Volunteers from David Weekley Homes work on assembling frames for an accessible ramp for a resident in Greenwood on May 10. The volunteers had partnered with Servants at Work, a nonprofit dedicated to building ramps for people in need, to construct three ramps simultaneously in Greenwood.


Stacks of lumber had been piled outside of the home in the Greenwood Estates neighborhood, ready to be put to use.

Some had already been cut and laid out in rough frames. Other pieces still had to be measured out and trimmed with a circular saw.

Over the next four hours, that lumber would be transformed by Servants at Work and a team of volunteers from David Weekley Homes into a handicap-accessible ramp. And in doing so, they’d been changing that resident’s life for the better.

“It is amazing. The best part of the day is seeing someone use that ramp, take that journey for the very first time. Some are overwhelmed. Some are in shock; they can’t believe how quickly it came together and how easy it is to get down,” said Tim Thurston, executive director of Servants at Work, better known as SAWs.

As SAW works to address the immense need for ramps throughout Johnson County, they’ve increased efforts to partner with area businesses, organizations and more to get volunteers to power their work. Such a build unfolded on May 10, when about 40 employees from David Weekley Homes spread out in Greenwood Estates and the nearby Pebble Creek community to simultaneously construct three different ramps.

“By partnering with Servants at Work (SAW) to help provide ramps for residents in need, we are actively contributing to improving the quality of life for individuals within our community with mobility challenges. These ramps facilitate safer and easier access to their homes, promoting independence and accessibility. This initiative reflects our David Weekley Homes commitment to community service and support for our community, making a positive difference in people’s lives,” according to a statement provided by David Weekley Homes.

Founded in 2003, SAW is a faith-based, volunteer-powered nonprofit organization serving clients throughout Indiana, as well as Arizona and Virginia. The organization specializes in building Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant wheelchair ramps for people living with permanent or long-term disabilities in low-income households.

On May 1, SAW built its 4,000th ramp, but the demand for the ramps is constantly growing, Thurston said. Applications are up more than 50% in the past year, and about 230 people are on the waiting list for a ramp.

To tap into new volunteer sources, SAW leaders came up with a solution. Six years ago, the organization started a corporate team build program that provides opportunities for businesses to give back to the community by doing a service project. Corporate partners recruit volunteers to take part in the build, and provide financial support to fund the project.

“We invite corporations to come out to the community where they are successful and to give back with some service time,” Thurston said. “It is huge to have this type of partnership. They give their time, their talent and sometimes their treasures.”

In 2023, SAWs did more than 100 corporate team builds, with participants ranging from churches to civic organizations to businesses.

The team at David Weekley Homes saw a simultaneous three-ramp build as falling within their community service goals.

“By joining together, we are improving lives through the volunteer and philanthropic efforts of our CARE program. As part of our Build Month initiative, we’re able to share our unique skillset as homebuilders to complete building projects with nonprofit organizations,” according to a statement provided by David Weekley Homes.

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Early on May 10, David Weekley volunteers fanned out through the Greenwood Estates and Pebble Creek. They would be building ramps for three different clients, who had all demonstrated to SAWs leadership how much the work would impact their lives.

One resident was a 65-year-old woman who lives alone and has multiple health conditions, making mobility a huge risk. Another was a 64-year-old who had been forced to miss multiple doctor appointments when she couldn’t get down the steps safely.

The third resident was an 84-year-old who lives alone. As a fall risk, she was fearful about getting down the steps, Thurston said.

“It’s quite meaningful and impactful to see someone re-engage with the community. They can go out to dinner. They will not miss doctor appointments ever again. We get ‘thank you’s from grandmothers who can’t believe how easy it is to get a stroller up to their door,” he said.

All participants were in the construction trades, whether physically out in the field building or overseeing it from the office.

But even those without hands-on construction abilities could do it.

“I’m living proof that you don’t need a lot of skills to do this,” Thurston said.

As volunteers from David Weekley arrived on the build site, pre-cut wood was laid out and ready to work on. The group grabbed power drills, and after some brief instructions about how to put the ramp pieces together, started right in.

Over four hours, the teams worked methodically and with purpose. By early afternoon, the ramp frame was in place, a lumber walkway was secured and the residents could safely make their way out of their homes.

The project’s success illustrates the role businesses and organizations can work with SAWs to make a difference in the county, Thurston said.

“We try to reach out and collaborate. The only way to make this mission work is to collaborate with places like David Weekley Homes and other corporations and churches. It’s the best way to carry on the mission,” he said.


Servants at Work

What: A faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing freedom to people with permanent disabilities in low-income households through the construction of wheelchair ramps.

Where: The Indianapolis-based group works in Indiana, as well as in Arizona, Virginia and Nevada.

How to help: Volunteer opportunities and a link to donate can be found on the SAWs website at sawsramps.org.