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COVID-19 Updates – Impact on LUM Programs

LUM is Open for Business – Safety & Compliance

Although the LUM Office is closed for in-person visits, the LUM office phones are staffed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and staff members are answering emails as promptly as possible. All business meetings have been canceled or moved online, and most LUM staff members are currently working from home.

For more than two weeks, the leadership at LUM has been continually monitoring the recommendations from the CDC, the county health department, local and state officials and other agencies. LUM is open for business, but “how” LUM serves the families in our community has been modified to keep everyone as safe as possible. Below is a summary of how LUM programs are continuing to serve the families in our community today. {Please note: LUM program information is accurate now, but changes are expected.}

LUM STILL Needs Your Support

During times like these it is important to give wisely. LUM is a great investment in your local community. A collaboration of 47 local churches, LUM serves as a social safety net for children and families who are experiencing difficult times. Last year, Lafayette Urban Ministry served more than 3,792 families through one or another of our 22 programs.

Cash donations are preferred because they allow LUM to purchase what is needed, when it’s needed. Donations of “needed items” are also welcome and appreciated. Here is a list of “COVID-19 Supplies” that are urgently needed:

  • Disinfectant (for surfaces) – bleach, wipes, spray (Lysol), cleaner (Fantasik, 409, Clorox)
  • Hand Cleaning – antibacterial wipes (Lysol, Clorox), gloves (nitrile disposable), hand sanitizer, liquid hand soap
  • Paper Products – towels, facial tissues, toilet paper

Please either ship or drop off items to the LUM Office (420 N 4th Street, Lafayette, IN 47901).

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Use Where Needed Most

LUM Emergency Shelter – Open Nightly

The LUM Emergency Shelter is open with a strict protocol for intake, check in, dinner services and sleeping arrangements.

  • Intake: each weekday afternoon, signing up for returning guests is being done outside and quickly; new guests are being signed up by staff practicing social distancing
  • Check in (outside): guests line up using six foot markers for social distancing; staff take each guest’s temperature, and monitor hand cleaning. EMTs and heath department will be called if guests check in with severe symptoms; guests with mild symptoms will be separated and must wear mask for duration for stay.
  • Cleaning & food services: disinfecting surfaces frequently; training, postings & handouts on coughing/sneezing & hand washing protocols; staff are wearing gloves; meal is served to guests; seating arranged for social distancing
  • Sleeping arrangements: beds are arranged for social distancing and “head to foot” sleeping

Meals are needed every evening. Please consider preparing a meal for our shelter guests. To learn more and sign up online, please click HERE.

LUM Protein Food Pantry – Open Weekly

The LUM Protein Food Pantry is open each Thursday morning with to-go, curbside service. Food items are packed up and available for quick check in and distribution outside of the LUM Ray Ewry Center (525 N 4th Street, Lafayette). Clients are lined up using six foot markers for social distancing.

Donations of protein food items, paper products, infant supplies & feminine hygiene products are needed and welcome. To learn more and see our list of needed items, click HERE.

LUM Tax Assistance, ID Clinic & After School Programs – Closed

For now, the LUM Tax Assistance Program is currently not seeing clients in person and no new clients will be served. Everyone is being encouraged to use “free online tax preparation software” available to everyone with a simple return. In just six weeks, LUM served 270 clients with total Federal refunds of $357,280 and total State refunds of $29,450.

LUM ID Clinic – since the ID Clinic requires an initial in-person meeting, no new clients will be accepted until further notice. Current clients may email for updates or questions.

LUM Youth Program updates are as follows:

LUM Financial & Immigration Assistance – Modified

The LUM Good Samaritan Program is taking requests for emergency financial assistance by phone and email, each weekday morning starting at 8:15 a.m.

The LUM Immigration Clinic is working with clients by phone, video conferencing & email — and new clients should email

Spanish Conversation Tables and Citizenship Classes have been canceled until further notice.

Final Thoughts & Information

Information in this eNewsletter is accurate, but changes are expected. For the most up-to-date information about LUM programs & services, please go to the LUM website –

Please know that the LUM Board of Directors and staff are keeping those affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) in our thoughts and prayers while closely watching the evolving situation.

Meet the Rev. Wes Tillett – New LUM Executive Director

Restoring human dignity…which all God’s people need and deserve” is the part of the LUM Mission Statement that speaks to Wes Tillett the most. He stated that, “Each of us is made in God’s image — ‘Imago Dei.’ Everyone has value and meaning and is worthy of love and respect. The word, ‘dignity,’ perfectly encapsulates that sentiment. I pledge to continue the long history of LUM to meet people right where they are — and offer help and hope.

