Weather Forecast


'A Brush with Kindness': Habitat for Humanity begins home repair program

Darlene Eslick of Pipestone was recently hired as an AmeriCorps VISTA worker to oversee the development of “A Brush with Kindness,” a new program offered through Southwest Minnesota Habitat for Humanity. (Submitted photo)

LUVERNE — The Southwest Minnesota Chapter of Habitat for Humanity is rolling out a new program and has hired an AmeriCorps VISTA staff member to oversee it.

Darlene Eslick of Pipestone began her new duties Aug. 1 and will develop “A Brush with Kindness,” a program geared to assist local homeowners with home repairs that improve exterior safety, mobility and energy efficiency of the home. The repairs include everything from installing ramps, handrails, shingles, insulation and siding to minor repairs, painting and landscaping.

Eslick said the program has either started or is being introduced by Habitat chapters all across the country.

“They wanted to do a little something extra in between building houses,” she explained. “This would give (homeowners) an opportunity to help fix up their house and still at a low cost.”

Eslick said the program will operate similar to Habitat for Humanity’s home building projects, in which the homeowner is required to put some sweat equity into the project. Homeowners must meet income eligibility guidelines, show a need and be able to repay the cost of the project through a monthly payment program, based on a 0 percent interest loan.

“We just got the application approved by the (Habitat) board last night,” Eslick said Friday morning. Eventually, the applications will be available at social services offices in Nobles, Rock and Pipestone counties.

While Eslick said they already have received suggestions of homeowners in needed of assistance, she is starting a list of potential candidates.

“There’s definitely a need in all of the counties,” Eslick said. “We would like to get at least one project done before winter.”

Long-term goals of A Brush with Kindness are to repair or beautify one home in each of the three counties each summer, in addition to Habitat’s ongoing home building projects, she added.

The program is hoped to benefit not only the families receiving assistance, but neighborhoods and communities as a whole. It will increase the number of families living in safe, decent, affordable homes, improve the appearance of neighborhoods and communities and provide an opportunity for community members to learn the joys of volunteering and each other by working side by side.

The Southwest Chapter of Habitat for Humanity plans to extend A Brush with Kindness within the next year by offering critical home repair such as plumbing and electrical work.

The work of Habitat for Humanity can’t be accomplished, however, without volunteers. Eslick said she is compiling a list of volunteers in all three of the counties, and is especially looking for contractors or retired contractors willing to give of their time to oversee the projects.

Donations are also welcome to operate the program, and may be sent to Southwest Minnesota Habitat for Humanity at P.O. Box 962, Luverne 56156, or dropped off at the Luverne office, 216 E. Main St.

To contact Eslick to offer volunteer services, suggest a homeowner for “A Brush with Kindness” or for more information about the program, call her at (507) 920-9911 or email For details about Southwest Minnesota Habitat for Humanity’s homebuilding program, contact Executive Director Pam Dobson at (507) 215-2091 or email

The Southwest Minnesota Habitat for Humanity’s volunteer board of directors includes Bev McCarvel, Kris Hohensee and Deb Steinle of Nobles County; Peg Klinsing, Dave Keeler and Tyler Ruesch of Pipestone County and Jessie Sandbulte of Rock County.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

(507) 376-7330