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Lake provides dream home for Salvation Army workers

Staff writer

The house where Richard and Judy Forney plan to retire barely resembles the house they bought nine years ago as a vacation home.

On Monday, 74 Lakeshore Drive had its wood siding removed on the front of the house and replaced with a shiny forest green vinyl. Bob Gillett and Butch Suffield worked on the siding after finishing the outside work on an addition at the rear of the house they started three weeks prior.

The Forneys wanted a basement and figured a room over the underground space would not be a bad idea. They envision the room as a study; the basement is more for safety.

As workers for the Salvation Army, they have seen the destructive power of tornadoes. They have spent their careers in and out of disaster areas.

Although they looked at the house together, Judy made the final deal for the home while Richard was in New York after the World Trade Center attack in 2001. His job in the aftermath of the attack was to prequalify people to see social workers. He said many people who worked in the ground zero area quickly exhausted their savings and piled up credit card debt while waiting for their businesses to reopen.

“People who never had to ask for help before in their lives,” Judy said.

“I prayed with a lot of good people,” Richard added.

Richard’s job in Kansas City, where the Forneys work, is as a chaplain, a spiritual counselor, for a drug and alcohol program.

“It’s exciting to see them change their lives,” he said. “I can see the change in people the day it starts.”

“It’s really exciting to work with people who want help,” Judy said.

The Forneys have worked in relief efforts all over the U.S. Judy has gone to floods in Des Moines and Fargo. Richard has worked in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina and has even helped relieve international crises. He helped organize food heading to five different refugee camps in Albania after the war in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

“Logistics is my expertise,” he said.

Although their jobs with the Salvation Army were spiritually satisfying, the Forneys are not extravagantly paid. They had to be steadfast in procuring funds to afford a retirement home.

However, the house at Marion County Lake was too good of an opportunity. It allowed Richard an outlet to his family in Kansas; he grew up in Hutchinson.

One reason they wanted to live on a lake was Richard’s parents owned a home at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Richard’s father could enjoy the comforts of his former home while living in Wichita, closer to a major hospital.

The Forneys immediately added on to the front of the ranch-style house after the purchase. Suffield and Gillett built a front addition, which is used as a living room. It is the biggest singular room in the house.

Decks, floors, and doors were added or replaced. Even with the renovations, the house rarely stood empty. The Forney’s daughter lives in Wichita and uses the home for vacations. Other family members also frequent the Forney home.

More work is still to be done. Gillett and Suffield will have their hands full working inside on a bathroom during the winter. A piece of the home where a wall was knocked out also needs to be cleaned up.

Although the renovations have cost thousands of dollars, Richard said he could not put a price on a home where he can retire in a year and a half.

“This is going to be our dream home,” Judy said.

“We saw the possibilities here and little by little we’re able to change things,” Richard said. “When you get the house that you really want, that’s immaterial.”

Last modified Oct. 6, 2010

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