TOWNSEND — Thanks to the efforts of the Community Builders, life for Karol DeStefano has just become easier. Much easier.

The group just installed a handicapped-access ramp at her home.

“She is thrilled,” Victoria Bender of the Community Builders said.

“At 7 a.m. last Saturday, people came together and by the end of the day, I had a ramp and a way out of my house,” DeStefano said.

Community Builders mobilized when they discovered DeStefano was homebound after a medical procedure.

Scheduled for knee replacement surgery, DeStefano did everything she could to prepare. “She worked for months and months,” Bender said, getting up early to ride her bike to lose weight before the surgery.

It did not go well for DeStefano in the hospital. She developed clots in her ankle and foot. Instead of receiving a knee replacement, the doctors amputated her leg. Her health was threatened further when clots appeared in her lungs, as well.

She is home now, and in a wheelchair. Bender said DeStefano could be in the chair for up to a year, until she is fitted for a prosthesis and can become more mobile. The stump must heal first.

Physical therapists came to the house for the first four or five weeks, Bender said, and now she has to go out two or three times a week.

“People were having to carry her up and down the front stairs,” Bender said.

Then Community Builders swung into action. Made up of members of the Townsend Business Association, they help those in the community who need assistance maintaining or repairing their homes and cannot afford to pay for it.

Businesses and individuals donate time and/or materials for the projects. Bender said most projects will be done on one weekend in May.

The group worked on DeStefano’s home now because they felt it was essential to install a ramp before the winter weather makes it more difficult and dangerous for neighbors to carry her in and out of the house.

Several members of the Townsend Business Association helped in the project. Pitching in were Matt Fournier of Elite Construction and Design Inc., Glenn Volk of Glenn’s Carpentry and Handyman Service, Jay from All American Construction, Victoria Bender and Tom Bender of Bender’s Mattress PhD and Pools & Spas, and Marcia Arsenault of the Messenger News.

“These people hardly knew me and they spent an entire Saturday helping me out,” DeStefano said.

The work went very quickly, Bender said. After a day’s work on Saturday there were just a few finishing touches left to do. “Maybe 15 minutes in all,” she said.

The project has already been a success. When Bender drove by the house the next day, DeStefano was outside. “For the first time in months she was sitting out there, drinking her coffee with her sister.”