Volume 5, Issue 3
March 2023

Message from John Laine
Executive Director Texas Ramp Project

Dear Friends,

In 1985 I set out on a journey that was to become much more than I understood when I participated with other Kiwanians to build a ramp in the Pleasant Grove section of Dallas. It wasn’t a long or difficult ramp, but it seemed to bring hope to the recipient and the family. As you are all aware, hope is a marvelous thing to give away to someone, and I have enjoyed that feeling for 38 years.

While I probably should have done this earlier, it has been something that I resisted doing for a variety of reasons. My retirement will become effective at the end of this year. It is my desire to keep building ramps, but it will likely become sporadic.

My association with all of you builders continues to be an honor and privilege, and I know that this torch will be in strong and capable hands moving forward with our Board leading the way. I thank you all for your selfless service to the elderly and disabled clients whom we serve to carry forward our vision: "No one in Texas who needs a wheelchair ramp should go without one because they cannot afford it."

Wishing you the best,


New Youth Mission Partnership on the Way This Summer

This summer TRP will partner with Humanitarian Experience (HXP), a youth mission organization, to build 40 to 50 ramps in TRP’s McAllen region. They will work with coordinator Alan Moore, his regional team leaders, and volunteer team leaders from other TRP regions.

For most of its 23 years in operation, HXP has focused on serving communities outside the United States, but in the last few years they have included a limited number of domestic locations, including Texas. At each location, they partner with a nonprofit, such as TRP, that provides the service opportunities, materials, tools and training for the youth mission teams.

Each week from June 5 through early August, HXP will have a new team of 12 youth and four adults ready to build ramps. Alan and his dedicated team leaders have committed to lead one day each week, which covers four of the five workdays. To minimize the chance of being limited by supplies, McCoy’s Building Supply has agreed to maintain two to three weeks of ramp materials in their yard designated for this project. HXP will reimburse up to $30,000, which will cover about half the estimated cost of these materials.
As the start date gets closer, Alan will begin working closely with area referral sources to build up enough of a backlog to keep the teams busy each week. Fortunately, we already expect an increase in Brownsville referrals because the city is increasing accessibility inspections. The region also includes Harlingen and McAllen and their surrounding communities, which will provide additional referrals.

This is an exciting opportunity for TRP which, if successful, may be repeated in McAllen or in other TRP regions in future years. However, it is a significant commitment of both volunteer and financial resources, so we will have to see how this first summer goes. We will learn everything we can about supporting this level of intensity for a little over two months of ramp building, five days a week.

Help will be needed from other TRP regions. Some additional team leaders will be required from June 5 to August 11, particularly the week of July 10–14. If you are a team leader who is interested and available for any part of this time, please email, and we will match up all volunteer schedules with the needs.
Atchley Chiropractic Honors TRP
Dr. Kevin Atchley, his staff, and the Texas Legends basketball team recognized the work of the Texas Ramp Project with a $2,500 check at the team's March 9 game in Frisco. Employees from the Atchley Chiropractic Centers followed up by building two ramps the following Saturday. Dr. Atchley supports numerous organizations in the North Texas community. Displaying the check are TRP president Garner McNett (left) and Dallas region coordinator Gary Stopani.
Volunteer Spotlight
Victoria North Region Team
Pictured left to right at this ramp built in Cuero last June are (left to right) Darryl O’Bryant, Mark Kortokrax, Hallettsville UMC Men’s Group team leader Dick Nance, Tina O’Bryant, and two volunteers from Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Yoakum
How do you pull together a team and make it work? Here’s how Mark Kortokrax and Darryl O’Bryant did it, although they are quick to credit everyone else. Still, the two members of Shiner United Methodist Church just really clicked, and the three counties—DeWitt, Gonzales and Lavaca—of the Victoria North Region are off to a running start.

Mark actually credits another Shiner UMC member, Clarence Littlefield, with bringing him to a Methodist Men’s Conference in 2019, where they learned about the Texas Ramp Project. Mark was immediately drawn to the project. Construction was modest in 2020 and 2021. But then Clarence enlisted Darryl, and Pastor Darin Zumwalt of Shiner UMC became involved. The project blossomed to 29 ramps in 2022. In 2023, they will up that number to 34.

Early funding was from TRP and the local Area Agency on Agency. When money dried up because of the pandemic, the church and GVEC, the local electric cooperative, stepped up. Then in July 2022 a generous grant came from the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation. Funding was assured.

