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Four Ways to Support LUM Today

During times like these, serving your community is important for your neighbors and for your own well-being. it is important to give wisely, and we hope you agree that LUM is a great investment.

Here are four ways you, your organization and your business can support and invest in Lafayette Urban Ministry.

  • CASH DONATIONS are preferred because they allow LUM to purchase what is needed, when it’s needed. To give online, go to lumserve.org/donate/.
  • SHELTER MEALS — Prepare a meal for the guests at the LUM Emergency Shelter. For more information and to sign up, go to lumserve.org/shelter-meal/. You may…
    • PREPARE & SERVE meals –OR–
    • DROP OFF prepared meals (No contact drop off is possible) –OR–
    • DONATE FOOD for meals that the LUM staff can prepare. (No contact drop off is possible.) Items needed are bread, deli meats, and large cans of soup, stew & chili
  • COVID-19 NEEDED ITEMS — You may either ship or drop off items. No contact drop off is possible. “COVID-19 Supplies” urgently needed are as follows
    • Disinfectant (for surfaces) – bleach, wipes (Lysol, Clorox), spray (Lysol), cleaner (Fantasik, 409, Clorox)
    • Hand Cleaning – antibacterial wipes, gloves (nitrile disposable), hand sanitizer, liquid hand soap
    • Paper Products – paper towels, facial tissues, toilet paper
  • FOOD PANTRY NEEDED ITEMS — You may either ship or drop off items. No contact drop off is possible. Protein Food Pantry urgently needed items are as follows:
    • Food items (protein only) – Canned meats (beef, chicken), canned fish (tuna); Beans, legumes, lentils – dry or canned; Eggs; Peanut butter
    • Paper Products – Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Napkins, Facial Tissues
    • Infant items – Baby Formula, Baby Food, Diapers, Baby Wipes
    • Feminine Hygiene Products – liners, napkins, pads, tampons, wipes

To give online, go to lumserve.org/donate/.

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

THANK YOU.


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Three Ways to Support LUM Today

During times like these it is important to give wisely. LUM is a great investment in your local community.

A collaboration of 47 local churches, LUM serves as a social safety net for children and families who are experiencing difficult times. Last year, Lafayette Urban Ministry served more than 3,792 families through one or another of our 22 programs.

Here are three ways you, your organization and your business can support and invest in Lafayette Urban Ministry.

  1. CASH DONATIONS are preferred because they allow LUM to purchase what is needed, when it’s needed. To give online, go to lumserve.org/donate/.
  2. MEALS — Prepare a meal for the guests at the LUM Emergency Shelter. You may prepare & serve meals –OR– just drop off your prepared meal –OR– donate food that the LUM staff can prepare, like bread, deli meats, and large cans of soup, stew & chili. For more information and to sign up, go to lumserve.org/shelter-meal/.
  3. NEEDED ITEMS—Donations of “needed items” are also welcome and appreciated. To view the LUM Wishlist of Needed Items, go to lumserve.org/wish-list/. You may either ship or drop off items to the LUM Office (420 N 4th Street, Lafayette, IN 47901). Here is a list of “COVID-19 Supplies” that are urgently needed now:
  • Disinfectant (for surfaces) – bleach, wipes (Lysol, Clorox), spray (Lysol), cleaner (Fantasik, 409, Clorox)
  • Hand Cleaning – antibacterial wipes, gloves (nitrile disposable), hand sanitizer, liquid hand soap
  • Paper Products – paper towels, facial tissues, toilet paper

To give online, go to lumserve.org/donate/. To view the LUM Wish List of Needed Items, go to lumserve.org/wish-list/. THANK YOU.

COVID-19 Updates – Impact on LUM – 3/24/2020


LUM is Open for Business – Safety & Compliance

Although the LUM Office is closed for in-person visits, the LUM office phones are staffed during regular business hours, and staff members are answering emails as promptly as possible. All business meetings have been canceled or moved online, and most LUM staff members are currently working from home.

For more than two weeks, the leadership at LUM has been continually monitoring the recommendations from the CDC, the county health department, local and state officials and other agencies. LUM is open for business, but “how” LUM serves the families in our community has been modified to keep everyone as safe as possible. Below is a summary of how LUM programs are continuing to serve the families in our community today. {Please note: LUM program information is accurate now, but changes are expected.}


LUM STILL Needs Your Support

During times like these it is important to give wisely. LUM is a great investment in your local community. A collaboration of 47 local churches, LUM serves as a social safety net for children and families who are experiencing difficult times. Last year, Lafayette Urban Ministry served more than 3,792 families through one or another of our 22 programs.

Cash donations are preferred because they allow LUM to purchase what is needed, when it’s needed. Donations of “needed items” are also welcome and appreciated. Here is a list of “COVID-19 Supplies” that are urgently needed:

  • Disinfectant (for surfaces) – bleach, wipes, spray (Lysol), cleaner (Fantasik, 409, Clorox)
  • Hand Cleaning – antibacterial wipes (Lysol, Clorox), gloves (nitrile disposable), hand sanitizer, liquid hand soap
  • Paper Products – paper towels, facial tissues, toilet paper

Please either ship or drop off items to the LUM Office (420 N 4th Street, Lafayette, IN 47901).


LUM Emergency Shelter – Open Nightly

The LUM Emergency Shelter is open with a strict protocol for intake, check in, dinner services and sleeping arrangements.

  • Intake: each weekday afternoon, signing up for returning guests is being done outside and quickly; new guests are being signed up by staff practicing social distancing
  • Check in (outside): guests line up using six foot markers for social distancing; staff take each guest’s temperature, and monitor hand cleaning. EMTs and heath department will be called if guests check in with severe symptoms; guests with mild symptoms will be separated and must wear mask for duration for stay.
  • Cleaning & food services: disinfecting surfaces frequently; training, postings & handouts on coughing/sneezing & hand washing protocols; staff are wearing gloves; meal is served to guests; seating arranged for social distancing
  • Sleeping arrangements: beds are arranged for social distancing and “head to foot” sleeping

Meals are needed every evening. Please consider preparing a meal for our shelter guests. To learn more and sign up online, please click HERE.


LUM Protein Food Pantry – Open Weekly

The LUM Protein Food Pantry is open each Thursday morning with to-go, curbside service. Food items are packed up and available for quick check in and distribution outside of the LUM Ray Ewry Center (525 N 4th Street, Lafayette). Clients are lined up using six foot markers for social distancing.

Donations of protein food items, paper products, infant supplies & feminine hygiene products are needed and welcome. To learn more and see our list of needed items, click HERE.


LUM Tax Assistance & After School Programs – Closed

For now, the LUM Tax Assistance Program is currently not seeing clients in person and no new clients will be served. Everyone is being encouraged to use “free online tax preparation software” available to everyone with a simple return. In just six weeks, LUM served 270 clients with total Federal refunds of $357,280 and total State refunds of $29,450.

LUM Youth Program updates are as follows:


LUM Financial & Immigration Assistance – Modified

The LUM Good Samaritan Program is taking requests for emergency financial assistance by phone and email, each weekday morning starting at 8:15 a.m.

The LUM Immigration Clinic is working with clients by phone, video conferencing & email — and new clients should email immigration@lumserve.org.

Spanish Conversation Tables and Citizenship Classes have been canceled until further notice.


Final Thoughts & Information

Information in this eNewsletter is accurate, but changes are expected. For the most up-to-date information about LUM programs & services, please go to the LUM website – lumserve.org.

Please know that the LUM Board of Directors and staff are keeping those affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) in our thoughts and prayers while closely watching the evolving situation.

COVID-19 Updates – Impact on LUM

{updated Thursday, 3/26/2020 – 9:01 a.m.}

LUM Office – 420 N 4th Street, Lafayette, IN

  • Phones staffed from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Monday – Friday
  • No in-person visitors or clients allowed

Assistance Programs


Children’s Programs/Youth Programs


Food Programs – Protein Food Pantry (525 N 4th Street, Lafayette)

  •  Open – Thursdays, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
  • To-go, curbside service only
  • DONATIONS of protein food items, paper products, infant supplies & feminine hygiene products are needed and welcome. To learn more and see our list of needed items, click HERE.

Homeless Services

  • Emergency Shelter (525 N 4th Street, Lafayette, IN)
    • Open nightly, with a strict protocol for intake, check in, dinner services and sleeping arrangements.
    • Intake – 1:30 p.m., LUM Office 420 N 4th Street, Lafayette
  • DONATIONS – Meals are needed every evening. Please consider preparing a meal for our shelter guests. To learn more and sign up online, please click HERE.
  • Winter Warming Station is closed until November 15, 2020 allowing staff to focus on the Emergency Shelter

LUM is Open for Business – Safety & Compliance

Although the LUM Office is closed for in-person visits, the LUM office phones are staffed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and staff members are answering emails as promptly as possible. All business meetings have been canceled or moved online, and most LUM staff members are currently working from home.

For more than two weeks, the leadership at LUM has been continually monitoring the recommendations from the CDC, the county health department, local and state officials and other agencies. LUM is open for business, but “how” LUM serves the families in our community has been modified to keep everyone as safe as possible. Below is a summary of how LUM programs are continuing to serve the families in our community today. {Please note: LUM program information is accurate now, but changes are expected.}


LUM STILL Needs Your Support

During times like these it is important to give wisely. LUM is a great investment in your local community. A collaboration of 47 local churches, LUM serves as a social safety net for children and families who are experiencing difficult times. Last year, Lafayette Urban Ministry served more than 3,792 families through one or another of our 22 programs.

Cash donations are preferred because they allow LUM to purchase what is needed, when it’s needed. Donations of “needed items” are also welcome and appreciated. Here is a list of “COVID-19 Supplies” that are urgently needed:

  • Disinfectant (for surfaces) – bleach, wipes, spray (Lysol), cleaner (Fantasik, 409, Clorox)
  • Hand Cleaning – antibacterial wipes (Lysol, Clorox), gloves (nitrile disposable), hand sanitizer, liquid hand soap
  • Paper Products – paper towels, facial tissues, toilet paper

Please either ship or drop off items to the LUM Office (420 N 4th Street, Lafayette, IN 47901).


LUM Emergency Shelter – Open Nightly

The LUM Emergency Shelter is open with a strict protocol for intake, check in, food service and sleeping arrangements, as follows:

  • Intake: Sign up for returning guests is being done outside and quickly. New guests are being signed up by staff practicing social distancing.
  • Check in: Guests line up outside six feet apart. Staff take each guest’s temperature, and monitor hand cleaning. Guests with mild symptoms will be separated and must wear a mask for duration of stay. EMTs & health department are called if guests check in with severe symptoms.
  • Cleaning & food services: Staff are disinfecting surfaces frequently & wearing gloves. Information is available on coughing/sneezing & hand washing protocols. Practicing social distancing in dining room seating.
  • Sleeping arrangements: Beds are arranged for social distancing and “head to foot” sleeping.

Meals are needed every evening. Please consider preparing a meal for our shelter guests. To learn more and sign up online, go to lumserve.org/shelter-meal/.


LUM Protein Food Pantry – Open Weekly

The LUM Protein Food Pantry is open each Thursday morning with to-go, curbside service. Items are packed up and available for quick check in and distribution outside of the LUM Ray Ewry Center (525 N 4th Street, Lafayette). Clients are lined up using six foot markers for social distancing.

Donations of protein food items, paper products, infant supplies & feminine hygiene products are needed and welcome. To learn more and
see a list of needed items, go to
lumserve.org/food-pantry.


Suspended | Pending | Postponed

With a few LUM programs, it was best to suspend services in compliance with recommendations and for the safety of all.


Modified – Financial & Immigration Assistance

The LUM Good Samaritan Program is taking requests for emergency financial assistance by phone and email, each weekday morning starting at 9 a.m.

The LUM Immigration Clinic is working with clients by phone, video conferencing & email — and new clients should email immigration@lumserve.org.


Final Thoughts & Information

Information in this eNewsletter is accurate, but changes are expected. For the most up-to-date information about LUM programs & services, please go to the LUM website – lumserve.org.

Please know that the LUM Board of Directors and staff are keeping those affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) in our thoughts and prayers while closely watching the evolving situation.

Meet the New LUM Executive Director

A Letter from the LUM Board President

Dear Friends, 

The LUM Board of Directors and staff members are excited to announce the next LUM Executive Director, the Rev. Wesley J. Tillett

The process started a year ago, when the LUM Board of Directors conducted an in-depth assessment of LUM, the results of which were used to begin a search for a new LUM executive director. The search committee made a recommendation in February 2020 — and our top choice accepted our offer. Thanks to the Search Committee, Board of Directors and LUM staff for working together to complete this process with thoughtfulness and dedication. 

Wes will assume responsibilities on April 1, 2020. Until then, LUM will remain focused on fulfilling its mission of providing quality services to the children and families who come seeking help. Join me in congratulating the Rev. Wesley Tillett and welcoming his family. You will have a chance to meet Wes on Wednesday, April 15 at a reception prior to the LUM board meeting. In the meantime, please take the time to read more about Wes Tillett and his family — click HERE.

Best regards, 

Joan Foord Low
President – LUM Board of Directors

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)

Rev. Susan Brouillette, Salute to Women Honoree


Brouillette Celebrated as Immigration Advocate


At a special dinner last Tuesday, the Rev. Susan Brouillette, the LUM Immigration Clinic founding director, was an honoree the 47th annual Salute to Women program. Susan was one of only 12 women honored this year. She is being recognized for being an “immigration advocate” and for being “instrumental in the development of Lafayette Urban Ministry’s Immigration Clinic.

Joe Micon, LUM executive director remarked that,

Most of the immigrants and asylum seekers who come to the LUM Immigration Clinic are in serious straights. Some are without family or friends. In Susan Brouillette, they have found an advocate who represents and defends them with skill and commitment. She is one of those rare and extraordinary individuals responsible for our community being such a diverse and welcoming place.

Join us in congratulating the Rev. Susan Brouillette for this well deserved recognition.


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Immigration Clinic

Micon Remarks – LUM Retirement Follies


LUM Retirement Follies – Friday, March 6, 2020
Remarks by Joe Micon, LUM Executive Director


Thank you.  I am overwhelmed – and I am not someone who is easily overwhelmed. 

I am so beautifully overwhelmed.

There are so many to thank.  First, please see the program for a complete list of acknowledgements.

I wish to thank Bishop Timothy Doherty who frequently makes visits to the LUM office.  Your presence provides such encouragement and affirmation to all of us on the LUM staff.

Thank you to Fr. Patrick Baikauskas for allowing LUM to come to St. Tom’s for this celebration.  You have been the embodiment of God’s love here on Purdue’s campus everyday since 2008.

What a special joy to have Jud Dolphin here – LUM’s former Executive Director, my friend, mentor, a drum major for justice.  Also Rev. Don Nead, Jim Davidson, Mary Anderson and Ellen Elly.

Thank you Mayor Tony Roswarski and Mayor John Dennis for always being supportive and always being partners. Our community is so fortunate to have two such outstanding mayors.

I would like to lift up my good friend, the legendary, late West Lafayette Mayor Sonya Margerum.   Sonya was so supportive of LUM.  She encouraged me to run for state office and who worked so hard on my campaigns. How I wish she would have been able to be here with us all tonight.

President Martin and Patty Jischke and Chancellor David Bathe of Ivy Tech — Thank you for your friendship of LUM and for your many years of leadership in our community, state and beyond.

Thank you State Rep. Chris Campbell, who currently serves in the seat I once held. I am so proud of the work you are doing and the difference you are making.  And then there are my good friends and former colleagues State Rep. Sheila Klinker and State Senator Ron Alting.  

In these divided and partisan times how fortunate it is for our communities to have THREE such hard working, dedicated, intelligent, legislators representing us at the Statehouse.  They are always Purdue’s and Ivy Tech’s biggest fans. They always put our community first. They always work tirelessly for the betterment of our great state.  

I would like to acknowledge my many Warren County friends and neighbors who are here.

LUM Board members past and present, thank you for allowing me to serve all these years, for encouraging me to be more bold when I was being too timid, and for on occasion pulling back on the reins when I was perhaps moving ahead too far or too fast.  We have accomplished great things together.

To our outstanding LUM staff, how fortunate I have been to be able to spend my days working together with you.  I will miss your good humor, collaboration, inspiration and boundless energy.

Thanks to the pastors and clergy of LUM’s member churches.  You have always been supportive of LUM, and a friend to me. You have volunteered, served on the board, spoken highly of LUM not only among your own church membership, but also when you have been out and about in the wider community.  Whenever I have called upon you have always said “yes.”

Thank you LUM After School Program students.  Keep reading. It introduces you to fascinating people and takes you to unbelievable places.  Reading makes you strong. What an honor to have Bailey the reading dog here with us. And remember, “Balloons blow, don’t let them go!” 

Thank you LUM campers, counselors and clowns.  How much fun have we had together? How much learning have we instilled?

Eileen Weiss and Pablo Malavenda – thank you both for organizing and directing  this major, major undertaking. Thank you for your extraordinary grace and kindness.

Please offer a round of applause for all of our performers.  Jeffrey Auguste, by the way, is a student in Ivy Tech’s outstanding Human Services Program. He just completed his internship at LUM,  Jeffrey and his family immigrated to our community from Haiti. How proud we are of you. Thank you for sharing your beautiful voice tonight.

Jo Greathouse Micon is Dean of the School of Public affairs and Social Services at Ivy Tech.  I can’t even imagine how difficult it has been for her to keep up with her professional life while at the same time being so supportive of mine.  Jo has not only been my wife and the mother of our children, but my best friend. Thank you for everything Jo. I am so very lucky to get to spend the rest of my days together with you.  Our son Jonathan, daughter Katie and son-in-law Robby Stewart are here, as are our close friends Roger, Joyce and Ashley Detzner.  I love you guys.

Two Decembers ago I wrote a Christmas letter for LUM that drew upon a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson: “Ring Out Wild Bells.  Linda Hicks and our bulk mail volunteers will remember it because they printed, stuffed and stamped some 4,000 copies of it.  While I was researching Tennyson I came across these words and filed them away for night such as tonight. He said:

“We are part of all that we have met
And though much has been taken from us, yet still more abides
That which we are, we all are together
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

To each of you who have been such an important part of LUM’s work;  To each of you who have shown so much friendship and support; To each of you who have come this evening to celebrate our shared accomplishments – thank you.  We are all indeed “One equal temper of heroic hearts.”

And to all those whose cares have been our concern at LUM, many of you who are here this evening – children, parents, all those who have shown such quiet dignity as sometimes you have coped and struggled just to get by – I thank you most of all. I thank you for your lessons of humility, trust and dignity – for showing me what faithfulness truly means. During my many years of service, I have learned the most from you.

Good friends all, this has been an evening I will not soon forget.  How grateful I am for the love you have shown here. While my time at LUM has now drawn to a close, I take with me such blessed assurance that our shared cause, the important work of LUM, will continue faithfully into the future.  What a remarkable ride this has been.   

Micon Remarks – IU School of Social Work Distinguish Alumnus Award


IU School of Social Work Alumni Association Awards
Friday, March 6, 2020
Remarks by Joe Micon, LUM Executive Director


Thank you Karen Jones for your kind introduction. Thank you Mark Thomas and Eileen Weiss from the Lafayette Urban Ministry for nominating me. Mark is with us this afternoon.

Thank you to the awards committee from the IUSSW Alumni Association for this great honor.

I would like to introduce my wife, Jo Micon MSW, Dean of School of Public Affairs, Education and Social Services, IVY Tech – Lafayette Campus.

I would also like to introduce our son Jonathan, daughter Katie, son-in-law Robby as well as my good friend former LUM Executive Director Jud Dolphin.

In 1980, exactly 40 years ago I entered the graduate school of social work because I wanted to make the world a better place. Much to my parent’s chagrin I was OK with not making too much money and I didn’t particularly mind long hours or stressful work. I was young and idealistic. I was captivated by our profession’s long and storied history not only of doing good, but also of organizing communities and fighting for social justice.

I was captivated by a profession that produced people like Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams who advocated for immigrants, the poor, women and peace throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. She said, “the cure for the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.” And “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”

People like former Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, daughter of polish immigrants who grew up in Baltimore in the early 1960’s during a time when she said neighbor looked after neighbor. In 1968, she was a young social worker with a big voice, she stood up to Baltimore’s old-boy political machine. Her goal: to save two communities from being plowed under to make way for a 16-lane freeway through the heart of her city. She won that fight and, in the years that followed, she’d battle many more times for her city, state and country. She once said, “I do get emotional about my causes. I get angry. I get outraged. I get volcanic. Deal with it!” She said, “Each one of us can make a difference, but together, we win change.”

