Nonprofits partner with contractor to build wheelchair ramp for family

Jacksonville family gets new ramp after home's access ramp collapsed

By Lena Pringle - Reporter/Anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The James Russell Fund, Builders Care and Summit Contracting Group joined forces to build a brand-new wheelchair accessible ramp for a Jacksonville family.

"There's no words. There's just absolutely no way to thank them enough. I mean my child is severely disabled and there's no way I could possibly do this myself," said mother Vicki Smith, the homeowner. 

The act of generosity comes after Smith recently collapsed through the family's home access ramp.

"People take access in and out of their homes for granted. For instance, for Vicki, when she fell through the ramp, now all of a sudden her whole life is unstable because she doesn't want to go out, doesn't want her daughter to go out of the house. Handicap accessibility is huge and we see it as a problem. The city has a yearlong waiting list," said Justin Brown, executive director of Builders Care.

The nonprofit provides critical home repairs to low-income residents. The organization has helped many people throughout Northeast Florida fixed several things in their homes. Builders Care's ultimate goal is to provide home reconstruction to people who wouldn't be able to afford it. 

"There's issues like this all throughout Jacksonville and there's a lot of people that need help and they can't really do much about it. So it's just great raising awareness for that to help people with these issues. You know, help them have a healthier life and not get injured trying to get into their homes," said Bryan Bennett, director of public relations at Summit Contracting Group Inc. 

While this is the first time these three organizations have worked together, James Russell is no stranger to community service. Russell is 22 years old and had cerebral palsy since he was born, but he doesn't let that slow him down. He believes in putting his community first, which is why he created his nonprofit organization. The James Russell Foundation was completed to help the community in any and every way. 

"The city of Jacksonville, helped me out so much. So I want to give back to my community," said Russell, president of the James Russell Fund. "I want more people to have access to get into their home."

The funds for this project were raised through a silent auction and volunteers from all three organizations donated their time for the labor. Through that silent auction, there was enough money raised to rebuild five more ramps. 

"I'm just really really grateful," Smith said.

Organizations like these are making the community better one project at a time. 

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