Submitted by Sharon Davidson,
Senior Director Volunteer & Community Services

Over a dozen of Big Bend Hospice’s employees partnered with Ability1st and braved a cold Saturday morning to build a wheelchair ramp for a Gadsden County resident.  This was part of BBH’s “Community Give Back” campaign, one of the many ways BBH has planned to celebrate its 40th Anniversary in 2023. 

Each month, BBH will partner in one of their service counties with an organization to “give back.”  Other activities planned throughout the year include partnering with Meals on Wheels, Second Harvest, Keep Tallahassee Beautiful, Sleep in Heavenly Peace Bunk Beds Building, Wakulla Coastal Cleanup, Madison’s Down-Home Days, Jefferson’s Watermelon Festival, Franklin’s Promise, and Taylor County’s Florida Forest Festival.

Building a wheelchair ramp allowed many BBH employees who had never used a drill, nail gun, or table saw the opportunity to learn something new. Ability1st Volunteer Corps, led by Mr. Timmy, were available to provide instruction, assistance, and more importantly, comradery for a successful experience. 

Carlos Soria, BBH’s DEI Specialist, had never used a drill gun before and shared the experience with his father afterward who responded proudly, “glad to see you doing this type of work.” Mary Powell, BBH’s Medical Records Manager, was the point person who organized the event.  Like everyone else, she was very impressed with the speed the ramp went up.  “In less than 3 hours we had built a two-level ramp with rails,” says Powell.  “We also got to see the resident try out her new ramp before we left.  The joy on her face told us the impact we’d made.”

In addition to helping someone in the community, the “Community Give Back” campaign is also giving employees a chance to work shoulder-to-shoulder with other staff members they may not get an opportunity to see in their current roles.  During this “give-back” event, the Director of Finance was using a nail gun alongside the Gadsden County Social Worker.  The Manager of 24-Hour Care helped lay boards with the HR Specialist.

The Ability1st Access to Independence (ATI) program is made up of three components. The most well-known component is the access builds. Partnering with professional groups, like Big Bend Hospice, they construct wheelchair ramps and half-steps to enable members of our community with disabilities to get in and out of their homes safely. Partnering with volunteers enables them to stretch available funds and provide more services in our community. 

BBH has been proud to serve as THE Hometown Hospice since 1983.  It was Community Leaders and Volunteers who established the modern-day hospice in the big bend area. We honor that partnership by working with other community leaders and volunteering to serve. For 40 years, BBH has offered a holistic, team approach to those facing a serious illness.  Physicians, Nurses, Aides, Social Workers, Music Therapists, Bereavement Counselors, and Trained Volunteers have inspired Hope by positively impacting the way those in our community experience a serious illness or grief – one family at a time.