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Archive for Saturday, January 5, 2013

Longtime employee Linda Lassen 1 of 2 laid off at Penn House on Friday

January 5, 2013

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Linda Lassen had no idea Friday would be her last day as director of programming for the Penn House.

She had been there for more than 40 years. She was married there, and a photo of her wedding ceremony hangs on the wall. For many in Lawrence, Lassen's name has been synonymous with the local social service agency that provides food, clothing and help with utility bills for families in need. Adopt-a-Family, backpacks for kids — she did it all, friends said, and she was close to retirement this year.

But shortly after Lassen arrived for work about 8 a.m. Friday, she learned she was being laid off at the end of the day. So was the assistant program director, Larry Woydziak, who has been at the Penn House for about six months.

Woydziak said he wasn't concerned about himself and felt sure he could move on to something else.

"I'm just disappointed for Linda," he said. "She's given over 40 years to the community."

All day Friday, Lawrence residents who had been touched by Lassen's work in the community visited the Penn House to see her or called with a few kind words.

"It's been a tough day for all of us, especially her," Woydziak said. "It's very sad. A lot of tears. She was the heart and soul of Penn House."

Lassen had been with the agency since it opened in 1969. Located at 1035 Pennsylvania St., the current building was constructed in 1981, by volunteer labor in just one weekend, using mostly donated materials. The Penn House board of directors voted to merge with Ballard Community Center in 2005.

For most of that time, Lassen was a full-time employee but was reduced to part-time a year ago. She's particularly well-known for her part in Lawrence's Holiday Bureau Adopt-a-Family efforts. That's what came immediately to mind for Nancy O'Connor, director of education and outreach at The Merc, 901 Iowa St. For 14 years, O'Connor has worked with Lassen every holiday season to arrange for The Merc to adopt families.

O'Connor learned Lassen was gone Friday when she made routine call to the Penn House, and her old friend was already gone.

"The kind of a dramatic change, when someone has been there so long," O'Connor said, "it kind of makes you shudder a little bit."

Lassen knew all the details and nuances of Adopt-a-Family, calling The Merc earlier in the year, when they needed to prepare, and providing just the right amount of information about the anonymous families. O'Connor said she couldn't imagine doing those things with anyone else but the "feisty champion for her people" who got her involved in Adopt-a-Family in the first place.

"To me, Penn House and Linda Lassen are inseparable," she said. "I don't know how they're going to get along without Linda."

Lassen, reached by phone Friday, said she was still too emotional to talk about her departure from Penn House.

Management at Ballard Community Services, which is responsible for staffing decisions at Penn House, said laying Lassen off was an unfortunate but necessary step under this year's budget.

Kyle Roggenkamp, director of human services, is one of two remaining employees in his department with Lassen and Woydziak gone.

"They did a really good job" he said. "This is tough for all of us. The past couple of years have been tough for everyone in Douglas County."

The Ballard Center depends on donors and investment from the community to pay employees and finance its services, and Roggenkamp said it has been under the same pressures as other social service agencies in the area. That means it will have to rely even more on the 20-30 volunteers that support it, along with partnerships with other agencies like Just Food and the Salvation Army.

"Any decision we make is done with the whole community in mind," Roggenkamp said.

For good news, he pointed to the Ballard Center's latest numbers. The agency helped 1,500 kids through the Adopt-a-Family program this holiday season and provided clothes, food, and utilities to 6,700 people in 2012.

Comments

carolgo64 1 year, 3 months ago

How can someone just go and get rid of someone after all they have done for as long as they have done it. All the giving of herself that Linda has given and this is the thanks that she gets. All I can say is I' sorry Linda that this has happened to such a wonderful, giving, loving, caring person and I believe god just may have a new door open for you. They say when one door closes another opens. I'm just sorry that you are having to go through this horrible ordeal. I will pray for you and all the many people out there that this will affect.

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cowboy 1 year, 3 months ago

I don't know anything about Ballard , Penn , or any of these entities BUT that post by Kyle under the Ballard name was the single most incompetent letter/post I've ever seen from a "HR" person. Fired immediately should be the response , how pathetic , " I'll love you forever" Whaaaaaattt !

