Ramp Builders

Ramp Builders are needed (Men and Women).  The demand for ramps is great and the manpower is weak.  No experience necessary, they offer on the job training.  If you can volunteer to help with this ministry or for more information, please contact Clarence Wenzel (815) 223-1877.



God’s Work with the Ramp Builders Hands”




On Saturday, June 23rdSt. John’s Ramp Builders went to Meridan (small town east of Mendota) to build a ramp.  The ramp was 42 feet long.  Lumber and ramp sections were already loaded on the ramp cargo trailers.  9 a.m. – we started setting up tools and equipment.  And we started building.  Everyone knew their jobs.  The sun was out and it was extremely hot.  But by the time we got to the second half of the ramp, we were blessed with the shade of a big old magnolia tree.  We worked through lunch and by 2:30 p.m. we were done and loaded to leave.  I just want to thank each of the volunteers for working on Saturday – to give of their time for someone in need.  Maybe a few more hands would have made the job go faster – but we are glad for these volunteers.  I wanted to acknowledge these fine people for all they did.  God bless everyone.

Lori Whalen -- Jeff Whalen -- Frank Taylor

Don Anderson -- Kurt Tregoning -- Pete Wickstrom

Art Hovitch -- Carole Wenzel -- Clarence Wenzel






Pastor Scott Schmitt from St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Princeton called to ask Clarence and his ramp team for help with one of his congregation’s members.  Mrs. Swanson was in need of a wheelchair ramp.  Members of his church were not knowledgeable of state regulations and how to build this ramp.  After talking to Clarence, Pastor Schmitt knew he has found the answer to his prayers.  Clarence agreed to go to her home and measure to see what was needed.  They chose the date of September 10 which would work as part of a special community service project at St. John’s.

Saturday, September 10, began with cover cast skies, a bleak morning forecast and raindrops.  The weather forecast showed slight rain till mid afternoon.  I asked Clarence if we should still plan on going to Princeton.  Rain and power tools do not mix.  “We have to go”, he replied.  People are depending on us, especially Mrs. Swanson.  With the ramp trailer loaded, we were on the road by 8 A.M.  Volunteers were aware of the address.  (Clarence had already made 3 trips to Princeton prior to this day acquiring permits and hauling ramp sections to the site.)

We were the first to arrive and Clarence carefully positioned the ramp trailer to allow easy access of material.  We started unloading material and tools.  The raindrops stopped.  Jeff Whalen and Bradley Benckendorf arrived.  Jeff was wonderful with Bradley.  Bradley had never come to build a ramp with us.  Within half an hour, we had our volunteers, few in number, but their hearts and hands were in it.

Clarence explained how the ramp would be built and all the ramp sections needed were there.  Established ramp builders like Jeff, Billy and Art were eager to teach our new builders.  Jeff and Art started at the front door step.  It was removed and new ramp put in place.

We had a pleasant surprise when Pastor Schmitt stopped by to greet everyone and express his appreciation.

And, as an added surprise, Jeff’s friends, Jeff and Linda Berry (from St. Matthew’s Church) stopped by to give us a case of water and an extra large pan of homemade delicious cinnamon rolls.  It was wonderful!

About 11 A.M. the storm clouds cleared away and the sunshine appeared.

By noon, not only were we enjoying humor and jokes, fellowship and band music.  Princeton’s Homestead Festival Parade.

By 3 P.M. we had completed a 44 foot ramp.  Everyone was tired, but felt good.

I would like to thank:

Jeff Whalen – he’s one of our seasoned ramp builders.  Jeff has been with us when we began this ministry.  Jeff, Lori, Allison and Sam were a few of the “beginners”.  His humor, personality, and willingness to work, is why he at the top of the volunteer list.  Jeff knows what’s to be done and how to do it.  He helps others and demonstrates true Christian character.  A very special friend.

Bradley Benckendorf – was a new ramp builder.  He came with Jeff.  I was amazed at how Brad just jumped right in (under Jeff’s leadership.)  Bradley carried lumber, used all the tools, measured boards, and learned step by step how a 44 foot ramp was built.  Never once did I hear him complain.  Not once did he ask if they were done, so they could go home.  I did not hear “I’m tired of working, can we go?”  Some youth would not work as hard as Bradley did.

Pastor Kenyon – came and really helped.  He also is a new ramp builder.  What a blessing he was to our team.  He helped with every aspect of the ramp.  He has knowledge of carpentry, which helped Art with handrails, boards, and roofing application.  We are so grateful for his help, as it made the job easier.

Jane Krysiak - also was a new volunteer.  She helped Carole run the saw and cutting boards for the supports.  She helped carry boards and equipment.  She did not realize what was involved with building a ramp, no matter the size.  Jane was a surprise helping, as there are only 2 women on the ramp team.

Billy Gerrard – is one of our seasoned ramp builders.  Billy comes every time Clarence calls him.  He’s a great worker, never complains and doesn’t have to be told everything to do.  He stays to help from start to finish.  He makes the job fun.

Joe Smith – is a new ramp builder.  Billy brought him along to help.  He really pitched in and worked.  Thanks to Joe, Billy, Jeff, Pastor, Art, Bradley and Clarence, 12 foot ramp sections were set in place and secure.

Art Hovick – is a seasoned ramp builder.  He comes to work every time Clarence calls.  Art and Pastor were a great duo in building the handrails and bumper boards.  Art always has tales to tell.

Everything said, it was a wonderful day, even with the raindrops, the sunshine, the band music, all the hard working people on the ramp team, the cinnamon rolls, the valued members of our team, and last of all, the heartful feeling of helping Mrs. Swanson to get out of her home.  Mrs. Swanson was unable to come out and thank us, but her son, John did.  We gave Mrs. Elizabeth Swanson a quilt  and a card.  The card said that when she wraps the quilt around her, remember how much God loves her and St. John’s Peru Ramp Builders.

Thanks to God for everyone who helped us. 

God Bless You, Carole & Clarence Wenzel 




Prior to 2006 the Ramp Building Ministry was done by volunteers from St. Paul Lutheran Church and a Catholic Church in Streator, Illinois. In 2005 they were to build 87 ramps but because of bad weather 10 ramps were left to be built with four of them in the La Salle, Peru, and Spring Valley area.
Clarence Wenzel was contacted and asked if a team of volunteers could be brought together. A request in the weekly bulletin resulted in both men and women volunteering. Thus the St. John’s Peru Ramp Builders Ministry was created.
The ramps created are built to the Illinois State Code. With monetary donations we purchased tools, an enclosed trailer, and extra materials. We have been given the use of a warehouse in which to build in bad weather.
We receive requests from individuals, hospitals, and different agencies. Materials are paid by the person or person requesting the ramps and we donate our labor and our fuel for transportation. We visit the location, lay out the ramp, and then the building permit is obtained. We build with treated lumber, deck screws, lag bolts, flat washers, and roofing nails. A non-skid material for traction is nailed on the ramp floor. A metal plate is installed at the bottom of each ramp. All decks, turn around and ramps have handrails and deck boards attached to the side to prevent the wheels from going off the side.
Fellowship - we laugh, we talk, tell jokes, and have a great time while being able to help someone in need. Being trapped behind four walls is rough - and what a good feeling it gives us to know they can leave those four walls - because of the ramps we build. We encourage you to come and join us - no feeling better than the one of giving.
For additional information, please contact the church office at 815-223-1144 or Clarence Wenzel