Local chapter of Texas Ramp Project dedicated to helping disabled people be more mobile

Texas Ramp Project for Hays County coordinator Gary Nelson has been with the group for about two decades. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Ramp Project for Hays County coordinator Gary Nelson has been with the group for about two decades. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

Texas Ramp Project for Hays County coordinator Gary Nelson has been with the group for about two decades. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
Texas Ramp Project for Hays County coordinator Gary Nelson has been with the group for about two decades. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Gary Strunk, forefront, and his wife Nancy Strunk have been volunteering with the Texas Ramp Project since 2014. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Volunteers display their efforts after building a ramp for a Hays County resident in April. (Courtesy Gary Nelson)
It is unbelievable how many people living in Hays County are living with a disability but still don’t have ramps attached to their homes, said Gary Nelson.

A former hospital administrator, Nelson has been the designated coordinator for the Hays County chapter of the Texas Ramp Project for almost two decades.

Through donations and volunteers, local chapters of the TRP throughout Texas build ramps for disabled people and have so far built more than 20,000 statewide since its creation.

“There are people out there that really don’t have any family to help them,” Nelson said. “Every one of our ramps has got a story.”

Originally founded by John Laine in 2006, the Texas Ramp Project emerged from the Dallas Ramp Project, for which Laine served as volunteer director from 1989-2005.

Branches have formed in counties throughout the state, and Nelson said he has helped run the Hays County branch out of a building at 611 Staples Road in East San Marcos since 2003, back when it was still an extension of the DRP.

Eventually the chapter in Hays County became the Texas Ramp Project, and Nelson said he has watched it continue to thrive due to copious amounts of volunteers and donations.

There are several entities that feed volunteers to the local TRP chapter, including a group at Texas State University called the Construction Student Association.

“What they’re doing is they’re getting their degrees in construction and project management,” Nelson said. “There’s about 100 of them or more in that program, and they would try to build at least one a month.”

However, Nelson said he owes much of the local program’s productivity to two key volunteers, Gary and Nancy Strunk, who joined the TRP in 2014.

“You see a guy trapped in his house, and you’ve got to go help him immediately,” Gary Strunk said. “If you’re by yourself and you’re in a wheelchair and there’s an 8-inch step, that’s Mount Everest.”

Another blessing to the group’s overall productivity, Nelson said, is the mini warehouse headquarters in east San Marcos.

It is there that 60% of the work is done to construct the ramps for client referrals, and Nelson said that allows work at people’s homes to take a maximum of four hours.

Referrals for patients who need ramps must come from third-party healthcare providers such as home health agencies or hospitals.

“They find these people that don’t really have anybody helping them, or they don’t have kids around. They’re kind of on their own,” Nelson said. “Then we go out and we survey [the house], and we determine the need—how urgent it is.”

Once need is established, Nelson and his team conduct a survey and draw up a list of materials needed.

Depending on the number of volunteers allotted to a build, a 45-feet-long ramp can be completed on site in as little as two hours, Nelson said.

One factor that has proven challenging to the TRP recently has been the sudden skyrocketing cost of lumber due to the booming housing construction market.

As one example, Nelson provided an itemized bill comparison of the cost to construct an 8-feet section of ramp. In February 2020, the total cost was $119.29. In March of this year, the price tag nearly doubled to $235.79.

Since the TRP relies on donations in order to purchase lumber, Nelson said Laine has been advising local chapters to temporarily slow down production until the market stabilizes.

Still, Nelson and the Strunks have continued to oversee the construction of as many ramps as they can, in spite of obstacles that have also included the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The thing I love about the Texas Ramp Project is they go anywhere,” Nancy Strunk said. “If the need is there, they don’t turn anyone down. If you can get them out of their house, that’s all that matters.”
Texas Ramp Project

611 Staples Road, Ste B, San Marcos

512-353-0314

www.texasramps.org
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018. From there he became a dual-market editor for Community Impact's New Braunfels and San Marcos-Buda-Kyle editions. Brian is now a senior editor for the company's flagship papers, the Round Rock and Pflugerville-Hutto editions.


MOST RECENT

After a relatively calm June, COVID-19 cases are being reported in increasing numbers in Hays County with the arrival of the Delta strain. Several free vaccine clinics are available this month. (Community Impact staff)
Hays County's COVID-19 cases are on the rise again

After a relatively calm June, COVID-19 cases are being reported in increasing numbers in Hays County with the arrival of the Delta strain. Several free vaccine clinics are available this month.

Leander Marketplace PUD would be located at the northeast corner of Hero Way and US 183. (Screenshot courtesy city of Leander)
Leander eyes development with restaurants, retail; Bin Drop opens in New Braunfels and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

In an effort to encourage remaining unvaccinated staff to take the COVID-19 vaccine, the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District board of trustees approved a one-time $250 stipend incentive July19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
San Marcos CISD passes vaccination stipend incentive

Every district employee who has already been vaccinated or does so by October, when the stipend will be distributed, will receive the stipend.

Mortgage purchase applications are down year over year, but the Austin housing market remains hot. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin housing market still hot but showing signs of slowing down

Experts say that a decrease in mortgage purchase applications points to “a reversion back to norm” in the Austin housing market.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

According to a San Marcos landscaper, caring for your yard can not only keep your neigbors happy, but can also be therapeutic. (Courtesy Unsplash)
Q&A: San Marcos Landscaper talks about how and why to maintain a lawn properly

According to a San Marcos landscaper, caring for your yard can not only keep your neigbors happy, but can also be therapeutic.

Plumbing problems persist months after winter storm

Louis Ybarra of McGinnis Plumbing, which operates in Hays County, said there were multiple instances of people reporting headaches due to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper plumbing fixes done after February's winter storm.

Travis County has been discussing the possibility of a new Samsung facility with Samsung since January. (Community Impact Staff)
Travis County begins incentives negotiations with Samsung for possible $17B facility

Samsung is hoping to finalize a performance agreement by mid-August, which would include information about how the potential facility would affect property taxes.

Massey Wallace and her husband, Allen Wallace, will open a seventh location of Lonestar Kolaches at the former Little Red Wagon in October. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lonestar Kolaches coming to Round Rock; Kilwins sweet shop to open in Georgetown and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area, such as the Williamson County judge doubting more shutdowns as coronavirus rates increase.

Texas native Amy Hageman founded Texas Tiny Pools in 2017. (Courtesy Cate Black Photography)
Texas Tiny Pools now serving Austin area; Round Rock movie theater closes and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.