As a double-major and highly engaged student, Jake Anderson keeps a busy schedule but still finds time to do good for others through the Texas Ramp Project.
Anderson, a finance and accounting major at the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business, is active in the Rawls Business Leadership Program, the Business Valuation Club, and the Accounting Leadership Council, in addition to working as a student assistant in the Office of the Dean.
The nonprofit based in Dallas has a network of regional organizations throughout Texas that builds wheelchair ramps at the homes of people with disabilities who are financially disadvantaged. The ramps give these individuals the freedom to leave their homes, which they previously could not do.
Anderson said he started in his hometown of Odessa, Texas, at 10-years-old. His dad asked him to join him. It has now become not only a bonding activity for him and his dad, but a way to give back to the community.
"I kept going and doing it because I do enjoy woodworking. It's something my dad and I do together quite a bit," he said. "But I also enjoy just helping people who need it. It's a good cause."
In the last 10 years, Anderson has built around 15 ramps, he said.
The organization usually schedules the projects on Saturdays, and the ramp-building process starts early in the morning.
"How long it takes to build them varies depending on the size of the ramp. We usually all start in the morning between 7:30 and 8 a.m.," he said.
Anderson said the group of people is usually divided into two teams for a more efficient process.
"There are usually two teams of people – a team for building the ramp and building the parts for the ramp, and then a team for actually attaching the ramp to the home," he said.
Anderson and his dad use their woodworking talents and skills to help build the parts of the ramp that ensure the surface is sufficient and stable enough for the individual to use.
Anderson has been on projects that lasted three hours and projects that lasted the whole Saturday, but by the end of the day it's worth the work, he said.
"Once we finish the ramp, we have the person come out and test the ramp to make sure it's good and make sure it's sufficient enough that they can get up and down it," he said. "It's definitely worth it to see that part."
Anderson said it is rewarding to see the individuals smile over the results of their work because it means they can finally leave their home for the first time in several months.
"People smile for many different reasons," he said, "but that's a special one to witness."