Dear Friends,

We are at that special time of the year when many of our travails are washed away in the spirit of Christmas. Certainly, we will be bombarded with the tsunami of commercialism (not to mention poor grandma and the reindeer) as the many aspects of Christmas engulf us. All of that other stuff has a way of affecting our view of the season and cluttering our field of vision. Soooo, maybe I can alter your thinking one or two degrees?

  • Make it a goal to put a Christmas twist on your next build. Have the volunteers wear red hats, decorate the handrails with red ribbons, and give our client a Santa hat. It sounds goofy, but I did that two years ago and it was well received!
  • Bring out some family members and have coffee and donuts on site. I did that, too, and the extra calories were lost in the normal Christmas food journeys. Plus, it shows your families what you are doing to remind them of our mission. Use your imagination. Maybe invite the client/family to a service at your church.
  • Or bring photos to your church to be shared with the congregation on your screens. I’m not trying to turn the holiday into a Fourth of July barbecue, just infuse some new thoughts into the process.
  • Build the biggest and most badly needed ramp regardless of when the referral was made. It will allow you to pack the site with more volunteers than normal. The key is being joyful and festive. Take plenty of photos and send to so we'll have them for future use.

Moving past that chatter, I would like to thank all of you for your steadfast support of the Texas Ramp Project and your devotion to our mission. I am truly blessed to be able to call you friends.

Wishing you and your families the happiest of holidays, and remember to send in the pictures of your Christmas builds.


Please note: NEW Email Address for John:
CBS 11 Dallas/Fort Worth to Air Parker County Build December 12
Richard Riehm, Parker County coordinator, was contacted by Laurie Pressman of CBS 11 Dallas/Fort Worth about their 11 Days of Giving campaign, which highlights 11 charities. Last week, a sponsor stepped in and offered to make a donation to whomever they would profile. TRP was chosen, and on Saturday, December 10, a reporter covered a build. The story will air on CBS 11 Dallas/Fort Worth on Monday, December 12, at 9am and 4pm, and again on the station's website. If you are not able to watch it on Monday, be sure to record it.

Important Year-End Reminder 

As we close out the year, please remember that we need all 2022 expense receipts and donations by January 10, 2023. Our auditors require that all expenses and income be booked in the proper year before the accounting books can be closed.
·       Send credit card receipts by email to Marge Oberg (
·       Send expense receipts for reimbursement to Donna Burton ( or by mail to 7702 Turnberry Lane, Dallas, TX 75248.
·       Send checks for deposit to Texas Ramp Project, P.O. Box 832065, Richardson, TX 75083-2065.
If you are holding year-end inventory, please send your completed inventory form to Donna Burton at the above address by January 10. You will be receiving instructions and the form in mid-December. For questions, please contact Donna at

Thanks so much for your help as we close out 2022!
Unsung Hero: Marge Oberg
If you purchase materials for your Texas Ramp Project region, you probably know Marge Oberg. Marge is the “saint” who wrestles 200+ credit card receipts every month, matching them to credit card statements. She has been doing this since 2014 and has been a TRP board member since 2017. Spending over the last 12 months totaled about $1.2 million, so Marge’s role is critical to the overall financial health of the Texas Ramp Project. Thank you, Marge!
Volunteer Spotlight
Les Schmaltz, Houston Region
Les Schmaltz likes to say that TRP keeps him off the streets. But he’s just kidding. He finds it hard to list all the ways the Texas Ramp Project has made his life better.
“Of course, the satisfaction of seeing so many who are prisoners in their own home set free is high on the list,” he says. Also included are working with so many people locally and statewide, seeing others join the effort, and being able to do tangible work with clear, immediate results.

[Les Schmaltz (left) with son Peter, who came from Austin in June to participate in a build]

Les got involved with TRP in 2012 as a member of Christ Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston. A few years later he stepped up to the role of coordinator, and he has been wrangling the usual challenges of securing funding and finding qualified and available team leaders ever since.
Les grew up on a fruit farm in southwest Michigan, where he learned the value of hard work and reliability. He attended local schools and graduated second in a class of 30! He attended Michigan State on a scholarship, earning engineering degrees and then hiring on with Exxon. That company transferred him to Houston for the second time in 1994, and he stayed on after retiring in 1997.
Les and his wife, Lyn, met in college and married when he was in graduate school. They have been married for 63 years. They have a daughter—a doctor who has been a medical missionary in Africa for 20+ years—and two sons, both engineers. Their 20-year-old grandson attends college in Kentucky.
Len has been a volunteer Court Appointed Child Advocate for 19 years. CASA volunteers represent and advocate for children who are in state custody due to abuse or neglect while permanent placement is determined. He is also deeply involved in his church, and he and Lyn enjoy travel, most recently following the Lewis and Clark trail on the Columbia River.

