Weddings symbolize a new beginning. For that reason, Linda Lown thought it was appropriate that her marriage Saturday to Paul Lassen Jr. take place at Penn House.
The new Mrs. Lassen first came to Penn House, a local agency offering low-income families clothing and emergency food, medical and utility assistance, about 20 years ago to reorder her life and that of her two sons.
Together, Mrs. Lassen and her sons virtually grew up at Penn House, 1035 Pa. Although the boys are now in their 20s, and Mrs. Lassen has achieved many of her goals, her relationship with Penn House continues.
As a Penn House volunteer and employee, Mrs. Lassen found she had skills as a public speaker and organizer. She now is a para-professional counselor at Penn House.
Friends and fellow employees say that Mrs. Lassen has invested so much in Penn House that being married there felt right.
"OF ALL of the thousands of people who have been through Penn House, I think Linda is one who has made the most of the opportunity," said Ocoee Miller, founder of Penn House.
"For her to get married at Penn House is absolutely perfect."
Mrs. Lassen said being a single parent was hard at times, but that the outcomes have been good. Both her sons have graduated from high school, landed jobs and married, she said.
Nearly 100 people gathered on the Penn House lawn Saturday afternoon to watch the bride make her way down the outdoor entryway toward her husband-to-be. Although everyone was quiet as the couple exchanged vows, nearly everyone cheered after they kissed.
MRS. LASSEN refers to Penn House as her second home, a place where she wanted to formalize her commitment to her husband.
"I could have had a church wedding, but I didn't want one. I wanted to be married here in the front yard," she said.
Penn House volunteers and employees helped plan the wedding. Alveena Nussbaum made the light blue taffeta dress with overlays worn by Mrs. Lassen. The wedding cake was made by relatives of Bessie Nichols, director of Penn House.
The couple has been seeing each other for five years. Mrs. Lassen said the strengths of their relationship include their ability to make decisions together and the interests they share. Both enjoy playing bingo and gardening. Mrs. Lassen said boating may become another shared activity once she becomes more comfortable on the water.