For Otway resident Jeanie Morris, a prayer was answered this week.
Morris has had some health complications for the past several years and has needed a handicap ramp to get into her Otway home, located on SR 73. Her husband, Terry, said they were never able to get enough money to build the ramp. A group of volunteers from Columbus made that happen this week.
The Appalachian Project volunteers, consisting of over 50 youth and 30 adult volunteers came to Scioto County with all the supplies and manpower needed to complete the task of installing a 57 foot long ramp at the entrance of the Morris home. The volunteers are from Christ the King and Saint Catherine churches in Columbus. The group has been coming to Otway for 26 years, with many of the adults attending for most of the those years.
For the Schafhausen family, it has become a family affair as parents, children, and grandchildren have been a part of the 26 year effort. Michelle Schafhausen said wheelchair ramps are one of the main projects they do throughout the years. She said they usually do two to three projects a year and Otway is always on their list.
“It’s great,” Jeanie Morris said, sitting in her living room while the workers were building the ramp Thursday morning. “It’s fantastic. They’ve been so nice.”
A volunteer working on the ramp said a contractor would probably have charged over $6,000 for this project alone.
In addition to building the ramp onto the Morris’ home, the Appalachian Project volunteers also installed a new shower in the home of Otway resident Sis Tolle, as well as putting a fresh coat of paint, tuck pointing block and putting gutters on the old Otway School gymnasium.
“They’re doing a wonderful job for me,” Tolle said. “They provide the materials and everything.”
Local resident Rita Frye and Otway Mayor Denise Rose was helping coordinate all the projects in town. Rose said there was no way the village could spend the money on the school that was being done this week for free. “It’s great,” Rose said. “There’s no way we could afford to do this on our own. They aren’t charging a penny.”
For the school, there was 125 gallons of paint used, along with gutters and concrete for patch work. Volunteer Ethan Schafhausen said the cost on the school would have exceeded $10,000 had the village hired a contractor. Ethan’s uncle, Jim Schafhausen, said he has been coming down to Otway since year 2 of the project. He said after year 15, they had planned to retire the project, “but they said no.” Jim Schafhausen said the youth enjoy helping others.
“It’s so amazing,” Rose said. “We can’t afford to do this.”
Volunteer Steve Crumb said this is his first year but said he plans to be back next year. He said it has been very good to help the residents of Otway. Crumb was busy on the Morris ramp. “If you’ve got a need, we’ll do our best,” Crumb said.
Another Schafhausen, Michelle, said many of the volunteers start out as youth and when they get older they become project leader. Michelle mentioned Ethan Schafhausen as one of those youth who became a leader. She said the group works with businesses for material donations as well as holding bake sales and car washes to raise funds to help cover the costs.
“The whole idea is to help the kids learn some skills,” Frye said. “But they also do real work in the community and help people physically.”