A brush with kindness

September 23, 2013 10:27 am

Clarence Myers rolls down his new wheelchair ramp Saturday. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Clarence Myers rolls down his new wheelchair ramp Saturday. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)

Habitat for Humanity volunteers install wheelchair ramp and screen door for veteran in Union 

It may have been a lazy, football-watching Saturday for many, but some area volunteers spent the rainy day helping out some folks in need.

Volunteers with Grande Ronde Valley Habitat for Humanity were in Union Saturday to build and install a wheelchair ramp for Mary and Clarence Myers.

Clarence Myers, a Navy veteran battling cancer, has trouble getting in and out of the house, Mary said.

“They’re doing fantastic work,” she said.

Wells Fargo employees from the region teamed up with Habitat for the project, which also included installing a new screen door.

Travis Campbell, Wells Fargo’s Pendleton branch manager, said he didn’t mind coming over the hill to help out.

“Anything we can do to help people out, we can do that inside as well as outside the bank,” he said.

Volunteers had also planned to install a new large window in the home, built in 1910, but ran into some issues. They plan to return to get that in.

“The screen door works like a million bucks,” said Larry Knowles, a Habitat volunteer who helped organize the project. “It’s gone real well.”

The project is part of a new service offered by Grande Ronde Valley Habitat called A Brush with Kindness, a program Knowles said does not replace the traditional home-building aspect of Habitat but enables the group to help more families. The program is intended to help low-income, elderly or veteran families by offering home improvements. Habitat makes a no-interest loan to the homeowners to cover the cost of the projects, and Knowles said they try to be as flexible as possible with the payments.

“They pay us back when they can, however much they can,” Knowles said.

The Myers home is the first big project they’ve done with the program, Knowles said, but they have done smaller things like help pick up garbage. Knowles said they hope to do one large project a month.

Byron Whipple, Union County’s veterans service officer, helped Habitat and the Myers link up and was pleased with the work.

“These guys are doing a great job for the veterans,” he said. “It’s not just nice, it’s a godsend.”

For Mary Myers, the new wheelchair ramp is a burden off her shoulders.

“It’ll be a whole lot of help. It’s more than I can do to get him out of bed, better yet get him out the door,” she said. “It’s going to be so nice to get him out of the house when I need to now.”

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter@lgoDucote.