Wes attempts to “Live a Life of Love” each and every day (Ephesians 5:2). He commented that, “Love is the most important thing to me. A love that’s full of action, full of grace and truth, full of justicepeace, and joy, full of the life-giving nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Wes is inspired by faithfulness. He stated that, “It is so easy to be distracted, to be motivated by FOMO (fear of missing out), to take the convenient way out when things get tough. When people have grit, when they keep their word, when they have integrity in public and private, when they make sacrifices to help others, I get inspired.” He is inspired by “all those unknown saints who are faithful to God in their own quiet way, day after day.

Wes is also inspired by the three executive directors who have preceded him. These three leaders, Joe Micon, the Rev. Jud Dolphin, and the late Rev. Ron Elly, have left a legacy of serving “the least” and thereby serving God (Matthew 25:40). They have, over the decades, built a strong agency that has a solid infrastructure, vital services, talented staff, dedicated volunteers including board members, supportive community and government partners and a great reputation. Wes is honored and humbled to serve as the next leader of Lafayette Urban Ministry. Recently, Rita, Wes’s wife, met a former LUM Camper of his from 15 years ago, who is now 23 years old. Wes was amazed to hear how much his attention and affection meant to this camper. He added, “As I come to serve at LUM again, I hope to enrich the lives of thousands of people — those who are served and those who serve. Hope, help, healing, hospitality — all done in love and wisdom — I hope to uplift many in the community through these.

His Experience & His Education

Wes Tillett earned a BA in Biblical Education and graduated summa cum laude from Cedarville University (Ohio). He was elected by the student body to serve on a student pastoral leadership team — preaching and leading worship on campus. He earned a Master in Divinity from Western Theological Seminary (Michigan), where he received two awards as an outstanding graduating candidate and a third for outstanding work in Christian education and formation for ministry assignments.
From 2003-2010, the Tillett family lived in downtown Lafayette and were engaged with LUM. In 2005, Wes was the assistant to the program director of the LUM After School Program, who at the time was his wife, Rita. He assisted in program logistics, tutored, mentored and in the process became a self-proclaimed basketball champion & kickball legend. During this time he also served as a volunteer LUM Camp counselor. Wes was the youth minister at First Christian Church (2003-2005) and then the director of Family & Youth Ministries at Central Presbyterian Church (2005-2010). He was the Mission Co-Worker in Zahle, Lebanon (2010-2012) and served in various churches in Indiana, Michigan, and Virginia. 
For the past seven years, the Rev. Wesley Tillett has been  founding, lead pastor at Voyage Church in Oshtemo, Michigan. He also founded the Oshtemo Area Churches, a coalition of five churches from different denominations, which addresses food insecurity, mentoring, tutoring, and clothing needs, by partnering with food banks and elementary schools. OAC received the Champ Award in 2016 by the Communities in Schools.

His Family, His Background, His Favorites

Wes Tillett is originally from Rensselaer, Indiana, and graduated from Rensselaer Central High School. He currently lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with his family and their goldendoodle, Hunter.
Wes and his wife, Rita Hurley Tillett, grew up together and were middle school sweethearts. One Christmas day, when they weren’t even dating, Wes showed up at Rita’s doorstep to ask if she’d marry him. Today they are the proud and grateful parents of four children — Tobias (13), Kidest (11), Avalyn (6), and Noah (5). Wes and Rita feel blessed to have received their children through birth and adoption — internationally from Ethiopia and domestically through foster care.
Growing up on the prairies of northwest Indiana, Wes developed a love for the outdoors and Chicago sports teams (Bears, Bulls and Cubs); and Wes & Rita grew up cheering for the Purdue Boilermakers. (Boiler Up!) Wes enjoys swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, water skiing and stand-up paddle boarding, also known as “SUP-ing.” He also loves playing board games with his children, date nights with Rita, hiking with his dog (Hunter), traveling to new places, playing guitar & hand drums, painting, and spending time alone with God. He has a passion for holistic health (body, mind, soul) and staying in shape by participating in 5K runs and sprint triathlons. In addition to his work, Wes has been active in the community with agencies focused on children, mentoring, and education.
  • Wes’s favorite Bible passage is, “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:5)
  • His favorite quote is “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years,” attributed to Mark Twain
  • His favorite poem is The Peace of Wild Things by poet, novelist, essayist, farmer, and environmentalist, Wendell Berry, from Kentucky