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Longtime Lawrence business owner to receive Restoring Lives Award

As someone whose family business has been a fixture in Lawrence for generations, Joe Flannery is understandably proud of his community.

Flannery, co-owner of Weaver’s Department Store in Downtown Lawrence, is in his 51st year at the store. For 32 of those years, he served as president, succeeding his father, who passed away in 1987. Flannery’s son, Brady, joined the business in 2012 and was named president in 2019.

“It’s been a wonderful ride,” Flannery said. “The people I have worked with have been phenomenal. That’s why we still exist today because we’ve had such great people.”

The team of people at Weaver’s has included two clients of the Bert Nash Center, who have worked at the store through the Supported Education/Employment Development program. The SEED program helps individuals with mental health challenges secure and maintain meaningful employment.

“That’s why being affiliated with Bert Nash and this program means a lot to our people because what Bert Nash clients bring to this workplace,” Flannery said.

For his ongoing support of the SEED program, Flannery will receive this year’s Restoring Lives Award. The award was created to recognize the collaboration with employers who go above and beyond to provide meaningful employment opportunities for those on the road to recovery. The award will be presented at the Bert Nash Center’s 37th annual Pioneer Celebration on April 20 at Venue 1235.

“I’m very proud to be a recipient of this award,” Flannery said.

Weaver’s began its association with the SEED program in 2011.

“We were looking for some help, and I knew that Bert Nash had a work support program,” Flannery said. “They told me to contact Vince Wondrack (who is a case manager with the SEED program). We met and I told him what I was looking for. He said he thought he had somebody that would be the right person. That person was with us for nine years as our custodian. He was such a wonderful person and personality. He just helped the whole environment of the store. He was almost always upbeat, really connected with everybody. He was a joy. He left to take full-time job and he’s still there.”

So, Flannery called Wondrack again. And again, Wondrack had someone for the job.

“They have been such an asset to the store,” Flannery said of the two Bert Nash Center clients who have worked at Weaver’s. “What they mean to our people: they’re dependable, they’re hard working, they’re trustworthy, they’re just good human beings.”

From the economic and cultural impact of being a college town, to being a wonderful place to raise a family, to most of all, the people, those are just a few of the reasons Flannery said Lawrence is a great place to live and work. Another reason, he said, is the Bert Nash Center.

“We’re so fortunate to have Bert Nash in the community,” Flannery said.” They help so many people and families. I can’t imagine what Lawrence would be without Bert Nash. It makes Lawrence another great reason to live here.”


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