William Beard - Playground projects are on his to-do list

April 19, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

William "Bill" Beard has overseen and helped to build more than 60 wheelchair ramps for people. He counsels those thinking of starting small businesses and has helped to design playgrounds, including for children with disabilities.

Beard, 71, started volunteering after he retired from Frick Co. in Waynesboro, Pa.

"When you've had a good life and people have been good to you and you've had a good career and had the opportunity for a good education, you want to help people who perhaps haven't been as fortunate as you," Beard said as his reason for volunteering. "And I can't play tennis all the time."

Of all his volunteer projects, Beard said he is most proud of his work with Corporation for Assistive Technology - the wheelchair ramp project, which he began in 1998.

"We do wheelchair ramps for individuals in their homes that allow them to stay in their homes," he said.


Beard, of Hagerstown, visits potential recipients, draws a ramp design, obtains a building permit and, with a group of volunteers, helps to build the ramps.

"The reward our volunteers get for putting in a ramp is when the user comes out and uses the ramp (for the first time) and says 'Thank you,'" Beard said.

Ramps are constructed with reusable materials and dismantled once they no longer are needed.

Beard oversees that project for the Washington County Commission on Aging and is on the commission's board. He also is a United Way board member.

His volunteerism started in 1996 with SCORE, for which he works with people thinking of opening small businesses.

Other projects followed, including the MIHI playground project.

One of the playgrounds that Beard helped design is at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park in Halfway. In years past, disabled children were separated from other children at playgrounds.

"That's ridiculous," Beard said. "The word inclusive is very important. We want everybody to play together."

Although he said it's a standard answer, Beard said he volunteers to help in the community.

"The rewards are the people you get involved with," he said, adding that volunteering allows him to know what's going on in his community and can help keep one's mind sharp.

"You need to be involved both physically and mentally," he said.

Plus, he said, he can work on his own schedule and fit in time for his passions, including tennis.

He doesn't discount the possibility of adding to his list of projects.

"If someone said, 'Hey Bill, this is something interesting.' ... I guess I get bored easily," he said.

Beard and his wife, Phyllis, have three grown children.


Name - William "Bill" Beard

Date of birth - Oct. 15, 1934

Address - Hagerstown

Occupation - Community volunteer

Most notable achievement - Participation in the completion of the Universal Design Habitat house that MIHI and St. John's Episcopal Church built for a person with spina bifida.

Your proudest moment - Dedication of the playground for children of all abilities at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park, "which I worked on with MIHI so that children with and without disabilities can play together."

Who is the person you most admire and why? - My father set a good example of balancing career and family with community activities.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Who gave it to you? - My father told me to finish what I start.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve? - To continue to participate in community activities and play lots of tennis.

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