An agency that serves the needy in Douglas County is getting back on its feet after the late-winter firing of its veteran coordinator and the temporary closing of its Lawrence office.
The Douglas County ECKAN office reopened March 28 under the leadership of newly appointed coordinator Joyce Molina. Molina, a Eudora resident, volunteered for ECKAN before she was hired and has worked as a case manager for a medical assistance program company in Lawrence, taken several missionary trips to build churches in Mexico and volunteered for the Head Start program in Kansas City, Mo.
She replaces Eve Cofer, who ran the Lawrence office at 1600 Haskell Ave. for nearly eight years until she was terminated in February.
"Things are kind of chaotic now," Molina said. "We're hoping we'll be settling down soon. We're now trying to get things stocked up and get up and running."
Molina and several volunteers are installing new shelves and restocking the Lawrence office's food pantry, which was emptied and distributed to other local agencies when the office shut down. The office is doing away with its clothing bank because it duplicates a service offered by Penn House, 1035 Pa. And it's planning to place more emphasis on lifting families out of poverty by helping them work through their own barriers and become self-sufficient.
Molina also is busy recertifying clients and getting the Lawrence office in order. Her most immediate need, she said, is responsible volunteers.
She'll need their help for an upcoming donation drive. ECKAN is one of the Lawrence agencies that benefits from the annual postal service food drive, during which postal workers collect food items and volunteers box and distribute them to local charities. This year's drive is May 11, she said.
ECKAN provides a food commodity program for those in need, serves breakfast and lunch to Lawrence youth in the summer and assists with the local Head Start program, among other services.
Molina said she was looking forward to the tasks ahead.
"I love people," she said. "Even the challenges are exciting."