‘Ramped up’: Volunteers minister across the state
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
May 09, 2012

‘Ramped up’: Volunteers minister across the state

‘Ramped up’: Volunteers minister across the state
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
May 09, 2012

Vicky Coerper couldn’t believe the team’s progress after just a couple of hours working. By the end of the day the wheelchair ramp would be finished, giving her mom a new sense of freedom.

“I am very thankful. This will help keep my mom, and her caretaker, safe,” Coerper said. Coerper’s mom – Vera Miller – has Parkinson’s disease and dementia and is unable to care for herself. Miller began living with her daughter and son in-law in their North Raleigh home about three years ago. Adding the wheelchair ramp to their home will help her mom be able to get outside more easily, Coerper said.


BR photo by Shawn Hendricks

Volunteers from Bayleaf Baptist Church in Raleigh and Wakefield Baptist Church in Wake Forest work on a ramp April 28.

Coerper’s family is just one of many across the state who benefited from “Rampin’ Up!” on April 28. “Rampin’ Up!” was an effort among North Carolina Baptists to build wheelchair ramps for aging adults. Wheelchair ramps consistently rank among the highest needs of the elderly population.

In one day, nearly 3,000 volunteers from North Carolina Baptist churches built 327 wheelchair ramps, according to pre-registration numbers provided by N.C. Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM). NCBAM partnered with N.C. Baptist Men to coordinate the initiative as part of the larger statewide Operation Inasmuch. Operation Inasmuch is an event that encourages churches to choose one day and minister to those in need in their communities through hands-on, practical efforts.

More than 170 N.C. Baptist churches, representing about 50 counties, participated in Operation Inasmuch April 28 and May 5.

NCBAM Director Sandy Gregory called April 28 an “independence day” for aging adults in North Carolina.


Vicky Coerper and Vera Miller, 75, received a wheelchair ramp to help their family. Miller was among the 300-plus recipients of ramps because of a partnership between NCBAM and Baptist Men.

“People of all ages can find themselves confined to a wheelchair,” Gregory said in a statement released by NCBAM. “But as we age, the number of people unable to leave their homes because of a lack of mobility increases. They are trapped until someone builds a wheelchair ramp for them.”

NCBAM reported that six people prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior through “Rampin’ Up!”

Building a ramp usually costs $700 and takes about eight hours to complete. Some churches built more than one ramp on April 28. Eastern Baptist Association in Sampson County built more than 20 ramps.

Members from Bay Leaf Baptist Church, known as the Bay Leaf Builders, built two ramps that day, including Coerper’s. The group includes mostly retired adults.

“Just about every week we build a ramp,” said Reece Dillard.

“We are able to share our faith with the homeowners and pray with them.”

Dillard said Bay Leaf Builders began in 2008 because people saw the need for such a ministry and wanted to serve others.

In addition to “Rampin Up!” North Carolina Baptist churches participated in a variety of other outreach efforts through Operation Inasmuch. Members of First Baptist Church in Cary volunteered with Dorcas Ministries, an organization that began in 1968 and is dedicated to helping meet physical needs and to sharing the gospel.

Dorcas Ministries serves the community through a thrift store, food pantry, crisis ministry and adult education scholarships.

In the past five years Dorcas Ministries has helped more than 42,000 people and provided more than $2.2 million in financial and food assistance.

“This is more of a calling than a job,” said Howard Manning, Dorcas Ministries executive director. “It’s a practical way to put God’s commands into action.”

When Manning retired from GlaxoSmithKline he did not plan to enter the workforce again, but serving at Dorcas has provided unique opportunities. “It’s a way to exercise your true beliefs every day. It’s Matthew 25,” he said.

First Baptist Cary member Andrew Major has volunteered at Dorcas and is also involved with Touching Lives for Christ, First Baptist’s annual community outreach.

“One of our visions is to do local missions in North Carolina, and to do missions in the United States and internationally. Touching Lives with Christ and Operation Inasmuch helps us get families involved with missions projects,” Major said.

In Scotland Neck, Dawson Baptist Church found a creative way to serve the community. Their “Relief at the Pump” outreach took place at the Shell gas station on Main Street, where youth and adults spent the morning pumping gas and cleaning windshields.

That morning the station discounted gas 25 cents, with the church making up the difference. “It was busy all morning long. There was already a line when we got there,” said youth pastor Will Matthews.

Matthews said the idea for the outreach came after church members saw a television news report about poverty in the Scotland Neck area. “It got us to talking about what we can do to reach out,” he said.

“Just about everyone asked why we were doing it, which gave us a really good opportunity to share Christ.” Those who participated are encouraged to share their stories by going to baptistsonmission.org/Projects/North-Carolina/Operation-Inasmuch.