It is 8:00 a.m. and another day at the Lafayette Urban Ministry has begun.
Receptionist, Connie Decker, opens the doors and welcomes 12 people into the waiting room. Each is facing an eviction, winter utility disconnect, or perhaps a special food, health care or transportation emergency. Good Samaritan Program Director, Linda Hicks, and her volunteers responded to 2,032 of these emergencies last year.
It is 9:00 a.m. and two blocks away on 6th Street, the St. John’s/LUM Food Pantry opens its door to those in our community who are hungry and in need of food. Volunteers distribute food, stock shelves and complete simple administrative tasks. The food pantry offered food to 2,810 households last year.
It is 10:00 a.m. and back here on 4th Street, the Lafayette Urban Ministry ID Clinic opens for business. Three individuals have come to LUM for help in re-establishing their legal identities after having lost their photo IDs. This vitally important service allows our clients to apply for jobs, health care, housing or public assistance. LUM helped 211 individuals regain lost or stolen IDs last year.
From 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. the LUM Tax Assistance Program volunteers are hard at work providing free tax preparation services to low-income working families in our community. Program Director Ben Murphy and his team assure that our clients receive every tax credit for which they are eligible. Last year 552 individuals received an average refund of $1,774!
It is 2:00 p.m. and the LUM Emergency Shelter Director, David Heckert, begins meeting individually with each of the 42 homeless men and women who will be our guests at LUM tonight. What are their plans for getting off the street? How can LUM be of assistance? He calls a guest’s father in Florida. David is happy to hear the son is welcome to return home if only LUM can find a way to get him there. Later that afternoon, the man boards a Greyhound bus thanks to a ticket purchased by LUM.
It is 2:30 p.m. and four LUM activity buses are ready to roll. LUM After School Program Director, Amanda Bajzatt, and her staff are picking up children from 15 local elementary schools and delivering them to the Education Building at Central Presbyterian Church. Last year, 113 children received snacks, homework help and educational enrichment in a safe and caring environment each day after school while their parents were finishing up their workdays.
It is 3:00 p.m. and LUM Immigration Clinic Director, Susan Brouillette, is beginning her third case meeting of the day. She is working to help a legal work visa holder find the means to return home to her native country. Last year, 101 individuals received help navigating the US Immigration bureaucracy. Fifteen were helped in gaining U.S. Citizenship. Forty-six participated in U.S. Citizenship classes and 17 participated in Spanish conversation tables.
It is 4:00 p.m. and our first planning meeting for LUM Camp 2018 has begun. This year, we will introduce our campers to astrophysics and the science of light! Before you know it, July will be here and 120 LUM campers and counselors will be boarding the buses for Hanging Rock Camp. “LUM Camp 2018: Let Your Light Shine!”
It is 7:00 p.m. and the LUM Board of Directors has gathered for its monthly meeting. Comprised of one representative from each of LUM’s 46 member-churches, the board begins its agenda by honoring two LUM staff members and four Lafayette police and EMS officers. They helped resuscitate a homeless man found in a snowbank on January 2 when the actual temperature was -19 degrees.
It is 9:00 p.m. and across the street the door to the LUM Emergency Shelter opens. Forty-two homeless guests come in from the cold. Clean bedding, a simple meal, a hot shower and respect are offered to all. A resident of a local addiction treatment program has been invited to share the story of his own struggle with alcohol, and a staff member offers information to our guests about local addiction and mental health resources. 704 individuals stayed in the LUM shelter last year.
At midnight, the LUM Winter Warming Station opens for anyone needing protection from the winter elements. Staff member Jacob Day and two volunteers are on duty tonight. 206 individuals used the LUM Winter Warming Station last year.
It is 7:00 a.m. and our homeless guests are up, finished with breakfast and thankful for a safe night of restful sleep.
During other times of the year, LUM will provide math, reading, science and social studies learning to 60 low-income children enrolled in our 5th Quarter Summer Learning Program. Through Jubilee Christmas, we will provide toys, hams, gift certificates, cookies and baskets to 1,900 children from 700 families. On Thanksgiving Day, 200 volunteers will provide a turkey meal with all the fixings to 900 adults and children at the LUM Community Thanksgiving Celebration.
Your past support of the Lafayette Urban Ministry has been so important to everything that is accomplished here on a daily basis. Together, we have strengthened families, nurtured children and made our community a better place for everyone.
I hope you will continue your support of LUM by making a generous Lenten season gift of $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000, or more, today. I can think of nowhere else that your charitable dollars will have greater impact and of no better way to practice our Lenten discipline than to share with those less fortunate.
It is 8:00 a.m. and another day at the Lafayette Urban Ministry has begun. Please, may we hear from you today?