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Reconnecting with Hoke: A post from Katherine Dinsdale

Every 15 years or so, whether we need it or not, Bob and I buy a new or used car. Truthfully, it’s
not really our jam; but after hydroplaning in pouring rain on I-70 and careening into the center
barrier and breaking an axle, we decided it was time. Plus, we were newly interested in safety

We wandered into Laird Noller’s sales center and shook salesman Joe Kelly’s hand. “There’s
absolutely no chance we’ll be buying a car today,” I told him, thinking I’d cleverly pre-empt a
hard sell. But by the end of the evening, having had time at home to discuss and possibly
rationalize, we called Joe back and said, “Yes. Please order us one of those shiny new cars with
multiple bells and whistles.”

It wasn’t until the next day, when we returned to the dealership to sign the ream of papers Joe
had generated and when he called his boss over to say “Hi” that I remembered we were friends
with someone at Laird Noller. From way back.

We were delighted to greet Laird Noller Hyundai and Genesis of Lawrence General Manager
Josh Hoke. Josh and his son, Josh, Jr., showed up at Family Promise in 2010 with nowhere else
to turn. Hoke was a former army medic who’d lost his veteran’s benefits after a string of
bureaucratic errors. Family Promise director Valerie Miller Coleman first got Josh and his son
housed. Then she advocated with the Veterans Administration and the housing authority. She
ultimately summoned a meeting of representatives of various veterans’ organization at the
American Legion and invited Josh to tell his story. “Oh, my goodness! How did this happen?”
said the VA folks. “How did this man fall through the cracks?”

Hoke did indeed qualify for a housing voucher through the Veterans Administration. The Hokes
remained housed with Family Promise several months until the details of their housing could be

Josh had been employed at Laird Noller for several years before coming to Family Promise.
While he was still experiencing homelessness, he was named Salesman of the Year.
Since regaining housing and full VA benefits, Hoke says he’s “kept the pedal to the metal” in
regard to his work ethic. He tells all his employees his story and says he’s proud and humbled to
also mention that he was the first former guest to serve on the local Family Promise board of

Josh Hoke, Jr., who was with his dad at Family Promise, is now a loan officer at a local credit
union. Josh Sr. and his wife, Carolee, have three younger children active in Lawrence schools
and in traveling soccer club, softball and competitive gymnastics and dance.
Bob and I were delighted to reconnect with this beloved graduate family and were so grateful
to hear the rest of their amazing story.

On the way home, Bob preached to the choir, “Dog gone it (Bob really does say “dog gone it”)!
Even with all his advantages and education, Josh was homeless. Again, we’re shown,
homelessness can happen to anyone. In our minds we want to play this game, that it could
never happen to me, that somehow this other person deserves to be in the spot they are in.”
Thirteen years into our local Family Promise adventure we have the fun of seeing the fruit of
our organization’s work. We see our neighbors, living life. Raising kids. Selling cars.
Our shopping trip to Laird Noller netted us new wheels. Far more importantly, we got to
reconnect with Josh Hoke.