Carla Allen of Ama had been stranded inside her home for much of the time following the stroke she suffered Nov. 1, but lately her days are just a little bit brighter thanks to a few friendly helping hands.
Allen, 49, has been largely wheelchair bound and unable to walk since that day, which was her second stroke of 2017. Getting out of the house and back in, she said, had been a chore given the raised door to her home.
“It’s been really hard,” Allen said. “They were having to carry me out the front door, one in front of me and my walker and one on the back. So that’s been difficult.”
But a saving grace has been the wheelchair ramp built and installed by the Handyman Crew of Destrehan High School, a group that was established years ago and revived in Craig Perrier’s carpentry class after the crew was disbanded. The student group utilizes the skills they learn in Perrier’s class to help people and address needs in the community.
“It’s already so much better,” Allen said. “Mr. Craig called me and told me they were coming to set it up and everything. I was so excited and I am so appreciative of it all.”
Jermon Braggs, a senior at Destrehan and member of the Handyman Crew, said helping Allen get on the move again provided a rewarding experience for he and his classmates.
“Watching Mrs. Carla use the ramp that I was a part of building and her being so grateful made me feel like I just touched someone’s life forever, and that makes me feel really good about myself,” Braggs said. “I feel so great about myself and my classmates for helping Mrs. Carla get out of her house.”
While the ramp is a big help, Allen, who is an alumnus of Hahnville High School who has lived in Ama for all her life, isn’t settling for being wheelchair-bound long term. She’s undergoing therapy at her home two times a week and says she’s motivated to keep making progress. She is able to use a walker to get around her home and says that in her mind, she’ll no doubt be back on her feet soon enough.
“I’ve been making strides,” she said. “I’m sure that I’ll be back to walking. I’m motivated, that’s for sure.”
The primary project for the Handyman Crew is building wheelchair ramps for the homes of elderly and disabled people in need around the community. The idea behind it is to not only help people in the community but to also allow students to find success in the classroom and immediately be able to show their skills in a practical way.
“I feel like throughout all the classes I have taken, the Handyman Crew class is the one that most has me ready for real life experiences,” Braggs said.