Above: From left, Tom Schermerhorn and Paul Thornton, members of the Honeywell Retired Volunteer Program, work with Rebuilding Together’s Ramp Program to build a wheelchair ramp for a local homeowner.

Published by the Catholic Spirit on August 2, 2016:

A bigger challenge than distance awaited Evon and Charles Wells-Ellis in their decision to have Evon’s mother, Grace Wells, move into their St. Paul home.

Wells, 83, from Omaha, Nebraska, needed wheelchair access and other physical adaptations to live at Wells-Ellis’ Aurora-St. Anthony neighborhood home near St. Peter Claver. The cost of the changes looked daunting at $40,000-$50,000.

“Anyone who was past the age of 70 and no longer working who [was] maybe existing either on their retirement, from their benefits or their Social Security as [a] whole, it’s virtually impossible,” Evon said about affording such changes.

Around 40-50 volunteers from Rebuilding Together Twin Cities helped clear that hurdle by coming to the Wells-Ellis home to make the renovations needed. RTTC received a Social Impact Grant of $10,000 from the Catholic Community Foundation this year to assist in making such projects possible.

“What the grant allowed us to do is to keep doing more fall prevention measures that we install into seniors’ homes,” RTTC Executive Director Kathy Greiner said.

Each year, the St. Paul-based CCF distributes grants for varying social needs. Senior citizen services receive funds from CCF once every three years as part of the Catholic organization’s rotation of programs for the elderly, youth and young parents.

“This is a strategy that allows us to provide larger, more focused grants and hopefully be more strategic about them in terms of their impact since we can get to know the current issues that face vulnerable elderly in a focused way, rather than trying to be all things to all people each year,” said Meg Payne Nelson, CCF data and grants program manager.


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