The Ramp

Growing up in the Valley and the small towns of Mississippi Mills, we expected kindness and help when we needed it. We were raised by our families, friends and neighbours, and maybe we too often took their wisdom, generosity and strengths for granted. We remember an unexpected gift in times of need; a strong back when we stumbled, a shoulder to cry on, and a joke when we really needed to laugh. We can be proud that we were also taught to be mindful to honour the people who were there for us when we needed those things. Many of these people did very big things and got recognition by having places, statues and parks named for them. Yet every day in our Valley home, good-hearted people are quietly offering kindness, wise advice, gifts, and a strong back to their neighbours.

Imagine if your life was disrupted by illness, costing you and loved ones time and money you couldn’t spare; if you couldn’t go home, because you were confined to a wheelchair. That happens every day, everywhere. You are faced with trying to deal with a variety of health, provincial and municipal bureaucracies that seem hopelessly remote, complicated and scary. Your stress levels go through the roof. Then, someone sees you struggling.

Recently, I was privileged to work with a group of people in this Valley who came together to help a family in need. Under the leadership of Brian and Gloria Leonard of Almonte and Steve Maynard of Carleton Place (yes, he learned a lot from his father), someone was able to come home. Gloria and Steve rallied friends and neighbours for donations, materials and strong backs. The Almonte Civitan Club was involved as always. Crains Construction of Maberly provided stone dust; Ryan Leonard laid the stones donated by the Leonard family; John Levi made some magic happen with lumber and goods from Home Hardware; Rick Carroll of Mississippi United Construction in Corkery (formerly of Almonte) provided professional design, services and directions to a few strong backs. The strong backs and building expertise belonged to Brian Leonard (who contributed more than his share), Mike Maydan (a fellow lefty from Almonte), Kolin Phillips (his Almonte back was not only strong but young) and Warren “Waldo” Hummel, who is known for his awesome tool collection. Brian Gallagher pulled clean-up duty. The big bureaucracy was represented by Dan Prest and his dog, who came by on their days off to ensure all was safe and well. All of these people have their own worries these days, yet they stepped forward to help.

Thanks for the ramp.

Paul Watters