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Kenneth Slagle, left, stands beside long-time friend Peggy Fajna and the deck Slagle built while Fajna was on vacation.

Emporia’s Peggy Fajna recently enjoyed a well-deserved vacation at the beach. She had a surprise in store for her when returning home.

“When I drove up I liked to have fainted,” she said.

In a good way — Fajna’s long-time friend, Kenneth Slagle, rebuilt her deck and added a wishing well in the yard beside her Linda Lane home. Fajna was surprised, but maybe she shouldn’t have been.

She previously discussed with Slagle that she wanted a new deck built in front of her home. Both found the estimates to complete the work a little steep. They ran between $5,000 and $7,000.

“I thought, no way,” Slagle said. “I worked some construction a long time ago, and I told her I would do it. It took me about three weeks. While I was at it I cut some trees down and built her the wishing well.”

Fajna bought the supplies. Slagle went to work to accomplish the task. When he completed his mission, he told Fajna he had a big surprise for her when she got home.

It’s not the first time Slagle did something to help his friend. Fajna said he has helped her through the years.

“I was blinded back in 2005 and he took me to all my visits with the doctor,” she said. “He’s looked after me all these years. We’re like sisters and brothers. There isn’t a thing he wouldn’t do for me, and there isn’t a thing I wouldn’t do for him.”

Fajna does her best to help people at her place of employment, the Eugene H. Bloom Center in Emporia. She said she loves working with the residents and staff at the retirement center. Both are dear to her heart.

Despite the pandemic tearing away the fabric of normalcy of life in the community, Fajna still sees good things happening every day. She views the good in people while at work and in her friend that completed her deck and wishing well.

Slagle said he lives to help people in the community. His labor on Fajna’s deck is what he described as “work derived from the bottom of his heart.”