Until a caseworker learned of their plight, Shane Riley was using car ramps to get his wheelchair-bound mother in and out of their Hillsboro home. But then Habitat for Humanity of Highland County and a local probation officer stepped in.
“A lot of people think Habitat just builds homes, but it was a very unsafe situation for her , the board discussed it and thought we could help her out with that,” said Tiffany Faust, executive director of Habitat of Humanity of Highland County. “We were able to build a custom ramp that has helped her safely enter and leave her home without having to worry about the possibility of falling down her steps. Habitat for Humanity of Highland County is so grateful to have the opportunity to serve the amazing people of this county.”
Habitat spent just under $1,000 for the materials to build a wooden ramp with rails leading from the front door of the home where Shane Riley lives with his mother, Sherry Riley. Then Rob Jackson, the chief probation officer for Highland County Juvenile Court, built the ramp.
“He done an excellent job,” said Shane Riley, who serves as the caretaker of his mother. “It provided safety for us and gave mom back some of her independence.”
Shane said his mother was left partially paralyzed on her left side from a 2013 stroke and that he was emotional when he learned Habitat was going to install a ramp.
“I was ecstatic honestly. It was like a prayer had been answered,” he said. “We had been using car ramps to get her out of the home and it was quite unsafe.”
Faust said that Highland County Habitat’s longterm goal remains building a home in Lynchburg’s Glenavy Hills Subdivision, where a lot has been donated to the organization. She said the board members would like to build the house this year, but she can’t say exactly when it will happen. She said that while a lot of the building materials are donated to Habitat, it never knows exactly what will be donated.
So far, Faust said, Habitat has raised about $20,000 of the estimated $50,000 to $60,000 needed to build the home.
Habitat for Humanity of Highland County works in partnership with people in need to build and renovate decent, affordable housing. The houses then are sold to those in need at no profit and with no interest charged.
Faust said Habitat has constructed five homes since the Highland County organization originated in 2000. The most recent one was in Greenfield.
Volunteers provide most of the labor and individual and corporate donors provide money and materials to build Habitat houses, according to the Highland County Habitat website. Partner families themselves invest hundreds of hours of labor – or what Habitat calls “sweat equity” – into building their home and the homes of others. Their mortgage payments go into a revolving fund for Humanity that is used to build more homes.
Highland County Habitat is part of a global, nonprofit housing organization operated on Christian principles that seeks to put God’s love into action by building homes, communities and hope, the website says.
Anyone interested in volunteering or donating to Highland County Habitat can call 937-403-1257 or visit its Facebook page or website at www.highlandhabitat.org.
While Faust said Habitat is grateful to serve the people of Highland County, Shane Riley said the opposite is also true.
“It’s a really, really nice ramp and they didn’t spare any expense in doing it,” he said. “I’m just happy to share in the work because I was truly blessed. And I’m really glad there’s people out there that do this kind of thing.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.