Category Archives: LUM Staff

Executive Director Serves on MLK Day Panel

Where Do We Go From Here?

Wes Tillett, LUM executive director, served on a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service community panel entitled: “Beloved Community Conversation: Where Do We Go From Here?” The event was sponsored by Beloved Community Lafayette, a grassroots group in Greater Lafayette with a passion for social justice. The group is led by the Reverend Annettra Jones, associate pastor at St. Andrew United Methodist Church, a LUM member church.

The topics focused on how our community leaders plan to create more unity and move forward after last year’s local Black Lives Matter demonstrations. The virtual, live panel discussion featured county & city elected officials, school corporation leaders and social service agency directors. Thanks to the moderators, which included the Reverend Dr. Bradley Pace (St. John’s Episcopal Church rector) and the Reverend Dr. Hilary Cooke (Chapel of the Good Shepherd chaplain), the conversations were lively, informative and transformative. Wes Tillett took the opportunity to share the mission, programs and aspirations of LUM as important initiatives about equity & inclusion are addressed. Thanks to Beloved Community Lafayette for sponsoring this meaningful event and inviting LUM to participate in the conversation.

Honoring LUM Staff – Celebrating Historic Year

Persistence | Passion | Love | Determination

This past Tuesday, the dedicated staff members of Lafayette Urban Ministry gathered at Lafayette Brewing Company for the annual LUM staff appreciation lunch to celebrate the wonderful accomplishments of 2020, a unique & historic year.

The success of LUM last year can, in part, be attributed to the Persistence, Passion, Love and Determination of each member of the LUM staff.

Thanks to Lafayette Brewing Company management and staff for creating a safe environment for our annual luncheon as well as for great food & service. 

Pictured L to R are Pablo Malavenda, Eileen Weiss, Wes Tillett, Nancy Emig, Gayle Koning, Briton Weise, Patrick Renfroe, Linda Hicks, Minnette Trent, and Nina Morgan.

Meet Jess – New LUM Thanksgiving Director

Jess Avila – LUM Community Thanksgiving Feast

Jess Avila is the new director for the LUM Community Thanksgiving Feast. She is responsible for all aspects of the annual celebration where more than 800 free meals will be distributed on Thanksgiving (11/26) at Central Presbyterian Church, Lafayette.

Jess is originally from Liberty, New York, and moved to West Lafayette with her family. She graduated from Harrison High School, served in the US Army Reserves for four years, earned an associates degree from Ivy Tech Community College in Child Development, and a BA in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Pre-Law from Purdue University. She still lives in West Lafayette and is engaged to be married to Phil in 2021. They have 15 nieces and nephews and three cats (Tucker, Bentley & Panther). Jess is a personal trainer, youth exercise specialist & nutrition coach with a local fitness center; and head girls basketball and track & field coach at Klondike Middle School. With LUM, Jess & Phil have volunteered for more than six years including the Community Thanksgiving Feast (pictured).

Jess shares that,

I am most happy when I am helping others 
— both people and animals.” 

She finds inspiration in “young people who give us this bright light and hope for a better future.” She has great empathy for families struggling with poverty and food insecurity. Jess shared that,

My mom did her best but needed help and sometimes we were left feeling worthless, hopeless, sad, scared and confused because we needed that help.

Jess admires LUM, sharing that,

I see all of the LUM staff members working to serve while ‘restoring dignity,’ as stated in the mission statement.

Jess enjoys nature (kayaking, hiking, running, biking, and feeding wild animals), cooking, reading, watching movies, comedy, activism and social justice, being a Purdue & New York Jets fan, watching and playing sports, hanging out at home with Phil, and ranch dressing.

LUM is fortunate to have Jess Avila join the LUM staff.

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Thanksgiving Celebration


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

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.

Servicio a clientes de forma remota durante COVID-19

por Samantha Garcia

A través de este tiempo incomparable, la Clínica de Inmigración de LUM continúa abierta a los negocios para servir a la comunidad. Sin embargo, “cómo” LUM está sirviendo a la comunidad ha sido modificado para mantener a las familias lo más seguras posible. La Clínica se ha adaptado para trabajar con clientes por teléfono, videoconferencia, correo electrónico y en ubicaciones alternativas.

El programa Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan) de LUM también recibe solicitudes de asistencia financiera de emergencia por teléfono y correo electrónico durante la semana, a partir de las 9 a.m.. Las clases de ciudadanía y las tablas de conversación en español se han pospuesto.

LUM continúa monitoreando los cambios a esta emergencia de salud pública. La Junta Directiva, el personal y los voluntarios de LUM mantienen a los afectados por COVID-19 en nuestros pensamientos y oraciones.

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LUM Board of Directors – Getting It Done

Video Board Meetings Are Working Well

Last week, the LUM Board of Directors held their monthly meeting using video conferencing. The agenda was distributed along with a code to “Join the Meeting” online. Remote meetings continue to be productive and successfully connect and engage everyone involved. 

Joan Low, LUM board president, led the meeting; and Wes Tillett, LUM executive director, attended and contributed on behalf of the LUM staff. A healthy second quarter financial report was presented and approved. Pictured are the LUM board & staff members who participated. This is yet another example of how LUM continues to be flexible and adaptive during the COVID-19 crisis because LUM is determined to continue serving local families and children in need.

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Serving Clients Remotely During COVID-19

by Samantha Garcia

Through this unparalleled time, the LUM Immigration Clinic continues to be open for business to serve the community. However, “how” LUM is serving the community has been modified to keep families as safe as possible. The Clinic has adjusted to work with clients by phone, video conferencing, email, and in alternative locations.

The LUM Good Samaritan Program is also taking requests for emergency financial assistance by phone and email during the week, starting at 9 a.m. The Citizenship Classes and Spanish Conversation Tables have been postponed. 

LUM is continuing to monitor changes to this public health emergency. The LUM Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers are keeping those affected by COVID-19 in our thoughts and prayers.

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