Lending a hand, providing easier path for Auburn woman

Penelope Popovich is a kind, generous and iron-willed woman. But when she was so overwhelmed by the site of her wheelchair access ramp, she forgot to do something at the end of the day.

Rodrigo Lara works on the wheelchair ramp for Penelope Popovich. A work crew from Centex Homes and two of their subcontractors

‘Rampathon’ volunteers help someone in need

Penelope Popovich is a kind, generous and iron-willed woman. But when she was so overwhelmed by the site of her wheelchair access ramp, she forgot to do something at the end of the day.

“After they were done, why didn’t I offer them some lemonade?” asked Popovich, who watched as 15 volunteers endured the heat Saturday to spruce up her home and yard. “I could have at least done that, don’t you think? They did such a wonderful job.”

The project came from the heart and the hands of Master Builders Care Foundation volunteer builder-remodelers who paid Popovich a visit. Her home at 808 26th Place SE was selected along with 34 others from around the region to receive a free wheelchair access ramp, part of the foundation’s 15th annual “Rampathon” event.

Since 1993, foundation volunteer workers have designed and constructed 230 free wheelchair access ramps for low-income, disabled homeowners in King and Snohomish Counties. The foundation is a philanthropic arm of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, the largest home building association in the country.

On Saturday, an estimated 400 volunteers went to work to build ramps around the region.

Supporters promoted Popovich’s name for consideration, and the 62-old-year woman’s need for greater mobility was rewarded by the foundation with a spacious, custom-built ramp.

“It’s just wonderful,” said Popovich, who has been bound in a wheelchair for a year and disabled for 40 years. “I had no idea that it would be this nice.”

The nice work came from the force under volunteer ramp captain Eric Weiss, of Centex Homes. Weiss recruited skilled volunteers, secured donations from suppliers and customized ramp blueprints to fit the house. He estimated the entire project cost about $10,000 with all the materials, with the exception of some landscaping, being donated.

“It’s a pleasure to give back to the community, particularly in the communities we live and work in,” Weiss said. “It’s kind of our neighborhood, too, and that’s how we think of it.

“Every step of the way she’s been delighted and somewhat overwhelmed,” Weiss said of the project. “She’s real pleased with what we came up with.”

The crew laid down a concrete slab, 5½-feet by 4-feet wide, that connects to a 10-foot long by 4-foot wide ramp. Such an arrangement greatly will help Popovich, who doesn’t get around as much and receives care in her home.

In addition to building the ramp, volunteers did some landscaping and mowed the lawn.

“What they did in one morning we haven’t been able to do in a couple of years,” said Lana Zielinski, Popovich’s sister. “It’s just wonderful.

“Charity is a precious thing,” Zielinski said. “They went above and beyond in what they’ve done. And Eric was so respectful in whatever we wanted. Eric was very professional, very kind and considerate.

“It was an amazing job.”

Mark Klaas can be reached at 253-833-0218, ext. 5050, or


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