The Kinders took a field trip to the Food Pantry on Monday where they donated 50 pounds of kids snacks and packed 25 snack bags for the pantry. Thank you kinders, parents and teachers!
by Janaki Jane, Direct Services Advocate, LEAF
Every Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., LEAF takes over the little white church on Main Street and offers lots of different services to residents who live in the greater Lyons area. LEAF has a big service area: it serves folks from Raymond/Riverside, and Pinewood Springs, all the way into Lyons on either side of both highways, whether they live off the grid, up Red Gulch, or on Blue Mountain—which means we serve some folks in Larimer County. We also serve out Highway 66, and into Hygiene. Anyone who lives in that large area is eligible to come to LEAF for services.
LEAF’s mission is to provide a human services safety net for those in need in the greater Lyons area. We envision a world where our friends and neighbors are cared for in their time of need, and we are working hard to bring that vision to light here in Lyons. We provide a safe, accessible place for individuals and families to connect with comprehensive, coordinated services that help them strengthen their households and become more self-reliant.
In order to support this self-reliance, people need to come to LEAF themselves. Once they do, we don’t share that they came in with anyone. No-one who sees you come through the door knows whether you came in to LEAF to donate a check, or to get a resource referral, or to take advantage of our services.
Those services are for everyone. There is no income limit. Everyone is invited to come in and talk to the resource people and case managers at LEAF. For instance, professional, unbiased Housing & Financial Counselors come monthly to assist anyone—whether you have enough money to be buying your third rental property or are trying to make your social security check last the month. Our case managers have supported people while they filled out grant applications, bankruptcy paperwork, called pension plans, and dealt with the phone company.
Special technicians come in a couple times a month who can sign people up for food stamps, Medicaid, and facilitate applying for direct cash assistance. Direct cash assistance comes from the county, and includes Old Age Pension, Assistance and Disability, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. These technicians will now be available by appointment on several Wednesdays a month, and meet with residents on other days. Appointments are made through LEAF. In the fall, there will be health care navigators available to help with signing up on the Connect for Health Colorado website. All of these services are provided in both English and Spanish.
LEAF also offers emergency basic needs funding assistance. Everyone struggles sometimes. Whether it’s illness, job loss, disaster, disabilities, or unexpected emergencies: people find themselves stuck. LEAF currently partners with eight outside organizations to get funding for local residents, too. Through these partnerships, LEAF can facilitate and/or apply for significantly more financial assistance than it would be able for us to provide on our own.
And, of course, our wonderful, volunteer-run Lyons Community Food Pantry serves about 200 locals a month. The Food Pantry offers high quality food to anyone who can’t save 10% of their income. This enables them to save for emergencies, and perhaps not need to come to LEAF for other help.
LEAF is open for walk-ins and appointments every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Lyons Community Food Pantry is open every Wednesday from 3:30-5 p.m. Call 720-864-4309, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment, and go to our website at leaflyons.org or to our Facebook page LEAF to find out more.
Gardening is springing up at the Lyons Community Food Pantry! The Food Pantry invites all local vegetable gardeners to “Plant a row for the Pantry,” and is now giving free seeds to Food Pantry shoppers.
Are you planting a vegetable garden? The Community Food Pantry and their patrons would be so happy if you planted a row of veggies to donate to them. Or, if you are a container gardener, plant a tomato, a few lettuces, or a squash for the Pantry. The Pantry can accept home grown vegetables, and produce is always needed. Produce can’t be stored like canned goods or cleaning supplies, so it is harder for food pantries in general to provide enough good quality produce for folks. Lyons’ Community Food Pantry is no different. Once it is ripe and picked, bring the produce by any Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. If no-one is downstairs, bring it upstairs, and it will be accepted there. Questions? Write to email@example.com, or call 720-864-4309 and leave a message. Someone will get back to you soon.
In a new program, LEAF is collaborating with the Living Seeds Library to provide free seeds to Food Pantry customers. Each family is allowed to take 4-5 packets of seeds, which are available once or twice a month. Many kinds of vegetable seeds are available, including heirloom vegetables. Last week, the seeds offered included over 10 kinds of each of tomatoes, kale, and lettuce, along with multiple other vegetables. Herbs and flowers are offered each time, too. The Living Seeds Library is a project of Resource Colorado (ResourceCO.net).
