FORT GARLAND — Christian Community Service Projects (CCSP) “ramped” things up this year in Fort Garland.
On the edge of its 30-mile service area from Alamosa, CCSP and its team of volunteers built a ramp at Carmel Ambriz’s home in Fort Garland.
Carmel and her family have been active in serving others through the years, Carmel’s dad as a builder and Carmel as a nurse’s aide, and it was time to return the favor.
Now with a bad back, Carmel needed an easier entrance into her Fort Garland home. She was connected with CCSP while visiting her doctor whose office staff was acquainted with the program and referred the family to CCSP Director Suzanne Tolsma.
Tolsma and Job Site Coordinator Lawrence Parker checked the house out to see what they could do. They routinely check out each job site to make sure there is a need, and they determined the Ambriz home fit into their guidelines and were glad to help.
“We try to help people who have a need, not a want,” Tolsma explained.
Every summer CCSP helps meet area residents’ needs ranging from ramps to painting. This year the team assisted residents in Alamosa, La Jara, Romeo, Manassa, Moffat and Fort Garland. They painted, poured concrete, repaired a roof, fixed a door, built and repaired ramps and performed general maintenance.
Volunteer groups come in from outside of the San Luis Valley to assist with the projects. Many consist of youth groups. Volunteer teams are already in place for 2019.
Originally a Trujillo, Carmel was born on the same property where she resides today. At that time the family home was adobe and rock. Carmel’s father was a builder who was involved in numerous projects inside the Valley such as churches and the museum at Fort Garland as well as projects outside of the area, such as the Moffat Tunnel.
Having numerous children, Carmel’s father worked hard to care for his family. He also raised pigs and goats. When he butchered a pig for his family, he would also butcher two for the community. When he started a fire going to roast the pigs, the community knew they would share in the feast, Carmel said.
Carmel continued the family tradition of service. For many years she served as a nurse’s aide at the San Luis Care Center in Alamosa.
Carmel has three children, her two daughters in Fort Garland and son Moses in Pueblo. Carmel lives with daughter Monica on the family home site, and daughter Blanca and her family live nearby.
“It was a fun project,” said Parker, who began working with CCSP this year. “It was fun to work with the people and with the organization.”
Tolsma said CCSP was glad to find Lawrence Parker because the group’s former job site coordinator had retired. Alamosa businesswoman and CCSP supporter Ruthie Brown recommended the group to him, since she knew CCSP was looking for a new job site coordinator.
The volunteer group that assisted with Carmel’s project was from Longmont. The church group included numerous youth who tackled the project with energy, eagerness and enthusiasm.
“Everybody was doing something,” Carmel recalled.
The team divided into two groups, one building the ramp in Fort Garland and another painting a home in Manassa. Blanca’s 9-year-old son Ezequiel also joined the volunteers to help with the project at his grandmother’s house.
Volunteers shoveled and raked gravel, laid concrete blocks down, framed up the steps, sanded spindles for the ramp’s railing, drilled holes, cut all the pieces and put them together for the new steps and ramp.
In addition to building the ramp, the volunteers did some yard clean up at the site.
“It was quite a group. They all pitched in and did really well,” Parker said.
Parker said they finished the ramp at Carmel’s house with perfect timing — right before it started raining.
CCSP could not accomplish all its good deeds without the support of local businesses. The businesses that supported CCSP this past year included SLV Federal Bank, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Alamosa State Bank, Schrader’s Glass, Automotive Concepts, IAC Performance Transmissions & Exhaust, Sorum Tractor, Hogue’s Glass, Highland Cabinets, Van’s Machine Shop, Monte Vista Eye Care Center, Myers Brothers Truck & Tractor, Alamosa Building Supply, SLV Brewery, Right Carpet & Interior, Kent’s Exhaust Shop and VanIwaarden Builders.