Non-profit group hits a milestone helping local couple

By Sue Hughes | For The Times-Post

PENDLETON — In 2003, Rik Hagarty’s minister told him about a program in Fort Wayne that built wheelchair ramps for people who needed them but could not afford them.
Hagarty said he thought at the time,“If there is a need in Fort Wayne, there must be a need in Indianapolis.”
Hagerty, president of and CEO of the Indianapolis-based nonprofit Servants at Work Inc. (SAWs), built his first ramp in 2008. Since then, the organization has built thousands of ramps all over Indiana. It has volunteers in 69 of the 92 Indiana counties.
On Wednesday, May 1, Darlene Parry, 57, of Pendleton was the proud recipient of the 4,000th ramp built by SAWs.
“This is a blessing — it was such a nightmare getting in and out of my house,” Parry said.
Parry and her husband of 28 years recently purchased a home in Pendleton Mobile Home Park.
A crew of about 20 volunteers of all ages showed up at 8:30 a.m. and began work. Most of the lumber used was cut at the warehouse.
Drills, saws, hammers and sanders were unloaded, and the volunteers went to work.
Some of the volunteers were new at construction, but they quickly caught on.
“Our mission is to improve lives,” said Matt Gottfried, one of several volunteers from Rehab Medical of Indianapolis.
It was necessary for SAWs to ask permission from the manager of the mobile home park to install the ramp.
“The ramps are not permanent — if someone moves, we can remove the ramp and reuse it,” said Mike Page, SAWs operations manager and a Pendleton resident. “That way we don’t need a building permit.”
“The park manager was wonderful; we had our answer the same day,” Parry said.
The group started as a project of the Second Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis but has since separated from the church.
“It is still a faith-based organization,” Bryan Chaplin, accountant for SAWs, said. “We accept donations and grants.”
Hagarty said there was a 54% increase in requests for ramps last year, and the organization expects the number to be even higher this year.
SAWs averages about 415 ramps per year.
The group works closely with Habitat for Humanity of Madison County.
“We have a list of ramps that need to be built in Madison County, but we need more volunteers and corporate sponsors,” Hagarty said.
A ramp costs about $1,700 to build.
The ramp at the Parry home was completed and ready for its first trial run by 12:30 p.m.
Everyone applauded as Parry made her first trip down the ramp.
“Now I can go outside by myself!” Parry said.
Parry and husband Bobby treated volunteers to homemade sloppy joes as a thank you.
They all also got a key chain that Bobby engraved.
“My wife is awesome,” Bobby said.
“This puts joy in my heart!” Parry said with tears in her eyes.
Anyone who needs a ramp or knows someone who does can apply online at