Category Archives: Board of Directors

Offering Hospitality – EVERY Night Since 1984

LUM Emergency Shelter – the COVID-19 Response

Even before Indiana issued the Stay-At-Home order, LUM and other community agencies sprang into action to address the realities of the pandemic. Portable sinks were purchased, others were donated. Masks were hand-made and distributed free of charge. Extra protocols were put into effect, such as cleaning, sanitizing, taking nightly temperature checks, and practicing social distancing. And, as has been the case since it began in 1984, the LUM Emergency Shelter never missed a night of offering a safe, warm, secure place to those experiencing homelessness in our community.  

In the first eight months of 2020, LUM has provided over 5,500 overnight stays to 489 individuals, with four of those months in the midst of a global pandemic. All of the adaptation to COVID-19 realities has not been without cost. Additional cleaning supplies and equipment have been purchased and used. Volunteerism almost disappeared entirely during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. Additional paid staff hours have filled the volunteer gap. 

Nonetheless, LUM has continued to address the complex problems facing our guests who are chronically homeless. Addiction, mental illness, emotional and physical disabilities, and unwise choices — all exacerbated by the anxieties of the pandemic — have never been harder to overcome. But the LUM staff members, now led by the new LUM Emergency Shelter director, Briton Weise, have resiliently served our guests, helping the guests to see brighter future possibilities.

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Emergency Shelter

LUM Emergency Shelter – During a Crisis

A Letter from Wes Tillett, LUM Executive Director

Do you remember where you were on the night of Monday, March 23,when “Stay Home, Stay Safe” was ordered for the State of Indiana? 

I was home, safe and warm, playing board games with my wife and kids. Logan Smith (not his real name) was lining up in the frigid 37 degree temperatures to get inside the LUM Emergency Shelter. For Logan and many other people in Tippecanoe County who had no place to call home, “Stay Home, Stay Safe” was frighteningly unrealistic.   

  • How does one stay home and safe with no place to call home?
  • How does one regularly wash one’s hands without access to a sink?
  • How does one wear a mask when one doesn’t have one?  

LUM was there for Loganon March 23 — and every night since, providing a place to temporarily call home and stay safe. LUM understood that the risk of COVID-19 to the homeless population was not just a health concern for individuals experiencing homelessness themselves but, due to the highly contagious nature of coronavirus, a risk to broader public health as well.

I am grateful that Logan had somewhere to go on March 23 to stay safe from the cold, and stay safe from coronavirus. There are brighter days ahead for Logan and for all of us. We may have several more months of difficulty before we get there. God will give Logan and all of us strength to persevere.  

Please, will you make a generous financial gift to the Lafayette Urban Ministry Emergency Shelter, so that we can continue to offer people like Logan a warm, safe and caring place to shelter in these pandemic times?

With appreciation,

Wes Tillett, LUM Executive Director

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Emergency Shelter

Bylaws – Lafayette Urban Ministry, Inc.

Revised October 2016

Article I Membership

  • Section 1 – Church Membership –  Churches who desire to participate in the activities of the corporation by contributing financial and voluntary support to the general purpose of said corporation may become members upon written application and approval by a majority of the board of directors. 

Article II Meeting of Members

  • Section 1 – Place of Meeting   –   Meetings of members shall be held at such place in Tippecanoe County, Indiana as may be specified in the respective calls, notices, or waivers of notice thereof. Unless otherwise designated meetings shall be held at the principal office of the corporation.
  • Section 2 – Annual Meeting  –  The annual meeting of the members of the corporation shall be held at the principal office of the corporation in December in conjunction with the monthly board of directors meeting for the purpose of organization, election of officers of the corporation and consideration of any other business which may be brought before the meeting. No notice shall be necessary for the holding of this annual meeting.  If the annual meeting of members is not held at the time designated in these bylaws, such failure shall not cause any defect in the existence of the corporation, and the directors then in office shall hold over until their successors shall be chosen and qualified.
  • Section 3 – Special Meetings  –  Special meetings of the members may be called by the president, by a majority of the board of directors, or by written petition signed by at least twenty (20) percent of the members.
  • Section 4 – Notice of meetings –  Unless appropriately waived in writing, written notice stating the place, day, hour, agenda and for a special meeting the purpose of any meeting of members, shall be delivered in person, by mail, or by email, at least five (5) days before the proposed meeting day and time to each member or director, as the case may be, entitled to vote at such meeting, at such address as appears upon the records of the corporation.
  • Section 5 – Voting Rights – Each member of the corporation shall have such voting rights as are specified in the Articles of Incorporation of the corporation.
  • Section 6 – Quorum – At any meeting of the members those present to vote shall constitute a quorum, and a majority vote of such quorum shall be necessary for the transaction of any business by the meeting unless a greater number is required by law, the Articles of Incorporation, or this code of bylaws.

