On Nov. 15, the nonprofit Texas Ramp Project celebrated the installation of 100 miles of wheelchair ramps for their “100 Miles of Freedom” campaign to nearly 20,000 recipients across the state, but they didn’t stop there. The San Antonio part of the organization reached out to a veteran in Sinton to make sure he would be taken care of when he needed it most.

When Leonardo Cantu’s daughter, and former Sinton High School Homecoming Queen, Donna came down for a funeral a few weeks ago from Hendersonville, Tennessee, her father nearly fell on the front porch, so she knew something had to be done. She found out about the Texas Ramp Project online and applied through WellMed and then received a call that they would be more than happy to help out.

“This is an opportunity for this whole area to begin something new and unite as a community to help the veterans, because they’re the ones who are in need,” D. Cantu said. “They fought for our freedom. I think it’s fantastic when these opportunities come into this area. And it doesn’t matter what race, it’s for all people. We’re all alike.”

Texas Ramp Project San Antonio organizer Roland Guzman said, “We’re from San Antonio and came to build this ramp here in San Patricio County and Home Depot jumped into it and said they would help fund it.” 

The organization hasn’t reached San Patricio or Nueces counties, but is known throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area and reaches all the way down to the valley, so funding wasn’t available for the local ramp project.

Once again, that didn’t stop Guzman from reaching out to get some local support.

The Calallen Home Depot not only gave them materials for the ramp, they also donated materials to fix the back porch which was falling apart and unsafe. Employees were also sent to Sinton under their Team Depot banner to help install the ramp.

Home Depot employee Jennifer Zapata said, “We have a Team Depot program, so we help veterans or people in our community that need help and Texas Ramp reached out to us and asked if we can do a grant to help with Mr. Cantu’s ramp. Some associates volunteered their time to help assist with building, even though we’re learning.

“I have two employees that know how to use power tools,” she laughed, “so we’re learning – it’s a learning project.”

She said that Team Depot usually has numerous projects they help out with during the year, but with the pandemic the program was shut down. This ramp project was the first one they’ve been able to do all year.

The Texas Ramp Project began operations in 2006 as an evolution from the Dallas Ramp Project. The nonprofit has built ramps across the state of Texas to serve those in financial need. The ramps are provided without regard to age, gender, religion, race or ethnicity. 

They are always free to recipients.

The organization said every ramp provides safety, independence and an improved quality of life for its recipient, caregivers and family. Most ramps cost from $700 to $800 to build, which is about one-third that of a typical retail contractor installation.

The Texas Ramp Project is able to keep costs low thanks to an all-volunteer organization with only one full-time employee.

Local businesses also stepped up with South Texas Radiator donating water and Gatorade, Whataburger Manager Christopher Calbo donated burgers and fries for the workers lunch and of course Home Depot donated supplies and workers.

Guzman, who is also a native to Sinton, added, “We try to help out the veterans in communities get assistance. Texas Ramp was great for helping us reach out into this area so that we were able to give back to our community.

“This is something new in this area here so we hope that we get a good response and pick up some funding here so we can build some more. 

“There’s a lot of people in the area that need it, so we’re trying to get started and hopefully this is the first of many.”

The Texas Ramp Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For more information about the Texas Ramp Project, to refer a client, or to make a donation, visit www.texasramps.org.

The group began at eight o’ clock last Tuesday and, by noon, the ramp was nearly complete and the work on the back porch had just begun when the man himself stepped out of his home to see the work that had been done.

“I’m so grateful,” L. Cantu said. “Words can’t express how grateful I am.”

•pgonzales@mysoutex.com•

 

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