June 28, 2002
By: Katie Smalley, Special to The Phoenix
Gig lives alone with multiple sclerosis. For two years she couldn't leave her home, but she now has a ramp that leads her to the garden where she has tomatoes growing.
With the help of American Business Clubs (Ambucs), she has a safe way to leave her house in a case of an emergency. Helping Gig is just one of the many things Ambucs does for the community.
The main goal of the Ambucs is to raise money to benefit children who have diseases that prevent them from being able to use their feet for things such as riding a bike, however they do lend a helping hand to anyone in need.
One of the things Ambucs uses the money they raise to buy a special bicycle called an Amtryke. It works by turning the handles in a circlular motion which in turn makes the wheels turn, eliminating the need for the feet for mobility. These special bicycles go to children with diseases such as muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.
"This year our goal is to give out ten Amtrykes." said Carm Growcott, an Ambucs member.
Fundraisers are set up to raise money to get the Amtrykes. Recent fund raising events include running bingo at the Dogwood Festival, which raised $3,787, setting a new record. An upcoming fundraiser is a horseshoe tournament July 28, 11 a.m., at the Valley Forge Fire Company.
Ambucs also focuses on ways to help the community. They clean roads with adopt-a-highway, support the Variety Club and raise money that goes to help women and children in need.
In the past they have raised $1000 for Laurel House, a home where abused women and children can go to escape an abusive situation. The money helped buy goods like food and clothing the women and children needed while they stayed there.
Mom's House has also received donations from Ambucs. Mom's house, in Phoenixville, is a place where women can go when they are having trouble finding jobs. Mom's House helps find women jobs, watches their children and give the women training in job skills. High chairs and a record player were donated to help care for the children.
One of the ways Amubucs finds ways to service the community is through people calling in with requests. "That's how we found out about Variety club and Mom's House," Said Growcott.
Helen Jackson, a worker for the United Disabilities Services, called Ambucs in concern to one of her customers she called "Gig." Jackson put in a request to Ambucs for a ramp to be put onto Gig's house.
Jackson was pleased with the speed in which the ramp was put in and grateful to the club. She placed the request in writing that was presented to the board. She attended the monthly meeting and the request was accepted right then. Member Tony Bonanni placed the ramp in one working day.
Before the ramp was put in, Gig hadn't left the house in two years. Now she goes outside and does some gardening. The ramp also is for safety reasons. "If there was a fire she would have been trapped," said Jackson, " the ramp has helped immensely."
Ambucs is nationally based and was first created in Longview, Texas. One of the on-going goals of Ambucs is to form new chapters to get more people involved. There are approximately 15 chapters in Eastern Pennsylvania alone.
The Valley Forge chapter was formed 13 years ago by the West Norton chapter. In the beginning there were 25 members. "We were all women," Said Growcott. Today there are around 45 members, both male and female.
The club meets twice a month on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at the Moody Monkey in Jeffersonville. Meetings are always open to the public and new members are always welcome.
For more information about Ambucs call the Membership Chairman, Nancy Friel at 610-454-0795.
© The Phoenix 2002