Lawrence Salvation Army leaders Rich and Judy Forney are being transferred out of the community as the organization begins a fundraising drive for a new $3.5 million homeless shelter.
Joe Takacs, chairman of the Lawrence Salvation Army Advisory Board, confirmed Tuesday that the Forneys have received word that they'll be transferred to new Salvation Army jobs in the Kansas City area. The two are expected to leave their Lawrence posts in late July or early August.
Takacs said the Salvation Army's regional headquarters in Kansas City had not appointed a replacement yet. Takacs said the Forneys would be missed and remembered for combining compassion with accountability.
"Rich started this program where people had to want to help themselves," Takacs said. "They set that up, and that was real important. We had found that some people had been coming here for 10 years and had never really done anything."
Prior to Forney's arrival about three years ago, the organization did not require people who used the homeless shelter to enroll in self-help classes that taught everything from computer skills to job interviewing techniques.
Dick Zinn, a member of the advisory board, said board members were notified that Rich Forney would become the chaplain of one of the Salvation Army's substance abuse programs in Kansas City, Kan., and that Judy Forney would be assigned to the Army's division of social services in Kansas City, Mo.
The departure is not expected to slow plans that the Salvation Army has for a new homeless shelter and community center near the 19th Street and Haskell Avenue area in East Lawrence.
"This doesn't change that at all," Zinn said. "In fact, I suspect that the new corps officer will be someone who is more experienced in working with fundraisers."
The Salvation Army is expected to kick off the public portion of a $3.5 million fundraising drive in July.
Zinn said the advisory board was told by Salvation Army leaders that the Forneys' transfer was not related to comments Rich Forney made last month about his hopes to use the new Salvation Army facility as a place that would provide temporary housing for inmates recently released from prison.
The Salvation Army's fundraising campaign begins Thursday with a 7:30 a.m. kick-off rally at Maceli's, 1031 N.H.
Organizers hope to raise $3.5 million for construction of a new facility near 19th Street and Haskell Avenue and $500,000 for an endowment fund.
At the rally, pledge cards will be distributed to more than 100 volunteers who, in turn, will begin soliciting area businesses.
Don and Alice Ann Johnston are overseeing the campaign. They may be reached at 841-0169.
Forney's comments created concern among neighbors of the proposed facility, and Salvation Army leaders the next day said that Forney had spoken prematurely about the idea and that the new facility would not be used as a halfway house.
Attempts to reach the Forneys on Tuesday about the transfer were unsuccessful. In a previous interview, Rich Forney said he had been involved with the Salvation Army most of his life.
"My father - as a captain - and my mother were stationed here (in Lawrence) from June 1948 to August 1952," Rich Forney said. "We moved here when I was not quite 2 years old. I remember we lived in the 1800 block of Mississippi. I went to Cordley Elementary School."
Judy Forney grew up on a farm in Minnesota. She and her husband met in 1964 at a Bible college in Oskaloosa, Iowa. They married in 1966.
Since joining the Salvation Army, they've been stationed in at least 14 posts, including Chicago; Omaha; Kansas City; Fargo, N.D.; Duluth, Minn.; Lansing, Mich.; and Salina.
In keeping with Salvation Army policies, most of the assignments lasted between two and three years.
"We will have been here (Lawrence) three years in September," Rich Forney said.