Volume 5, Issue 1
December 2023
Happy New Year from John Laine
Texas Ramp Project Executive Director
Dear Friends,

I hope that you all had a great holiday season with family and friends and enjoyed a cup of coffee here and there around a breakfast table. Our lives sometimes get overrun with busy stuff and we let it crowd out the relaxing conversations that bring a bit of tranquility to our days.

We are into a new year, but I’d like you reflect a little on what you did in December for so many clients. For some of those folks that you helped you may have provided their best Christmas present – an open gateway to the outside world where they could shop for things that made their Christmases brighter. I know that sometimes I get done with a ramp build and I just want to go home and get a shower, but we should never forget that we have provided the gift of independence to our client and their caregivers.

Thank you all for what you do for others.

Happy New Year,
Christmas Builds
Please note:
John's new email address:
New Banner Dresses Up Special Events
TRP has a new banner display for use at any events at which TRP can be represented. The banner made its debut at the H-E-B Feast of Sharing in San Antonio in December. Several of the banners have been ordered.

They are easy to set up and take down, and they pack snugly in a traveling carton for shipping.

Request one for your next event! To reserve a banner, email Sandy Knutson at

Thanks to Sandy and designer Kari Daelke for producing these timely and visually appealing banners.

H-E-B Feast of Sharing 

A team from the San Antonio Central region was the first to use TRP’s new banner on December 22 at H-E-B’s Feast of Sharing. The booth was manned by region coordinator George Swarner, Stan Gross, Mary Jo Bolster and Scott Badger.
The event was an opportunity to talk with scores of people who were not aware of TRP’s services in San Antonio and tell them about the referral process. Several visitors asked how to volunteer both themselves and their organizations for a group build. Others represented nonprofits whose clients had disability needs, which may lead to referrals and donations. Meetings were arranged with several local organizations to discuss future collaborations.
H-E-B’s Feast of Sharing is a series of festive gatherings at 34 cities throughout Texas and Mexico. Launched in 1989, the event gives H-E-B an opportunity to give thanks to its customers and invites everyone to their holiday dinner table. The San Antonio event hosted nearly 6,000 guests as well as about three dozen community nonprofits to showcase their services and outreach.
H-E-B is a TRP corporate sponsor. The company has supported the San Antonio Central region through volunteers and funding for the past three years.
George Swarner (left) & Stan Gross (right) greet visitors to the TRP booth at the H-E-B Feast of Sharing.
Record Referral Year!
In 2022, TRP received 5,379 referrals from all over the state—478 per month. In contrast, we received only 4,207 referrals in the 2020 pandemic year. TRP is on a roll. With referral streams going up and lumber prices coming down, the Texas Ramp Project is poised for a banner 2023. Happy New Year!
The Value of Build Team Leaders
By Roy Harrington
It takes many different roles to run a Texas Ramp Project region. Some are in the background, dealing with database updates or ordering materials. Others are “out front” and involve publicity, fundraising and recruiting volunteers.

None of these roles is more important than the others. However, for our clients, the Build Team Leader is the person who tells them when they will get their ramp and then shows up with materials and volunteers to make it happen. On top of that, most of our volunteers will spend their volunteer hours working with a Build Team Leader.

From these perspectives, the Build Team Leader is very important and very visible, but there are behind-the-scenes responsibilities as well. To be ready for the build, the team leader must become familiar with the ramp survey information, assemble a team or confirm the build date with an assigned build team, confirm the build date with the client, acquire the materials from the lumberyard or TRP warehouse, and get the materials to the build site.
Finally, at the conclusion of the build, a completion report is needed for the TRP build statistics that are used to get funding as well as future volunteers. 

There are many team leaders across the state who can manage all these roles and responsibilities. But it can also be a shared responsibility, where two or even three individuals work together to cover the range of tasks required, from construction-related decisions to people skills for managing volunteers.

The best way to support these valuable team lead volunteers is to make sure they know how much you appreciate them, along with making sure they always have easy access to the information and resources needed to get the ramps built.

