Videos & Speeches

Madam President, I am here this afternoon to pay tribute to an exceptional woman in my hometown.

She is retiring from a career of aiding victims of domestic violence across Northwest Kansas. Charlotte Linsner in Hays, Kansas, is concluding more than 25 years of service to Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services with half of her time in the role as its executive director.

Back home, especially in the rural parts of our state where doors are left unlocked and most people know everyone else, we often think that domestic violence doesn’t occur on our streets or in our homes or to people in families that we know. Unfortunately, that is not the reality, and the evidence clearly indicates that is not the case.

Since Options opened its doors 30 years ago under the name of Northwest Kansas Sexual and Domestic Violence Services, 18,000 Kansans throughout our state’s 18 most northwest counties have been assisted in seeking a safe environment. There are locations in Hays and Colby, and in addition to providing direct assistance, Options has been instrumental in raising awareness of domestic and sexual violence in our corner of the State.

Almost from the very beginning Charlotte was there working to help those in need. She has offered compassion and strength and hope to those who walked through Options' doors or called the hotline. Her coworkers use words to describe her such as “passion” and “spunkiness” and “one of the nicest people.” From my time living in Hays and visiting Options, I can attest to those attributes. These characteristics are what make Charlotte so very effective in her job. Those who come to Options are bruised physically and emotionally, and they find among the staff at Options understanding and expertise. Effective leadership has made this an effective organization.

Last year our state’s attorney general presented Options with the Outstanding Victims Service Organization for 2013, an award at its 16th Annual Crimes Victims' Rights Conference. Mindful that domestic and sexual violence is a scourge not just throughout Northwest Kansas but throughout our state and society, Charlotte told the audience:

Options accepts this award in honor of all advocates and domestic/sexual programs across the state. Advocates go to work each day to find safety for victims.

Charlotte would be the first to say that great things cannot happen through one person's work alone. So I also wish to commend all who staff Options, who sit on its board of directors, who raise money, and the outside groups and individuals who tirelessly work to protect the vulnerable in our communities. I also want to acknowledge her husband Larry and her four children, who have supported her as she has devoted so much of her life and so much of her time to helping other families.

Charlotte is retiring but not until July 1, and for as long as she is on the job she is hard at work to solidify her agency's mission. She will lead a capital campaign with the goal of $250,000, and once the day comes, she will mentor the new executive director. Not only that but she plans to still work once a month at the shelter house as an advocate, which is how she started her career.

Charlotte leaves huge shoes to fill for the next executive director, but with the foundation that Charlotte and others have laid throughout the community in community partnerships and generous benefactors, Options will be helping those in need — our neighbors, our friends, sometimes even our relatives — for years to come.

Thank you, Charlotte. Best wishes. I am glad you live your life in a way that is committed to helping others.