Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Lawrence family seeking to avoid homelessness, get to Northwest for new job

January 29, 2013


Lawrence mother of seven Rachel Quesenberry holds her youngest child, Nehemiah, 2, while several of his sisters, who are home-schooled, do schoolwork on Monday in their west Lawrence apartment. After her husband, Don, lost his managerial job in Lawrence, car troubles have resulted in two unsuccessful trips to Lincoln City, Ore., where Don has a new job waiting for him and the family has put down a deposit on a rental home.

Lawrence mother of seven Rachel Quesenberry holds her youngest child, Nehemiah, 2, while several of his sisters, who are home-schooled, do schoolwork on Monday in their west Lawrence apartment. After her husband, Don, lost his managerial job in Lawrence, car troubles have resulted in two unsuccessful trips to Lincoln City, Ore., where Don has a new job waiting for him and the family has put down a deposit on a rental home.

Don Quesenberry

Don Quesenberry

During the Ballard Center’s annual Adopt-a-Family Program, several of Don Quesenberry’s children brought in their own piggy banks to help other needy families.

“The moment was so moving, it brought us to tears,” said Kyle Roggenkamp, program director at the Ballard Center. “They needed that money.”

Now the Ballard Center is trying to return the favor.

Quesenberry, 40, of Lawrence and his wife, Rachel, 37, and their seven children were left scrambling when Don lost his managerial job in Lawrence in September. The family had moved to the area from Colorado two years ago for the job, which was now gone.

After a few months of unemployment, Don secured a flooring job in Lincoln City, Ore., through a former employer. The family put down a deposit on a rental home in Oregon, and planned to pack everyone up and make the 1,900-mile trek in a 15-passenger van.

The van broke down, delaying their plans. They bought another van, and, on their last dime, left again for Oregon earlier this month.

The replacement van barely made it past Topeka when the engine rattled and started smoking. They pulled over to find the engine shot and no way to get back to Lawrence.

“We were kind of crushed,” Don said. “It was kind of like the dominoes started falling.”

Don and his family, out of options and money, called the Ballard Center for help.

The nonprofit sent a large van to pick up the family, who still had a month left on their rental home. Now the agency is raising funds to help the family — on the brink of homelessness — get to Oregon.

The Ballard Center sees hard-luck stories every day, but the struggles of the Quesenberry family struck a nerve, Roggenkamp said.

“They’re just amazing people,” he said.

The family has until Feb. 1 in their current two-bedroom rental home, but from there “things could get ugly,” Don said.

The Ballard Center will be collecting funds for the family to help them get back on the road and into a more stable living situation in Oregon.

Don said the experience has been a hit to his pride, and it’s been tough asking for help, especially after seeing firsthand the struggles of other families at the Ballard Center.

The family, which includes six daughters and a son, ages 2 to 18, has banded together, Don said, and the experience has given them a better appreciation for others who face poverty.

“Things can get bad fast,” Don said.

Those interested in helping can call Roggenkamp at 842-0440.


otto 1 year, 2 months ago

More work, less hanky panky.


swampyankee 1 year, 2 months ago

The last thing I thought of doing when I lost my job in Lawrence was to move my family 2000 miles away. The last time I browsed the LJ World employment there were six pages of help wanted


Cait McKnelly 1 year, 2 months ago

Is anybody aware that Lincoln City, OR is a RESORT town right on the OR coast? I would give my left hmmhmm to live there. I actually DID stay there once. I rented an ocean front cottage for one week for what would now be over $1,000. For one week. Ocean front, not beach front (we actually had to walk about a half mile to the public beach access). And the entire town is set up so that EVERY home has an ocean view. Where are these people going to live? Once they get there how are they going to survive? We're not talking Kansas City or Atlanta or Houston here. Trust me on this; I KNOW this neck of the woods and there is absolutely NO industry in that area that isn't tourist based with a tiny handful of exceptions. Newport has a very small fishing cannery and there MIGHT be some light industry in Coos Bay.
This is a disaster waiting to happen.


Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

I surmise these folks are adherents of Quiverfull, a movement among some conservative evangelical Christian couples who promote procreation, and see children as a blessing from God. A well known family of this sect are the Duggars.

These folks have a hard right political perspective and usually vote a straight Republican ticket. It's unlikely they voted for the "Food Stamp President" but not to worry, the majority of Americans are good, decent and caring folks and had the Quesenberrys' backs covered, reelecting Obama,. .

Had Romney and his ilk taken over the country, the food stamp program might no longer exist.

The democrats and independents who voted for Obama accept your thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Quesenberry. We don't think it's right for people, especially children in our great country to go hungry.


Gotland 1 year, 2 months ago

I bet the wish they had the 15% off the top they have been sending DC the last 20 yeras. You know that 15% they take at gun point to provide for your well being.


lawrencechick 1 year, 2 months ago

I don't think it's just a local problem. After the Te'o debacle, you have to wonder if they even teach investigative journalism anymore in the schools.


JackMcKee 1 year, 2 months ago

What sort of job just waits around for you to show up whenever you get around to it? There's more to this story than what's being reported in this fluff piece. I feel like I'm reading a high school paper a lot of times.


50YearResident 1 year, 2 months ago

I just heard on the KC news yesterday that it takes $350,000 to raise 1 child to the age of 18 years old. Check my math here to make sure this is correct: 8 x 350,000 = $2,800,000. This looks like a long row to hoe.


seriouscat 1 year, 2 months ago

I wish this family the best and hope that they find the kindness and compassion they showed to others waiting for them at the beginning, middle, and end of this journey. Hang in there Quesenberry’s! Some of us do care...a whole awful lot!


optimist 1 year, 2 months ago

For all of the money the government doles out to people who avoid working there is nothing available to a family doing what they can to stay off the dole? I applaud him for doing what it takes to take care of his family and making hard choices. We should all be lining up to help these people with what they need to get back on their feet rather than judging their family choices as if it had anything to do with his losing his job.


geekin_topekan 1 year, 2 months ago

I have read on the rentals in ND. Near the boom areas, rents have inflated to 2000/mo. and upward causing shanty towns made from cargo containers to rise. I am sure its not a real family0friendly environment. Also, the lack of women has created a dangerous situation where men out number women 5:1. Women are reporting incidents of being propositioned on the streets by men waiving their new found wealth.


Liberty275 1 year, 2 months ago

Don't we still have greyhound or some other bus service? They have helped the community, then life threw them a curve. Help the man out with bus tickets so he can go where he can work and support his family.

From what I read N Dakota is booming right now and would probably offer better employment opportunities for all the working-age members of the family.


Buckysbabe 1 year, 2 months ago

Confused. Story says 7 children ages 5-18. But pic says youngest child is 2 yr old Nehemiah. Also no mention of the woman being "with child". Right there would have been a good thing to mention seeing as they need financial support right now.


friendlyjhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

Can't agree with much about how this family choses to live their lives but I am sorry for their travails. That is all the charity I can spare them while I am working to keep myself and my obligations taken care of.


jhawkinsf 1 year, 2 months ago

Be fruitful and multiply. Yes, times one.


Keith Richards 1 year, 2 months ago

Is there anything that doesn't bring Roggenkamp to tears or he doesn't find amazing?


Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

Psalm 127:3-5

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 2 months ago

I wonder what Plan A is and Pan B is? There are some serious issues to deal with having seven kids, it is going to be more than gas money? Wonder who the employer was in Lawrence?


Oh_dear 1 year, 2 months ago

Hmmmm... I'm familiar with this family. Interesting story.


Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

Seven kids, and a bun in the oven. Two bedroom house. Homeschooling. Sounds like a recipe for a great reality show.

I wish them well.


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