Article III – Board of Directors

  • Section 1 – Duties and Qualifications –  The business and affairs of the corporation shall be managed by a board of directors, at least a majority of whom, as provided by law, shall be citizens of the United States.
  • Section 2 – Number and Terms of Office – There shall be one (1) director 
  • appointed by each member church and such other at-large directors as the Board of Directors from time to time deem appropriate.  All at-large directors shall be elected at a meeting of the Board of Directors by a majority vote of the board of directors and they shall serve until their successors shall be chosen and qualified unless they resign or are sooner removed as hereinafter provided. 
  • Section 3 – Vacancies – Any vacancy of the board of directors caused by death, resignation, or otherwise of an at-large director may be filled by a majority vote of the board of directors.  Any vacancy of the board of directors caused by death, resignation, or otherwise of a director appointed by a member church shall be filled by another person appointed by that member church. 
  • Section 4 – Removal of Directors – At any special meeting of members called for such purpose, any member of the board of directors may be removed with just cause by an affirmative vote of a majority of the members. Upon such removal of a director, the member church that appointed such director shall appoint a successor director for the unexpired term of the director removed.  In the event that the director so removed is an at-large director, a successor at-large directors shall be elected by a majority vote of the board of directors for the unexpired term of the director removed. Failure to elect a director at such meeting to fill the unexpired term of any director so removed shall be deemed to create a vacancy on the board of directors which may be filled by the remaining directors in accordance with section 3 of this article.
  • Section 5 – Meetings – Regular meetings of the board of directors shall be held monthly, or more or less frequently as determined by the Executive Council, at a time adopted pursuant to a resolution of the board of directors to such effect.  However, the board of directors shall have no fewer than nine (9) meetings in any given calendar year.  The Executive Council may cancel a regular meeting of the board of directors with no fewer than twenty-eight (28) days notice to board members. Special meetings may be held upon the call of the president or any three (3) members of the board and upon forty-eight (48) hours notice specifying the time, place and general purpose of the meeting was given to each director personally, or by mail, email or telephone.  No notice shall be necessary for any regular meeting, and notice of any other meeting may be waived in writing or email.  Attendance at any such meeting shall constitute waiver of notice of such meeting.
  • Section 6 – Quorum – At any meeting of the board of directors those present to vote shall constitute a quorum, and a majority vote of such quorum shall be necessary for the transaction of any business by the meeting unless a greater number is required by law, the Articles of Incorporation or this code of bylaws.

Article IV   Officers and Elections

  • Section 1 – Officers and Executive Council Members—Officers shall consist of a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer.  Executive Council members shall be the liaison for personnel, for program and planning, and for facilities and the executive director.  The executive director shall be a non-voting member of the executive council.   
  • Section 2 – Report of the Nominating Committee and Nominations From the Floor—The report of the nominating committee shall be presented to the Board of Directors at least one month before the Annual Meeting.  Immediately following presentation of such report, nominations may be made from the floor by any voting member, providing the consent of the nominee shall have been secured.
  • Section 3 – Elections and Terms of Office—Elections shall be held each year at the Board of Directors Annual Meeting.  A majority vote of those qualified to vote and voting shall constitute an election.
  • Section 4 – Vacancies—Whenever any vacancies shall occur in any of the offices of the corporation, the same may be filled by the board of directors at a regular meeting.  Any officer so elected shall hold office until the next annual meeting of the board of directors and until his successor shall be duly elected and qualified.
  • Section 5 – Removal—Any officer of the corporation may be removed at the pleasure of the board of directors whenever a majority of such board shall vote in favor of a removal.

