Submitted by Jessica Bowser, USDA Kansas Public Information Coordinator
What makes a house a home? That answer can vary, depending on who you ask, but to one Kansan it’s much more than the furnishings or the structure that makes her house a home.
Sarah Heckel of Hiawatha, Kansas, has lived in her home for 25 years. Heckel and her husband moved to Hiawatha from South Dakota to be closer to her family. Shortly after they moved to Kansas, Heckel’s mother passed away. Heckel and her husband moved into her mother’s house, where she still lives today. The house has remained in the family for more than 55 years.
Heckel is well known in Hiawatha, a community of 3,000. She is 91 years old and uses a wheel chair. Her house needed renovations to better accommodate her wheelchair and her active lifestyle. With assistance from the Northeast Kansas Area Agency on Aging, Heckel applied for USDA Rural Development housing assistance.
Utilizing USDA Rural Development’s Single Family Direct Housing Program, Heckel hired local Hiawatha businesses to install a new furnace, water heater, storm door and windows. Repairs were also made to the floors, foundation and roof.
On June 13, Kansas Rural Development Housing Specialist Elda Reeder recognized all the businesses that assisted Heckel with home repairs, as well as Ruth Reiter from the Northeast Kansas Area Agency on Aging. Heckel greeted her guests with cupcakes, brownies and cinnamon rolls, despite having just been released from the hospital with a sprained ankle. Heckel is thrilled to remain in her home, and grateful for all the assistance provided.
Heckel’s house is home to her because of its history, comfort and because she has a welcoming place for friends and family.
To find out more about how USDA’s home repair program can assist income-eligible homeowners, click here.