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Centurion 1 year, 3 months ago

Since the old PH will soon be a daycare, maybe it's time to start a new organization based on the old PH values and standards.

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Lawrence Morgan 1 year, 3 months ago

Linda Lassen,

Don't forget. Today is Christmas in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Look at my blog today in the Journal-World:

http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/kansas-150th-birthday-is-almost-over/2013/jan/7/today-january-7-is-the-orthodox-christma/

Something good will happen today or this week!

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toe 1 year, 3 months ago

The United Way takes out an agency they did not like. The collateral damage to jobs and services is too bad, but the UW does not care about anything except themselves.

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swhippleberg 1 year, 3 months ago

for all of those who are attacking people for what they are saying on this board, and then saying they are posting because they don't get what this is all about...they should probably heed their own words. the rudeness and blatant abuse of people's words detracts from what this is all about. an outstanding employee losing her job for some bs reason.

you people are no better than the politicians who bash each other and then don't get along in washington. no wonder our country is so screwed up.

stop making this about anything else but linda and larry.

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Loretta James 1 year, 3 months ago

To Mr. Smitty.

If you think ballard taking over stopped someone from taking something from the backroom your dead wrong. There are other times when somethings were'nt put out some new items we put with christmas stuff to help at christmas time, we also would put some items back to help people due to fire or other emergencys. Also some sleeping bags for the homeless. Sounds like you ought to go volunteer but then again that wont help i noticed a list on the back donation door of things they dont take car seat for kids being one ????

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roadwarrior 1 year, 3 months ago

It seems to me, knowing very little about these organizations that Linda Lassen is the face of this organization. When people think about the organization as a place to support they do so as a result of thier interactions with Linda due to her lifetime of service. When Ford or Progressive advertise, they build a recognizable spokesperson....you had one already built in, working for much less than say "flo" is making from her apperances. If this has morphed into a business structure model I see a missed opportunity. Put her face on a billboard - celebrate her years of service - invite people to come and chat with her about donations !! Advertising deductions are some of the best business deductions to show. Just don't think you were being very creative here, but runners do tend to operate oxygen deprived.

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1 year, 3 months ago

And thank you to LJWorld, I know that some posters think LJW is trying to stir up trouble, but frankly it looks to me like there are issues that need to come to light.

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1 year, 3 months ago

Wow what a mess. Many thanks to Linda for all that she has done in our neighborhood for so long, it is a big loss for us! I fear that Penn House is on the ropes and is being down-sized out of existence, purposely. Reading how much of Ballard Center's budget goes to administrative costs is downright frightening. It has been intriguing reading all of these tidbits about social services in our little city. This firing touched a serious nerve in our community and it looks to me as though there needs to be a larger discussion on these issues that have been raised. If I am reading things right, there are now 2 employees at Penn House, and one of them is a Director of HR? That doesn't make sense to me, I hope I am misunderstanding.

Leslie Soden

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motomom 1 year, 3 months ago

you are a wonderful human being, linda lassen. thank you for your welcoming smile and big heart. because of your response, i will continue to bring clothing to penn house. i am sending you a big cyber HUG! :O)

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linda_lassen 1 year, 3 months ago

First off, I would like to thank everyone for all the support you gave me. Yes I care very much about Penn House. I know about all the help we give people. I was one of those families when I started at Penn House. I also think you were all too hard on Kyle. I have sat down and talked with him many times since he came on board . I feel he has a big heart and wants the same things I do and that he only wants to help others. Yes It was hard when he told me we were being let go. Please don't blame him as he was only doing his job. I was very hurt and hoping to be at Penn House longer helping families with needs. Just talking to them made me happy and them as well. So many of the comments above are about donations. All of you please think about donating your clothes and food to Penn House . we have families that come to Penn House that have no money to buy clothes. We are the only free clothes pantry in town. I am sad that I wont be working and talking with you as often. Please keep CARING and SHARING with others.

Linda Lassen

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headdoctor 1 year, 3 months ago

Nice. So what can be gleaned from all this that has been brought to light is that what many donors are suspecting is true. Ballard has fell into the usual pit of non-profit organizations. At the very least became a miniature version of United Way that is really only existing to service the paychecks and wishes of the executive branch of the organization.

