By Janaki Jane, Colorado Spirit
“Would you like some coffee or tea? How about some water?” Emily Flemming asks each person who comes through the door of the Lyons Community Church on Wednesdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Pastor Flemming pulls her chair up to a new arrival who comes in with an infant, and talks about her own child, creating a
Later, after this person received some assistance from LEAF she told Flemming, “This changed my life, I didn’t realize how bad things were until I got a little help.” “I think that is the important thing for people to recognize,” Flemming, co-executive director of the new LEAF—the Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund, and the Pastor of the Lyons Community Church says. “We often don’t realize how bad things are until someone helps us out.” That is the purpose of LEAF in Lyons, and LEAF wants everyone to know that they can come and ask for assistance.
“I want people to understand that these Wednesdays at the church are an invitation to come in, sit down, and have a cup of coffee or tea, like you would on your neighbor’s porch, to talk about how you are, how your friends are, and is there any way you need help,” she says.
LEAF, in partnership with the OUR Center (Outreach United Resource Center, Inc.) in Longmont, offers many types of assistance to residents, including a food pantry, housing and rent assistance, help with child care expenses, utility payments, and much more. “Here in Lyons we are strong mountain people, we are survivors, we don’t even realize that we can use a hand,” says Flemming. “We know that people had unmet needs before the flood” she continues, “but with our mentality of ‘we take care of our own,’ somehow people got by. But post-flood people were less able to help themselves and others, so now is the time to reach out to a wider network of resources to help our community meet its needs.”
LEAF and the OUR Center both want folks to understand that help may be available for anyone who needs it. “The OUR Center has no predetermined guidelines for assistance. During the recession and flood recovery, the OUR Center helped middle-income folks who lost their resources,” says Edwina Salazar, Executive Director of the OUR Center.
LEAF was founded in 2008. It used to be a ministry of Lyons Community Church that was sponsored by the Lyons Community Foundation (LCF). However, since the flood, they have found themselves providing as much assistance in one month as they did in one year before the flood. “That was the eye opening moment when we realized that the loving support of the LCF was not enough to meet the needs of the community, and we decided to spin off,” Flemming says.
The goal of LEAF is to be a community resource center, an actual one stop shop, where residents of the greater Lyons area can get access to a wide variety of resources and expect a good listener, in a welcoming comfortable environment that invites them to share about their lives and get any help that they need, according to Flemming. The Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services will also have a Spanish-speaking case manager on site on Wednesdays to answer questions about available resources such as food stamps and child-care assistance.
If you go to LEAF on Wednesdays, they ask that you to bring:
- Photo ID and proof of residency
- Any urgent bills or medical expenses that you need help with.
- Any income verification or information that you have: can include food stamps, social security, etc.
- If it’s a flood related request, your FEMA registration number and any correspondence that you have had with FEMA or SBA
Colorado Spirit Teams in Boulder County are a program of Mental Health Partners.