Article V Powers and Duties of Officers

  • Section 1 – President – The president shall preside at all meetings of members and directors and shall have such other powers and duties as this code of bylaws or the board of directors may prescribe.
  • Section 2 – Vice-President – The vice president shall sit during the absence or incapacity of the president and, when doing so acting shall have the power and duties of the president.
  • Section 3 – Secretary  –  The secretary shall attend all meetings of members and of the board of directors and shall keep, or cause to be kept, a true and complete record of the proceedings of such meetings, and shall perform a like duty, when required, for all standing committees appointed by the board of directors;  shall attend to the giving and serving of all notices of the corporation required by the code of bylaws and in general shall perform all duties pertaining to the office of secretary and such other duties as this code of bylaws or the board of directors may prescribe.       
  • Section 4 – Treasurer  –  The Treasurer shall ensure that correct and complete records of account, showing accurately at all times the financial condition of the corporation are kept. The treasurer shall submit quarterly, or whenever requested, a statement of the financial condition of the corporation to the board and members and cause an annual audit to be performed.
  • Section 5. – Executive Council -This council shall have the power to act as the board of directors when the board of directors is not in session. These actions are to be reported to the board of directors at the next meeting of said board.

Article VI Miscellaneous

  • Section 1 – Corporate Seal – The Corporation reserves the right to adopt a seal at some other time if desired. All acts of the corporation shall be valid and binding without the affixing of the seal.
  • Section 2 – Execution of contracts and other documents  –  Unless otherwise ordered by the board of directors, all written contracts and other documents entered into by the corporation shall be executed on behalf of the corporation by the executive director.
  • Section 3 – Fiscal Year – The fiscal year of the corporation shall be the calendar year.
  • Section 4 – Committees – The Corporation may establish such permanent and ad hoc committees as it may from time to time deem appropriate upon resolution duly passed by a majority of said board.
  • Section 5 – The Firm Foundations For the Future Fund is an unrestricted fund whose revenue is designated to LUM’s annual operating budget for the support LUM’s programs.  Use of the fund’s principal or change in the use of the fund’s revenue may only be approved by a 2/3 majority vote of members at a special meeting of members.  The Firm Foundations for the Future Fund also serves as a true endowment for contributions so designated by an individual donor.  In such cases, an individual’s gift is held in perpetuity with income from the gift designated to LUM’s programs.

Article VII   Amendments

  • Section 1 – Amendments of Bylaws – Subject to law and the Articles of Incorporation, the power to make, alter, amend or repeal all or any part of this code of Bylaws is vested in the board of directors. These Bylaws may be amended at any meeting of the board of directors by a majority vote, provided that such an amendment has been presented at the immediately preceding meeting of said board.

To view PDF version of the LUM Bylaws, click HERE.

In Memoriam – Jillaine Shoop & Marge Fitzgerald

LUM Lost Two Special Friends This Week

Jillaine Shoop

Jillaine A. Shoop of West Lafayette passed away July 13, at her home following a three-year long battle with cancer. She was a Twin Lakes High School graduate, earned her bachelors & Master’s degrees in Elementary Education from Ball State University, and was a teacher, librarian, supervisor of student teachers, director of religious education, and lay minister.
At LUM, Jillaine was a dedicated volunteer, assisting where ever she was needed including as an bi-weekly afternoon receptionist and with Jubilee Christmas.

Jillaine is survived by her husband of 40 years, Orlo G. Shoop, her daughter Jenaiah, her son Wesley, her granddaughter Isabella, her brother Galen and her sister Pequita.

Marge Fitzgerald

Marjorie B. Fitzgerald of Lafayette passed away earlier this week. She attended St. Francis High School, St. Francis College, and worked for the Purdue Agricultural Department.
At LUM, Marge was a longtime volunteer. She served on the Board of Directors for eight years representing her parish, St. Mary’s Cathedral, was a Good Samaritan Program case manager and Jubilee Christmas volunteer.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Lawrence, and her son, Philip; and survived by her four children (Jeanne, Susan, Dennis & Nancy), 17 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Compromiso con el patrimonio y la profesión

Conozca a nuestra nueva directora asistente
Mónica Casanova

por Andrea Axsom

La Clínica de Inmigración de LUM desea presentar a su nueva directora asistente, Monica Casanova. Los roles principales de Mónica incluyen la posible captación de clientes y ayudar a los clientes a navegar el proceso de inmigración.

Mónica es una inmigrante de primera generación que nació en México y emigró a los Estados Unidos cuando era bebé. Ella recuerda cómo esta experiencia “me formó como individuo y como directora asistente. Como primera generación, me sentí avergonzado de no haber nacido en los Estados Unidos y si me hubieras preguntado a los 10 años, de mala gana te diría o mentiría sobre dónde nací “.

