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Volunteers give double-amputee access to the outside world

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 18:59:57-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A group of volunteers are giving some Richmonders much-needed access by building ramps at their homes.

A day of tranquility of Montague Road comes to a grinding halt as a small army of workers upend Mary Williams’ backyard.

“I am so grateful," Williams said. “They got saws, hammer, nails wood and each one has a purpose. We are truly blessed.”

Bill Poole is responsible for much of the racket. The retired city planner with Chesterfield County is a de facto leader at the construction site.

“All that time I wanted to be a carpenter and this lets me help people and do my dream job,” Poole said.

Bill and his crew of volunteers from Project Homes are paving the way out. Mary’s daughter, Kellie, is a double amputee who has trouble navigating steps.

“They’re building me a ramp for my family,” Williams said.

The non-profit Project Homes assists the disabled and low income families with repairs so they can stay in their homes they love.

“It is serious. It is no-nonsense. It is hard work,” Project Homes Executive Director Lee Householder said. “I think it shows what it represents in our society what it giving back really means.”

Lots of love go into each swing of the hammer.

For Bill, he has more than 300 ramp installations like this under his tool belt and each project is completed on his own time.

“You come up to someone’s house and you see them sitting in their wheelchair looking out their front door and they cannot get out. It is priceless,” Poole said.

Bill Poole

Bill Poole

In a matter of hours the ramp takes shape and Kellie could not be more grateful. Kellie asked the crew to stop work so she could thank them personally.

“It has been very difficult getting up the steps with my legs,” Kellie Williams said. "I just want to say thank you... You guys are awesome.”

It’s this gratitude that keeps drawing Bill out in the winter’s cold or summer’s heat, helping complete strangers gain easier access to the outside world.

“It is a better paycheck than I ever got at work just knowing you’re helping somebody,” Poole said.

There is a wait list of more than 100 homeowners who requested a ramp from Project Homes. The construction crew helps homeowners across the Richmond area and volunteers build at least one ramp each week.

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