Monday, June 15, 2020
It all started with a gift card. Ashley Campbell and his wife Amber own Decked Out Construction and Outdoor Living, and they hold a drawing on Decked Out’s Facebook page every three months. During their recent contest for a $500 Home Depot gift card, Janice Gray entered with the comment: “My front porch is in need of serious repairs. Flooring is rotting out and roof needing repair. Am unable to take my disabled daughter (Monica) out for fear her wheelchair will fall through, so she is stuck inside 24/7. Thank you and God Bless.”
Campbell soon learned that 19 years ago a newly licensed driver hit Monica from behind, rendering her paralyzed. As a result of the accident, Janice also had to quit her job to care for her daughter. Moved by their story, Campbell arranged to meet the family and assess their front porch needs. In his words, the structure was “dilapidated to say the least. So, we decided to build a brand new one for free.”
As a Fortress® Preferred member, Campbell reached out to see if Fortress Building Products would be interested in participating. Central Regional Manager Scot Sheffield, along with the rest of the Fortress team, leapt at the chance to be a part of “Monica’s Deck Project.”
Bringing Monica’s Deck Back to Life
Fortress has a long history of giving back and is always seeking opportunities to bring about positive change. Continuing with this tradition, Fortress strove to help the Gray family by donating:
“All of these Fortress components helped increase the safety factor of the property compared to what was there before,” Sheffield said. “It also offers the family peace of mind that they can use the deck anytime they see fit without concern.”
Fortress Lineup Supports Accessibility, Safety
Specifically, the Fortress® railing and lighting help open the outdoors to Monica once more. Janice hadn’t brought Monica out on the front porch since 2019 when she first noticed that the structure was beginning to fail. Now, with the help of improved decking and steadying Fe26 steel railing, Janice can maneuver Monica’s wheelchair onto the new deck and down the wheelchair ramp to the yard below.
What’s more, the railing panels are tested in accordance with ICC-ESTM AC273 Acceptance Criteria for Handrails and Guards. This means the panels could further support an aluminum round Fortress® Handrail System for greater accessibility. Fully ADA compliant, the system will make traveling the length of the deck and ramp easier on Janice as she assists her daughter. Monica will now be able to bask in the Texas sun for years to come.
In the evenings, FortressAccents™ post caps with LED lighting illuminate the path outside. “The extra lighting helps improve getting around at night,” Campbell summed up. Not only will Monica and Janice be able to safely navigate their way around the deck in the dark, but they will also be able to enjoy a symphony of crickets or a blanket of stars from their well-lit vantage point.
More Hands and User-Friendly Products Make Light Work
To complete the build as fast as possible and get Monica and Janice back on deck, the Campbell family, Fortress employees and a crew of volunteers “came together in a truly concerted effort,” Sheffield said. The team was able to quickly and efficiently assemble the railing thanks to pre-welded panels with a patented bracket system.
As Campbell explained, “You can buy the handrails as panels that have been pre-cut. And, the product is very easy to work with. Even for a lot of the volunteers who’d never seen Fortress products before, it was easy for them to pick up on how to install everything.”
With labor time cut down tremendously, the total solution was finished in just a few weeks. Monica is already experiencing “a big life change,” Janice said in an interview with CBS. “She’s going to have so much more joy in her life.”