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Loyalsock honors 2 past students

The Lancer Foundation of the Loyalsock Township School District honored two of its own Tuesday night for the impact they made in the community following their years at the school.

Sheriff Mark Lusk, class of 1976, and Kelly Lyndgaard, class of 1994, received Distinguished Alumni Awards at the event.

Lyndgaard shared the story of how she had moved from life with an executive career as an engineer at IBM to being the CEO of Unshattered, a company that employs women who have come out of addiction through the Walter Hoving Home.

“By the time I left the company, I was running a billion dollar piece of the IBM company. I had a lot of success in the corporate world and I loved my job,” she said.

In 2010, Lyndgaard said, she had attended a women’s conference at her church where a woman, named Emily, spoke of her journey into addiction from the time she was 8 years old when a friend of her brother thought it would be fun to get her high.

“Fast forward 10 years, she became a homeless, mainline heroin addict,” Lyndgaard said.

“I fell in love with this place called the Hoving Home where women are rebuilding their lives that had been shattered from addiction and doing the hard emotional labor. I admired the work they were doing so much.”

Lyndgaard felt compelled to start Unshattered as a way to help the women coming out of the program who had no job skills or support system to keep them from relapsing.

“So I built a social enterprise that uses business as a positive impact on our community,” Lyndgaard said. “Today I have a team of four women who are salaried, with benefits and paid vacation and maternity leave.”

Three other women are in the 10-week training and eight women who work part time while they’re still in the recovery program.

Today, the company takes repurposed materials, which might otherwise be discarded or overlooked, and fashions them into handbags.

“What I love about it is it’s a metaphor for these women’s lives. It’s all scrap,” Lyndgaard said. “Everything we make our bags out of was going into the trash. It’s just a tangible image of these women’s lives feeling broken, discarded and thrown out, rebuilt into something beautiful, purposeful and meaningful.”

Lyndgaard shared that the girl Emily, whose story put her on the path to working with the residents of the Hoving Home, is now director of operations for Unshattered and now is married and expecting her first child.

Also, she and Lyndgaard were invited to the White House in January to join in a conversation about women, health care and the opioid crisis.

“What relates back to this community of people is every single woman on my team says all the time when they find out things I’ve done or things I’ve experienced for other people’s lives they say, ‘Oh, if only somebody would have noticed me, if only somebody would have told me that something else was possible for my life. If only someone had said there was another way to deal with my pain. If only somebody had believed in me too,’ “ she said. “I didn’t know how good I had it.”

Lyndgaard added that she was grateful for the school district, the community, her family, friends and the people who have invested in her along the way. “I’m so grateful and thankful for this acknowledgment.”

Sheriff Mark Lusk, too, thanked the Lancer Foundation for his award.

“You know the old phase it takes a village to raise a child and I look around this room at the people I know personally and who I know in the professional life and I think about everyone who has had a part in what I’ve done,” Lusk said.

He noted that his “roots with the district are long” and acknowledged various friends and family in the audience who influenced him along the way.

Lusk, currently serving his third term as Lycoming County Sheriff, related that his first taste of law enforcement came when troopers did a bicycle safety program at Loyalsock’s elementary school.

His police career began as a cadet at the high school’s Senior Professiona and Career Experience Program in 1975.

“I wouldn’t be here, and if there’s one turning point that where I started to become what I finally became, fire rescue, EMS, police, Emergency Service, it was a program called the SPACE program. It was the Senior Professional & Career Experience Program,” he said.

Started by his high school teacher, Ronald Warren, the program offered opportunities for seniors who wanted to go into professions.

“I was sponsored to go to the Old Lycoming Township police department. We went and spent half a day and enjoyed the experience. And many of us went into those professions.”

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