Brotherhood of St. Andrew Volunteer Church Group Known As ‘Ramp Squad’ Completes Milestone
Ramp Squad

Volunteer Church Group Known As ‘Ramp Squad’ Completes Milestone

ST. AUGUSTINE – They are fondly known as the Ramp Squad. “They have made quite an impact on our mission in the community. They take on projects without hesitation,” said Susan Giddens, St. Johns Housing Partnership (SJHP) Rehab and Community Projects Manager. “We can count on them to build 10-12 ramps a year.”

Many of us take for granted the simplicity of entering and exiting our own homes as we please. This can be a daily obstacle for the elderly, disabled and Veterans who depend on wheelchairs for much of their mobility.

The volunteers from the Brotherhood of St. Andrew of Trinity Episcopal Parish, the first Protestant Church in Florida, built their first ramp in October 1998.

“They are our gold star volunteer group! Going on 25 years since Father Jeff Batkin first asked them to partner with SJHP,” noted SJHP Executive Director Bill Lazar. “Our program’s goal is to help any family with a need for a ramp that has exhausted all other resources to  construct a ramp.”

Alan Ness, 72, joined the Ramp Squad in 2018. The squad ranges from 10 to 12 people with ages running the gamut including an 88-year-old.  Some have experience in construction, and some are novices. Newbies or veterans, all have a great desire to make a difference.

“When we get a call from Susan at SJHP we can usually mobilize pretty quickly,” said Ness who is on the fellowship’s leadership committee and helps organize the volunteers for the projects. “You couldn’t ask for a greater group of people to work with.”

Retired from a career that sent him around the world to build factories in China, Ness settled down in St. Augustine. While living in Baton Rouge, La. he and his family visited Florida and St. Augustine several times and liked the area.

“When we show up to build a ramp, the materials and tools are there. We have great supervision from the SJHP staff. Work gives us a sense of purpose, strengthens our church, and provides camaraderie while helping those in need,” Ness said.

Approaching the 300-mark in building ramps, the squad isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Ness wanted to thank SJHP’s Travis Lane, Cody Stanley, and Danny Giddens for their great work in supervising and coordinating the projects.

The fellowship has 40 to 50 attend meetings where they recruit needed manpower as Trinity Parish does other work in the community.

St. Johns Ecumenical Ministries Food Pantry offers emergency food assistance to residents of St. Johns County. The Brotherhood provides labor for transporting, unloading, and shelving food and for up-keep of the physical plant.

They also volunteer at BayView Assisted Living at the Pavilion in St. Augustine. The group thrives on giving back to the community.

“It is projects like the ramp building that get done without much publicity at all,” Ness said. “We are happy to help. This is what the Ramp Squad is about, and I am so proud to be a member of this group.”

SJHP enriches the lives of the ramp recipients by raising the necessary funds, coordinating volunteers to perform the service, and supervising the installation of the ramp.

To donate or volunteer for a ramp project contact the St. Johns Housing Partnership. (904) 824-0902 or email

*Article posted on St. Johns Housing Partnership website.