Community Builder: Ministry aims to give freedom to mobility impaired

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Our latest Community Builder in partnership with Mungo Homes has been working with a local ministry for years to build wheelchair ramps for the mobility impaired.

"Joe has just been, since the day I met him, the glue that holds the whole show together," said Ken Bickel, the team leader for the Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church wheelchair build team.

Joe Pinkham, 76, has been volunteering for EmmanuWheel through the Mt. Horeb UMC team since its inception in 2009.

"He's involved in every aspect of the ramp ministry, from design to meeting the clients, helping with the build, bringing tools…cleaning the tool trailer," Bickel said. "It's every day. He's a dedicated servant of God and he just loves the ministry and wants to serve with all his heart."

EmmanuWheel aims to give freedom to the mobility impaired by building wheel chair ramps at the homes of those who could not afford to have one built on their own. Mt. Horeb UMC is one of several churches that partners with EmmanuWheel.

Joe is one of numerous volunteers who help make the builds possible.

"He calms us down, as Ken could attest," said Jeff Kerby, the Executive Director of EmmanWheel. "He keeps us focused on the task."

Which made it fun to break Joe from task to surprise him with the news that because of his hard work and dedication our latest Community Builder. Mary Mungo from Mungo Homes presented Joe with his hard hat and a check,

Joe was thrilled, but he doesn't want to take any of the credit. He says his efforts are inspired because of his friend, Ed Hartung.

"He died tragically in an automobile accident and a bunch of us just picked up that ministry and continued it for him," Joe said.

Ed Hartung partnered with Jeff Kerby after he launched EmmanuWheel in 2009. Hartung was killed in 2012 on the way back from building a wheelchair ramp.

"It's too bad he's not here," Joe said. "He would have been the one to be the Community Builder."

But those who knew Hartung say he would have said the same about Joe, and that he'd be proud to see his mission carried on by the faithful.

"I'm sure he's up in Heaven smiling down on us today," said Bickel. He's the heart and soul of this whole organization in terms of the genesis and getting it started. But Joe and all of the volunteers have picked up the cross, and we are what we are today because of all their hard work and God's grace."

In honor of Joe Pinkham being selected as a Community Builder, the Michael J. Mungo foundation is donating $1,000 to EmmanuWheel.

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