Persisting & Thriving During COVID-19
One Year Later – Still Open – Still Serving
One year ago, Lafayette Urban Ministry began a journey that was filled with uncertainty and anxiety. By April 1, 2020, staff members were working from home, board meetings were happening online, and each program had to be modified. Additionally, Wes Tillett began his tenure as the LUM executive director.
First, staff members did not waver in the commitment to “stay open.” Second, LUM developed protocols. Finally, individuals, businesses & agencies responded by providing financial support.
Civic leaders, churches, agencies and families trusted LUM to distribute emergency funds, provide shelter, offer childcare, provide food assistance, and provide summer camp as well as assist with tax preparation and immigration issues — to our neighbors in need. LUM was able to host successful fundraising events like Hunger Hike, Port of Hope, and Turkey Trot 5K Run, surpassing the fundraising goals.
LUM remained open, but “how” LUM serves the families in our community changed to keep everyone as safe as possible. The leadership has been continually monitoring the recommendations and adjusting as needed. Staff members reimagined every aspect of each of the programs offered. Using technology and modifying the physical layout of our entrances, LUM was able to offer services online, through email and by phone.
The LUM Emergency Shelter, Food Pantry and Youth Programs used hand-washing, face masks, temperature checks and social distancing in common areas including the dining and sleeping rooms. The need for LUM services increased significantly but the support from donors, foundations and businesses increased as well.
There were also “silver linings.” The Board is more focused and supportive of the staff members and programs. Staff members have become a close and effective team. In the community, LUM has been a faithful partner with other agencies, collaborating to better serve the community. Families are more aware of our programs and more individuals were impacted, many for the first time.
One year later, LUM survives and continues to serve those in need while remaining financially sound. Reflecting on how much was accomplished in the past 12 months reaffirms that a gift to LUM is a sound investment, even during a global pandemic and the transition of a new executive director.