Su familia quedó indocumentada hasta que el presidente Reagan aprobó la Ley de Amnistía en 1986, lo que permitió a su familia salir de las sombras y vivir sin miedo. Después de que se promulgó la ley, ella recuerda que “pudimos visitar a mis abuelos en México por primera vez. Recuerdo a mi madre corriendo por un maizal gritándole a su madre la primera vez que la visitamos. Fue la primera visita de mis padres en diez años “.

Las experiencias de la infancia de Mónica le permitieron convertirse en quien es hoy y han alimentado su pasión por trabajar en inmigración. Mónica es el primer miembro de su familia en graduarse de la escuela secundaria y asistir a la universidad, recibiendo un B.A. en Educación y una maestría en Biblioteconomía e Historia Pública.

Mónica es miembro fundador de Greater Lafayette Immigrant Allies y actual vicepresidenta de la junta. También es una candidata política por primera vez, que se postuló para el boleto demócrata para el asiento del Consejo General del Condado de Tippecanoe.

Commitment to Heritage and Profession

Meet the New LUM Immigration Clinic Assistant Director
Monica Casanova

by Andrea Axsom

The LUM Immigration Clinic would like to introduce its new Assistant Director, Monica Casanova. Monica’s primary roles include prospective client intake and helping clients navigate the immigration process. 

Monica is a first-generation immigrant who was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States as an infant. She recalls how this experience “shaped me as an individual and as the Assistant Director. As a first generation, I felt ashamed that I was not born in the United States and if you would have asked me at 10 years old, I would grudgingly tell you or lie about where I was born.” 

Her family was undocumented until President Reagan passed the Amnesty Law in 1986, allowing her family to come out of the shadows and live without fear. After the law was enacted, she remembers that “we were able to visit my grandparents in Mexico for the first time. I remember my mom running down a cornfield shouting for her mom, the first time we visited. It was my parents’ first visit in ten years.” 

Monica’s childhood experiences allowed her to become who she is today and have fueled her passion for working in immigration. Monica is the first member of her family to graduate from high school and attend college, receiving a B.A. in Education and a master’s degree in Library Science and Public History.

Monica is a founding member of the Greater Lafayette Immigrant Allies and a current board Vice President. She is also a first-time political candidate, running on the Democratic ticket for Tippecanoe County’s Council-at-Large seat.

LUM Volunteer Awarded Golden Gift of Time

Nina Morgan Receives Prestigious Service Award

Last week, Nina L. Morgan was presented with the Golden Gift of Time Award as a part of the 24th Annual Volunteer Recognition Program sponsored by the United Way of Greater Lafayette.

At LUM, Nina has been the volunteer director of the Protein Food Pantry for 13 months. She also is a volunteer receptionist once a week, volunteers with Jubilee Christmas, and serves as the chair of the Personnel Committee on the Executive Council of the LUM Board of Directors, representing Grace Lutheran Church. Nina also has recruited many dedicated volunteers to LUM (including her husband, Robert), has engaged her church members and has sewn dozens of face masks for LUM staff and clients.

Nina is an absolute treasure to the community through her work with LUM and her church. She was presented with the award by Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski and West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis (pictured) along with representatives of United Way.

Please join us in congratulating Nina Morgan on this well deserved honor. To view more PHOTOS of the presentation, click HERE.

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Food Pantry – LUM Protein Food Pantry

A Letter from Wes Tillett – LUM Executive Director

Hello! It is a joyful honor to re-enter the Lafayette Urban Ministry orbit. My wife and I have fondness in our hearts for LUM (15 years ago, when I had hair) and are excited to jump back in, rekindle old connections, nurture new connections, and introduce our children to this amazing ministry.

If you are reading this, it tells me that you are an active part of the LUM family. Thank you! Every person matters. Every act of generosity of time, talent, and treasure counts. I am grateful for how you have helped make LUM such a helpful and healthy agency that serves others.

As I enter into the Executive Director position, I am humbled by and appreciative of the fabulous and faithful leadership of Joe Micon. His record of 495 consecutive board meetings is in no danger of being broken by me (I’d have to serve until I was 83). I know Joe built on the foundation of Executive Directors, Rev. Jud Dolphin and Rev. Ron Elly. I am asking God for the grace to continue a legacy of courageous servant-leadership with LUM.

No doubt there is some anxiety as a new person takes a place of leadership.
Can we trust Wes? Is he capable? Will he change everything? Will we like him? Will he like us? Can he faithfully maximize the good that is already present in LUM and effectively navigate future realities? All those questions are honest and good — and normal.

