Category Archives: Uncategorized

LUM’s Impact in 2020 (So Far)

Impact on Local Families & Children – So Far

During the first four months of 2020, Lafayette Urban Ministry was committed to staying open for business, offering rapid help & hope to 1,469 local households through one or more of our 16 programs.

During the crisis, LUM continued to offer local families financial & food assistance, immigration services, and shelter for those experiencing homelessness. Families were strengthened, and children were educated.

LUM program details for January – April 2020 are as follows:

  • Emergency Shelter for the homeless—248 individuals were provided overnight accommodations 4,222 times.
  • Good Samaritan Fund—$35,460 in direct cash assistance was provided to 408 households.
  • ID Clinic—48 individuals were served.
  • Immigration Clinic—137 individuals were served.
  • New Opportunity Fund—3 individuals received grants to move into their own homes.
  • Protein Food Pantry—301 households were served.
  • Tax Assistance Program (free income tax preparation for low-wage workers)—270 tax returns filed from mid-January through mid-March. Tax refunds and credits totaling $386,730 were returned to those households — an average refund of $1,432 per household. The average annual adjusted gross income for those served by the program was $24,580.
  • Winter Warming Station—177 individuals used the Winter Warming Station for a total of 554 visits.

  • 5th Quarter Summer Learning Program (started on May 26)—40 children are currently enrolled.
  • After School Program61 Kindergarten through 8th grade students participated in the program during the 2019 – 2020 school year, which ended when local schools closed on March 23.
  • LUM Camp—64 children, 40 counselors and 25 program leaders will be in attendance at this overnight summer camp for children (8 to 10 years old) during the last week of July.

Make a Donation Button
Donate to LUM


LUM Protein Food Pantry Open to Families

Donate | Sponsor a Food Drive

The LUM Protein Food Pantry is one of the few downtown pantries still open and providing food to local families during this crisis. The pantry has imposed stricter health & safety protocols including moving food distribution outside, setting up social-distancing check in lines, using portable sinks for hand washing, and requiring our staff & volunteers to wear gloves & masks.

Thank you to the dedicated team of food pantry volunteers. LUM could not do it with them. Here are Four Ways that YOU can support the LUM Protein Food Pantry:

  1. Make a Monetary Donation – that will be used to purchase meat, eggs, produce & paper products from the food bank. To donate online, click HERE
  2. Donate Needed Items – Food & Paper Products – Urgent need for toilet paper & paper towels. To view “needed items” list, click HERE
  3. Food Drive – Sponsor a food drive, collect & donate food items & paper products. To view “needed items” list, click HERE
  4. Volunteer – For more details and to sign up to volunteer, click HERE

To view the LUM Wishlist of Needed Items, go to Please either ship or drop off items to the LUM Office (420 N 4th Street, Lafayette, IN 47901).


Make a Donation Button
Food Pantry – LUM Protein Food Pantry

LUM Protein Food Pantry Needs Your Support

Thanks to a dedicated crew of volunteers, the LUM Protein Food Pantry has remained open during the COVID-19 crisis. Within a few short weeks, LUM has developed stricter health & safety protocols, moved food distribution outside, set up social-distancing check in lines, set up portable sinks for hand washing, and equipped our staff & volunteers with gloves & masks.
The LUM Protein Food Pantry has been well received by local families in need. Here are Four Ways that you and your group can support the LUM food pantry:

  1. Make a Monetary Donation – that will be used to purchase meat, eggs, produce & paper products from the food bank. To donate online, click HERE
  2. Donate Needed Items – Food & Paper Products – Urgent need for toilet paper & paper towels. To view “needed items” list, click HERE
  3. Food Drive – Sponsor a food drive, collect & donate food items & paper products. To view “needed items” list, click HERE
  4. Volunteer – For more details and to sign up to volunteer, click HERE

To view the LUM Wishlist of Needed Items, go to Please either ship or drop off items to the LUM Office (420 N 4th Street, Lafayette, IN 47901).


Make a Donation Button
Food Pantry – LUM Protein Food Pantry

SoV – Policy Article

Minimum Wage = $7.25 in 21 US States

The last time Indiana raised its minimum wage was in 2007, when it went from $5.15 to the Federal level of $7.25. But $7.25 is hardly a living wage. At 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, that’s barely more than $15,000 – $6,600 less than the federal poverty level for a family of three.

Of course, the federal poverty level itself is a blunt and unreliable tool which does not account for differences in the cost of living from state to state or between rural and urban areas. Nor does it adequately reflect the amount of income that a family actually needs in order to survive without government assistance.