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Loretta James 1 year, 3 months ago

My name is Loretta James I am a former Board Member, and volunteer at Penn House for 17 years and a friend of Linda's since we were 8.

Smitty its people like you that give places a bad name yes we had problems with people taking things from the backroom and they were dealt with that is always going to be a problem you just deal with it when it happens. Dont need you on here bringing it up every other post.

As for Ballard when Penn House voted to merge with Ballard the only thing that was suppose to change was that ballard would receive all monies and pay all the bills and the audit every year. About 2 months later they brought in another guy and made linda director of programming and trhe other guy director of everything else. That was never suppose to happen. But I learned real quick that you cant believe ballard. at that point i quit volunteering.

I feel sorry for penn house clients who sometimes needed just someone to talk to and linda provided that. Can you imagine sitting down talking to Kyle or any other of the guys they have there.

I suppose before long penn house witll be gone and maybe a daycare there.

I hope they can sleep at night.

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Loretta James 1 year, 3 months ago

Peaceloveand lawrence I think its a great idea you could call me 785-393-5084 would love to help.

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bearded_man 1 year, 3 months ago

I identify with Linda, because I know I might lose my job tomorrow. I identify with the other person this article mentions, because no one would write an article about me if it happened. You may have noticed this, but it is worth pointing out: There were two people laid off at Penn House on Friday.

I understand that Linda put in many years of service, and from what I have read here, they were fruitful ones. I hope to be as successful as her. With all due respect, though, perhaps this article might have done well to focus on the other person, the one who did not have the opportunity to spend a career knowing and investing in people. It seems to me they were the one shorted the most.

Reading the comments posted here, I think many of you agree with me. We want to be identified with Linda, but we are afraid that we might actually be the other person. This is why, when someone as praiseworthy as Linda is treated as unceremoniously as this, we are angry.

And we are right to be angry.

But angry at whom? Penn House? Ballard Center? They botched the layoffs; surely they are to blame. But our anger isn't actually caused by a layoff. If it were, we would be clamoring for the reinstatement of both employees. Instead, we want the person we identify with to be recognized for their service.

We want Linda to be treated right because we want to be treated right. We want Linda, and not the other person, to be treated right because we want to know that we were worth the effort, even if others weren't. We are angry because we know all too well what it feels like to see a good deed go to waste. We are worried that our best efforts might be all for nothing.

Our anger, it would appear, is rooted in fear, and aimed at the wrong target.

So, the facts. Two more people are without a job now. Penn House is to blame for the manner in which this happened, and we are responsible for the way that we respond. We want to be valued members of a thriving community. This can only happen through investment. Invest where and how you will, but invest in the community you value. You, in turn, will be valued; not many act on their fear.

As for the rest? Perhaps they may be lucky enough to know someone like Linda.

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bearded_gnome 1 year, 3 months ago

I am struck by Smitty's spinning for Ballard.

what is that about?

did Linda offend Smitty some time in the past?

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bearded_gnome 1 year, 3 months ago

if Ballard [including Pennhouse] is so cash strapped that it has to so suddenly cannibalize such an important staff position as Linda Lassen's, maybe it isn't time to be expanding its childcare, and building the new fancy Alzheimer's care center.

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paulyouk 1 year, 3 months ago

Linda is an incredibly warm, wonderful human being who genuinely cared about the people she dedicated herself to at Penn House. She is great with people and loved by a community in which she has helped thousands get through tough moments in their lives. In many ways, Penn House was central to her life. She deserved more respect, recognition and better treatment than to be summarily dismissed in this fashion. Larry too deserved at least more notice, especially considering they are being fired without cause and for budgetary reasons (i.e. budgetary mismanagement by a dis-functional organization with a heavy concentration of salaries at the top). Or perhaps the institutional incompetence is so high that this decision was made very quickly and without the foresight to allow proper treatment and notice...that is possible too. Either way it is unacceptable.

40 years of dedication, and a 4 hour notice. That is the only thing you need to know regarding how morally bankrupt the leadership of Ballard Community Services is. Kyle will likely be solely hung out to dry for this, which is unfortunate. I could be wrong and be shocked however, if the CEO of the organization could, just once, take responsibility for bad decisions made by the organization (sorry about being the fall guy Kyle).