When working with build teams, always be on the lookout for members that demonstrate the skills needed to be a Build Team Leader. That way we can continue to fill this critical need and get more teams building ramps.
Looks Can Be Deceiving

On rare occasions, you’ll take a look at what appears to be a home of a wealthy person who can pay for a ramp and decide they do not qualify as a TRP client. But sometimes it requires a second look—and a bit of investigating. The following story from Rob Newman, San Angelo region coordinator, shows how this can happen. Despite all the land and the prosperous-looking ranch house, something else was going on. The ramp Rob talks about was built October 22.
Getting Back to the Ranch
by Rob Newman, San Angelo Region Coordinator
The Irion County sheriff approached the San Angelo regional coordinator for help with an urgent ramp. He had been investigating reports of neglected livestock and uncovered a serious case of elder neglect and abuse. The ranch owner was a 96-year-old bedridden woman. She was the sole heir to the ranch, had never married and had no children.

The woman was kept in an outbuilding without running water. She was locked in at night and left in bed for prolonged periods. She had no toilet facilities. The ranch foreman, who drew a massive salary, justified this to the woman by telling her it was necessary to keep her in such conditions to hide her from “the cartels.” This was despite her having several million dollars from oil and gas royalties.

Those who knew her believed that she had spent no more than five nights in her 96-year life away from the ranch. It was very much her world. Family reunions in Sanderson or organizational meetings in San Antonio—up to five hours away—she would drive back from in her younger years just to be home on her beloved ranch. There was no place in the world—despite her means—that she would rather be.

When her condition was discovered and she was rescued, she was temporarily placed in a nursing home. A new mobile home complete with handicap accessible-doorways, toilets and bathtub was ordered and promptly delivered. Daily she pressed the sheriff on when—exactly—she could return home.

Given the ranch’s location, hiring a contractor was not viable. On the fringe of the Permian Basin, all available labor was employed by oil and gas service companies. This prompted the sheriff to contact the Texas Ramp Project for help.

An attorney who had taken over the client’s affairs paid for the material, and the sheriff delivered it. A San Angelo-based crew of experienced TRP volunteers came out to build, and they were augmented by neighbors.

They built a 40-foot ramp so the woman could return home. A small deck was added so she could spend her last days looking out over the land she cherished.

The woman lived only a few months longer, but she got to spend it at home and in far better conditions. The attorney managing her estate donated $5,000 to the Texas Ramp Project in thanks and to aid others.
Building with Team USAA

Last November, the Texas Ramp Project built its first ramp in San Antonio with USAA employee volunteers. The build resulted in an extraordinary video that we can now use in our promotion efforts. The client, a 53-year-old woman, uses a power chair but could not leave home with it because there was no ramp. The 10 USAA employee volunteers built a 13-foot ramp that freed her to come and go safely. She is pictured at the end of the video.

Recent Grants and Donations

November and December were good months for gifts to TRP. Foundations and businesses rush to award their grants before the end of the year, and many individuals are generous with year-end giving to the Texas Ramp Project. Here is the list of recent donations:

  •  $25,000 for Austin South from The Mitchell Foundation.
  • $25,000 for Statewide from Ed Rachal Foundation.
  • $20,000 for Austin South Hays County from The Burdine Johnson Foundation.
  • $20,000 for Tarrant and Denton counties from Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation.
  • $20,000 for San Angelo from San Antonio Area Foundation.
  • $15,000 for San Antonio Central from DEW Foundation.
  • $15,000 for East Texas Tyler from Bob L. Herd Foundation.
  • $15,000 for McAllen from The Raul Tijerina Jr. Foundation.
  • $10,000 for Amarillo from Amarillo Area Foundation.
  • $10,000 for Texarkana North from St. Joseph’s Community Foundation.
  • $7,500 for Dallas from Vistra Corporate Services.
  • $6,000 for Bryan/College Station from the Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley.
  • $5,000 for Dallas from Stephen M. Seay Foundation.
  • $5,000 for San Antonio Central from St. Luke’s Lutheran Health Ministries.
  • $5,000 for Abilene Brown County from E.P. Woodruff Trust.
  • $5,000 for San Antonio Central from Keeley Cares, Inc.
  • $5,000 for East Texas Tyler from Tyson Properties.
  • $5,000 for Austin Central from Lola Wright Foundation.
  • $3,835 for Bryan/College Station from Brazos Valley Gives.
  • $3,350 for NCT East Hunt County from Golden K Kiwanis, Greenville.
  • $3,108 for Waco South from Waco Habitat for Humanity.
  • $3,000 for Amarillo from Josephine Anderson Charitable Trust.
  • $3,000 for Corpus Christi from First UMC.
  • $2,000 for Statewide from ONEOK.
  • $2,000 for Dallas from Army Residence Community Protestant Chapel.
  • $1,500 for Dallas from Frost Bank.
  • $1,500 for San Antonio Central from Oak Hills Church.
  • $1,250 for Abilene from Tegna Foundation.
  • $1,200 for Abilene from Bethel Lutheran Women of the ELCA.
  • $1,070 for Austin North from Christ Lutheran Church.
  • $1,000 for Abilene Brown County from Tom & Lillian Wilkinson Trust.
  • $1,000 for Dallas from Weyerhauser.
  • $1,000 for Abilene Scurry County from Snyder Lions Club.
  • $750 for Bryan/College Station from Chilifest, Inc.
  • $600 for East Texas Tyler from Ed & Mary Heath Foundation.
  • $500 for Amarillo from Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church.
  • $250 for East Texas Emory from Lake County Classics Car Club.
  • $200 for San Antonio Northeast from Canyon Lake United Methodist Men.
  • $184 for Austin West from First UMC Marble Falls.
  • $50 for East Texas Tyler from Garden Valley Baptist Church.
Lighting a Fire in Michigan
TRP Social Media Slideshow
By Madison Lopez, Social Media Editor
2022 was a social year, and we are just getting started! Check out these insights to see how our TRP community engaged online this past year. 
You helped TRP social media pages reach 5,331 individuals online.
  • Over 40 organizations across Texas posted about their builds on social media.
  • More individuals posted about TRP on their own than ever before.
  • TRP’s Facebook hit a milestone of 2,300 page likes.
  • Word spread online about TRP through over 10 local news outlet stories.
As we step into a new year, the same request stands: Take photos with smiles and bright colors! Post your pictures! Make sure to include the location and details of your build! And continue posting our link to make a donation. It all makes a difference. 
These photos and posts throughout 2022 helped spread the word about TRP, and we can’t wait to see the reach we will have in 2023. 
See below for some of our favorite 2022 photo memories, posted by you.
Quorum Architects
YMSL Dallas Area
Rebecca Creek
Remember, you can use the hashtags #TexasRampProject or #TRP to share with our community. Tag us in your photos, and follow us here:
Texas Area Agencies on Aging
on the Move
To expand our funding base, TRP is working hard to improve revenue streams in the form of fee-for-service payments from Texas Area Agencies on Aging. Keith Henderson, a new board member, has secured 16 contracts to date from Texas AAAs, with a 17th one pending. The AAAs and their corresponding regions are as follows:

  • Alamo Area –San Antonio Central, Northeast, Northwest, South
  • Bexar County – San Antonio Central (Bexar County)
  • Ark-Tex – Texarkana North, East, West
  • Capital Area – Austin Central, North, South, East, West
  • Central Texas – Temple/Belton
  • Dallas – Dallas County
  • Deep East Texas – Lufkin
  • East Texas – East Texas Longview, Tyler, Emory, Jacksonville, Marshall, Athens, Van Zandt
  • Heart of Texas – Waco North and South
  • North Texas – Wichita Falls
  • Panhandle – Amarillo
  • Permian Basin – Permian Basin
  • Rio Grande – El Paso
  • South Plains – Lubbock
  • Tarrant County – Tarrant
  • West Central Texas – Abilene

Keith will be in touch with area coordinators for the affected regions with details on working with the AAAs. With few exceptions, the contracted rate is $40 per linear foot. Reimbursement is made upon receipt of an invoice. If you have questions, contact Keith at
Year-End In-Kind Gifts
Region Coordinator Kay Geurin (center) with the McCoy's gang.
McCoy’s Building Supply in San Marcos has awarded TRP a credit of $5,000 to be used for materials purchases in Hays, Caldwell, Comal and Guadalupe counties. Coordinator Kay Geurin says McCoy’s continues to provide excellent service and free delivery to the region’s warehouses.

McCoy’s staff, including manager Brandon Gray, sent personal greetings to Kay in a holiday card.
TRP’s Dallas region also received in-kind materials donations of $4,989 from Operation Finally Home to be used for ramps for veterans and $1,800 from ToyotAbility, which purchased lumber for their last build and piggybacked on our order from Lowe's to provide materials for a future build.

RAMP OF THE MONTH: Nueces County
Corpus Christi Region

A team of seven volunteers from First United Methodist Church in Corpus Christi built this 24-foot ramp for Mr. Manuel M., 68 years old and a dialysis patient. The social worker from Davita Corpus Christi recognized Manuel’s need for a new ramp. His existing one was too dangerous for him to use with his walker. The volunteers spent a total of 28 hours to provide Manuel with the safe access he needed.
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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