That’s where the Self-Sufficiency Standard comes into play. This is a county-by-county assessment of the actual cost of living. The Self Sufficiency Standard for Tippecanoe County, Indiana is $48,510 for a family of three – more than twice the federal poverty level. To earn that kind of money, a minimum wage employee would have to work more than 125 hours per week.

During the 2020 legislative session, there were two attempts to raise the minimum wage in Indiana, but neither was successful. Senate Bill 176 proposed raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour starting on July 1, 2021, and increasing to $15 by July 2023. After that it would have increased by the same rate as the consumer price index. The bill never even got a committee hearing.

While the Indiana house democratic caucus did not introduce a bill, representative Cherrish Pryor (D, Indianapolis) did try to attach a minimum wage increase as an amendment to Senate Bill 409. That effort also failed.

People opposed to an increase in the minimum wage often argue that most minimum wage workers are young and working supplemental jobs not intended to support their families. However, a 2013 report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that in fact 36% of minimum wage workers are over 40, 28% have children, and on average they earn about half of their family’s total income.

While business leaders and government representatives may be able to argue both sides of this issue, those of us working on the front lines of social service are all too familiar with working parents coming through our doors, seeking help as they struggle to support their families on one, two, or even three different minimum wage jobs. These families deserve better, and we can help them by advocating for an increase in our state minimum wage.

While this policy article highlights legislation from Indiana, we would love to hear what legislative issues are affecting clients in your communities. If you have a legislative or policy issue that you’d like to see highlighted in a future newsletter, please email it to

SoV – Meet an Executive Director

Jonathan Rocke, Peoria Rescue Ministries

Jonathan joined Peoria Rescue Ministries as their Executive Director in November 2016 after spending most of his career working in his family’s company, RMH Foods, which produced fully cooked meals for sale at national retailers from Walmart to Kroger. In 2016, Jonathan was asked to leave the company, which had been acquired a few years before.

But God seemed to have a plan in mind for Jonathan. Just a few months prior to this, Jonathan had been asked to join the Peoria Rescue Ministries board, an agency which had already been finding its way into his prayers for several years. So when the previous director decided to retire and approached Jonathan about taking over his job, it seemed as though the stars had finally fallen into alignment.

When he first stepped into the role, Jonathan didn’t know anything about the world of nonprofits, and he spent much of the first year learning from his staff and developing a theological foundation for the work of Peoria Rescue Ministries.  The latter was especially vital because the previous Executive Director had held his position for 48 years, making the transition a God-sent opportunity to re-examine the agency’s mission.

Through this process, Jonathan and his staff realized that Peoria Rescue Ministries had inadvertently fallen into a service-as-relief model – meeting the client’s immediate needs, but not helping them move towards self-sufficiency and growth.

For example, their downtown men’s shelter has 92 beds. Two years ago, 80% of those beds were for emergency shelter. Today, 90% of them are for men in medium to long-term renewal programs, who reside there while they receive case management, search for jobs, and work to obtain permanent housing. In the last 18 months, they’ve placed 300 men in jobs and 160 in permanent homes.

At the same time, their agency culture has shifted from one of compliance and control to one of gospel and grace. They have come to believe that by taking a holistic approach and leading with faith, the people they serve can transform their lives and build pathways out of poverty.

In his personal life, Jonathan and his wife, Jolene, have three married children and ten grandchildren ages six to fourteen. He and his wife love riding their tandem bike, and when he’s not out riding or spending time with his family he enjoys composing and singing his own contemporary worship music.

SoV – Joe Micon’s Tips for Fundraising

Dos & Don’ts of An Effective Fundraising Letter

Joe Micon was the Executive Director of Lafayette Urban Ministry for 30 years. During that time he wrote almost 180 fundraising letters, netting close to $35 million for LUM.  

For Joe, writing a good fundraising letter is an inherently creative process, one that cannot be rushed.  He begins mulling over ideas for the letter several weeks in advance, and when it comes time to put pen to paper he makes sure to give himself at least two to three days to compose and edit the letter before distributing it to a few trusted individuals for critical feedback.

Here are a few of the main fundraising letter Dos and Don’ts that Joe has compiled over the years.


  1. As an executive director, you have to get comfortable with the fact that YOU are responsible for raising the money.  Because people don’t give to a good cause, they give to people with a good cause – people they trust and respect.  If you look at all the most successful national nonprofits, you’ll probably think first of an individual person you’re attracted to, like Jimmy Carter for Habitat or Morris Dees for the Southern Poverty Law Center.  As an executive director you are the face people associate with your agency – and it’s your voice that comes across when they read your letter.  So even if you get help in writing the letter, YOU should always be the ONLY one to sign it. 
  2. It’s vital to know how to tell individual stories.  Statistics are great, but ultimately people respond best to a heartwarming individual story.
  3. Keep paragraphs short and concise.
  4. Know who responds to a six page letter and who responds to a three sentence text, because both can be effective.


