Chermak Construction gives MLT woman her mobility back through Rampathon

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Chermak Construction employees with Kevin and Karmen Collins.
The Collins house before the ramp was added.

A chronic disease robbed a Mountlake Terrace woman of her freedom to come and go but a dedicated team from Edmonds-based Chermak Construction gave her back some of that freedom last weekend.

For the fourth straight year, Chermak  has helped a neighbor in need through the annual Rampathon project, aimed at providing accessibility to hundreds of people who would otherwise be housebound.

Chermak employees donated their time for the duration of the project, which this year benefited Karmen Collins of Mountlake Terrace, who suffers from chronic arthritis that took over her life with a vengeance several years ago.

“I don’t go out often because I’m so afraid of falling,” Collins said prior to receiving the ramp. Even meeting her sister for an evening together was out of the question. In addition to dealing with her mobility and balance issues, Collins and her husband Kevin have exorbitant medical bills, so they have been leading “a very guarded life these days,” according to Chermak Marketing Manager Kathy Hashbarger. “The new ramp will make a big difference in their lives.”

The Master Builders Care Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, sponsors the Rampathon each year. Since 1993, more than 300 ramps have been built by MBA members for neighbors who have disabilities and financial need. Also making the Collins’ project possible were two key partners: Dunn Lumber, which contributed a major portion of the building materials and Plywood Supply, which donated the Tuff Tred decking.

In addition to building the ramp, Chermak’s Electrical Services Manager Jeff Sailors completed an evaluation of the Collins home’s electrical system.

“For our team, it was particularly meaningful for us to get to work together,” Hashbarger said. “Oftentimes, we don’t have the opportunity to work shoulder-to-shoulder and come to appreciate each other’s skills. This year, we had 15 team members from both the field and the office working on the ramp project.”

The ramp design was more complicated than usual, since it also included stairs and a gate to ensure that Karmen’s husband could access the yard for chores such as lawn mowing. “This is how Universal Design works, making sure that everyone’s needs are met,” Harshbarger explained. “All nine of our project managers have recently become Certified Aging In Place (CAPS) certified in order to best serve people with disabilities and differing needs.”

At the end of the day, when Karmen was able to test out the new ramp, her face “streamed with happy tears,” Hashbarger said. “You guys have given me back my mobility,” Carmen told the Chermak crew. “I’m going to be able to go to the pool on Monday to swim.”

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