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Plumb Place closed its doors on Dec. 31, 2020.

The Plumb Place Steering Committee is another step closer to helping women and children in Lyon County. On Wednesday the committee announced it is taking applications to build a new board of directors to take over the rebuilding process of the 100-year-old agency.

“We’re super excited. We feel that we’ve taken forever, although it’s really only taken a few months, but we’ve finally gotten to the point where we’re ready to start recruiting board members so we can get this agency back up on its feet and doing what it has done in the community for over 100 years,” said Mickey Edwards, United Way of the Flint Hills executive director and steering committee chair.

Plumb Place, which served as a shelter for women since 1921, closed its doors effective Dec. 31, 2020. The organization had publicly struggled with funding since Aug. 2018 when the alleged theft of more than $51,000 by a former staff member was being investigated by the Emporia Police Department.

According to the report filed July 9, 2018 with the police department, a loss of $51,362 was reported between Jan. 1, 2014, and April 30, 2017. A discrepancy in the shelter’s financial reports was initially discovered by board members in June 2017, and at that time, the board requested a one-year audit for fiscal year 2016, and then a four-year forensic audit.

Edwards began spearheading an effort to rebuild Plumb Place shortly after the shelter closed. She, along with representatives from CrossWinds Counseling and Wellness, SOS Inc., Corner House, Lyon County Community Corrections, Kansas Legal Services, former staff members and community members, have been working under the advisement of Judge Lee Fowler to help determine the future of the organization.

Edwards said Plumb Place’s by-laws stipulate the agency must be governed by 10 - 15 board members who can offer a variety of expertise and knowledge relating to the purpose of the organization. The steering committee is seeking individuals with grant writing, fundraising, accounting, legal, property management, communication or public relations, facilitation, nonprofit and/or congregant housing experience and personal experiences with housing services or homelessness.

Individuals with a passion for helping women and children reach housing security and individual success are encouraged to apply.

“We don’t know what we’re getting necessarily right now, but we can only get that what that is and there may be people who have great skills in our community that we have kind of overlooked or hadn’t thought to include on our list,” Edwards said. “I would encourage anyone who has a passion for this type of work or a passion for providing services in their community to apply.”

An important change in Plumb Place’s mission moving forward is adding services to women who have children. That was not possible before, Edwards said, because the Plumb home was not laid out in a way that would have made it viable to house both single women and women with children.

“It seemed a natural kind of progression for Plumb Place to add services for women who also have children,” Edwards said. “I know that was something that had been considered by the agency in the past, but in the facility they had, that was just not viable.”

Although the services won’t be housed in the historic home, she said the rebuilt agency will be filling a need that is currently not being met in Emporia — and has not been met for some time.

“There has been a hole in this community as far as services go,” Edwards said. “There has not been, other than a few narrow mission-type shelters, an agency that can just do that for women with children. We’re excited to be able to do that and recommend to the board that they add that service.”

Lucas Moody, CrossWinds Counseling and Wellness development manager and Plumb Place steering committee board member, said the ideal new board member would be someone who brought “dedication and passion along with a skill set equipped to solidify Plumb Place back in the community and provide housing services to the women and children who currently don’t have that resource.”

“This committee knew that restoring the much-needed services Plumb Place provided was going to be multi-faceted,” Moody said. “The committee has finally reached the point of recruiting new board members to help us achieve this goal.”

SOS Inc. executive director Connie Cahoone said the organization’s longstanding history was proof of the community’s support of its mission.

“Plumb Place was successfully supported by this community for 100 years, so it is clear that Emporians believe in the need for its services,” Cahoone said. “The committee is confident that the right board members can be found who are willing to pick up the Plumb Place baton and carry on the legacy of helping women in need.”

Interested community members can find the Plumb Place board member job description and board member applications at www.uwfh.org/plumbplace. Applications should be emailed to plumbplace224@gmail.com by Aug. 27.

For questions about serving on the Plumb Place Board of Directors, contact Edwards at mickey@uwfh.org or 620-342-7564.

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