Full disclosure: I worked for Ballard from Nov 2009 until I, like many others before me, was fired in July 2011. I was fortunate to be Linda and Larry's supervisor for a little over a year of that time. I feel badly for both of them, but incredibly sorry for Linda, who should have had her decades of service lauded, not marred, when her career at Penn House ended.

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bearded_gnome 1 year, 3 months ago

Wow.
just wow.
  first, Kyle Roggenkamp and the BCS board: any organization's most important assets are not its accounts, reserves, and income;   its most important assets are its people, the people who know, the people who do, the people who are the organization's work. the people who touch, the people who contact, the people who remember, call, who pickup, and who clean up.
  second. business decision? it is a bad business decision to treat a long time employee this way. why? because it demoralizes your other employees. it trashes your image. you lose all that knowledge and institutional experience, in this case Linda, could pass on to aid your work. it dumps many of your contacts. oh you may think that UW saves you the need for messy contacts, but it doesn't. employee loyalty is good business, at least in this community.

Finally. have a meeting and discuss this with you? riiiiight. what's to discuss. you and your board are in the wrong and need to make things right, not just for Linda Lassen but for this community. now that's not hard to understand. and here, if you do, you won't lose so much support, look how that will actually help your bottom line because you actually would be doing the right thing after all.
  now, I've explained it for you.
  *I will keep posting this, and I hope others will join me in calling for the reinstatement of Linda Lassen and for her proper treatment up to her scheduled retirement.
  and don't go trying to hide behind that malarky about social justice again. see, no meeting is necessary.

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btsflk 1 year, 3 months ago

I, and others, would like to know why Harvesters dumped Just Food.

1

PEACELOVEANDLAWRENCE 1 year, 3 months ago

WOULD ANYONE BE INTERESTED IN SETTING UP A DINNER FOR LINDA AT THE 4H BUILDING SOMETIME. I KNOW THAT LINDA HAS HELPED MY FAMILY AND I MANY TIMES. ALTHOUGH I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO CONTACT HER. THIS IS JUST AN IDEA THAT IT SEEMS MAY HELP IN LETTING HER KNOW HOW MUCH SHE MEANS TO THE LAWRENCE COMMUNITY. SOMEONE COULD SET UP A FACEBOOK FOR HER AND WE COULD COMMUNICATE THAT WAY.

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justfoodks 1 year, 3 months ago

I just wanted to pop on and address a few things for clarity's sake. I will first say that when I moved back to Lawrence, one of the first people I sat down with was Linda at Penn House. Her passion is inspiring, and I truly wish, along with many others that she could have stayed around for as long as she wanted. My inclination is that she will be around, doing as she's always done...from when I met with her, it seemed as if she could do no less. She's one of many folks heroes, and one of mine too.

Regarding the article that was written last week about Just Food partnering with Ballard and Salvation Army...we will be partnering with the Penn House too. Since they are under Ballard's wing, it wasn't mentioned...but we will be helping where we can nonetheless. It wasn't an intentional omission on behalf of the author, I'm sure.

I want to be clear. At no point did anyone from Just Food ask for this to be done or mandate it. Ballard is its own agency. Just Food is simply stocking the pantries at those previously mentioned locations. We aren't taking control over it, or managing it...we're simply providing more resources so that more clients can be better served.

With our choice system that is currently at Just Food and Ballard as of last week, and that will be at Penn House & Salvation Army this week, I am excited to see the joy that the clients at these two locations feel at the other two. Having a choice and getting more food has been HUGE and very well received.

I hope that those that are receiving services from all of these agencies that people are upset with, for a multitude of reasons, can continue receiving the services that are provided. I had a client tell me just today she had been reading these forums and wondered if people understood that it doesn't affect someone like me if people stop giving, but her ability to provide for her family. I assured her that as upset as people get, they will never stop being generous.

So many have commented on this article because you care. And regardless of whether or not people agree or disagree with the contents that people here have written, the fact that you took time to stand up for a hero is wonderfully admirable and says something. Thank you.

Sincerely, Jeremy Farmer Chief Executive Officer, Just Food

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buckjennings 1 year, 3 months ago

Notice she was fired on Friday? Just like in the movie "Office Space." Studies have shown that there are fewer problems this way.