In response to those types of questions, I reassure you that I come into this role with both a sense of humility and confidence — and a “dependence on God” to give me the wisdom to respond to the ever-evolving needs of the Lafayette / West Lafayette community and to show up strong in the midst of my weakness (“My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Corinthians 12:9). As a recovering perfectionist, I am keenly aware of my weaknesses, more than my strengths; and it is a comfort to know that God fills in my gaps.

As for my confidence, it is built upon the reality that “God cares more about this than I do and will work it out better than I can.” This faith has guided me over the past 10 years – moving to the Middle East (Lebanon) and moving back to the Midwest (Michigan) to start a new congregation (Voyage Church).

I have seen the faithfulness of God at every turn—honing my strengths and granting me success. All of this goodness gives me confidence to experience that goodness in the present and the future.

I am excited to move back to Tippecanoe County, learn the ropes of LUM, appreciate what is, and dream about what could be. What would it look like to more and more effectively meet the needs of children and families, of immigrants, of individuals without homes, and the most vulnerable among us? What would it look like to do what together we do at LUM so well that other communities seek to follow our model? With God all things are possible.

Let’s continue to lean in and serve those around us. I am eager to learn and grow, to lead and serve.

Wes Tillett, LUM Executive Director

The Rev. Wes Tillett – LUM Executive Director

His Vision, His Passion & His Inspiration

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 the 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 HurleyTillett, 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 

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me and

I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water,

and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.

For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~ Wendell Berry (1968)

Joe Micon – Farewell Address

Final Remarks to the LUM Board

I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.  He is ever giving liberally and lending, and his children become a blessing to the future.   

Psalms 37:25-26

To the LUM board and members of the LUM staff, good friends and to my dear wife Jo: Scripture speaks to us of the future – which is why the Lafayette Urban Ministry has always been a place with its eyes set so firmly upon the future. Our motto is to touch the future by helping children and families today.  At LUM we even have a Dream Team. I have been so deeply moved by the well wishes that I have received from so many of you over the past few weeks.  But tonight, it’s my turn to thank you. Now I have actually done the math and tonight marks my 495th LUM board meeting – in a row.  I have been here consecutively, without a miss, on every third Wednesday night, for more than four decades.  Somehow Jo and I have been able to juggle all the major events of our lives, even the birth of our two children Katie and Jonathan, around the constant of LUM’s monthly board meeting.  Whether you and I have always agreed upon everything, or at times not seen eye to eye, my relationship with you and each of hundreds of former LUM board and staff members, has inspired and energized me.  Everyday I have learned from you. You have made me a better executive director, and you have made me a better person.

It was in October of 1978, more than 41 years ago, that I first came to the Lafayette Urban Ministry as a Purdue University Applied Sociology Intern. I was instantly captivated by the mission of this place.  It was here that I came to believe in the power of faith and the quiet dignity of working people as they cope with struggle and loss. It was at LUM that I came to believe that real change only happens when ordinary people get involved, make sacrifices of time and money and work together to improve the lives of others.

After 41 years, I still believe these things. And they are not just my beliefs.  They are the foundation of our life together as followers of Jesus. You see, our faith, doesn’t merely suggest, or urge, or recommend — no, our faith mandates that we love one another.  And we know that God will judge us based upon whether or not we have loved.  So together we have cared for the Lafayette Urban Ministry — as a way to love and serve, yes — but also as a way to help us to remain faithful.

What a radical idea LUM is — a great gift that those who came decades before have entrusted to us. People like Ron Elly and Jud Dolphin, Jim Davidson, Louise Jewell, Tom Hull and Don Nead.  Through their gift of LUM they have enabled all of us to build community, to achieve a common, greater good, to work for and to achieve justice. At LUM, ours has been a history of progress fueled by what Dr. King referred to as a fierce urgency of now, an abiding belief that we need one another and that we are stronger when we march forward together with a righteous impatience.

  • When Linda Hicks and her Good Samaritan volunteers share compassion and cash each morning at LUM, they know with quiet certainty that because of their efforts, families and their children will be kept from becoming homeless.
  • When we discovered the wadded up blankets of a homeless man under the front porch of our office, the LUM shelter was born.  At first we crammed 7 beds into an attic space.  Later, we expanded our shelter into the old St. Boniface convent.  Then we built our own shelter building.  Now, LUM provides more than 10,000 overnight stays to the chronically homeless each year.
  • In 2019 when Nina Morgan said “yes” to coordinating the new LUM Protein Food Pantry, little did we know that those in need of this source of healthy meats, vegetables and infant formula would so quickly surpass 70 families per week. 
  • Each year, we provide a Thanksgiving feast for 900 people.  Everyone is invited to join us at God’s welcome table, no matter their state, as a valued member of LUM’s family.

