Modern Woodmen's contributions make resident feel like 'queen'
by Marie Nesmith
Apr 25, 2011 | 3716 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Volunteers from Modern Woodmen of America build a a wheelchair ramp to help Cartersville resident Carol Bitzer return to her home after knee surgery, from left, Buster Smith, Greg Peace and Garth Gherardini. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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For Carol Bitzer, the kindness of "strangers" has enabled her to regain a sense of normalcy. After receiving knee surgery March 28, the 49-year-old was unable to return to her Cartersville home due to its elevated nature. To solve this problem, Modern Woodmen of America volunteers built a wheelchair ramp from her driveway to her front door Thursday.

"It was beyond words," Bitzer said, referring to Modern Woodmen's contributions. "I am just overwhelmed at the care that these people would extend to someone they don't even know. I'm just a person. I'm nothing, and they just made me feel like a queen for the day. I couldn't even get in my house because I have to use a walker and my walker is too wide for the stairs. And I could not even come home to see my family until the ramp was up because there was no way to get up the stairs, absolutely no way.

"[This] meant everything to me, because I couldn't be home with my husband and my daughter and my son until this ramp was up. It meant absolutely my life. ... These are the most wonderful people I have ever met in my life. [I am a] total stranger, and they just reached out and gave me my life. They're incredible people."

In addition to its members assembling the ramp, funding for this endeavor was provided through the Modern Woodmen's Good Neighbors Program. A fraternal benefit society, Modern Woodmen is committed to helping those in need, such as Bitzer.

"There is a homeschool organization in town called CHAT. It's a Christian homeschool organization [based in Bartow County] and some of the members of that organization are clients of mine," said Garth Gherardini, a resident of White and financial representative for Modern Woodmen. "And they told me Mrs. Carol was having knee surgery -- this was several weeks ago -- and because her house was elevated they were saying that she just wasn't going to be able to [come] back home. She was going to have to go live with her daughter in Chattanooga until they could get someone to build her a wheelchair ramp.

"I heard that and I said, 'I think I can help with that.' Modern Woodmen is a very fraternal organization. We really want to be a force for good and do good works in the community, so I called a few people and I was able to get the financial resources and the volunteers to build her a ramp. We sort of put the whole thing on the calendar and got it together. After I heard about it, my desire was just to just get this woman back in her house because she hasn't been home in three weeks. ... [Projects like this are] so rewarding. One way some person said it recently -- if this isn't too dramatic -- they said, 'We're living in tough times and we feel like we're really just kind of a light to help people get through some of their difficult moments.'"

While Modern Woodmen has chapters in nearby cities, such as Cumming, Ringgold and Dalton, it currently does not have the same level of presence in Bartow County. Gherardini said Modern Woodmen plans to open an office in Cartersville next year.

To place a request for a community service project or to find out more about Modern Woodmen's financial services, ranging from life insurance to banking products, call Gherardini at 706-853-1552 or visit