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Alpenglow 1 year, 3 months ago

I think Kyle is somewhat of an innocent casualty of this debacle. Granted, his posting on this forum didn't help. My sense is that he is merely a pawn of the CEO and board as it pertains to this mess. Where are they????? Why haven't they stepped forward to provide clarity? Their silence speaks volumes. Kyle, run, run, run as fast as you can. You deserve better treatment from your CEO and the board.

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ocoeemiller 1 year, 3 months ago

Social services run from the top by fancy-smanchy people will never be able to fully understand the needs of low income people. Linda was special in that she came from the very community she served. SHE UNDERSTOOD because she'd been there. The fancy people on the top won't ever truly understand the pains and problems of poverty. Linda was paid a pittance, not a "professional' wage. But she knew her terf better than any over trained professional ever could. She was better. She deserved much better treatment.

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Kat Christian 1 year, 3 months ago

Crap ...there is just no loyalty left in society anymore. Douglas County gave me an ink pen and note pad for my years of volunteering for non-profit organization. I call my pen my "major award" (no certificate). By the way, this was organized by the United Way. However Linda's lay-off is all about that Almighty Dollar $$$$. Makes you wonder how professional, educated, efficient and mindful these people really are who make the decisions for this agency. Yes, this could have been handled more efficiently and with respect and courtesy to the years Linda put into the Penn House. This is the sort of behavior a large corporation would pull - they simply have no heart as its all about the investors and their egos. Is this what non-profits have come to? Really sad. I feel for you Linda. At least I hope they organize a going away dinner for you, give you a certificate and perhaps a monetary contribution for all the years you've given them.

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hedshrinker 1 year, 3 months ago

I make charitable donations each year of money, time and goods. When I worked for agencies rather than myself and had the option of UW, I refused b/c I would rather distribute my charity myself rather than to some admin topheavy umbrella gp, so I give directly to SSL, WTCS , Gadugi, ELNA ,HCA, etc. I want to be in control of where my efforts go.

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traveler12 1 year, 3 months ago

...and in other news, 17-year-old Jordan Brewer was fired from McDonalds of Lawrence after a remarkable 2-month career as a 'hamburger design engineer'. Brewer says the sudden layoff was "unexpected," but he's feeling cautiously optimistic about his future employment prospects.

Really? This article is news?

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PikesPeakJhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

My deepest sympathy goes to Ms. Lassen....good luck to you & thank you for your service....may I add that if you're disgruntled w/donating to charities, please consider Social Service League Thrift Store. You never know if, and when, you'll be on receiving end....

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Lenette Hamm 1 year, 3 months ago

This is too sad ~ many many years ago, if not for Linda's compassion and knowledge, my family wouldn't have made it through a couple of very tough spots. She was a lifesaver, and I've never forgotten all she did for us. I hope that Linda will find another home with a different agency in town. One that won't cut staff off at the knees without any kind of warning.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 3 months ago

I wonder if Jeremy Farmers thoughts earlier in the week were a precurser for this announcement and posturing for Just Food's place in the food chain. Seems like the phrase "There is no honor among thieves" ... well....

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Keith Richards 1 year, 3 months ago

Kyle has a lot to learn in terms of public relations. He completely failed in how her firing was handled and then botched it more than anyone could have expected with his asinine comments on this board. I will no longer support the Ballard Center, however I will switch my support to other agencies that will hopefully pick up the slack for this horrible decision.

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smitty 1 year, 3 months ago

This story is intended to garner righteous indignation for Linda without consideration of the damage it will do to the public that Penn House serves. JW reporter Ian Cummings, how did you find out about this? Was is a press release from the Ballard Center? A (disgruntled) Penn House volunteer who may no longer getr first pick of the donations now? How did the JW find out about this story? Consider the damage done by the biased, uninformed reporting. Linda's long term service to the poor came be honored without all the threats of refusal of donations and further drama seen here.

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Kent Fisher 1 year, 3 months ago

Linda, saying you will be missed is an understatement. Client benefits will surely suffer without your leadership. Our family enjoys adopting-a-family through Penn House each year, and we will miss working with you.