At LUM, we have never bought into the argument that charity is somehow toxic.  We know that charity toward another is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit and that where charity and love prevail, there God is ever found.

  • When LUM came face to face with increasing numbers of immigrants and asylum seekers in need of legal advocacy, we hired Susan Brouillette to start and to grow the LUM Immigration Clinic.  Following scripture’s call to welcome the stranger, LUM helps individuals navigate the always complex US Immigration bureaucracy.
  • When the working poor were leaving significant tax refunds and credits in the hands of Uncle Sam because they couldn’t afford to have their taxes professionally prepared, Patti O’Callaghan convinced us to prepare their taxes for free.  Through the years, LUM has returned more than $20 million dollars to working families in our community.
  • After the tragedy of 9/11 when the rules for obtaining photo IDs became much more complicated, we started the LUM ID Clinic so our clients could access employment, housing and public benefits.

Our programs help those who exist on the margins to build a brighter, more productive, stable and successful future for themselves.

  • When LUM realized Indiana was one of only a handful of states not offering free breakfast to low-income public school children, we raised $175,000, hired Purdue Economist Dr. Chuck Sargent and commissioned the CCHIP childhood hunger study.  After publishing the results, we convinced our state legislators to implement the federal free school breakfast program in every public school in Indiana.  We just felt that children learn better in school when their tummies aren’t grumbling.
  • When LUM witnessed first hand the abuse of applicants in our state’s township poor relief system, LUM organized, marched, lobbied and won improvements in the way the poor were treated by township trustees.
  • When LUM learned that some children in our schools were being publicly shamed because their parents could not afford to pay for their textbooks, LUM fought for and won state funding to provide those books for free.
  • When I asked you if I could run for state office, you gave a resounding “yes.”  “What better way,” you said, “to help move Indiana forward on behalf of the children and families LUM serves.”   As a result, Indiana’s minimum wage increased, full day kindergarten was implemented, tax laws for working families became more progressive, funding for school children in need of summer remediation grew and Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program was expanded. Consumer protections were strengthened, death rates for teen drivers decreased and our community found a tireless advocate for Purdue University. 

Thank you for allowing me the honor and privilege of serving as the first social worker elected to the Indiana General Assembly. Thank you for choosing to touch the future, with your fierce urgency of now.

And oh how LUM has cared for children.  We have lovingly sent them on their journeys to more hopeful futures…

  • When working parents told us that they needed safe, affordable after school care, LUM sprang into action.  Now, under the direction of Kristi Hogue, more than 100 children each year are provided educational enrichment in a fun-learning environment each day.  It happened because Nanette & Arthur Avery chose to entrust their generous legacy gift to LUM.
  • When we learned that the academic achievement gap separating low-income children from their more affluent peers widens further during summer recess, LUM started 5th Quarter. Our students are academically better prepared to return to school in August.
  • When Jud Dolphin organized LUM’s first Seeds of Vision Conference in 1980, keynote speaker Rev. Don Blakely asked why well-meaning church people need to play hero with poor children at Christmas time — and LUM’s Jubilee came into being.  No longer does LUM arrange for volunteers bearing toys to walk through a family’s front door during the holidays. Instead, we empower mom and dad to be the heroes. Over the span of four decades, Jubilee Christmas has served more than 60,000 families! Thousands of church members have gotten to know those parents and children by name. Relationships have been built and stereotypes about the poor have fallen.

And then there is LUM Camp —  LUM’s very first program with roots going all the way back to the 1960’s and the Neighborhood Development Project at Hope Chapel Presbyterian Church. At camp, LUM provides the tools children need to navigate the challenges of growing up. Our campers make new friends, experience new activities and are exposed to a world of possibility. As the week progresses, you can literally see each child grow. Our time spent together with children at LUM Camp might just be the most important thing we do to change the world for the better. The author Neil Postman says that

Our Children are living messages we send to a future that you and I will never know.” 

