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“I had no options open. United Way stepped in for me”

Barbara felt like the walls were closing in on her. 

A resident of Columbus, she had been confined to a wheelchair since surviving a coma that nearly took her life. After her husband passed away in West Virginia, the 71-year-old moved to a little apartment in Columbus last fall, a place she quickly grew to love.

However, there was a major obstacle: the lack of a wheelchair ramp, which made it too difficult for her to leave her apartment freely and easily. “It was impossible. Totally impossible. I mean that in big letters,” Barbara said.

Barbara rarely left her apartment, venturing out only for doctor’s appointments. Her groceries were delivered, and small tasks like taking out the trash or checking the mail were insurmountable challenges. Well-meaning friends and family tried to help by building a makeshift ramp from bricks, but she remained afraid of rolling over the side of her porch and injuring herself.

Volunteers from the United Way of Bartholomew County’s Ramp It Up Program recently built her a proper ramp. Now, Barbara is free to leave her apartment and live her life more fully.

“You don’t know how much I appreciate that ramp,” she said. “It opened a new door for me; it’s like a whole new life.” Chores like taking out the trash and checking the mail are now manageable, and she’s excitedly browsing the internet for patio decorations, as she can now safely roll out to her porch.

“I can do things I couldn’t do before,” she said.