St. Mary’s Episcopal builds mobility ramps in West Virginia

Published 1:38 pm Thursday, October 31, 2019

A construction crew from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Middlesboro spent the weekend of Oct. 25 building two access ramps for residents in McDowell County, W.Va. The construction crew of six parishioners began work Friday morning and completed it Oct. 26.

Specializing in the construction of access ramps for homes, the team devotes time, skills and resources to the Tri-State Region of Bell and Whitley counties; Lee County, Va.; and Claiborne County, Tenn., throughout the year. When members heard about the Highland Educational Project in West Virginia, it added the trip as its final project for 2019. The total number of ramps constructed in 2019 is four; the total to-date is 38.

The church construction team, dressed in customized team shirts, built the first ramp in Roderfield the morning of Oct. 25 and moved to the second project that afternoon. The first ramp extended 20 feet in length to aid a renal patient. The second ramp reached 50 feet, along with a 5×5 platform and was installed to provide assistance to a double-amputee.

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“I sure do love my ramp,” Sharon Belcher of Roderfield said. “Thank you, thank you,” she said as she made her first trip up the 20-foot walkway.

“We cannot thank this group enough,” said Mary Green, interim director of the Highland Educational Project. “This work allows two residents to have more independence in their homes.”

The Kentucky-based group begins their work in late winter/early spring and works until summer; work then picks back up in early fall after the summer heat is gone.

“We are blessed to have members who want to share their love to help God’s people through the ministry of building ramps,” said Father Aelred Bernard Dean, St. Mary’s priest. “Being able to give mobility to those living with movement limitations is important to us.”

The ministry began at St. Mary’s in 2013.

The Highland Educational Project is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia and has been working to serve McDowell County and its residents for 70 years. Projects include home repairs, education projects and recovery programs. To learn more about the project, visit

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington. St. Mary’s is based in Middlesboro. More about the parish, its programs and ministry can be found at