Category Archives: LUM Staff

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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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.

Meet Kieron — New LUM Custodian

Kieron O. Denson — Newest Member of LUM Staff

Kieron O. Denson is the new LUM custodian. He graduated from Benton Central High School this past December and still lives in Oxford, Indiana.

Kieron has volunteered with LUM for more than a year and was a LUM Camp counselor last summer.

Kieron enjoys working at LUM because the environment is friendly and the staff are helpful. He shared that,

I will be the best that I can be by working hard and remaining positive and humble. Knowing that my work will help others have a better day, and life, makes me proud.

Kieron also said that,

Knowledge inspires me, and you can never stop learning.

The ability to learn is one of his favorite things in life. In his free time, Kieron enjoys being outdoors, hiking and playing basketball. He plans on enrolling in college soon. LUM is lucky to have Kieron join the team in such an important role, especially during this difficult time.

Custom Made Masks for Teachers

In an effort to create the best environment for the LUM students, customized face masks were created for the LUM teachers. Nina Morgan (pictured) who has provided dozens of face masks for LUM already, made face masks with a clear window displaying the teachers’ mouths (see picture below).

The main reasons for using these customized face masks are:

  • They’re essential for communicating with students with hearing impairments
  • 55% of communication is visual
  • Miscommunication increases when you can’t see someone’s mouth
  • A smile helps a lot

LUM is very grateful for Nina Morgan and all of our mask-makers, including Connie Decker, Linda Lou Prokopy and Jada Haughey.

If you wish to support the LUM 5th Quarter Summer Learning Program — you may make a monetary donation, sponsor a field/study trip and/or donate snacks and supplies. For more information, click HERE or email Kristi Hogue at

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5th Quarter Summer Learning Program

Meet the 5th Quarter Summer Teachers

LUM is excited to introduce the teachers for the 5thQuarter Summer Learning Program. Pictured (from L to R) with Kristi Hogue, LUM youth programs director, the teachers are as follows:

  • Ann Mobley – Ann is from Chicago and now lives in Lafayette with her four year old son. She graduated from Thornton High School, earned an associates degree in the Early Childhood Education program at Ivy Tech Community College, and hopes to pursue a bachelor’s degree soon. Ann hopes to open a daycare of her own called Tiny Hands
  • Kristi Hogue – Kristi grew up in Logansport and currently lives in Lafayette with Jeff, her husband of 25 years, and their three children, Taelynn (20), Jaedren (13) and Maekenna (8). Jaedren & Maekenna have been enrolled in the LUM after school & summer programs for the past few years. Kristi graduated from Logansport High School, earned a BS in Child Development & Family Studies from Purdue University, and is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.  
  • Mady Kirts – Mady grew up and still lives in Lafayette with her husband. She graduated from Jefferson High School, earned her associates degree in Human Services at Ivy Tech Community College, and is pursuing a bachelor’s in social work at IUPUI.
  • Tabatha Volpi – Tabby grew up and still lives in Lafayette with her husband, Matthew, and their two children, ages 6 & 8. She graduated from Jefferson High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Purdue University in 2013. During the school year, Tabby works for the Lafayette School Corporation.
  • Shavonn Kimbrough – Shavonn grew up in Chicago and currently lives in Lafayette with her two children — Gregory & Zariyah (both 7). She graduated from Carver Military Academy and is now enrolled at Indiana Tech pursuing a degree in accounting.

What a dynamic and talented team of teachers! Please consider joining the 5th Quarter team as a volunteer Teacher’s Aide. Volunteers are needed each weekday (7 a.m.-6 p.m.) to assist in teaching & tutoring, reading, recreational activities, meals & snacks and more. Due to COVID-19, LUM needs more teachers & volunteers to create a healthy and safe environment. If you’re interested or need more information, click HERE— or email or call Kristi Hogue (| 765-423-2691).

If you wish to support the LUM 5th Quarter Summer Learning Program — you may make a monetary donation, sponsor a field/study trip and/or donate snacks and supplies. For more information, click HERE or email Kristi Hogue at

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5th Quarter Summer Learning Program