Lions form foundation
Proceeds to help fund wheelchair ramps
In order to further its wheelchair ramp building project, the Clintonville Lions Club has created a charitable foundation.
The foundation was formed to encourage tax deductible contributions to financially help the club continue its goal of providing ramps for those in need.
Announcement of the newly formed foundation, named the Al Mattson Wheelchair Ramp Foundation, came at the club’s September meeting where long-time member Mattson was remembered. Mattson, a Lion since 1971, passed away in July.
Present at the meeting were Mattson’s wife Lion Octe and his son Kevin and daughter Kyla and their spouses. Lion President Ralph Williams presented the family a plaque with wording that the foundation was “created to honor, uphold and preserve a commitment made by Lion Al Mattson to provide wheelchair ramps for those in need.”
Contributions to the foundation can be mailed to club treasurer Brian Lange at 922 S. Water St., Shawano, WI 54166.
As part of the plaque presentation at the dinner/business meeting, Mattson’s enduring leadership in ramp building was remembered.
Mattson’s commitment to building wheelchair ramps began in 1999, when as a Clintonville High School shop teacher, he was asked by an elderly Clintonville woman if he would construct a ramp for her. He didn’t give it a second thought. He single-handedly designed and constructed the ramp.
While building his first ramp, Mattson began to develop a vision for having the Clintonville Lions take on the building ramps for those in need as a community service project. Through his leadership and dedication the club took on what has become in the intervening years the club’s signature service project.
In the last 18 years, the club has installed a total of 46 ramps. The club just recently received a request for another ramp.
In the beginning, there were an average of one or two ramps per year, and in some years none.
Demand has grown. In 2014 there were four, 2015 it was 10, and in 2016 there were six ramps installed.
Over the intervening years, Mattson developed and improved a design plan for constructing ramps. He was always looking for a better way that would simplify construction and installation. He was forever thinking about how to make ramps with uniform sections that could be reused once a recipient had no further need for a ramp.
His drafting background became useful to the Lions as he did his design work. He also came up with a few jigs to assist in the construction so as to make it easier to build and install interchangeable sections.
All construction of ramp sections took place at Mattson’s residence. His controlled environment of a well-equipped shop and an adjoining garage made for a convenient location to work. He also used his barn to store ramp reclaimed sections for future use and to store some of the lumber used in construction.
The club is currently looking for another location for building and storage and welcomes any donation of space in the community.
With the club taking on building ramps as a service project, Mattson, through his leadership and dedication, convinced over the years a nucleus of other Clintonville Lions to join him to form a Wheelchair Ramp Committee.
Current members of that committee are Lions Ralph Williams, Lowell Easley and Jerry Oestreich.
Ramp building and installation occurs year round — in the heat and rain of summer and in the snow and below zero temperatures of winter. When a need existed, in some cases it is a matter of days between the time a request is received and the time it is urgently needed.
As Mattson’s health began to fail, he began to take steps to ensure that the Clintonville Lions would continue ramp building into the future. He passed the torch of leadership on to Lion Williams, who is now chairperson of the committee.
Mattson, though, still served as the engineering brain for designing the specifics an installation. For his last installation, when he was seriously ill and was unable to do the physical work, he sat in his truck on-site so he could be available if there were any questions.