As we move into cooler weather at last, I would like to remind everyone of the importance of reporting your builds in a timely manner. Your hard work must be logged in, and our internal records need to reflect your work properly. The easiest way to “lose” a build is to postpone your data entry, increasing the risk of forgetting to do so.
If you could use more builders, don’t forget about Young Men’s Service League (YMSL). These young men and their moms participate in service projects in several major Texas cities. Dallas and Austin are making effective use of this resource, and it is available in elsewhere. The YMSL website,, has a list of chapters.
These are NOT one-shot wonders, but rather helpers who return month after month and will gain experience as they build.

Also, with fall upon us, we need to re-contact those aging volunteers who struggle with the summer heat. If you don’t recapture them, you may lose them forever. The combination of YMSL kids and senior volunteers is a real winner.
Enjoy the fall,
T-Shirts, 2XL Still Available

We have more “100 Miles of Freedom” T-shirts for your volunteers, but in size 2XL only. The shirts are a great visual when you're out and about in the community and on build sites. There's no doubt as to who we are.
To order 2XL shirts, please email your request to Include your name, complete mailing address, phone number, and number of shirts.
Volunteer Spotlight

Randy Kerkman: Coordinator, Austin Central Region
Service is what Randy Kerkman is all about. He retired in 2018 after 43 years as Director of Christian Education at three Texas churches, with deep involvement in caring not only for young people but also for the community. So it was little wonder that Randy stepped up as point person for the Austin Central region earlier this year.
Randy was recruited back in 2006 by Kurt Richter, the initial area coordinator for the Austin Ramp Project, and since then has led the team from Redeemer Lutheran Church in more than 200 builds. Randy had joined the Redeemer staff in 1989 as head of junior high youth and Community Cares ministries. Prior to that he had served churches in Bryan and Houston.

One of the joys of his work with youth, Randy says, was taking them on mission trips. With Community Care, he served as the staff person responsible for involving members with Feed My People and Interfaith Hospitality Network (two programs of Foundation for the Homeless); Habitat for Humanity; Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN); Drive-a-Senior North Central Austin; and the Texas Ramp Project.

Since 2006 the Austin region has provided more than 1,500 ramps. Randy credits his great team of folks who take on specific roles (ordering materials, prebuilding modules, tackling the “short stuff,” surveying and designing ramps, entering data into the database). He contacts individuals who wish to be involved with TRP and connects them with team leaders. His biggest challenge, not surprisingly, is searching for funding.
Randy grew up in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from Concordia Teachers College (River Forest Illinois), now Concordia University Chicago with a B.A. in elementary education and certification as a Director of Christian Education. He and his wife, Sandra, have been married for 37 years. Their son lives and works in Austin and occasionally helps with ramp construction.
Randy enjoys gardening, playing 42, men’s ministry activities at Redeemer, and small group Bible studies. His service extends to donating blood platelets every two weeks. He has reached the 75+ gallon mark!
Randy built with Habitat for Humanity for 10 years before joining Texas Ramp Project. He shares a sentiment with many other Texas Ramp Project volunteers. “What I like about TRP,” he says, “is that you immediately see the results of your effort and the joy that clients have with their new ramp.”
Grants Received

More Funding from Electric Coop

Brad Bierstedt, general manager of Karnes Electric Cooperative, Inc., presents a $5,000 check to San Antonio Central area coordinator George Swarner and local build leader David Teel on September 18. A Karnes Electric grant of $2,500 was matched by their financial partner, CoBank, for a total of $5,000. Electric cooperatives continue to be a rich source of funding for local TRP regions. Many coops also supply volunteer build teams.
New Grants and Donations
Many thanks to the following contributors in September:
  • $10,000 for Dallas from Toyota.
  • $10,000 for Waco South from the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation.
  • $5,000 for East Texas Tyler from the End-Right Foundation.
  • $4,000 for Dallas from the Kiwanis Club of Mckinney.
  • $2,500 for Waco South from Heart of Texas Electric Cooperative.
  • $2,000 for San Antonio Northeast from Cranes Mill Baptist Church Canyon Lake.
  • $1,600 for Abilene from Colonial Hill Baptist Church Snyder.
  • $1,156 for Austin Central from First UMC Elgin.
  • $1,431 for East Texas Marshall from New Destinations.
  • $1,000 for San Antonio Northeast from First UMC Seguin.
  • $1,000 for North Central Texas South from First UMC Waxahachie.
  • $1,000 for East Texas Tyler from Martin Product Sales LLC.