LCF has dedicated $202,069 to supporting basic needs in Lyons since 2008
In 2008, the then pastor of the Lyons Community Church, Claire McNulty Drewes, had the compelling idea of starting a food pantry and basic needs emergency fund. In her role as pastor, she had noticed that there were residents of Lyons who didn’t have enough to eat, and that sometimes local people ran into emergencies where they needed help with paying for basic needs like heat, electricity, rent and medical bills. McNulty Drewes went to her congregation, where members volunteered to help out in creating a food pantry and a Basic Needs Emergency Fund (BNEF). But she needed funding. So she went to the newly formed Lyons Community Foundation (LCF) and asked them for financial support.
LCF responded. As a community foundation, its mission is to improve the quality of life, build a culture or giving, and encourage positive change in the Greater Lyons area. The organization has been dedicated to giving financial support to the basic needs programs in Lyons ever since. Between 2008 and 2016, including Rebuild Lyons Flood Recovery funds, LCF has granted BNEF and the Food Pantry, both of which are now LEAF, $209.069. “There are critical needs that aren’t optional needs,” said Clark Hodge, who was on the LCF Advisory Board for several years. “BNEF and the Food Pantry were granted money as a Board prerogative.” Other grants were part of a competitive process sent to a committee to fund or not. For those grants, “nobody was going to starve or have their heat turned off,” he said. “They’re important, too, but it’s different.” Funding for basic needs was seen as something separate and necessary. The programs could and can return to LCF for extra funding if they run out during the year.
“There is an informal commitment to supporting BNEF/LEAF/Food Pantry,” said Monique Sawyer-Lang, current Chair of the LCF Advisory Board, and a co-chair of the Food Pantry since its inception. For the first few years, LCF funded the two programs with about $15,000-17,000 a year.
“The Food Pantry started with 5 or 6 families getting prepacked boxes of non-perishable foods, as a ministry of the church,” said Sawyer-Lang. “The emergency part was very limited. For example, paying utilities when there was a catastrophic illness or a death in the family. But as time progressed, we could see that there was more need than we were able to meet.” They put in policies about how much each household could get in a year, and the number of times a year each household could get assistance.
“It worked until the flood,” said Sawyer-Lang. In the aftermath of the floods, it was natural for LCF and BNEF to work together for flood relief. They created “Rebuild Lyons, One Life at a Time.” Lyons was fortunate to have the LCF—a trusted, philanthropic organization with 501(c)3 status—to be the stewards of all of the donations coming in to assist flood impacted Lyons residents. “The BNEF had the knowledge of the community and its needs,” said Sawyer-Lang. “LCF came up with an application and a confidential review process.” Because they were a local organization, they were able to move things along quickly and get out money in a more timely manner than larger organizations did. They distributed almost $1,000,000 to about 300 local families and households at around the New Year of 2014, less than 4 months after the floods.
In helping with the recovery, it became apparent that there was a need for long term support in the community, which was bigger than BNEF could handle. In July 2014 LEAF was created as its own non-profit, including both the Lyons Community Food Pantry and basic needs assistance, and adding in Case Management. In the two years after the floods, LCF supported LEAF with $95,000 for flood recovery assistance. LEAF was able to hire a Displaced Resident Advocate to reach out to the former mobile home park residents, a flood rebuild advocate to assist Confluence residents with permitting, and to have a preliminary report on the options and possibilities of building a manufactured housing community in Lyons. During this time LEAF also assisted an unprecedented number of Lyons residents with needs, many of which would not even be considered in a non-disaster situation by a typical human services agency or family resource center.
As LEAF has grown and expanded its programs and services to the community, LCF has remained steadfast in its support. Just recently, LCF granted LEAF $10,000 for operations and direct client assistance funds. LEAF is thus able to give financial assistance directly to area residents, and to provide information, resources, support and assistance that enable local residents to become more self-sufficient, which means that they and their families are healthier and happier members of our community, able to contribute from themselves more fully. “LCF’s support of LEAF’s work is truly making a difference in the lives of Lyons residents. Their commitment to the people of Lyons is astounding,” said Emily Dusel, Executive Director of LEAF.
You can donate to LCF and support both LEAF and other local endeavors by going to their website www.lyonscf.org, and clicking on “donate.” LEAF is available for emergency basic needs assistance 7 days a week at 720-864-4309, and is open every Wednesday for Case Management, basic needs assistance, supportive advocacy, resource referral, along with the Lyons Community Food Pantry, every Wednesday between 10:30 and 5 at the Lyons Community Church, 350 Main Street, Lyons. www.leaflyons.org, or LEAF on Facebook.
Janaki Jane is the Direct Services Advocate and Case Manager at LEAF. For the last 12 years, she has live off the grid in the foothills above Lyons, with her husband and her cat, being visited frequently by the local moose, bear, fox, bobcat, deer, elk and lion population.