Best Wishes, Kent and Stephanie Fisher

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kansas_o_kansas 1 year, 3 months ago

When Kyle was given this order he had a choice, and he chose to obey, and to stay with the organization. Next time they need to make a cut it could very well be him - then how is he going to feel? The Ballard center has no heart but he does, and a soul, and he is responsible for them.

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LadyJ 1 year, 3 months ago

We have all met Kyle's type before. Yeah, he'll talk to us, or rather down to us. He'll be smug and sanctimonious. Nothing you say will really be taken seriously because it really doesn't matter. And you know that monthly donation they take out of my paycheck, I'll be opting out. Is St. John's rummage house still operating?

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boot2010 1 year, 3 months ago

Calling for Kyle to resign is crazy. He is an employee of an organization and did what he was told. Don't blame him, blame the people who made this decision. Be mad, stop supporting Ballard...fine but don't call for the resignation of someone who was just doing what they were told. I have never met Kyle, but I have been in his position. Being told to do something from "management" that you hated to do but it was part of my job and I needed the paycheck.

I personally blame the new funding format of United Way. They made major cuts to Ballard and now they have to make really horrible decisions. I used to support UW but after the changes this was the first year I didn't donate. Looking at the numbers for the year it looks like many people made that same decision. Ballard does important work with our most vulnerable...our children. I am very conflicted because while I disagree with how this was handled, I don't think those kids should suffer because of really bad choices made by a few people.

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grammaddy 1 year, 3 months ago

How long can Penn House survive without her? So sad.Linda, you are sorely missed already.

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Centurion 1 year, 3 months ago

So what are some other places to donate to? I plan on taking some stuff down to the HCHC food bank at the riverfront mall on Monday. I have some clothes and bedding to donate also. Some one told me about the social service place?

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Grounded 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm having difficulty believing Kyle acted without the explicit approval of the Ballard CEO and the Board of Directors. Perhaps a wholesale housing cleaning is in order?

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Grounded 1 year, 3 months ago

headdocter, you may be on to something with the "digging around post".

I'll bet Kyle isn't the only one still connected to Ballard having difficulty sleeping tonight.

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Kyle Roggenkamp 1 year, 3 months ago

I welcome any of you with discomfort regarding this situation to walk into my office, 1035 Pennsylvania, and have an honest discussion about the recent changes at Penn House. I will be there Monday morning, continuing our mission of serving low-income residents of Douglas County. Kyle Roggenkamp- Director of Human Services- Ballard Community Services.

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headdoctor 1 year, 3 months ago

All this has caused some digging around and it would appear that the umbrella program that we know as the Ballard Center has developed into a layered organization that has a much larger budget than what one might think. Perhaps it is time for them to produce an accurate statement of their budget and expenditures. As it is without facts it would seem that their budget is supporting a lot of administration for the size of the organization. One could easily draw the conclusion that Ballard is actually helping people through direct product donations but the money is being chewed up elsewhere instead of where it was intended.

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bearded_gnome 1 year, 3 months ago

^^from Ballard Center above:

... Linda, thank you for your class and dedication. I love you forever,

Kyle Roggenkamp- Director of Human Services - Ballard Community Services

---Mr. Roggenkamp, actions speak much louder than words. I knew Linda Lassen even before she got married at Pennhouse.

she is a stellar caring and giving woman. even if she had been an ordinary employee of forty years' dedication, she would have deserved proper notice, respect. if termination were truly necessary, termination should've happened with notice and done with honor.

you speak in your comments of so called social justice. from my generation, we tend to open the Bible and look at something called the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

too often the people propounding social justice fixes on our society are forgetting the wisdom of those who came before us.

Linda is so far beyond an ordinary employee Kyle Roggenkamp. I know you are quite new at Ballard Center. Humility might be worthyour study if you wish to prevent harm to Ballard Center and its mission.

Ballard Center and Pennhouse are in a community, with history, and people. people with relationships and experience. I sincerely hope that Linda was not summarily dismissed before her retirement in order to prevent her drawing a pension. my instinct is to hope otherwise, but the circumstances of her dismissal suggest this. And Linda has many ties. Linda has helped my wife and I on many occasions.

you are finding out that there is much loyalty to Linda in this community, and rightly so.