But perhaps, just perhaps, LUM Camp has allowed us to glimpse that future first hand…

  • LUM Camper Marlena Edmondson grew up to become a social worker. After her graduate school internship at LUM she went on to help troubled youth in the Tippecanoe School Corporation.  During her summers, she now organizes and helps to direct LUM Camp.
  • LUM Camper Eddie Opperman received his accounting degree from Purdue and is now CEO of his own CPA firm here in Lafayette.  For the past 10 years he has so ably conducted the Lafayette Urban Ministry’s annual audit.
  • LUM Camper Glen Patton was exposed to percussion instruments at camp.  Throughout his school years Glen honed his skills on the snare drum as a member of the 42nd Royal Highlanders. Then he entered the US Army and was chosen to become a member of the President’s elite Old Guard Fife and Drum Corp.  I will never forget watching Glen on national TV marching in President Clinton’s Inaugural Parade in Washington.
  • And anyone could see that LUM Camper Dustin Keller was destined for greatness.  This scrappy, tireless, fast-as-lightning 9 year old camper went on to play wide receiver for Lafayette Jeff, then the Purdue Boilermakers, then the New York Jets, then the Miami Dolphins.  Today Dustin owns more than 70 McAlister’s Deli restaurants located throughout the southeast United States.

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglas reminds us that it is far better to build a child than to have to repair a broken adult.

And you and I have served together on the front lines in the fight for racial justice and equality.

  • In January of 1991 LUM became the very first not-profit, church or business in our community to offer its employees a paid Martin Luther King Jr holiday.
  • We passed a Racial Equality Action Plan that guarantees minority applicants equal access to employment at LUM and minority owned companies equal access to LUM’s business.
  • You enthusiastically voted to permanently house, here at the LUM Ray Ewry Youth Center, this consequential library of 500 children’s books written by minority authors. There was a time, in parts of our nation that it was illegal to teach a person of color to read. But now here at LUM, children of all racial and ethnic backgrounds are taught to read and to love books, to glimpse a future of racial diversity. Thank you Cindy Eberts for your vision, hard work and generous gift of the LUM Eberts Diversity Library.
  • LUM staff chaperoned a group of racially diverse high school students who traveled to our nation’s Capital to march during the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  
  • And it was the honor of my life to personally visit Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. On your behalf, I extended words of friendship to a congregation that struggles every day to cope with the mass gun violence and unspeakable hatred that was inflicted upon its members.

In 1995, LUM geared up for our Touching the Future Campaign. Together we planned, worked, financially sacrificed, and raised $1.4 million dollars to build this program center and homeless shelter.  In 2008, when LUM needed to grow again, we raised $3.3 million dollars more to build this youth center and to purchase and renovate our new program offices. In 2017, LUM was looking for creative ways to invest our resources, so we purchased four beautiful houses enabling four beautiful low-income families to know the pride and stability of living in a safe home, in a stable neighborhood community, with a fair and attentive landlord as their partner.  In 2018, we raised $110,000 and flipped the solar switch so future generations would know of our fidelity to God’s creation.

And how about LUM’s social media presence?  When it became clear that the way the world communicated was rapidly changing, LUM hired Pablo Malavenda to help us navigate social and electronic media.  As a result, our volunteer base has expanded, online fundraising has ballooned and our reputation as a trustworthy, innovative and forward-looking ministry now reaches well beyond our own community.  MSW Online Magazine named the Lafayette Urban Ministry one of the 99 most effective non-profit organizations in America!

Yesterday, LUM’s Executive Council received the good news that we once again finished the year in the black. It marks 30 years in a row that you and I have guided LUM to a year-end budget surplus — 30 years in a row. Let that sink in for a moment. LUM’s record of fiscal health is the envy of our non-profit neighbors. It has allowed us to focus on fulfilling our mission rather than navigating crisis.  LUM has zero debt.  We have no operating loans.  We have no mortgages. We have no liabilities.  Let that sink in for a moment as well. Together we raised LUM’s starting wage for hourly employees to $15 per hour. Together, over the years, we have fully benefited LUM’s professional staff.

We need to recognize Eileen Weiss, Gayle Koning, Susie Riley, Tricia Sembroski, Marilyn Zerbes, Jo Johannsen and Ron Smith.  They have conducted their fiduciary duties with transparency, integrity and an abiding sense of accountability to LUM’s donors.  Due to their hard work and dedication, LUM is fiscally sound and poised for a new future of faithful service. 