For Les, the ultimate experience with the Texas Ramp Project is “seeing the smiles (sometimes tears) on clients’ faces as we join in a prayer of thanks at the conclusion of each build.”

Just for Fun

All TRP ramp builders are very innovative and creative in solving difficult ramp building issues, but this clever German woman has us all beat with creativity and ingenuity. Thought you’d enjoy her solution to building ramps in an inaccessible city.

New TRP Board Member
Rachel Marchand
Southern Methodist University student Rachel Marchand has joined the TRP board of directors as an SMU Board Fellow. Rachel is a sophomore majoring in psychology, with minors in business and neuroscience. She plans to obtain a Ph.D. in psychology and eventually work in the nonprofit realm.

Rachel is the only native Texan in her family, having been born in Grapevine and raised with “Texas pride.” She was homeschooled and chose SMU because of its many connections to her community.
She participates in Mustang Heroes, SMU’s community service program, and is sophomore social chair of Dedman College Scholars, planning events and social activities for her scholarship program.
Because of her interest in nonprofit management, Rachel was immediately drawn to the year-long SMU Fellows program, which matches students with local nonprofits. She selected TRP because she enjoys working with older adults, having been a caretaker during high school and a current volunteer at a senior living home through Mustang Heroes. About three-fourths of TRP’s clients are age 60+.
Rachel has attended two board meetings and likes what she has seen. “My first impression of the TRP was extremely warm,” she says. “Everyone involved in TRP has a genuine heart for the community and each other. Not only is everyone extremely dedicated, but they also use their specific areas of expertise to benefit the community.”
Which is how Rachel hopes to participate during her Fellowship year. First off, she wants to learn more about how nonprofits function. She also wants to expand her interests and skill sets, build connections, and learn more about the surrounding community. And she hopes to contribute some youthful ideas and social media experience during her time on the board.
SMU Board Fellows attend all nonprofit board meetings in an ex-officio capacity and find a way to contribute to board activity. Rachel is the third SMU Board Fellow for TRP, following Madison Lopez and Natalia Martinez. Both Madison and Natalia remained on the board as full members after their fellowship year, providing leadership in social media and website development.
Grants Received
Recent Grants and Donations
  • $15,000 for Texarkana North from RAM Foundation.
  • $10,000 for Dallas from Santander Consumer USA Inc.
  • $7,500 for Dallas from M.B. & Edna Zale Foundation.
  • $5,000 for San Antonio Central from WellMed Charitable Foundation.
  • $5,000 for Bryan/College Station from Eugene Edge, III Charitable Trust.
  • $5,000 for San Antonio Central from Toyota.
  • $4,000 for Austin East from Giddings Breakfast Lions Club.
  • $3,820 for Waco South from Waco Habitat for Humanity.
  • $3,000 for Austin East from First United Methodist Men La Grange.
  • $2,000 for Texarkana North from Paris Legacy Foundation.
  • $1,750 for Dallas from Wylie UMC.
  • $1,500 for McAllen and San Antonio South from South Texas Electric Cooperative.
  • $1,260 for Austin East from Fayette County Habitat for Humanity.
  • $1,250 for Dallas from Richardson Woman’s Club.
  • $1,094 for NCT North from United Way of Wise County.
  • $1,000 for San Angelo from the Lee and Dr. Patrick Moore Charitable Fund.
  • $1,000 for Austin East from Holy Cross Lutheran Church.
  • $924 for Houston from Good Shepherd UMC Cypress.
  • $643 for Bryan/College Station from First UMC Madisonville.
  • $500 for San Antonio Central from Northwest Hills UMC.
  • $500 for Austin East from Fayette Community Foundation.
  • $400 for Austin Central from Redeemer Lutheran Church LWML Women in Mission.
  • $361 for Austin East from First UMC La Grange.
  • $250 for Austin West from Hill Country Fellowship.