  1. Don’t forget to put a PS at the bottom of each letter.  The average fundraising letter has 1.3 seconds of life.  If the donor opens it, they’ll read the first sentence and then turn it over and look at the PS.  If those draw them in, they are far more likely to keep reading and to give.
  2. Don’t forget to actually ask for specific dollar amounts.  If you don’t ask for something specific, people will be far less likely to give.

SoV – A Baby’s Closet

Associated Churches of Fort Wayne & Allan County

A Baby’s Closet provides mothers with access to a wide range of necessities to help them care for their children, including cribs, car seats, diapers, and baby formula. What makes A Baby’s Closet unique is that the mothers purchase their items with vouchers obtained by keeping their pre- and post-natal care appointments.

Back in the late 90s, Fort Wayne had one of the highest infant mortality rates in Indiana. It was clear to the staff at Associated Churches that certain areas of the city struggled with health equality and they wanted to help address that.

Realizing that they were not experts in the field of healthcare, but that they did have a great deal of experience in working with the low-income population of Fort Wayne, they forged a partnership with another local agency called Healthier Moms and Babies. That agency goes into the mother’s home to carry out the actual pre- and post-natal care visits and to help coach the mothers through their pregnancy and the first months of their new babies lives. To help incentivize the mothers to keep those appointments, at the end of each visit they hand out vouchers from Associated Churches that can be spent at A Baby’s Closet for items to keep their baby healthy and safe.

According to Roger Reece, Executive Director of Associated Churches, one of their guiding principles as an agency is that in order to be successful they must lead with humility, and remember that the people they are serving are fully fledged human beings who have experienced struggles and hardships that their staff will never be able to fully identify with. So regardless of the program, they try to approach each client and each situation with mercy and compassion and to maintain a deep and abiding sense of humility.

A Baby’s Closet serves more than 600 women a year. And the partnership involved provides an excellent example of how the faith community and health care agencies can work together to address problems in our neighborhoods. Each year, the women in the A Baby’s Closet program who have been identified as needing an extra touch of love are also served through Associated Churches‘ Christmas Outreach. In a collaborative effort with the Fort Wayne Police Department, staff members, including the Executive Director, visit families in their homes to distribute food and gifts, and occasionally find themselves invited to sit down for a meal. Roger sees it as a wonderful opportunity for senior management such as himself to connect directly with the families they serve – and in important reminder of why we are called to serve.

SoV – Agency Profile

Christian Ministries of Delaware County

Christian Ministries of Delaware County has roots going back all the way to 1945, when a group of pastors came together to help those in need while promoting unity among the many different Christian churches in their county. Today they have an operating budget of $200,000, one full time director, and eight-part time staff.

Their programs include a family shelter, emergency assistance, and a thrift store. They also distribute free school supplies, blankets, bed linens, formula, baby food and diapers to those in need. However, they are best known for their men’s shelter and food pantry. The food pantry operates four days a week and last year served more than 10,000 people. The shelter has been in operation for 25 years, and is the only low barrier shelter in the county. The men staying there don’t need to show ID and don’t need to enter into any sort of program. The only requirement is that they not be intoxicated or on drugs.

Their mission is to meet the short term needs of people while sharing the love of Christ through justice, mercy, and humility. Christian Ministries receives regular financial support from about a quarter of the churches in Delaware County. At least another quarter provide volunteers for the food pantry and men’s shelter, or donate needed items like diapers, toilet paper and laundry detergent.

They work hard to incorporate congregations from a diverse array of traditions and beliefs that includes Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Nazarenes, Evangelicals, and even a Unitarian Universalist church and a Jewish temple. While this wide net has at times created tension, for the most part the many congregations have worked well together.

One of the methods that Christian Ministries has long employed to promote this sense of connection and unity is inviting people from all of their supporting congregations to a different member church each year for both Lenten and Good Friday services. They often have as many as 300 people taking part in these special services, getting to experience how others worship and sharing their traditions with one another. While Christian Ministries does have bibles available to hand out, and their staff offer to pray with any clients who would like to do so, they do not have any religious requirements for their services. They offer bible study in both the men’s shelter and the family shelter, but as optional activities which some clients choose to take advantage of and others do not. All people are served regardless of religion.

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