Don Schaldach

Don Schaldach

“You are at home when you come here.”

With one simple phrase, an instant bond was sparked. Don and his wife, Fran, have called the waterfront town of Port Clinton, OH, home for the past 20 years. First discovering The Ability Center (ACT) services through their family doctor, the pair sought handrails to keep them safe entering and exiting their home.

After learning they were over income for ACT’s grant requirements, they moved to plan B. Don and Fran hired a private contractor to assemble stairs on their home but soon learned it wasn’t a perfect solution.

ACT’s Community Living Coordinator reconnected with the couple after being approached by long-time donors interested in supporting local veterans in need. When the opportunity was presented to Paul and Stephany Johnson, they knew they wouldn’t find a more deserving couple. Paul and Don are both Masons in addition to being veterans, so the bond was stronger.

“The ramp is a godsend, thanks to you. We are very thankful to the donors for wanting to give back to another veteran. We can’t thank you guys enough,” Don shares with a humble smile.

When ACT staff was first introduced to the Schaldachs who have been married for 62 years, we were struck by their genuine demeanor and grateful nature. The team was moved after learning about the pair who began their journey together in Cleveland, where Don was a truck driver for more than 30 years. Rising home costs brought the couple to Port Clinton, OH, where they frequently came to fish and camp. Years later, they have made it their home. “We love the small town, people are much friendlier,” Fran reveals.

The Schaldachs are the essence of a hardworking family who have done the most to support their community and country. Don, an Army Signal Guard, was stationed in Anchorage, AK, from 1946-1948. He experienced multiple spine and neck injuries and is a stroke survivor.

“The biggest change is that now I can go grocery shopping with my wife,” Don shares when asked how the ramp improves their day-to-day life. Prior to having the ramp, Don would haul heavy bags filled with groceries up and down steep steps. Now, bags are pushed in a cart up the ramp. It all begins with small improvements in accessibility. ACT’s Home Accessibility team in collaboration with charitable donors, is giving independence back to a man who has given so much for our country.

Don says, “I went outside and swept my porch, because I could. You made it happen.”