How to help
If you or someone you know needs a ramp into a home, call Detective Donny Routh at the Richmond Hill Police Department at 912-756-5645.
Louise Cuthbert of Richmond Hill said she used to be scared to go down and up her outside steps.
Cuthbert, 90, has been residing in the same house on the city’s outskirts since December 1952. Living there alone — aside from her two dogs — it was a challenge just getting out of the house. But now, Cuthbert has a ramp to make getting in and out of her house immensely easier. The ramp was part of a project that brought many different people and agencies together in the community.
Donny Routh, a detective with the Richmond Hill Police Department, used to donate bread in his previous capacity as owner of a Baldino’s Giant Jersey Subs shop in the city. The donation would be used in Richmond Hill United Methodist Church’s Food for the Soul Soup Kitchen, which delivers about 300 meals each Thursday.
Last year, he mentioned to Diana South, the soup kitchen’s chairwoman, that he wanted to find a hands-on way to help people.
“He just told me that he was interested in doing some kind of project with the fellow policemen and asked me if I knew anybody who had a need,” she said.
About that same time, South was approached by Kelly Johnson, broker and co-owner of Re/Max Accent in Richmond Hill and soup kitchen volunteer, who also was looking to help someone locally. Johnson said that as part of the agency’s membership in the Savannah Area Realtors, it participates in “Realtor Cares Days,” in which agents have work days in their respective communities on projects such as cleaning people’s yards and building railings.
South told both of them that she knew just the person in need of assistance. She said that Cuthbert, who receives meals from Food for the Soul, is the kind of person who gives other people her umbrella when it’s raining, even though half of her umbrella is hanging down. She also donates to the organization once a month.
“It’s very humbling,” South said. “If you saw the place she lived, you know she couldn’t afford to do much of anything. But it’s like the widow who gave her last 2 cents to tithe to the church; it means more than somebody who can give a million.”
South gave Cuthbert’s address to Routh and told Johnson about Cuthbert’s situation.
“From every direction where we asked who needed help, we had Miss Louise’s name come up,” Johnson said.
Last fall, Routh emailed everybody at RHPD, asking for volunteers. After a while, the ramp-building crew came together: Routh, Cpl. Tim Saia, Sgt. Susan Willis, and Officers Mike Ward, Todd Read and Brandon Tufts.
Meanwhile, Johnson met with the Realtor Cares committee, including agents from Keller Williams and Century 21, to find out what could be done from that end. Mike Allen of JM Allen Construction met with them at Cuthbert’s house to draw out a rough plan and got lumber donated. Pressure washing to clean the house was provided by Rodger Walker’s Pressure Washing, which Johnson said does work for Re/Max. And South Georgia Lawn Management of Richmond Hill supplied the manpower to do heavy chain-sawing and supplied dirt. Johnson was part of a half-dozen people connected to her committee who raked Cuthbert’s lawn.
“Really just a community effort. It was really neat,” Johnson said.
In mid-November, Routh’s crew went out to Cuthbert’s house and built the ramp, complete with hand rails. He said the crew started at about 9 a.m. and finished in mid-afternoon.
“Just the smile on (Cuthbert’s) face when she walked out, that said it all,” Routh said.
Routh said he would like to do a ramp of month for area people who can use one. South said that the need is out there and she sees that need every week.
“People in areas that people don’t even know exist, I mean, it’s just most of these people are quiet and humble and wouldn’t ask for the help. Sometimes, it takes an average person just to speak up a little bit when you see the need,” she said.
Cuthbert said it is now much easier to get around.
“God will bless y’all. I know he will because he blessed me,” she said.