Eddie Hafner: More than a Handyman

Eddie Hafner is just one of those people who likes helping. He likes people. SRC’s volunteer program is blessed with so many people like this and yet there are never too many.

Eddie was able to retire earlier than planned and wanted to stay active. He says that he has always liked the feeling that he is giving back. He came to SRC looking for ways to help. His first thought was to help support fundraising, but a new challenge came looking for him instead. SRC really needed volunteers to help with minor home repairs. These are the little projects that make a big difference – things like installing grab bars and building ramps.

Eddie hadn’t done much handiwork, but he was open to something new. He says you can always figure it out. He jokes, “Give me that scalpel. I can do open heart surgery.” Apparently, this really is true for Eddie, since people ask for him by name. This may also be because Eddie does a lot more than get the job done. It isn’t unusual for him to bring flowers and he likes to bring dessert. Someone once gave him apples and he brought back apple pie.

Eddie has a quick smile, but takes his volunteering seriously. You can see that it means a lot to him. “You give and you get back,” he attests. His mother was 94 when she left her house. She lived in a small community and lots of people helped her stay in her home. Not everyone has that. “No one wants to leave their home. No one wants to do that,” he says emphatically. It means a lot to him to make that possible for others.

Eddie recently helped someone stay in her house. She’s 91 and had a new hip replacement. She wanted to be able to get into the bathtub herself and she needed shower bars and a higher toilet. Eddie did the work and they instantly hit it off. Whenever he came to see her, Eddie stopped at ahead of time to get flowers for her. She’s been to his house too.

Eddie’s found the right place to volunteer. He was drawn to SRC because he wanted to work with seniors and he’d heard that SRC was a very well-run organization with a good reputation. It takes people like Eddie to make that a reality.

As well as being quick with a wrench or a plunger, Eddie is quick with a story.  One of his favorites is a job he took to install a shower bar. He knocked on the door, but no one came. He waited. Finally, the garage door opened. A 96-year-old man came out and invited him in. The man was completely blind and living on his own, with shower bars throughout the house to help him get around.

People are not the sum of their conditions, though. The man had been in charge of the Sky Lab program. Autographed pictures of astronauts filled his walls. Eddie loved learning about all the man had done and seen. The man wanted a shower bar by the basement door, so he could take his laundry downstairs. Eddie put it up and they did a trial run. The man joked that he “still has troubles separating his clothes.” Getting to know this incredible person is the best part of the job, according to Eddie. Just because someone has outlived their friends does not mean they must be alone. Thanks to SRC volunteers like Eddie, real help and authentic friends are really out there.