Sad to Report. . .
The Texas Ramp Project has lost another of its dedicated volunteers. Jay Jennings, warehouse manager for Austin Central for many years, passed away in November. We at the Texas Ramp Project will miss this stalwart volunteer and extend our deepest condolences to Jay’s family and friends.

TRP Social Media Updates & Announcements
By Madison Lopez, Social Media Editor

Share, share, share! It's the holiday season, and we're not only sharing kindness. We're sharing the Donor Box link to all our friends, followers and family. End-of-year giving is here, so don't pass on the chance to help TRP’s donations go one step further. Single donations make a difference, and if you're up for helping TRP even more, see how many people you can encourage to become monthly givers. The process of becoming a monthly giver is simple, also processed by using the Donor Box link. 
We can't wait to see how your giving changes lives this upcoming year. It's people like you who make what we do possible. Let's continue sharing our mission online by posting about TRP and sharing TRP content.
Remember, you can use the hashtags #TexasRampProject or #TRP to share with our community. Tag us in your photos, and follow us here:

Building Basics
Module Jig Assembly
by Roy Harrington
Building Basics

Past issues of the newsletter have documented jigs for holding modules at the correct height or allowing one person to easily install the uprights that support the handrail. This issue covers jigs that simplify building the modules (or frames) that will become the ramp.

Module Assembly Jig

A module assembly jig is most beneficial for regions and/or teams that build a lot of ramps every year and prebuild the modules. But even if a team only builds a few ramps each year, a module assembly jig can be very helpful, and it’s relatively easy to build one.

The primary objective for the jig is to hold the cut lumber pieces on edge and in the correct orientation to each other. In addition, the jig can provide a work surface that holds screws, drills, mallets and any other items needed. There are a few designs in use, from simple and flexible—using a sheet of plywood with short blocks around the edge to hold the module’s perimeter boards in place—to more complex approaches that also support the interior module structure during assembly.

The simple and flexible design is basically a sheet of plywood on a bench or other support structure with short blocks added around the edge (as shown in the first picture) to support the perimeter module pieces until they can be screwed together.
One of these jigs can start with a module that has already been built. However, it is best to use untreated 2x4 or 2x6 lumber to minimize shrinkage of the jig. This jig “module” is then attached to plywood and the short support blocks added as needed where two pieces of a module will be joined. This design is not as flexible as the open plywood jig, but it does allow more working room for drills or other tools. Also, screws can be scattered in the open areas for easy use without interfering with the module assembly process. There can be blocks correctly positioned for several different module sizes (4x8, 4x4, 4x2, etc.), but it won’t be as flexible as the first jig design described in this article and won’t easily accommodate laying the lumber flat for a thinner module.

There are many opportunities to apply jigs to ramp construction to simplify the process for all volunteers involved and improve consistency between different volunteers or volunteer groups.

If you have a jig for building the modules and/or a jig for repeatably cutting the pieces of lumber to length, please send pictures and a description of what you like (or don’t like) and anything else that might be helpful to others when building their own jig. Send to
Do you have other tips or suggestions to share?

There are a lot of very good ideas developed by ramp builders across the state. Please send any questions, comments or potential ramp-construction topics to to help others build ramps better, stronger and faster.
Correction: The November Ramp of the Month was from Washington County, not Bryan/College Station. The builds in Washington County are under the leadership of Butch Meier.

RAMP OF THE MONTH: Marion County
East Texas Marshall Region

Mr. J., 58, uses both a walker and wheelchair, which were impossible to safely use because the steps to his house were so steep even his caregivers were at risk. Twelve volunteers from the First United Methodist Church in Hallsville built this 48-foot ramp with 40 hours of donated labor. There was a large crew as some of Mr. J.'s family joined in on the fun. Mr. and Mrs. J. are out with the crew enjoying the new ramp
DO: Please Pass the Newsletter On
We hope you enjoy having the newsletter sent to you directly, as it is filled with useful information, building hints and tips, data collection updates and processes, client stories, special announcements and recognitions.

The newsletter only does its job when it is dispersed and shared with all who might be interested. We encourage you to liberally pass it on to others in your region.

Also, do send email addresses of people in your region who should be receiving it, along with their name and TRP region, to Sandy Knutson at

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