The path to Blitz Build is a months-long process involving volunteers, supporters, suppliers and staff. Along the road, client applications are reviewed and crews are matched. Some crews apply with skilled tradespeople/construction supervisors – others require the assistance of a “Project Captain”.
Back in April, the sounds of electric saws, hammering, drilling, pounding and rock music floated through Tenise Norman’s Centennial home. Whenever the noise died down, she could hear an instructor patiently explaining next steps or adjusting the movements of a crew member. The three instructors and eight volunteers were installing a mobility assistance ramp for Norman’s 89-year-old mother, Betty Goldsmith, as part of Home Builders Foundation’s (HBF) Train the Trainer program.
Goldsmith’s ramp provided the volunteers with the opportunity to complete the field component of Train the Trainer, which was preceded by a classroom session on ramp building. Successful completion of the Train the Trainer program, combined with construction experience, qualified the participants to serve as project captains during HBF’s 12th annual Blitz Build campaign. During this 3-day event, which took place between June 9th and 11th, project captains led volunteer crews in building, installing and beautifying accessible ramps throughout the Denver metro area for 14 individuals living with disabilities.
“There are a lot of nuances when it comes to building a ramp for someone with limited mobility and it’s important that everything be perfect,” said Hayley Selden, owner of Redwood Jane, a development, construction and consulting firm, who participated in the build. “It was so valuable to learn things like appropriate slope and handrail height from people who have done this work before.”
When the only sound was the sweep of a broom as the crew cleaned up the site, Nelson opened the door and wheeled Goldsmith out to see the new ramp. They were both delighted to see that the steps, which had been inaccessible in Goldsmith’s wheelchair, had been replaced by a ramp that led straight to the driveway. For Nelson, who feels blessed to have her mom live with her, the ramp will greatly ease her caregiving burden. Due to a heart condition and respiratory problems, Goldsmith is only able to walk a few steps on her own. “This is going to drastically cut down the time it takes to get her into the car,” explained Nelson. “It also feels so much safer, which is a great relief.” When asked where she was most excited to go now that she could wheel down the ramp, Goldsmith replied with a big smile, “To the flea market and garage sales!” With eight children, 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, she has a lot to shop for.