Access for all: Flourish of Cullman adds new accessibility ramp

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The newly built accessibility ramp at the Flourish of Cullman office Wednesday, June 3, 2020. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Flourish of Cullman, a local service that works with State of Alabama Vocational Rehabilitation Services to help people with developmental disabilities find employment, excitedly announced recently the completion of an accessibility ramp at its office, which will allow wheelchair access for clients and other visitors.

The nonprofit, founded by Executive Director Melissa Dew and Director of Services Sharon Kane in 2016, moved into its new location, 1244 County Road 735 between Berlin and Welti, in November 2019.

“Before, if you were in a wheelchair, we had to meet you out in the community- which we’re community-based and it’s OK- but we want to give individuals several different options of where we can meet them,” said Dew. “If they want to come here to the office, we wanted them to be able to come in and do and meet us and come to meetings maybe here. It’s just another barrier taken down for accessibility for our program.”

Dew said the ramp was made possible after a social media post.

“I posted on Facebook about needing a ramp and looking for someone to build it and (United Way of Cullman County Executive Director) Becky Goff contacted me and said, ‘You have to contact Don Scott.’ They’re part of the West Cullman Baptist Association,” she explained. “I called him and they came out later that day, measured it and told me they can do it and asked only for what the lumber would cost them. That’s all they charged us was just the cost of lumber. There were about five men that came out and it took them two days to build that beautiful ramp!”

Dew said the lumber only cost Flourish $550.

Of upcoming projects for the nonprofit, Dew shared, “Our office is a duplex. We finished doing this (the main office) side. The other side, we’re going to totally have to demolish it like we did this side, down to the studs, and it will be an independent living skills apartment, where we’ll take people that are wanting to live independently to see how they do, what recommendations can we give them, what do they need trained in to be safe and sufficient at home. That’s what the other side will be for. We’re currently raising money for that.”

The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted Flourish.

“COVID-19 has almost shut us down, but we were very fortunate. We were one of the few to get the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, so that has helped us maintain how we are,” said Dew. “A lot of what we’re doing right now is virtual, but starting this month we are starting to do two socials out in the community, which it will be open air, like in Heritage Park or at Sportsman Lake. We hope as things get more stable, we’ll be able to do socials every week out in the community.”

Dew said she is thankful for the support of the community.

“We cannot do anything we do without the community support that we have,” she smiled. “None of this would be possible.”

The organization is funded by donations and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. Those who wish to donate to Flourish can mail donations to the Flourish office at 1244 Apt. B, County Road 735, Cullman, AL 35055, or by visiting Cullman Savings Bank.

For more information on Flourish of Cullman, call 256-735-4186 or visit www.facebook.com/flourishofcullmaninc/ or www.flourishofcullman.com.

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Maggie Darnell

maggie@cullmantribune.com