Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dr. Bill Roy: "Giving Back to Topeka"

Dr. Bill Roy
lawyer, physician, congressman
(Ks., 2nd dist. '70 - '74)

It’s all coming together this week at the old family home on Lakeside Drive here in Topeka, a daughter’s love, fifty years of family memories, and the critical two-week annual fundraiser for Topeka’s Every Woman’s Resource Center.

The 28th Annual Designers’ Show House will run through May 18th, Monday-Thursday, 10-7, and Friday-Sunday, 10-5. Not only will thousands visit the greatly remodeled home and see the wares and talents of Topeka’s best known designers and builders, but many will have a catered lunch and enjoy Spring’s greatest glories in a large tent in the small park dissecting Lakeside and Westover Drives across the street from the home. Tour tickets are $9 in advance and $10 at the door. Lunch is an extra $8.

This is far from an all woman’s thing. I visited many of the 27 past show houses, and was always glad I’d gone. ERC is not a small deal. It has a million dollar budget and 24 full-time and part-time employees, three of whom are in Lawrence, all things I either never learned or forgot during my previous show house visits. It is a 501(c)3 agency, and has 450 members who contribute $25 to $1000 for the privilege of helping out.

In addition, there are corporate sponsors, and ERC is a United Way Agency, all pieces necessary to put together another fine community resource so necessary for a caring and mature society.

What does ERC do? The answer is find resources for women with needs from child care to paying the utility bill, to fleeing an abusive mate. But 75% of their work is in the child care area. Even the state gets in on the action by licensing ERC as a child care resource and referral agency.

They support and consult with child care providers. And how big a job is that? Well, there are 1200 child care providers in the nine-county area served, from small ones caring for up to 10 children in their homes, up to major providers often associated with mothers’ or fathers’ work places.

About 500 of these are in Shawnee County. Also, like any professionally run, quality agency, they have a first class web site,, where you can connect not only with ERC here, but with similar agencies throughout the state. Back to the house on Lakeside. It was a major child care center unto itself.

We moved there in 1958 after purchasing the home for $34,800 with five children, ages nine to three. The following year we had Rise, completing our family of six children, all boys except five. After 28 years we sold the home to our dentist-daughter Ricki, her husband Clark and their four children.

So many a small child has worn a path between that home and Whitson Elementary School, about a quarter of mile away, not to exclude the large backyard, every inch of the house and much of the neighborhood. I recall my delight once watching our grandchildren scamper across 17th and head home after school, and envisioning our young kids doing that a few fleeting years earlier. But, after 50 years of a family home, little is yesterday, although walking the halls on Lakeside this week with the kids (all were here) and looking at the family pictures Randy has hung, helps us appreciate both yesterday and today.

For us, and perhaps for others who were on our Christmas card list, Jane’s home-made cards that Randy framed are special. For about a dozen years, I took Polaroid pictures of the kids, and Jane designed cards (before computers) featuring growing kids and something significant from the year. I have never thought of us as a "well-known Topeka family," but a large family and time have already nearly made it so. Randy’s purchase of the old place from Ricki, and her willingness to put it immediately to good use for a worthy cause, will further erode any anonymity. I just hope we will be known for giving back to Topeka nearly as much as this community has given to us.

Dr. Roy may be contacted at

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