GIRARD —  Housing, transportation and early childhood services are a few things which have grown at Southeast Kansas Community Action Program while under the leadership of Linda Broyles and Steve Lohr in their 40 years with the organization.
After four decades of dedication to SEK-CAP, Chief Operations Officer Linda Broyles and Chief Executive Officer Steve Lohr are set to retire Dec. 31.
“Steve and Linda set the bar high for our organization and the results are evident,” a release said. “Under their leadership, we earned the National Award for Excellence in Community Action, setting the standards that we expect of ourselves, our staff and our many associations.
“They continuously remind all of us that excellence is the result of caring more than other think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than other think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.”
On Wednesday, the organization hosted a retirement party for the two.  Broyles and Lohr both began their SEK-CAP careers in 1979.
Broyles started as a Head Start parent in Cherryvale. She began as an assistant teacher in Aug. 1979 starting her 40 year career with SEK CAP.
Since then, she had several roles — from being a home visitor, lead teacher, Head Start director, to bringing a RV that was retrofitted to be a mobile classroom and driven around to small communities to name a few.
“I became really passionate about the early childhood program, at first as a customer and then became an employee of SEK-CAP and found my home and never had any desire to go anywhere else,” she said. “Though I had opportunities, I loved this agency and what they stand for and the fact that we actually help people and that they have the opportunity to recognize their own potential as well as become more productive members of society and the community.”
After she leaves, Broyles said she plans to continue to seek opportunities to work in the community — she may even been seen as a Pink Lady at Via Christi Hospital, one of her hopeful passions she said.
Making his appearance at SEK-CAP four months after Broyles, Lohr began as weatherization director on Dec. 26, the Day after Christmas in 1979.  As the weatherization director, he helped weatherize homes of eligible families across 12 counties. He then became assistant director, then later the CEO on April 16, 1999, his daughter’s birthday.
“Along the way I did a few things, but not near as accomplished as Mrs. Broyles,” he said.
During their leadership they helped build housing across Southeast Kansas and there are now 54 properties the organization rents to families.
Lohr gave credit to all involved with SEK-CAP and Broyles’ leadership. She received several awards and had many roles through the years, including the becoming the vice president of the National Head Start Association and president of state and regional National Head Start Association boards.
“Her activities, especially the last 20 years as our chief operations officer, we have 75 properties around and 14 of them are Head Start centers … it was under her leadership that all of that came to fruition,” Lohr said. “She led the charge to get them renovated or built, doubled enrollment and more than doubled our funding in Head Start.”
Lohr also thanked both his family and Broyles’ as their duties included long hours at work away from family. People may find Lohr at home visiting with his grandchildren when he retires.
Lohr also gave credit to the SEK-CAP Board of Directors.
“They provide the passion as well, because they represent the folks we serve and the local government and major interests in the community,” Lohr said. “It brings a unique group of folks together to bounce ideas off of … it’s not hard to be passionate about that every day.
“It’s not hard when you know you are doing something for folks who might be struggling.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.