Photo Release -- Couple Purchases First Home Thanks to Easter Seals and Grant Funding From Amegy Bank and FHLB Dallas

Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas Logo

KATY, Texas, May 8, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- New homeowners Tasha Shoffner and Justin Birch are looking forward to wedding plans in the backyard of their new home next spring. The couple couldn't be happier about purchasing their first home thanks to the guidance of Easter Seals Greater Houston and grant funding awarded by Amegy Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas).

Tasha Shoffner and Justin Birch received down payment and closing cost assistance through a grant from Amegy Bank and FHLB Dallas.

Tasha Shoffner and Justin Birch plan to marry next spring next to this beautiful Koi pond in their backyard. The couple bought their home with the help Affordable Housing Program grant funds from Amegy Bank and FHLB Dallas.

Photos accompanying this release are available at

Ms. Shoffner, 40, and Mr. Birch, 37, met in the summer of 2007 at a DynaVox program meeting at the company's headquarters in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. As consumer representatives, they served as mentors to others, who, like themselves, are profoundly limited in their speech and rely on alternative communication devices as their voice.

Ms. Shoffner has a bachelor's degree in social work and a master of business administration degree. She has worked with AmeriCorps and with Easter Seals. She has used a DynaVox since she was 22 to assist with speech difficulties related to cerebral palsy. Mr. Birch is a licensed practical nurse and uses a wheelchair. In 2003, he suffered a brain aneurysm and has since relied on a DynaVox for verbal communication.

Mr. Birch moved to Texas from Florida in May 2012 to be with Ms. Shoffner, and the couple rented an apartment together. They knew they wanted to purchase a home and qualified for Easter Seals's Home of Your Own (HOYO) program, which provides income-qualified, special-needs homeowners with down payment and closing cost assistance on newly constructed or existing homes in the greater Houston area. The program was a perfect fit. The couple completed the mandatory first-time homebuyer counseling courses and was awarded $15,000 in HOYO funds, plus an additional $7,500 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant through Amegy Bank and FHLB Dallas to purchase a three-bedroom, two-bath home in Katy, Texas. The home is handicap-accessible, and provides the couple with more space and conveniences to live a more comfortable lifestyle.

"When you walk into their home, you are struck by the warmth of two people setting up a life together," said Katy Thorstenberg, program coordinator at Easter Seals. "The two work very well to lift each other up and carry out day-to-day tasks. It was such a privilege to work with Ms. Shoffner and Mr. Birch, and I am thrilled that they have found the perfect home to begin their life together."

AHP grants are awarded through FHLB Dallas member financial institutions, such as Amegy Bank, to assist in the development and rehabilitation of affordable, owner-occupied and rental housing for very low- to moderate-income households. In 2012, FHLB Dallas awarded $8.3 million in grants to help create or rehabilitate 1,248 housing units throughout its five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. Another $10 million in AHP grants has been made available for 2013. Grant recipients will be announced this summer.

"Every day, Easter Seals strives to help people like Ms. Shoffner and Mr. Birch achieve the dream of homeownership," said Amegy Bank Senior Vice President and Community Banking Manager Brian Stoker. "Amegy Bank is proud to be a partner in their efforts, and I cannot think of a more deserving couple to benefit from this program. I am overjoyed that the AHP provided a stepping stone for Ms. Shoffner and Mr. Birch to begin their new life."

The couple moved into their new home in August 2012 and became engaged in December. They have adopted a puppy from the Humane Society and have a cockatoo that sings and dances to the theme song of the "Andy Griffith Show." Ms. Shoffner and Mr. Birch plan to marry in their beautiful backyard next to the Koi pond on April 15, 2014.

About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas is one of 12 district banks in the FHLBank System created by Congress in 1932. FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $31 billion as of March 31, 2013, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to approximately 900 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. For more information, visit the FHLB Dallas website at

The photos are also available via AP PhotoExpress.

CONTACT: Corporate Communications Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (214) 441-8445

Source:Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas