Category Archives: Uncategorized

Persisting & Thriving During COVID-19

One Year Later – Still Open – Still Serving


One year ago, Lafayette Urban Ministry began a journey that was filled with uncertainty and anxiety. By April 1, 2020, staff members were working from home, board meetings were happening online, and each program had to be modified. Additionally, Wes Tillett began his tenure as the LUM executive director.

First, staff members did not waver in the commitment to “stay open.” Second, LUM developed protocols. Finally, individuals, businesses & agencies responded by providing financial support.

Civic leaders, churches, agencies and families trusted LUM to distribute emergency funds, provide shelter, offer childcare, provide food assistance, and provide summer camp as well as assist with tax preparation and immigration issues — to our neighbors in need. LUM was able to host successful fundraising events like Hunger Hike, Port of Hope, and Turkey Trot 5K Run, surpassing the fundraising goals.

LUM remained open, but “how” LUM serves the families in our community changed to keep everyone as safe as possible. The leadership has been continually monitoring the recommendations and adjusting as needed. Staff members reimagined every aspect of each of the programs offered. Using technology and modifying the physical layout of our entrances, LUM was able to offer services online, through email and by phone.

The LUM Emergency Shelter, Food Pantry and Youth Programs used hand-washing, face masks, temperature checks and social distancing in common areas including the dining and sleeping rooms. The need for LUM services increased significantly but the support from donors, foundations and businesses increased as well.

There were also “silver linings.” The Board is more focused and supportive of the staff members and programs. Staff members have become a close and effective team. In the community, LUM has been a faithful partner with other agencies, collaborating to better serve the community. Families are more aware of our programs and more individuals were impacted, many for the first time.

One year later, LUM survives and continues to serve those in need while remaining financially sound. Reflecting on how much was accomplished in the past 12 months reaffirms that a gift to LUM is a sound investment, even during a global pandemic and the transition of a new executive director.


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Message from the LUM President


Get Involved to Advance the Work of LUM


Dear Friend of LUM,

It is my honor to serve as President of the LUM Board of Directors. Each member of our Board represents their church partnering with LUM to tackle basic human needs and uplift people in Tippecanoe County. 

Lafayette Urban Ministrycreates a larger vehicle for making a difference in Greater Lafayette than an individual church can make by itself.

I am thankful for LUM staff, donors, volunteers and Board members who work together to restore the hope and the self respect which all people need and deserve.

As you learn more about the programs of LUM, I hope you are inspired to get involved or increase your involvement to advance the important work of Lafayette Urban MinistryThank you for your interest and support.

Sincerely, 

Cheryl A. Fowler
President, Board of Directors

Furniture For Sale

Lafayette Urban Ministry was fortunate to receive a grant to replace some of the office, shelter and youth center furniture — and is selling all used furniture until Tuesday (March 2) morning. Items for sale are as follows:

  • Student Dining Room Bench

If interested, in purchasing items, seeing items or to ask questions, please —

  • Email enews@lumserve.org
  • Make an Appointment to Pick Up
  • Pay via check, cash, credit or PayPal

First come, first serve. As is. No refunds or returns.

All proceeds will benefit local families and children through LUM programs.


Student Bench – 12 seats

$100 OBO – all offers will be considered.

Student Bench for School or Childcare. One seat broken. If interested, in purchasing items, seeing items or to ask questions, please email enews@lumserve.org.

  • Folded Dimensions: 59″ W x 35″ D x 79 3/4″ H
  • 29” Table Height/ 17” Seat Height
  • Width 30 inches
  • Length 144 inches

Lafayette Urban Ministry is replacing the following furniture:

  • Office Chairs
  • Youth Center – Cubbies/lockers
  • Youth Center – Dining room bench

If interested, in purchasing items, seeing items or to ask questions, please —

First come, first serve. As is. No refunds or returns. Pick up only.

All proceeds will benefit local families and children through LUM programs.

SoV – Agency Profile – Home Glory


Home Glory Properties

Home Glory Properties in central Indiana is not a social service agency but rather a small business guided by faith that seeks to balance profit with doing good for others. The mission of Home Glory Properties is to rehabilitate homes in need of a second chance, in order to create homes for people in need of a second chance. 

The business was founded by former missionaries, Indira and Doug Hsu, who have personally experienced God’s redemptive work in their lives. Over the years, they have strived to bring that same redemptive hope – and that same second chance – to others. 

Starting with some equity drawn from their own home, they have rehabbed half a dozen properties in Anderson, IN. Their goal is to create homes that they themselves would be happy to live in, to keep rents as low as possible by investing their own sweat equity, and to rent to down-on-their-luck people in need of a second chance.

Some of their tenants come to them as Section 8 clients through the Anderson Housing Authority. Others come as referrals from a local community organization. Still others come to them through Zillow. Doug and Indira are willing to work with people who have bad credit, criminal records, and other issues that usually make it impossible for them to rent from anyone but slumlords.  The couple feels that it is their calling to give these people a second chance. They fill their units with high quality stainless steel appliances and new bathroom fixtures, all while keeping rents low, and have even fronted utilities for people whose poor credit history prevents them from being able to get connections in their own name.

Doug and Indira see their tenants as more than just customers. They do what they can to encourage them, pray with them, talk them through difficult life issues, and help wherever they can. It doesn’t always work out, of course. They had one tenant with severe mental illness who actually called the cops on them. But that was simply a reminder of the sometimes painful road that Christ himself had to walk. 

That same attitude comes to the fore in their relationship with their contractors. Doug and Indira look for people who can do good work, but lack fancy websites or pretty business cards – contractors and handymen who are struggling to make a name for themselves. They share what it is they’re trying to do, and have found contractors who are willing, even eager, to work with them.

Indira tells the story of one contractor they hired who had been struggling with a drug addiction. They gave him a chance. Shortly after hiring him, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Instead of canceling the contract and hiring someone else, they gave him the keys to the apartment and let him use it as a refuge while he went through chemo. He continued to work on the unit at his own pace for many more months, finishing the work with a huge sense of pride just two weeks before he passed away. They treated one another like family, and Doug and Indira are still grateful that the Lord gave them a chance to stand beside this man in his time of need.

To learn more, visit https://homegloryproperties.com/

SoV – Agency Profile – Family Network


Family Network of Wyoming

The Family Network of Wyoming, located in a suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was formed in 2004 as people concerned about hunger in their community reached out to several local Christian Reformed churches to create an umbrella ministry.  That ministry was formalized into a nonprofit organization in 2008.  The agency finds its theological roots in Matthew 25, and its members work hard to constantly remind themselves that what they do for the least of us, they do for God.

The agency is actually housed in a former Christian Reformed church that donated the property after declining membership led them to close their doors.  The sanctuary now serves as a warehouse, but they kept the cross as a symbol of their mission.

The Family Network is a small organization with just three staff, one of them part time, and an operating budget of $250,000.  With that, they run three main programs.  The biggest is their food bank, which averages about 10,000 pantry visits a year.  They also offer a durable medical equipment lending program, providing wheelchairs, walkers, shower benches, toilet risers, and the like to some 200 people a year.  Lastly, they run a Christmas store for their food pantry clients.  Each Christmas some 300 children receive gifts through the program.  Local churches and individuals donate the toys, which are marked at about 25% of retail value.  The families pay $10 per child (all of which is re-invested in the program) and are able to spend that on up to three presents worth approximately $40. 

Over the years, the Family Network has built up a loyal base of volunteers, who are essential to their day-to-day work.  Many of those volunteers have established real relationships with the agency’s clients.  People who come to the pantry for food greet the volunteers by name and ask after their families.  It’s a strong bond – and one which helps remind everyone involved that, there but for the grace of God go I.

Like many relief agencies, The Family Network faced a serious challenge with COVID.  The number of people seeking help from their pantry ballooned from less than 1,000 in March to more than 2,500 in April – and all at a time when the agency was down to a single paid staff member.  They were forced to transition their pantry to a drive through model, packing standard boxes of food and providing a shopping cart’s worth to each family – with extra for the largest families.  Given the severity of the crisis in Michigan, and the gaps in the state’s unemployment system, they also changed their rules to allow families to visit the pantry more than once a month.  Only the neediest have taken advantage of this, but each month about 35-40 families make a second visit.  And while COVID has been a struggle, it has also served as a stark reminder of why groups like The Family Network of Wyoming exist. 

Karrie Brown

SoV – Fundraiser – Hunger Hike


Hunger Hike

Hunger Hike is a unique fundraiser with a history stretching back almost 30 years.   On its face, it seems normal enough – an event based around a 3K walk that relies on a combination of corporate sponsorships, teams of walkers, and peer-to-peer fundraising to bring in donor dollars.  But what sets Hunger Hike apart is the fact that it’s actually a cooperative fundraiser in which three Lafayette area nonprofits come together to share both the costs and the dollars raised.

The three agencies are Food Finders Food Bank, Lafayette Urban Ministry, and the Haiti Mission at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.  They split the cost of hiring a part-time staffer to organize the event, and each agency contributes volunteers to a joint task force that helps to coordinate planning and oversee fundraising efforts.  Volunteers from St. Thomas Aquinas spearhead outreach for corporate sponsorships, staff from Food Finders write grants to corporate foundations, and Lafayette Urban Ministry volunteers encourage participation among local churches.

The proceeds from the event are divided evenly among the three agencies and go to fund:

  • Food Finders Food Bank’s Fresh Market Food Pantry
  • The Lafayette Urban Ministry Protein Pantry, Emergency Shelter, and After School Program
  • The St. Thomas Aquinas Haiti Ministry at the parish of Baudin, which include the purchase of high yield seeds, clean water collection, a community store, and goat husbandry

Collectively, Hunger Hike has raised more than $2 million since its inception.  But despite that long history, 2020 was a challenge.  The centerpiece of the event is normally an afternoon festival with speeches from local dignitaries, clowns, hot dogs, and a huge Zumba dance party followed by a 3k walk.  Because of COVID-19, none of that was possible, and Hunger Hike had to be re-tooled into a virtual event.  The organizers set up a challenge week – where supporters were encouraged to either make personal pledges, like walking 100 miles or running a mini marathon, or to create challenges for their fundraising teams.  Throughout the week, Hunger Hike staff sent out daily motivational messages and videos.  It was all capped by a livestream event featuring an MC, recorded speeches, and entertainment from Zumba dancers, a magician, and a local improv comedy troupe.  

The result was amazing.  Despite initial fears, Hunger Hike 2020 proved to be the most successful in the event’s 30 year history, bringing in $123,000 from more than 800 individual donors and two dozen corporate sponsors.  That success, even in challenging economic times, is a mark of both the faith that people place in these three agencies and the value of cooperation.

SoV – Agency Profile – ChristNet


ChristNet Services

ChristNet Services is a homeless shelter in Taylor, Michigan, just twenty minutes south of Detroit.  The agency’s history goes back to August 1992, when a young minister at St Paul’s United Church of Christ began getting calls from people in need of food and shelter. After learning that other local churches were getting the same kind of calls they formed a committee to try and handle the problem.  The solution they ultimately came to was a rotating shelter, in which guests were housed in a different church each week.  That first year, they had eight churches in the network and operated from January to the end of February, serving two to three guests a night and using a local ambulance service to transport them to and from the churches.  

Over time, they were able to expand their shelter and keep it open from mid-October to mid- May.  Their network of churches grew to 50, with 33 host churches and 17 support churches providing food, volunteers, money, and transportation.  Together, they are able to serve an average of 27 guests a night.  

ChristNet has three full time staff and a part time van driver.  Two of their staff and a board member are also former clients of the agency, and the board member even created a CD called “Hymns for the Homeless” as a fundraiser.  They operate on a budget of $225,000 a year and lease space from the Taylor Church of Nazarene to run a day center where the guests can wash up, get something to eat, or use a computer.  

Their mission is to meet their guests where they are, to help them achieve the goals they have for themselves, and, where possible, set new goals.  While faith is an important component of ChristNet’s identity, it’s not something they force upon their guests.  They have bible study during their day time program, and guests are free to participate if they choose.   The same is true of the churches, which often offer devotions, bible study, or even concerts to guests who want to participate. 

With COVID, ChristNet had to undergo a drastic reimagining of their program, as churches quickly decided they no longer felt comfortable hosting.  From April through August they leased space in a building owned by one of their host churches and turned it into a 24 hour shelter supervised by a combination of ChristNet staff and staff from the Wayne Metro Community Action Agency. Starting in September, ChristNet moved back into their old building and re- opened it as a day center, while Wayne Metro worked out an agreement with a local hotel.  The guests stay at the hotel at night and Wayne Metro provides staff to manage things on site. The host churches continue to play an important role in providing meals, toiletries, and other things needed by the guests.

It’s been a difficult transition, but Executive Director, Debbie Petri, refused to turn her back on her clients, and the host churches are looking forward to the day they can get back to work. Website: www.christnetservices.org