Esther Toepfer couldn’t be happier with her new deck. She couldn’t be happier with the way it came about – through the new Helping Hands program, a part of Habitat for Humanity. The deck rebuilt on her and her husband Kenny’s home was the first Helping Hands project undertaken by the Dallas/Guthrie Habitat for Humanity group, said Lois Hoger, co-chairperson of the group’s board.

Esther Toepfer said she was very pleased with the work done by the group of about 15 volunteers. "The railing on the deck was getting rotten. I asked Earl Bonjour, who goes to my church, if he could come and take a look at it. He did, and said he thought Kenny and I would be good candidates for a Helping Hands project."

The Habitat for Humanity group helped her go through their financials, and discovered they qualified, Toepfer said. The program gives her and her husband a low-interest loan to pay for materials and volunteers do the work.

Hoger explained there are financial guidelines which must be met, and applicants must own the property. Often the people who qualify are on fixed incomes because they are retired or handicapped.

Kenny Toepfer is handicapped and the couple is on a fixed income. The deck provides the only way he could leave the house. Additionally, if any emergency personnel would be called to the house, the new deck provides a much safer entrance because the floor had also begun to rot and the boards were loose, Hoger said.

She said they are hoping they will hear from people in the two counties who are in need of help. People think of Habitat for Humanity as the non-profit group that builds houses, but now they do the Helping Hands program, which allows them reach out and help more people, Hoger said. Anyone who would like to know about how to qualify or the program may call her at (515) 570-0627.

Houses, however, will still be on their agenda. "Habitat for Humanity is known for building houses. This group has built eight houses since it was started in 1994," she said. "The last house we built was in 2011."

While all those eight houses were built in Perry, the group is working to broaden their work to the rural areas and communities in both counties.

The group will also be looking at building another house in the next year or so. "One of the requirements of Habitat for Humanity is to build at least one home every three years," she said. The group is definitely looking at building in a different community since Perry has been the area of concentration for so long.