Rev. Susan Bantz
Rev. Susan Bantz
The Rev. Susan Bantz serves as the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church. She lives in Muscatine where she shares a home with her two Chinese Crested dogs, Affie and Reggie, and tries to find time to read after all the chores are done.

Muscatine Living

Each year at Lutheran Living, we engage in a Lenten project that seeks to connect our staff and residents with the larger world. This year, we have chosen to partner with a wonderful local organization called Rebuilding Together Muscatine. This is one of the hidden gems of our community. I must have driven by their sign at 1424B Houser Street hundreds of times, but never realized what they were all about until I stumbled upon an old article about Frank Iliff, current executive director of the organization. Frank is deeply passionate about the work of Rebuilding Together, which seeks to provide help for those who would otherwise fall through the gaps. He can tell story after story about how Rebuilding Together has kept people in their homes, ensured safe environments for those in need, and eased the fears of numerous people who could not figure out how to handle the difficult situations that life sometimes throws at us.

My favorite project at Rebuilding Together is building wheelchair ramps. I used to work at the Illinois-Iowa Center for Independent Living and the number one request we received, almost on a daily basis, was from low-income people who needed ramps built so they could access their homes. Often these calls came after a catastrophic incident had suddenly catapulted a person who was previously able-bodied into a situation where they needed to use a wheelchair. Think for a moment about your own home. What if you suddenly had to rely on a wheelchair for mobility? Could you even get into your home from outside? Could you make your way from room to room? Get into and out of the bathroom? Work in the kitchen or garage? Things that we do without thinking every day can become insurmountable barriers to a person using a wheelchair. And that is where Rebuilding Together comes in.

Frank and his team work to meet the particular needs of each client. They charge nothing for their supplies or services, only asking for physical help at the worksite if possible. If not, the volunteers go ahead anyway! Rebuilding Together is committed to operating solely on donations, but as prices for lumber and steel have gone up with the pandemic and resulting supply shortages, so has the need for such donations. And that is where we at Lutheran Living and, I am hoping, you in the Muscatine community, come in.

The current cost to build one 8-foot by 42-inch section of ramp is $350. That divides up into $20 per plank of wood. At Lutheran Living, we are creating our own ramp out of tongue depressors, adding a “plank” for each $20 we raise. Can you help? If so, please send checks made out to Rebuilding Together to us at Lutheran Living, ATTN: Chaplain, 2421 Lutheran Dr., Muscatine, IA 52761. We will add your money to our project and present the results to Rebuilding Together after Easter on April 17. Join us, and together we can RAMP IT UP!

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