Mr. Roggenkamp, it would not be too late to revise your actions regarding Linda Lassen. Let her stay until her retirement, and give her a proper retirement that she is due!

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rlmtyco 1 year, 3 months ago

Our dontations will still lay within the Lawrence community, wether it be another organization or us conducting our own adopt a family search via craigslist and taking applicatations that way, we will still use the $2000 plus we raise each xmas to benefits families in Lawrence but cannot support an organization that does this to employees, 6 years of adopt a families through Ballard center and to find out this is horrible.

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true_patriot 1 year, 3 months ago

I know! Let's cede a bunch of money to rich investors to build a hotel or a rec center without stepping in to fill even the slightest fractional amount that could make a break an underpaid community service employee or two in our local safety net.

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Kyle Roggenkamp 1 year, 3 months ago

To my beloved community,

I cannot express how much pain is felt by us all with the fact tha Linda will not be at Penn House moving forward. I love Linda, with all of my heart, and always will. If she calls any time-needing anything, I will be the first one there. She will always be a part of my family, my thoughts, and my efforts to assist the community. We fought for this community together and we also cried together when we met and discussed financials over two months ago, when she was told that recent funding cuts would not support current agency salaries in 2013.

To our wonderful donors,

Please keep our community in your hearts and thoughts when deciding to continue or not continue your support of the roughly 7,000 low income community members we serve annually. As an advocate for social justice, I understand that our efforts are for a cause greater than myself, greater than my agency and greater than my peers. We advocate for positive change on a macro level; change that increasingly moves the needle forward on socioeconomic gains for those who need it most. Penn House and every other low-income serving agency in Douglas County is about the people of this community, not one single person. Please consider joining us on the continued journey of fighting for those who need us most; our neighbors, our community members, our friends.

To Lawrence Journal World,

I humbly invite you to sit down with myself and every other deserving agency in Douglas County to consider the drafting of materials that will result in truthful and community minded materials that are focused on the advancement of social justice in our community.

Linda, thank you for your class and dedication. I love you forever,

Kyle Roggenkamp- Director of Human Services - Ballard Community Services

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Alpenglow 1 year, 3 months ago

I shudder to think of how her termination was handled and by who. No doubt by underlings instead of the director. Shameful the way it was handled and with no notice. They knew it was coming and gave her no opportunity to prepare. What purpose did this serve? There have been staffing cuts in non-profits everywhere, but many of those are done with care and compassion. Linda was deserving of both. Downward spiral is right. How could their board allow her dismissal to be handled this way? Clearly, leadership is lacking across the board. No pun intended.

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neworleans 1 year, 3 months ago

Hopefully; she will get severance pay; or perhaps a decent pension..........

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coolmom 1 year, 3 months ago

Wow i think i know a dedicated volunteer or two who will decide their time is more important elsewhere. congrats to her for 40 years wish there had been some notice.

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rlmtyco 1 year, 3 months ago

40 years of service and an 8 hour notice is what she gets. TERRIBLE, I just told my wife who adopts 3 families each year and heads it up to get all the money raised to buy presents and donate stuff to the Ballard Center, she will be looking for another charity this upcoming year, she is very upset.

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pinballqueen 1 year, 3 months ago

A great idea would be for everyone who wants to show their appreciation for Mrs Lassen's dedication and service to throw her a party. Obviously, not a 'retirement' party, but rather an acknowledgement celebration. Possibly one small gesture to counter the insult of being laid off in such an abrupt manner.

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mikekt 1 year, 3 months ago

After 40 years, one would expect some advanced notice of being retired by ones employer....... a party in your honor, with your coworker friends present , a cake , cards from well wishers , .......maybe a notice in the paper ( one that doesn't read like a obit, for someone who suddenly died......at the hands of the " Ballard-Center-Firing-Squad "! ) that shows respect & gratitude for loyal services given to the community, as opposed to this obvious disrespectful, ungrateful display of inept leadership !

I realize that times are financially difficult for individuals, families and charities .

I also realize that the forces of social change, can be quite impersonal some times .

But good courteous behavior & values, are free !