Or people like Alice Walker, animal rights activist, novelist and social worker who wrote The Color Purple. She said “the animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men. And she said, “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” Perhaps most famously she wrote, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”

How could you know about these people and not want to become a social worker?

Looking back over 40 years of public policy advocacy on behalf of the disadvantaged and dispossessed of our state, you can’t help but notice how far we have come.

When I see Pete Buttigieg running for the highest office in our land, proudly, confidently, without premise, I think back to the battles in 2004 – 2006 in support of LBGTQ Hoosiers, that so many of us fought and won in the halls of Indiana’s Statehouse, and later in the United State Supreme Court — and I am proud of the efforts of our profession.

When Indiana held the dubious honor of being the first state in the nation to introduce and pass voter suppression legislation impacting minority voters, our profession sprang into action. When we lost our battles in court we took to the street, started voter registration drives and significantly increased the numbers of poor and minority participation in the electoral process. So many of us continue to advocate for legislative redistricting and campaign finance reform.

During my tenure in the General Assembly I proudly fought together with my social worker colleagues to move Indiana forward on behalf of the children and families we all serve. 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.

When I was a brand new graduate, with my new MSW in hand, I was young, energetic, eager to dream, to fight and to show fidelity to our profession’s rich history of advocacy and activism. So I learned how to be a better speaker, a better writer and I learned the intricacies of local and state politics.

If I were to go back in time and bump into that young MSW, I would encourage him to keep getting out there, keep pushing, keep pulling because you are actually making things better not only for your generation but for generations that will follow.

We have come so far more than 40 years, but there is still such a distance for our profession to travel. We have now arrived at a point where children and babies have been taken from their parents and put in cages and I don’t think that history will be kind to us about it. Last year we tolerated 39,000 deaths from gun violence, 24,000 of them from suicide, 30,000 injuries from gun violence and 418 mass shootings. What will history say when it observes us as having failed to act to stop the carnage?

One of my favorite quotes these days is from Robert Frost: “Now that I am old, my teachers are the young.” and while there isn’t always a lot to relish about aging, I am grateful that it has given me the opportunity to learn from those who are younger. I am so inspired by how this generation of social workers continues to speak out so forcefully on issues of environmental protection, racial justice, and the rights and dignity of women, immigrants and refugees. You, in your own manner, with your own skills and in your own ways are proudly carrying the torch passed to you by the likes of Jane Addams, Barbara Mikulski and Alice Walker.

The 19th century English poet Lord Alfred Tennyson, while not a social worker, was perhaps the major social commentator of his time. He said,

“We are part of all that we have met
And though much has been taken from us, yet still more abides.

That which we are, we all are together. One equal temper of heroic hearts. Strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

It took us 188 years to elect our first social worker to the Indiana General Assembly. I encourage each one of you to consider elected office now. Despite the countless ways in which politicians have failed to act with distinction of late, despite the ways that our precious democracy has been tarnished, I fervently believe that public service remains an honorable undertaking – an undertaking that is tailor made for the likes of social workers. I am always available to talk, share and encourage those who are considering taking the plunge. Let’s not wait another 188 years.

Thank you so very much for the honor of receiving this distinguished award. It means all the more to me because it comes from you, my friends and colleagues with whom I so proudly share our profession’s rich legacy of service and advocacy.

Rev. Susan Brouillette – Remarkable Local Woman

Salute to Women 2020 – Honoree – March 3

The Rev. Susan Brouillette, the LUM Immigration Clinic founding director, will be honored at the 47th annual Salute to Women program. Susan is one of only 12 women being honored this year at a dinner and celebration on Tuesday, March 3. She is being recognized for being an “immigration advocate” and for being “instrumental in the development of Lafayette Urban Ministry’s Immigration Clinic.

Joe Micon, LUM executive director remarked that,

Most of the immigrants and asylum seekers who come to the LUM Immigration Clinic are in serious straights. Some are without family or friends. In Susan Brouillette, they have found an advocate who represents and defends them with skill and commitment. She is one of those rare and extraordinary individuals responsible for our community being such a diverse and welcoming place.

Join us in congratulating the Rev. Susan Brouillette for this well deserved recognition.


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