TOWNSEND -- When Jim Clish needed a handicap ramp on his house, the volunteer crew foresaw a problem very few fundraisers ever face.

The group considered opening an account at the credit union so people could donate to purchase material for the ramp they planned on building at Jim Clish's house.

They decided not to. "We'd just get too much money," organizer Russ Moore said.

Through word of mouth, they raised enough money from individuals and the Townsend Couples Club to purchase more than $700 dollars worth of supplies.

"We didn't ask for donations," Moore said.

Clish, 72, founded the Townsend Ecumenical Outreach 28 years ago. Since then he and a group of volunteers have have helped other people with things they need: food, clothing, heating aid and more.

Clish has been ill and confined to a rehabilitation center since February. A trip home with therapists in November was not encouraging. He was unable to get out of the car to go inside.

Moore was there and soon he and Gary Hatch put together a plan to help their friend.

Time was getting tight. Clish was due home Jan. 8. "In the last few weeks he's come a long way," his wife Chris Clish said.

"We wanted to get in there and get it done," Moore said.

Hatch called Chris to discuss the ramp.

"Jim has done so much for others. It is time we get busy and do something for him. Why would we not do that?" he said to her on the phone.

Hatch designed the ramp with input from Rich Hanks, the building inspector.


Volunteers came from the TEO and the Townsend Congregational Church to chip in. Moore, Don Ouellette, Steve Morency, Christine St. Jean and Harold and Eric Modica were on the construction crew.

"It took us all day to do it," Moore said, "We had a lot of good help."

"When I came home, there were five people here. I wanted to cry because I've seen that on TV done for others," Chris said.

"I never dreamed that we'd be in that position. I saw God in my front yard, all those people," she said.

On Monday, the day after the ramp was installed, Chris was getting ready for her husband of almost 34 years to return home.

The bathroom had been modified to make it more accessible. Vi Kenney's family gave Jim a power recliner. A walker waited by the door and a hospital bed would soon arrive to take center stage in the living room.

The Christmas tree remained in the corner because he had not seen it yet this year.

Chris prepared for a trip to the grocery store.

Jim's favorite meal is meatloaf and she planned on having it ready for his homecoming the next day.