John Laine - Executive Director
For John Laine, service and mission go hand in hand. Throw in leadership, recruiting skills, passion and a lot of vision, and you can grow a small venture into a million-dollar organization.
John grew up on a farm in Putnam County, New York, and graduated in a high school class of 89 students. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University and an ROTC commission, he found himself at Fort Lewis, Washington. The Vietnam War was raging, but John ended up spending his entire tour of duty at Fort Lewis, where he commanded an infantry training company. As John says, “Where else does a 21-year-old lead a group of 300 soldiers and noncoms?”
His tour concluded, John returned to New York to work for a company called HeliCoil. In 1977, the company sent him to the Dallas area as regional manager for the southeastern United States. Opening up the region for his company provided valuable experience for what was to come.
In Texas, John began his many years of service with the Kiwanis Club of Richardson. In 1985, members were asked to build a wheelchair ramp for a friend. That initial effort, and the next, and the next, resulted in the Dallas Ramp Project and development of a system for providing wheelchair ramps to low-income people with disabilities in Dallas County, at no cost to the recipient. John was the volunteer manager for over 15 years.
“Our goal in the 1990s was to build one ramp a month, and eventually we got there,” John says. “It was like a mist became a shower and begat a downpour.”
Twenty years after that first ramp, the Dallas Ramp Project had built over 1,400 ramps. Agencies and organizations across Texas were taking note and asking how to participate. It became obvious to John that the entire state could benefit from this volunteer ramp-building model.

As a result, in 2006 John founded the Texas Ramp Project and started working beyond Dallas. Initial forays were made into large population centers such as Austin and San Antonio, but eventually smaller population centers were included. In 2012, the Dallas Ramp Project folded into the Texas Ramp Project. Today, TRP has a presence in over 40 regions and last year built ramps in 110 Texas counties.
How do you build a volunteer force that takes you to over 21,000 ramps in a three-decade span?
“The DRP and TRP have been successful because the work takes about half a day,” says John. “This is critical because time away from family must be minimized and because our results are very tangible and the skills needed are minimal. Anyone who helps to build a ramp can immediately see the benefit to the client and caregiver.”
John’s vision is still at play. He believes that the future of his work lies in expansion throughout the U.S. “The need exists everywhere, and demographically the need will only grow with the graying of America,” he says.
John and his wife, Nancy, have two sons and twin granddaughters who live in Charlotte. He enjoys travel, especially to Finland, where he has relatives and two exchange sons who are basically uncles to his granddaughters. The girls have accompanied John to Finland multiple times.
John’s sense of service and mission are summed up this way: “Personally, I believe that God gave each of us skills, and our job is to learn what those skills are and to use them to help others. I have been given certain skills that seem to blend well with the TRP and allow me to help others. It is a blessing for me to have had this work put into my path.”

TPR Style
By Madison Lopez, Social Media Editor
With bright photos of smiling faces and excitement from volunteers, TRP social media is thriving across all platforms. This month, we want to turn your attention to social media etiquette, "TRP-style." The work we do profoundly impacts people of all walks of life.