Although Darryl looks to Mark as the leader, the two work hand-in-hand. They have recruited two team leaders, Dick Nance of Hallettsville UMC Men’s Group and Charles Slaskey of Ranger Gate Company of Yoakum.
These two groups do the majority of the work. Other volunteers have come from Shiner UMC, Shiner Rotary Club, Cuero Knights of Columbus, and Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Yoakum.

“This program,” says Darryl, “has become a truly community-wide effort.”

Both Darryl and Mark are recently retired. Darryl, a Texas native and Texas A&M graduate, worked as a project manager in the oil and gas industry. Mark was raised in the Chicago area and is a graduate of San Diego State University. He has just started substitute teaching in grades 3–5 in Gonzales and is loving it.

Mark and his wife, Stella, have four grandchildren. Darryl and his wife, Tina, have a six-month-old granddaughter. Tina can often be found at the build site alongside Darryl.

Providing ramps for people who need them is most gratifying for both these key volunteers. Mark puts it this way: “The best part is winning the client’s trust during the survey. They know we will build them a sound and correct ADA-compliant ramp.”

And Darryl adds, “The response from our clients is the most rewarding thing you can ever experience.”
The Ranger Gate Company has been a key volunteer group for Victoria North. Shown with the client and his wife at this build in January 2023 are team leader Charles Slaskey and his wife, Felicia (at left), Clarence Littlefield (fourth from right), Darryl O’Bryant (in camo shirt next to Clarence), and three Ranger Gate employees.

How many of these Region Coordinators did you identify from February's Newsletter?

Ramp Data Collection and
Reporting Responsibility
by Roy Harrington
"Garbage In = Garbage Out"

Think about the kinds of questions individuals or groups ask when they learn about the Texas Ramp Project. Often, they want to know how many ramps have been built this year or how many are normally built per year or how much it costs to build a ramp. These questions can only be answered if the information has been collected.

For these questions and for most of the funding requests made to foundations and other organizations, there is a critical need for current, complete and accurate information on the ramps built by TRP in every region. Ultimately, it is the Region Coordinator’s responsibility; however, the data collection and reporting tasks can be delegated to another volunteer. Most of the information needed is at least initially collected by the surveyor and build team leader. 
First, the results of the survey need to be reported. This information ranges from basics like survey date, availability of power, and the site shade conditions to a detailed description of the planned ramp design. These all need to be reported in the state database along with an update of the ramp status from “Referral” to “Survey.” Then, as soon as possible after the ramp is built, the build team leader needs to report details such as the build date, final ramp length (if different from the survey), number of volunteers, team leader, source of volunteers, and total volunteer hours contributed (man-hours). All of this information needs to be collected by a region volunteer and then recorded in the TRP database or emailed to Vanessa Baker for database entry.

When reviewing the work done in the various TRP regions, there are often cases where reported information doesn’t make sense, such as money being spent in a region but no completed ramps being reported. It is difficult or impossible to use the information to get necessary funding to continue building ramps. It necessitates a time-consuming follow-up call in an effort to get the correct information.

Missing or incorrect data in a given region can even affect other regions, because funding sources are also interested in our statewide activity. In addition, important milestones like “100 Miles of Freedom” or “20,000 Ramps Built” are based on the information in the database. With many uses and many users across the state, the key is to have current, complete and accurate data.

If you want to support the Texas Ramp Project but aren’t interested in actually building ramps, or if you know someone who isn’t able to go out and build, there are many “non-building” volunteer opportunities available. The data collection and reporting responsibility is a good fit for someone who likes working with information instead of, or in addition to, power tools. Being detail-oriented and having a desire to report the region’s successes in the form of ramp completions are other important characteristics.

Data reporting is one of many ways you can assist the Texas Ramp Project. If you are interested in contributing to your region’s success through this type of work, contact your regional coordinator, or Sandy Knutson or any board member for more information.