Jo Greathouse Micon.  We met on the very first day of graduate school in 1983 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio.  I misread the class schedule, arrived a half-hour late and was summarily chastised by Dr. Chatterjee in front of everybody.  From your desk across the room I saw you trying to hide your bemusement.  So during class break I went over to see what was so funny – and the rest is history.  A dedicated professional with a demanding career of your own, you have worn the mantle placed upon you by my public life so very graciously.  You have not only been my wife and the mother of our children, but my best friend.  I broke my ring finger at LUM Camp 10 days before our wedding.  We got the swelling to go down, the ring went on – and it hasn’t been off for a second since. How many times throughout the years have you reminded me of that wonderful quote from Jackie Kennedy:

If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.

Katie Micon Stewart has grown into such an amazing woman and Jonathan Joseph Micon, into such an  amazing man.  They are both thoughtful, kind, smart, humorous and filled with passion.  They are making their own mark upon the world and changing it for the better.  Of all that Jo and I have done, we are most proud of the two of them.

To Mark Thomas and Joan Low: thank you for doing such an unbelievable job of leading and presiding over LUM during this time of transition.  For the past two years you have listened, not only to the thoughtful vocal voices on the board, but also to thoughtful reserved voices.  And you reached out to the wider LUM family, so that volunteers, donors, staff and community leaders could share their visions for LUM’s future as well.  When the next successful chapters of LUM’s story are written, we will all have you to be thankful for.

To the amazing, dedicated, tireless members of LUM’s staff:  I feel so very lucky to have been able to spend my days together with you.  Without exception, you have been enthusiastic, intelligent, collaborative, creative, and fiercely committed to LUM’s important work.  I cannot begin to thank you for your years of service.  How lucky we all are that you have chosen to share your considerable talents on behalf of those LUM serves.

LUM’s work has always been embraced by the faithful arms of volunteers – thousands of them each year.  They have fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, nurtured children, prepared tax returns and even argued cases in Federal Immigration Court.  They have hosted Jubilee families and helped those with addiction to find the strength and courage to change.  LUM’s volunteers have been a powerful force for good.  They have been love in motion.  My heartfelt thanks to each of you.

And nothing at LUM would be possible without the generosity and sacrifice of those who share their dollars.  Stewardship is an honorable practice among people of faith.  And through the years we have gathered such a faithful community of donors to LUM – donors who believe fervently in LUM’s mission, who are passionate about our programs and who believe that there is nowhere else that their dollars will have a greater impact for good.  To each of LUM’s 4,000 generous donors – thank you.

I would like to share one last story.  My friend Jeanie Williams has lived on the north end of Lafayette pretty much her entire life.  Along with caring for Larry, her disabled husband, Jeanie raised 15 children, virtually on her own. 

Or maybe I should say Jeanie and the Lafayette Urban Ministry.  Over the course of 40 years, every one of those 15 children has attended LUM Camp.  Every one of them was regularly enrolled in Jubilee Christmas.  Every one of those beautiful 15 children was nourished by food from the St. John’s/LUM Food Pantry.  Every one of them lived in a home that was supported by rent and utility assistance shared from the Good Samaritan Fund.  But that’s all just the “helping children and families today” part.  Here’s the “touching the future” part…..  Against all odds, each one of the 15 Williams children enrolled in college.  To date, 6 of them have graduated and one daughter is enrolled in Ball State University’s graduate school. So far, Jeanie Williams has given us a registered nurse, two elementary school teachers, a son who owns his own successful landscaping business and another son who is CEO of his own marketing company.  Grandson Jahsiah Kirk Williams is a 6’3”, 176 lb basketball standout at Lafayette Jeff.  Keep an eye on Jahsiah – just sayin’.  When Jeanie and I visited last week, she asked if I would extend her deepest gratitude to you, members of the LUM staff and board.  She shared that it really does take a village and that LUM, in her mind, has always been the very best part of this village we call Greater Lafayette.  And now that virtually all of those 15 children have left home, Jeanie Williams has herself entered the workforce.  She helps older workers to update their job skills and build work experience so they might live with greater economic security.  Glory hallelujah.

So what better way to conclude our time together, to celebrate our accomplishments together, than with the words of a country song?  In his 2008 ballad commemorating the election of Barack Obama, Brad Paisley asks us to…

Look around – it is all so clear.
Wherever we were going, now we are here.
So many things I never thought that I would see,
Are now happening right here in front of me.
Every day is a revolution; Welcome to the future!
Go wake up Martin Luther; Welcome to the future!
Glory, glory, hallelujah; Welcome to the future!
Glory, glory, hallelujah; Welcome to the future.

Joe Micon
Executive Director