A Step Above

How ToyotAbility filled a mobility gap and helped local families Start Their Impossible

December 19, 2018
Teamwork Gets It Done –- ToyotAbility volunteered and worked together with the Texas Ramp Project to build ramps for people living with disabilities.

Six hours.  
That’s all it takes to change someone’s life.
Just ask Helen Thompson. Her son, who lives with disabilities, couldn’t live at home because the family could not afford to build a ramp. But that changed when the North Texas chapter of ToyotAbility stepped in.
“Those people cared enough to come out here to help those who can’t help themselves,” Thompson says. “They built us a ramp and now it’s like my son is free again.”
A Little Elbow Grease –- ToyotAbility volunteers hard at work building a wheelchair ramp for a family in North Texas. The team has built five ramps so far, with plans to build five more in January 2019.
That means everything to TMNA Product Development Senior Analyst Wendy Couture. Like Thompson, she also has a son with special needs. That’s what inspired her to launch the Torrance, California chapter of ToyotAbility in 2011 and the Plano chapter in 2017. ToyotAbility is a Business Partnering Group that encourages a culture of diversity, inclusion, understanding and respect. And those values resonate deeply with Couture.
“I’ve watched people with disabilities struggle firsthand. It’s heartbreaking when you can’t move yourself from one place to another,” Couture says. “So many people just aren’t aware of their plight. I felt that we had to help this underserved community.”
Under the leadership of Couture and TFS Senior Manager Kathy Giles, ToyotAbility partnered with the Texas Ramp Project (TRP) this year. The group builds wheelchair ramps for people who cannot afford to buy one. To date, TRP has constructed 79 miles of ramp. And, with the help of ToyotAbility members, they’re building even more bridges.
All in a Day’s Work –- ToyotAbility and the Texas Ramp Project built ramps like this one for local families who couldn’t afford to buy one. “These people cared enough to come out here to help those who can’t help themselves,” recipient Helen Thompson says. She says her son, who lives with disabilities, is “free again.”

“They need to know that this company cares about them,” Giles says. “We have a chance to make a difference in a person’s life. And that motivates team members to come out and build ramps again and again.”
The team did just that in November. Despite chilly weather conditions, Giles, Couture, and members of the now 300-member strong ToyotAbility team built five ramps. The labor of love is a natural fit for Toyota team members renowned for their engineering and management skills. They plan to build more ramps in January for people like Thompson and her son.
“It was just so helpful for our family,” Thompson says. “We were stuck. What I was trying to figure out, God worked out for me. The folks from Toyota came. And I’m just so grateful.”

By Alexa Conomos

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