­tional $10,000 loan.

Of that $10,000, which is to be paid back over a three-year pe­riod, about $4,000 has al­ready been raised, leav­ing the con­gre­ga­tion with ap­prox­i­mately 6,000 ow­ing.

And if do­na­tions con­tinue the way they have in the past, that amount will be even less.

While the church is re­joic­ing about not be­ing fi­nan­cially strapped they are more ex­cited about the build­ing be­ing wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble.

“Our church is a com­mu­nity church. It’s used by the school and other or­ga­ni­za­tions for var­i­ous ser­vices, not just by church goes,” said Rev­erend Yvonne Hop­kins. “A lot of funer­als and wed­dings are held here and it needs to be fully ac­ces­si­ble to all. There was noth­ing worse than hav­ing to tell some­one they couldn’t hold a wed­ding or a fu­neral here be­cause the build­ing wasn’t wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble. It re­ally both­ered me when I had to do that.”

Cram agrees: “ There was a def­i­nite need for this wheel­chair lift in our church. We know it was an ex­pen­sive project and it was some­thing we pon­dered over for a long pe­riod of time. We also knew it was prob­a­bly go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult task to raise that amount of money, but it was some­thing we needed to do.”

Ac­cord­ing to Cram mem­bers of the church con­sid­ered in­stalling a wheel­chair ramp in­stead of a lift, but it wasn’t the best op­tion.

“It would have been very cum­ber­some and in­tim­i­dat­ing for the peo­ple us­ing it,” he ex­plained. “ The main body of the build­ing is al­ready off the ground and by the time we fol­lowed the construction reg­u­la­tions of a rise of so many inches to ev­ery foot the ramp would have been hun­dreds of feet long and high off the ground. That didn’t make sense so we went with the lift.”

Rev. Hop­kins feels plac­ing a wel­com­ing sign out­side a church is not enough for peo­ple with mo­bil­ity prob­lems.

“The body of Christ can­not be com­plete un­til all peo­ple are ac­cepted into their com­mu­ni­ties of faith,” she said. “If the sign says wel­come, the steps can­not say you must be able to walk up stairs to en­ter. In or­der for churches to be wel­com­ing com­mu­ni­ties for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, church fa­cil­i­ties, pro­ce­dures and the way we com­mu­ni­cate must be ac­ces­si­ble. If this lift helps even just one per­son it’s worth ev­ery cent.”

LET IT SHINE - A group of chil­dren from St. An­drew’s Sun­day School in Old Per­li­can sing the song This Lit­tle Light of Mine dur­ing the ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony of a vertical chair lift last month.

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Howard Cooper

RIB­BON CUT­TING - Phyl­lis Strong, seated, her daugh­ter Margie Tucker, right, and grand­daugh­ter Emily Tucker cut the rib­bon dur­ing a Jan. 17 of­fi­cial ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony for a new vertical chair lift at St. An­drew’s By the Sea Church in Old Per­li­can. Fred Cram, chair­man of the vertical lift com­mit­tee, left, and Don Newell, com­mit­tee sec­re­tary were also on hand for the cel­e­bra­tion.

CHEER­FUL GIVERS - From left, Zachary Thorne and his dad Kenneth, Chelsea Froude and her grand­fa­ther Roland Froude and Paul Tiz­zard and his dad Roger col­lect the of­fer­ing at St. An­drew’s By the Sea Church in Old Per­li­can. Mem­bers of the con­gre­ga­tion raised $23,000, in less than three years, for a new chair lift.

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