Many clients' stories evoke deep empathy as we are reminded of the blessings we often take for granted, including, but not limited to, mobility freedom and a sense of independence.
As TRP's work touches on deep issues at an individual level, it is always important for our volunteers to stay considerate and sensitive on social media when highlighting the impactful projects they work on with TRP.
Our volunteers have been amazing in showcasing on social media the proud work of ramp-building, and we want to keep that momentum going. As such, here are a few "TRP-style" social media etiquette reminders:

  • Stay positive with your messaging on social media. Aim to use affirmative language that highlights the positive impact the project had on you.
  • If you share a piece of the client's story, remember to do so with sensitive and caring language. We want to make sure we share from a place of humility and kindness. Also, remember to share the town or region in which the build took place. This helps to humanize the social media post and make it more relatable to audiences. But remember, never use the client’s name.
  • If you share a video with music, be sure the music is positive and encouraging, so as to represent TRP in the most positive light.
  • Aim to capture photos of smiling faces and groups enjoying volunteering together.

Remember, you can use the hashtags #TexasRampProject or #TRP to share with our community. Tag us in your photos, and follow us here:

Facebook: Texas Ramp Project 
LinkedIn: Texas Ramp Project 
Instagram: @tx_ramp_project

Building Basics
Designing Jigs for Uprights
by Roy Harrington
Building Basics

This month’s column looks at creating jigs for installing uprights along with an additional handrail design for you to consider

As always, I welcome any feedback you may have on these options or on my analysis as we search for best practices to share with all our build teams. Send questions or comments to
Creating a jig for installing uprights

Gary Poe is a team leader in Scurry County in our Abilene region. Their team has created a jig for installing uprights that has proven to be very useful and time-saving. As you can see in the pictures below, their prototypes were built out of some scrap C Perlin and angle iron, but square tubing, etc. could also be used. The picture above shows the jig being used by one team member to install an upright.

Gluing on the end cap

Gary Poe also submitted this final suggestion. When attaching the ¾”x48” shelf standard (see the June newsletter) he recommends using Gorilla Glue (water activated) in between the shelf standard and the edge of the plywood to strengthen the joint and help seal the plywood edge. In addition to the glue, they use #8 X 2.5" deck screws. The glue foams up and seals very well.
An additional handrail design for your consideration
This additional design is used by Fred Martin who coordinates builds in Kendall country (Boerne) and eastern Bandera County (Bandera and Pipe Creek).

What tips and tricks do you have?
Please let me know if you have found a way to build ramps better, stronger or faster that might help other teams in the state. But given the recent lumber prices, there is a lot to be said for the less-expensive options. Help us figure out which of these may be best, or suggest other designs you have used along with their pros and cons.

Send your comments suggestions or other ideas to

But given the recent lumber prices, there is a lot to be said for the less expensive options. Help us figure out which of these may be best, or suggest other designs you have used along with their pros and cons.
Click on image below for building a Jig for installing uprights and the new handrail design
Lumber Costs Still a Concern
Lumber prices remain higher than the pre-pandemic prices of 2019. We have had reports that lumber costs have come down in some of the TRP regions. This is good news, but it is still important to identify those shorter ramps as we were doing in late 2020 and into 2021 to make our funding go farther.
And we're not out of the woods yet. An October 2 article in the Wall Street Journal indicated that lumber prices have had a 40% increase since August and on-the-spot sales prices are up 27%.
Still, analysts and industry executives predict that the cost of lumber will not be going “into orbit" as it did earlier in the year.

Let us know what is happening with the cost of lumber in your region by emailing Peter Heinkel at

It will help us build a picture of how lumber costs are affecting TRP statewide and give us the information needed to support requests for increased funding and our ability to meet the referral needs

RAMP OF THE MONTH: Wichita County, Wichita Falls Region

Ms. Lilly P., 63, of Wichita Falls, has a condition requiring her to use a cane. Lilly's home has three steps, which made it difficult for her to safely come and go from her home. Thirteen volunteers from Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and the Sheppard AFB Navy Seabees students donated 21 hours of labor in building Lilly's 16-foot ramp. The client was referred by her physician. This may be one of the first partnerships with the Seabees—hopefully the first of many.
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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