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Helping Disabled NJ Residents Return Home

  • April 26, 2013

“I am a man with no legs giving you a standing ovation for what you have done for me”—JonathanMichelle and her son, Jonathan, watched in disbelief as the river overflowed, filling their Belmar, N.J., home with 2 feet of water. With help from community groups and their landlord, they moved back into their first-floor rental in December. But Jonathan struggled to get in and out of the house in his wheelchair. He used his upper body strength to pull his body up the concrete steps.The 24-year-old, who prefers the nickname “Hot Wheelz,” was one of the first storm victims to receive a new ramp through AmeriCares Sandy Relief Program.“Seeing him crawl on the floor to get in and out of the house was horrible,” Michelle said as volunteers installed the ramp in April. “This is a huge blessing.”AmeriCares is partnering with Portlight Strategies, Inc., a nonprofit organization assisting the disabled, to help New Jersey residents return to Sandy-damaged homes. AmeriCares recently awarded a grant to fund the ramps, as well as the delivery of medical equipment to replace wheelchairs and walkers lost or damaged in the floodwaters.“We have people who can’t get back into their homes because they are waiting on us to build them a new ramp,” said Paul Timmons, chairman of Portlight’s board. “The quicker we can get people back into their homes, the better their quality of life.”The aluminum ramps are quickly installed and then moved to other locations once permanent ramps are built.Jonathan, excited to try out his new ramp, rolled up the structure and used the railings to pull up to a standing position to address the volunteers.“I am a man with no legs giving you a standing ovation for what you have done for me,” he told them. “I will never forget this.”Read MoreDonate Now