When LCF was started over 10 years ago, it was really the only non-profit in town. The whole reason to start a foundation was so that local residents could find a centralized avenue for organizing community projects and an avenue for individuals and businesses to consolidate fundraising efforts. As Lyons has grown and also endured a natural disaster, the need and inspiration for more non-profits has grown as well. One might assume that an increase in community philanthropy would create competitive problems, but in reality I see the synergy of many inspired groups working together.
A great example of this small-town collaboration is the garden program at Lyons Elementary. This program, initiated with the help of an LCF grant, offers real garden classroom for students K-12 who work with scientific and ecology experts from the community. The result is engaged, hands on learning for kids and also an abundance of produce (over 600 pounds last year!) that is harvested and donated to the Lyons Food Pantry (LEAF). Complimenting these efforts, the LES eco-club kids volunteer their time every week in the garden and also in making their school and community more sustainable. The kids embrace their leadership opportunities and chance to make an impact on their world.
The flourishing partnership with LEAF and the elementary and middle/senior is magnified during the holiday food and personal care drives. Each December, students are motivated to bring in canned goods and personal care items for those most in need in our community. Kids carry in canned goods each day with volunteer parents counting and sorting these items. We are given the opportunity to teach our kids not only the value of giving, but in participating and lending our time. The most sought after prize of the food drive is an opportunity to go deliver the food to the food pantry. The goal of 2500 food items will be easily met this year, providing non-perishables that will stock the pantry for months. The food drive also partners with Higher Ground Ministries and the Lyons Community Church to complete the holiday food baskets with a turkey and fresh produce. The middle/high school student council organizes the personal care drive, and the LEAF “giving tree” program provides holiday gifts to 125 individuals when locals sponsor one of their wishes.
Indeed, many of the local organizations that exist and flourish all help each other. Lyons Leos a youth service organization was started after the flood with the help of an LCF grant, has grown and flourished. The high school kids, now up to 30 members and sponsored by the Lions Club, take on all kinds of projects including work on Habitat for Humanity construction, assisting LEAF at the Rave fundraiser, and helping seniors with technology.
There are many opportunities to be an active citizen, as most groups rely predominantly on volunteers. Lyons Volunteers is a cornerstone in town for volunteer deployment. Started as a disaster/flood recovery group immediately following the 2013 floods, the group continues to be active five years later. Every Wednesday and Saturday a crew of volunteers shows up to do whatever is most needed. During the first few years, dozens of people were needed each week, helping with the most demanding work of cleanup and recovery, but the group continues to perform whatever is asked including helping with town events and environmental sustainability efforts. Notably, Lyons Volunteers was able to collect thousands of pounds of scrap metal for recycling in post-flood buy out homes with strict adherence to regulations.
Although they have been assisted with LCF grants and donated tools, Lyons Volunteers operates on virtually no overhead. In fact, they are able to share the lunch voucher program with the Weed Posse in the eradication of noxious weeds throughout town and also with Americorps workers who join in the construction of the Habitat homes. An obvious bonus to this volunteer organization is the community- building and comradery enjoyed. The group of regular volunteers has built such a tight community of friends and participants who continue to show up every week, becoming a big part of their lives.
The avenues that exist for someone to become an engaged citizens are endless. People are able to volunteer their time with Habitat for Humanity to aid in construction for housing that brings our neighbors (especially those displaced from the flood) finally back home! LEAF has roughly 20 volunteers that aid in food procurement, food pantry stocking and distribution, and delivery of Meals on Wheels. Neighbors donate their time doing everything from driving to the Community Food Bank in Louisville to making life saving well-checks while delivering for Meals on Wheels to anyone who is homebound due to age, disability or illness. The Lyons Garden Club meets regularly, managing weeds and beautifying our landscape. A group of young moms concerned about pesticides in our parks is working to test and provide data on the soil in our public play spaces. There is Flood Memorial group dedicated to the recovery, restoration and preservation of the most severely damaged neighborhoods.
A great way to give back and truly have an impact on happenings around town is to step up to sit on one of the Town of Lyons’ numerous boards or commissions. Volunteering time in this way has an impact on decisions and agendas being considered in leading the town.
Financially, Lyons residents are very generous. With the abundance of fundraising happening, we might be concerned about a saturated “giving pool”, but when asked locals step up. In the past few months alone, we have witnessed an impressive amount of money raised for various causes. Friends of the Lyons Library was able to raise the needed $3.4 million to build our new library and community center. The elementary school/PTO jogathon raised over $50K going towards student programming, LEAF threw its annual Rave to Grave raising over $34K, LCF raised over 24K during our annual gala, and Colorado Gives day brought another $6400 to LEAF and $1200 for the library. A few weeks ago, the teachers and administrative staff of Lyons Elementary, Middle, and High schools came together in a charity volleyball tournament to “pay it forward” to the community of Paradise, California which was so devastated with wildfires. Many Lyons residents came out to cheer and donate over $6000, recalling how communities from all over the country reached out to help Lyons after the flood.
It’s really quite remarkable to list some of the various groups and causes doing good work in Lyons. There are others not mentioned here, so if there is something you’d like to offer or have an interest in seeing, just ask. The Lyons Community Foundation is honored to have contributed to all of the above mentioned causes and looks forward to continuing this tradition of community- based philanthropy. For more information on LCF or to donate, visit lyonscf.org.