Unfortunately, amongst some, those values seem to be in short supply,.....or of no concern ?! The rude always seem to have a good (?) excuse ?!

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rodentgirl16 1 year, 3 months ago

From what I know of Larry, he's a genuinely nice guy. As for Linda Lassen, I can't believe they wouldn't give such a well-regarded employee of 40 years the opportunity to retire at least unless they didn't want to pay benefits? Would she be able to collect benefits from there had she retired? I know where I WON'T be donating anymore.

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Rusty Thomas 1 year, 3 months ago

This is very sad and handled in a less than professional way. I once served on the Ballard Center board. This is how they have operated in the last 10 years. When they felt I no longer was an asset, I was summarily dumped - by mail. So I am not surprised this happened. I once had the Ballard Center at the top of my gifting list, now I do not even give them as an option when asked. This is an organization on a downward spiral. Shameful!

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RubyVrooom 1 year, 3 months ago

"Friends and fellow employees say that Mrs. Lassen has invested so much in Penn House that being married there felt right.... 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."

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LJ Whirled 1 year, 3 months ago

Obama's gonna pay my rent !!!

.... This sort of thing happens to community organizations when an omnipotent Federal government imposes itself into every aspect of daily life. Say good-bye to local people helping the needy in their community, and say hello to a brainless bureaucracy aimed at making everyone needy. Why give when the Government is going to take care of everyone? Why volunteer? On the other hand, why strive and work and scramble to improve your lot.

Dependency kills.

Welcome to Obama's America.

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neworleans 1 year, 3 months ago

Hope they give her a decent pension...............

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rlmtyco 1 year, 3 months ago

That reminds me of something like Kmart Distribution Center would do, not Penn house or Ballard Center. Disappointing, I understand that they probably had to do it to keep the places open and functioning to serve its purpose but only a days notice is insulting to someone that has been there that long

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youngjayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Heartbreakingly sad! This is what happens when United Way gets involved; wake-up, Lawrence!

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themiddlechild 1 year, 3 months ago

Wow, what is so sad and heartless for them to do something like this to someone who worked there for 40 years.

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headdoctor 1 year, 3 months ago

Great. They are going to run the place with volunteers. Now the collectors will have a hay day in the place. It wont be long until it will be just as bad as the old Salvation Army store was on Massachusetts Street. I stopped donating to the Penn House over 5 years ago because that mentality was surfacing there just like the Salvation Army. Now they get rid of the one person who was able to keep that activity under control.

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FlintlockRifle 1 year, 3 months ago

Will have to wait to see how 2013 stackes up to 2012 ""GOOD NEWS"" For good news, he pointed to the Ballard Center's latest numbers. The agency helped 1,500 kids through the Adopt-a-Family program this holiday season and provided clothes, food, and utilities to 6,700 people in 2012.

0

auntmimi210 1 year, 3 months ago

Wow. I'm sure if Ballard had let Linda & the community know this was a possibility, Lawrence would have pulled together & donated enough to possibly prevent this. Very sad. And shame on you Ballard, for giving such an outstanding person virtually no notice.

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observant 1 year, 3 months ago

Was Penn House and Ballard Center one of those the United Way no longer supports?

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Katara 1 year, 3 months ago

Most employers give their employees some advance notice of a layoff unless there is severe misconduct on the employee's part. It is called courtesy and there is no reason that Ballard Center could not have extended the courtesy of advance notice to Mrs. Lassen.

Ballard Center, you know the guy in the pick up truck that comes fairly regularly with quite a few bags of groceries and personal hygiene items? Those were all items that I donated. He drops them off because I am not available during the hours you are open.

You won't be seeing him again as I won't be donating anything to you anymore.

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phoggyjay 1 year, 3 months ago

I wish you the best Linda. More than 40 years at Penn House and close to retirement. You would think that a company would give you a month's notice or at least 2 weeks, not the same day. What a cowardly thing to do. What's going on in this country?

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Michelle Fales 1 year, 3 months ago

So sad to hear. Linda was a great asset to Penn House. As funding and donations go down for NFPs, these hard decisions have to be made. Wishing Linda the best.

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irvan moore 1 year, 3 months ago

wow, 40 years and they give you a few hours notice that your employment is being terminated, very sad story

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