by Ray Diaz, Accessibility Build Ministry Lead
Imagine that you develop a medical condition which limits your accessibility to the point of using a wheelchair or walker. Aside from the challenge of the medical aspects of your condition, you now face the challenge of getting into and out of your home with minimal assistance and some degree of freedom. For some in our community, hiring a carpenter to build a ramp for a wheelchair or a set of half steps for a walker may not present a financial burden. For others who may not have the means to pay for such construction, the simple freedom of entering and exiting their home is suddenly compromised.
Recognizing this need from members of our community is at the core of Trinity’s Accessibility Build Ministry (ABM). This ministry covers the cost of the materials needed to build wheelchair ramps and half steps and then provides the volunteers to do the construction. The average cost of wheelchair ramp materials is $900, with materials for half steps costing about $700. Where recipients have the means to cover the cost of materials, our ministry simply provides the volunteers to construct the project. We partner with FL Cares, Inc., a local nonprofit organization with a focus on providing accessibility to all who need it. FL Cares screens applicants, conducts site visits, designs the project, and provides an on-site project leader for each build.
The beginnings of this ministry at Trinity started with my son Daniel Diaz (Refugee Co-sponsorship Team) encouraging me to present the idea to the Local Missions Committee shortly after my wife and I joined Trinity last spring. I had worked with Eric Evans, the FL Cares on-site project leader for over 5 years with another local church and felt God calling me to start this ministry at Trinity. Three months and 3 projects later I am amazed at what we have accomplished with the support of our Local Missions Committee and our dedicated group of volunteers. Recruiting of volunteers has been a joy and has given me the opportunity to meet others in our congregation with a heart for service and helping others. I would be remiss if I did not thank Wayne Curry for his role in helping us to grow our volunteer group which now stands at 21. We encourage every member of Trinity to consider becoming a part of this ministry as a volunteer or through their financial support.
Our first ABM project this September was for a longstanding member of Trinity who needed to improve the access into and out of her home. That project consisted of building a couple of box steps to reduce the step-down height of 2 thresholds in the home as well as a landing and half steps to provide safer entry and exit to and from the interior garage door.
Project number two consisted of building a landing off an existing high porch and adding half steps with a more gradual pitch to ground level. The family in this home had elderly parents living with them who were experiencing decreased mobility and would eventually transition to using walkers. The 10-foot length of the half steps greatly decreased the steepness of the ascent and descent to the porch thus creating a safer means of accessibility for the residents.
Our most recent project consisted of renovating an existing wheelchair ramp, landing and handrails which had deteriorated to the point of creating unsafe conditions for the homeowner who is a Navy Veteran. This was our most labor-intensive project as it required removal of existing deck boards and handrails and replacement with new ones.
In every case, the gratitude expressed by the recipients of these projects was overwhelming, leaving our volunteers with joyful hearts knowing that they have truly been the hands and feet of God in helping others.
We are very excited about growing this ministry in 2024 through the support of our congregation, Local Missions, and Finance Committees. Our goal is to assist more families in our community which need help with accessibility by executing at least one project per month in 2024. If you would like to join our volunteer group or have any questions, please contact Ray Diaz at
email@example.com. No construction experience is necessary.