EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 24, 2012

Disabled Methuen veteran gets a wheelchair ramp for Christmas

Coalition of groups team up to give Frank Gioia the gift he couldn't afford

(Continued)

“We’ve been trying to get some grants to support the DAV because the labor costs kill any kind of project like this,” Magoon said.

Though not a veteran, Magoon feels a strong personal connection to the American men and women in the armed forces. His father, the late Richard Magoon, was a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War.

“My dad died when I was 7. I don’t have a lot of memories of him, but I still have his uniform,” Magoon said.

“I see a lot of impediments to veterans getting services. And the coalition is committed to helping them,” he said.

So is East District City Councilor Ronald Marsan, who donated his time for the actual construction of the ramp.

“I help vets because they need help,” said Marsan, who worked about 14 hours on the project two weekends ago.

“I have today because of them. We have our freedom because of the vets. We need to be more considerate of them. To build something like this, it would probably be around $8,000 – but for the generosity of Home Depot,” he said.

During the years Gioia has been shopping around for a ramp, $4,000 was the cheapest price he got.

“I just couldn’t afford it,” Gioia said.

“Any time I put money down for it, something always came up. It’s tough to pay for something like this when you’re on a fixed income. There was a time I didn’t think I’d ever get one of these,” he said.

Veterans with disabilities who need a wheelchair ramp can seek financial help through their community and the Veterans Administration.

“It could still be done, but it would be a time-consuming project,” Methuen Veterans Services Director Thomas H. Hargreaves said of the conventional way for a veteran to get a wheelchair ramp.

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