Groups build access ramp for Bel Alton resident
Christmas in April prepares for big day later this month
Christmas in April came early for Bel Alton resident Bernard Rosier, 77, a disabled senior citizen who used to experience difficulty whenever he attempted to leave and enter his own home in his wheelchair. Rosier now has a 43-foot ramp, built by Christmas In April Charles County and Kiwanis Club of Waldorf volunteers, that allows him to travel in and out of his home with ease.
Rosier’s daughter Phyllis Rosier-Yates helped arrange the building of the handicapped ramp on April 1.
“It was a great big relief when I heard he was going to get the ramp. I was very overwhelmed and filled with excitement and joy just knowing it would be much easier for him to be able to go outside and do little things on his own in his wheelchair,” Yates said.
Christmas in April provided the funds and the material for the ramp while the Kiwanis Club ramp building team provided the design and
constructed the ramp. Rosier described the his newly built ramp as amazing, beautiful and “a tremendous effort made by both organizations.”
“Going down the ramp in my ‘Rolls-Royce,’ which is what I call my wheelchair, feels better than riding in a car on [U.S.] 301,” Rosier said. “I couldn’t use my wheelchair to get outside before, but this ramp I have now is very convenient. I can even go outside to get some sun. I couldn’t thank them enough for the hard work that they did and I want God to bless each one of them as well.”
Yates said on the day the handicap ramp was being built, her father shed a few tears.
Rosier is retired from the Indian Head Naval Ordnance Center, now known as Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division, where he worked in A&E production for 10 years. He said he specialized in building capsules for pilots to eject out of planes before he retired.
“Seniors need the accessibility to go in and out of their home instead of being stuck in the house all day. They need to be able to enjoy life and activities,” Rosier-Yates said.
Kiwanis Club of Waldor f member Harry Kriemelmeyer Jr., is the chair of the club’s handicap ramp committee and the club’s representative on the Christmas in April Charles County board and house committee. Kriemelmeyer said all of the group’s labor is voluntary but the material costs roughly between $1,500-$2,000 per ramp.
“When you build a ramp for a person you are really building it for their family and the people who assist them going in and out of the house,” Kriemelmeyer said. “Without the ramp they have to often lift the handicapped person up and down the steps which is very difficult in most cases ... Many houses become dilapidated over time with people who don’t have the funds to hire professionals to fix up broken windows, rotted wood, build ramps, etc.”
“We do this because we’re a service club and we enjoy being a service to the community,” said Mildred Kriemelmeyer, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Waldorf. “We know the help is needed and we try to help the community be a better place. A lot of these people haven’t been out of the house for years and now they can relax outside. It’s a life changing thing ... they’re always so grateful.”
Christmas in April Charles County is dedicated to keeping elderly and disabled homeowners living in warmth, safety, independence, dignity and decency through home repair and rehabilitation services. After months of planning and preparation, Christmas in April culminates in a National Rebuilding Day on the last Saturday in April where volunteers of all ages, faiths and walks of life come together to help neighbors in the yearly American tradition.
This year the local Christmas in April group plans to have more than 500 volunteers help fix 20 houses on April 29, in partnership with the Kiwanis Club. According to Christmas in April president Alvin Stewart, the organization will also be changing over from Christmas in April to Rebuilding Together Charles County so that the program can be year round rather than just one month.
“The change will allow the organization to gain more resources and do more projects outside of just April and even have a handyman service available,” Stewart said. “We want to make sure we are doing something every day or week because there is a bigger need. The slogan will become, ‘If you like Christmas in April you will love Rebuilding Together.”
The Christmas in April and the Kiwanis Club of Waldorf volunteers will be going back to Rosier’s house on April 29 in order to fix his cabinets and bathroom. Kriemelmeyer said the Kiwanis Club of Waldorf will also be building a ramp for an Indian Head resident with cerebral palsy that day.
“We are hoping to give the residents a better life,” Kriemelmeyer said.
Bel Alton resident Bernard Rosier with the Kiwanis Club of Waldorf volunteers Harry Kriemelmeyer Jr., Terry Lane and George Hawley on April 1.
Kiwanis Club of Waldorf members and friends, Rosier family members and volunteers from Christmas in April built a 43-foot ramp for Bernard Rosier as a Christmas in April in service project on April 1.