Groups build ac­cess ramp for Bel Al­ton res­i­dent

Christ­mas in April pre­pares for big day later this month

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Bel Al­ton res­i­dent Bernard Rosier with the Ki­wa­nis Club of Wal­dorf vol­un­teers Harry Kriemelmeyer Jr., Terry Lane and Ge­orge Haw­ley on April 1.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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