Welcome aboard!
Not Quite Ready for Prime Time
Updated Building Basics Handbook
The updated Building Basics handbook will be available for your use in your regions. It can be a handy guide as you train new teams as well as refreshing seasoned teams with time tested tips and tools. We will continue to add to this handbook as you send in your ideas and techniques.
Recent Grants and Donations
February grant awards and donations were dominated by individuals. Other donations include the following:

  • $7,500 for Dallas from Sparks Osteopathic Foundation.
  • $5,409 for Austin West from Hill Country Fellowship.
  • $2,750 for Dallas and Austin West from Texas Instruments Foundation.
  • $2,000 for Austin West from Eugene and Charlotte Broadway Charitable Fund.
  • $1,722 for Waco South from Waco Habitat for Humanity.
  • $1,000 for NCT North Parker County from Albertsons Companies Foundation.
  • $938 for Houston from Good Shepherd Church Cypress.
  • $900 for Waco South from Heart of Texas Council of Governments.
  • $779 for Dallas from First United Methodist Church Richardson.
  • $725 for Dallas from King of Glory Lutheran Church.
  • $700 for Austin East from St. James Episcopal Church La Grange.
  • $500 for Austin West from Rotary International Marble Falls.
  • $499 for Amarillo from Panhandle Regional Planning Commission.
  • $378 for Austin West from The Church at Horseshoe Bay.

Did you know in 2022?
  • 7  regions built ½ of the ramps
  • 20 regions built 80%

  • 8  regions spent ½ of ramp cost
  • 19 regions spent 80%

  • At the end of February 2023, we've exceeded 24,000 ramps
Smile, You're On Candid Camera
By Madison Lopez, Social Media Editor
Here’s your regular reminder to stand in front of the camera and grin for TRP photos. Your smiling faces communicate our love for the community and for the work we do. A big smile on camera can go a long way. It tells a joyful story of volunteerism and puts a friendly face to our brand. Plus, smiling is good for you! So, grab a build buddy and take a few snaps throughout the build process.

We know that builds can get busy, but before you ever put a hammer to a nail, make sure to also snap a "before" photo. Everyone loves a good "before and after" comparison. It shows the hard work you and your team put in, and it also helps us showcase to others the type of work we do. These photos create a visual history of our builds, and they work to showcase the impact the ramps have on real people's lives. 

Your building makes a difference and so does your smile! 

Remember to give us a follow on all of our social media platforms. Tag a friend, post a comment, and share your own TRP photos. 

(Before and after photos courtesy of Brittani Wray Hinders, Amarillo Region, via Instagram. Go Brittani!)
Remember, you can use the hashtags #TexasRampProject or #TRP to share with our community. Tag us in your photos, and follow us here:

Ignite Texas and TRP Austin Team Up

Dick Fink, team leader with Austin Central, led a build on a recent Saturday with a group of college/young adults from Ignite Texas. Ignite Texas is a student organization that connects incoming University of Texas and Austin Community College freshmen and transfer students to Christian community at UT and throughout Austin.
Ignite Texas conducts a four-day summer retreat for the incoming students that helps them find friends and grow in their faith. This retreat, and the follow-up afterwards during their first semester at UT or ACC, provides students with community before arriving on campus. It also gives them the tools they need to seek spiritual growth during their time in Austin.
One of the Ignite Texas volunteers had this response to his first experience with the Texas Ramp Project.
A Volunteer’s Story
By Thang Truong
This was my first time building a ramp, and I felt incredibly grateful for all the amazing people I had the pleasure of working with, including my wonderful build leader. 
Coming into this project, I have a lot of knowledge and skills gaps, such as, I had never used a power driver before. However, everyone eagerly helped and taught me how to use the tool effectively. Thanks to the build leader’s clear and direct guidance, the project was executed smoothly and without hiccups. By the end, I became really proficient with the tools, and I am excited to apply my newfound skills to future projects.
Moreover, I want to express my gratitude to Ignite Texas for giving me such an amazing opportunity to serve the Austin community and spread love and kindness. Through the project, I learned that it does not really take much to make someone's day, and sometimes all you need is a willingness to learn and assist other people. 
Helping out in this project gives me a great sense of purpose, bringing me closer to God and deepening my personal connection with him. It is really encouraging to witness a group of college students who can devote their time and work with each other to serve those in need. This really contradicts what we are usually told—that we need to maximize our time and make use of every second for our academic achievements or employment pursuits.
Overall, the experience is such an impactful and positive one that really helps build character and expand one's love for others. 

RAMP OF THE MONTH: Travis County
Austin Central Region

Maria V., 71, of Austin has multiple disabling conditions that affect her ability to walk without the use of a walker. She had two steps at her front door that were difficult to safely navigate with her walker. So a social worker from Seton Home Care made a referral, and a team of 13 volunteers from the Ignite Texas responded, led by TRP team leader Dick Fink.

Hopefully, this ramp will be the first of many this team of college students will build with TRP. The team donated 52 hours of labor to provide Ms. V.'s 18-foot 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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