A Ramp for Eliana

A Ramp for Eliana: Students and Community Come Together to Help a Child
Posted on 12/23/2016
Triplett Tech students and staff Surround Eliana

When Ann McBroom from A Small Hand asked Connie Pangle, Principal of Triplett Tech,  if her students could build a handicap ramp for a young child in need, Ms. Pangle immediately  wanted to shout yes, but first she had to be certain that her carpentry and electricity students had time to complete this project.  Though they have a house to build by spring,  Philip Crisman, Carpentry teacher, and Dagan Stephens, Electricity teacher, were eager to take on the project.   Triplett Tech instructors like to give their senior students real-world experiences with jobs outside the school. Besides, this project would benefit a little girl who was born with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy.  

“The project was not only  a practical learning experience but also a life learning experience for helping someone in need,” commented Mr. Stephens.  


Eliana, the little girl who needed the handicap ramp, is the daughter of Kenia and Angel Saldana. Enrolled in W.W. Robinson's prekindergarten program, she must be carried everywhere or ride in her combination stroller/wheelchair, which weighs about 50 pounds.  Small Hand members recognized that a handicap ramp from the home’s front door to their parking space would make life easier and safer for Eliana and her mom and dad.

Ms. McBroom contacted the United Way thinking that during their annual Day of Caring in late summer perhaps they would  be able to assemble a crew who could build the ramp; but the United Way did not have the funds to purchase materials or the skilled workers that would be necessary for this project.  

Ann McBroom did not give up.  In a letter to Connie Pangle that included an APPEAL TO TRIPLETT,  Ms. McBroom explained Eliana’s health issues and the family’s financial situation.  The letter also  included photos of the family’s home and parking spot and  Eliana sitting in her stroller/wheelchair. The need for the handicap ramp was apparent in the pictures. Triplett’s heart was touched and as indicated earlier, Ms. Pangle, Mr. Crisman, and Mr. Stephens said, “Yes!  We will build the ramp.”   


Eliana with Mom, TT staff Standing behind Eliana are Dagan Stephens, Electricity teacher at Triplett Tech; Kenia Saldana, Eliana's mother; Connie Pangle, Principal of Triplett Tech; and Philip Crisman, III, Carpentry teacher at Triplett Tech.


There remained the problem of funding. Those dollars came from multiple sources:   the Forestville-Quicksburg Ruritan Club and  the United Methodist Women of three churches where Darlene Wilkins is the pastor (Otterbein Chapel, Mt. Herman and Mt. Clifton).   These groups raised the funds that were needed to pay for the materials and the County and Town permits.  Ultimately, the project cost would cost  $2847.

With funding in place, Triplett had the green light to begin work.  First,  there were two permits to obtain.  Mr. Crisman’s students helped with applications for both a  Zoning Permit from the town of Woodstock, which Woodstock’s new Town Manager Angie Clem issued,  and a Building Permit from Shenandoah County.   

Next came the selection of materials.  Electricity students researched possible lighting for the deck and ramp.  From their options of solar, low voltage, and incandescent, they chose solar because with solar  there would be no energy costs,  no wiring requirement, and automatic lighting that would turn on every night.    Carpentry students chose composite flooring, which is maintenance free, for the 6 ‘ X  19 ‘ deck and ramp and  skirt board and vinyl railing and posts.   Lowe’s of Woodstock gave the school a discount on this purchase.  

In early  November, two senior Carpentry students and Mr. Crisman left the school’s  parking lot shortly after 8:30 for the ride to Foundry Street in Woodstock, where the house is located.  Almost every school day for nearly four weeks, the students worked for about two hours until it was time for them to return to Triplett and go back to their home schools.


Triplett Tech carpentry students digging footers
The physical work began with Triplett Tech's carpentry students digging


Digging and pouring footers was the students’ first assignment at the work site.   That completed, they built the frame for the deck and ramp and then installed the final flooring, posts, and railings. When the deck was finished, the Electricity students and Mr. Stephens joined the crew to install the lighting.     

The project passed the County’s building inspection.  Mr. Crisman and Mr. Stephens  agreed that that the students had done excellent work and that, in addition, the  students’ work had improved the overall look of  the family’s home.


Kenia Saldana, Eliana's Mom Eliana's mother, Kenia Saldana "cut the ribbon" by pulling it loose from the railing.


In celebration of the completion of the project, there was a ribbon cutting on December 20, 2016.  Many of the folks, including the students, who had brought this project from a dream to reality were there.


  Community who helped In front of ramp: Representative from Forestville-Quicksburg Ruritan Club; Darlene Wilkins, Pastor of Otterbein Chapel, Mt Herman and Mt Clifton UM congregations; Glenna Casto, volunteer with A SMALL HAND and heavily involved in the project; gentleman representing the representing Forestville-Quicksburg Ruritan Club. On the ramp: Triplett Tech carpentry and electricity students and staff


When the ceremony was complete, the Saldana family invited everyone to come into their home for refreshments.  Photos were taken of the carpentry and electricity students surrounding the beautiful but tired Eliana.  The students’ smiles spoke for them.  They were glad to help someone in need, especially this time of year.   

Eliana is surrounded by Triplett Tech students and staff
Triplett Tech Electricity and Carpentry students surround Eliana.  They
 were glad to help her.

“Building the ramp  was a real team effort,” concluded Ann McBroom, who posted a Thank You Christmas card from Eliana on A Small Hands blog site.  (http://helpingshenandoahcountyinfantsinneed.blogspot.com/)