The brutal Alabama heat and humidity could not erase the smiles on the faces of the Carpenters for Christ volunteers as they worked on one of their most recent projects.
The group, which operates through First Baptist Church of Tallassee, has assisted Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services Independent Living Specialist Sharon Weaver in providing wheelchair ramps for clients who would otherwise have a difficult time entering and leaving their homes.
The program, one of the group’s founders Glen Baggett said, began with wheelchair ramp projects several years ago when his daughter Angie, an Alabama Department of Corrections employee, discussed the needs of a coworker’s family member. Another DOC employee who is paralyzed informed Angie that ADRS might be able to provide support. From there, a partnership was formed.
Baggett said when he and Weaver connected, she was excited about the opportunity to work with the group.
“When I mentioned ramps, her eyes lit up,” he said. “We have been building ramps for (ADRS) ever since.”
Carpenters for Christ has been especially busy this summer, having built a ramp every Monday. The crew generally consists of 10 to 20 volunteers from a roster that includes a retired Air Force officer, a Montgomery Police Department SWAT team member, a retired college baseball coach, and many others from interesting backgrounds.
“We have a wide variety of people,” Baggett said. “There are a lot of retirees, but we even have a few guys who are still working.”
Because so many are willing to lend a hand, the group usually completes their projects within a day. While they work quickly, First Baptist Church of Tallassee Minister of Education Barry Tice said the good vibes the workers receive last much longer.
“All of the guys here get a blessing out of this,” he said. “We work hard, but I feel like we are the ones who are the recipients of the blessings in addition to the people who get the ramps. That’s why they do it – to give back because the Lord has been good to us.”
Volunteer and retired Air Force Col. Steve Miller agreed. Miller, who discovered the group after being invited to the church by a friend, said it is a true blessing to offer assistance to those in need.
“Everyone says what we do means so much to the people we do it for,” he said. “I would never underplay that, but what we get out of it is worth so much more. It’s good work, it’s good to fellowship, and we get to help people.”
Miller said he has been blessed his entire life, and it is rewarding to be able to share those blessings through ADRS and Carpenters for Christ.
“This is good for the heart and good for the soul,” he said.
Bill Carroll, a member of Tallassee First Baptist Church, said he has traveled all over the world in 20 years of mission work. His stops have included Nicaragua, Belize and several states. However, he said one of the most rewarding service projects has been the help he and others provide in his home state.
“We get a huge blessing when we ask them to come out, come down the ramp, and see their expression,” he said. “We get more of a blessing right then. That is what it is all about. We help people who are not always able to help themselves.”
The group generally receives information about a project from Weaver. After an initial visit to the site, the group uses its measurements to make a list of the materials needed. Weaver and ADRS then provide financial support.
From there, the Carpenters for Christ spring into action.
Weaver said partnering with these volunteers has been an extremely rewarding experience.
“They have been a real blessing to SAIL (State of Alabama Independent Living/Homebound Services),” she said. “They are eager, and they love what they do. It is dear to their heart. They love to serve people, and it is fantastic for us because we get to help our consumers to live more independently.”
Donations are accepted to supplement the needs that are not covered by ADRS. Supporters can visit the church or mail donations to First Baptist Church, 1279 Friendship Road, Tallassee, AL 36078.
Another option is visiting www.fbctallassee.com and clicking the “give” tab at the top of the page. The options will allow donors to specify where they would like their money applied.