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Trio gets ramp for better access

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By Jim Clark

On a hot, dry Thursday morning last week, members of the Williston branch of the AARP descended upon a mobile home on 118th Terrace, northeast of Bronson, with one purpose in mind - build a ramp.

It was a combination of the Rural Ramp Program that serves North Central Florida, and the National Day of Service for the AARP, that brought the two programs together at the home of Rexford and Dexter Batten and Lynn Zeneski, and their five dogs.

The Battens own the home and Zeneski is a renter. She had applied at her previous home for the ramp, but then moved and that delayed the project. "I've been here since January, and I can't get up and down the stairs." She uses a wheelchair which will now be able to negotiate the entrance to the home much easier.

She needs the hip replacement because of a disease that cuts off the blood supply. She says she rode horses a lot when she was younger and that put pressure on the hip. She hopes to be operated on in the "next year or two."

The elder Batten is blind, and is known for playing an accordion outside Publix in Gainesville.

The labor for the project was donated by AARP, and the equipment was purchased from Sparr at contractor cost.

The ramp was completed in less than half a day.

According to Mary Lee Tonca of the ramp program, and a brochure produced by the group, The Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida's Rural Ramp Program has been building ramps for a little over a year now. It covers a 16-county area. This is the group's 10th ramp and the fourth in Levy County.

The RRP asks contractors who volunteer their time to oversee the construction of a ramp and supply the tools for the build.

Groups of 8-10 people (must be over 16 years of age) are needed to volunteer to build a ramp. Most ramps are built in one day.

Also needed are groups to volunteer to supply the lunch for the builders.

All groups are asked to only donate once a year so that no one group or contractor's generosity is abused.

The funds are raised for the materials and grants are applied for. All funds are used to purchase materials only. Funds are raised by county and are used only in that county.

Future ramp recipients must qualify for a free ramp. The household income limits in Levy County are $15,900 for a single person and $18,150 for a couple. This is the HUD Very Low Income rate used by SHIP and CDBG Programs. There is no age limit.

There is a waiting list of 20 future ramp recipients in Levy County alone at this time.

If you wish to volunteer as a group, as a contractor, to supply lunch, or to donate funds for materials, contact Mary Lee Tanca at ramps@cilncf.org or (352) 231-2766.