At the Lyons Community Foundation, our love for Lyons runs deep. Through good times and tough times, we are committed to serving the greater Lyons area and the people who call it home. In the good years, we love to connect with our friends and neighbors at our beloved summer concert series in Sandstone Park or enjoy the fireworks after the Holiday Parade. In times of crisis, we are thankful for local agencies such as the Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund for responding to local needs with programs such as the Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels or Mental Wellness & Addiction Recovery.
The Lyons Community Foundation (LCF) was established in 2007 when several area residents saw the need for a locally based philanthropy and began the hard work of setting up the Lyons Community Foundation. John Burke, Gary LaFever, Rick England among others were key in laying this groundwork. Connie Eyster and Christy Crosser were the first Advisory Board co-chairs. LCF was established under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of Boulder County and remains one of their funds.
The reasons for having a local-based nonprofit included the ability to address the unique needs of a small and diverse community. There are projects that otherwise could not occur given the budget and constraints of a small town. Also, it gives local businesses and individuals a go-to centralized resource to help and enhance their community.
In no time was the need for a local foundation more critical than during the flood. Because LCF existed, the “Rebuild Lyons One life at Time” grant program was able to spring into action, awarding over $1M to local residents and businesses when they needed it most. Funds were given out within three months of the flood to address critical needs.
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, the Lyons Community Foundation launched “The Lyons Share - a small business economic relief fund” in partnership with the St. Vrain Market (SVM). The fund, seeded with proceeds from the market and matched by LCF was designed to help local businesses survive the impact of COVID-19’s forced business closures. With the added donations from the Town of Lyons and area residents, the Lyons Share Fund provided 42 local businesses with $1,000 each.
As a community foundation, LCF’s main purpose is to raise money to support a diverse range of projects and populations in order to improve the quality of life, build a culture of giving and encourage positive change in the greater Lyons area. By offering a centralized source for fundraising, nonprofits can focus on their projects. Thanks to LCF’s Community Support Grants, eight local non-profits received $28,500 in community support grants to put towards 15 separate projects which focus on four key areas: Community Connectivity, Human Services, Youth Investment and Local Ecology.
2020 was an extraordinary year for grants. LCF granted a total of $101,000, which is more than double the amount the non-profit typically grants. Due to the pandemic, an extra $58,000 was awarded for COVID-19 support both for local businesses and individuals. In a typical year, LCF grants $40,000 for Community Support Grants (about $30,000) and Scholarships (about $10,000). Human Services such as LEAF’s programs (Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels, Basic Needs & Resource Matching, Mental Wellness & Addiction Recovery, Lyons Volunteers) received $22,700. Community Connectivity which covers the Holiday Parade of Lights and the Sandstone Concert Series through the Town of Lyons as well as the public art sculptures on display on Main Street and historical exhibits at the Redstone Museum totaled $8,350. Local garden clubs received $2,700 to help beautify our community, one flower at a time. Last but not least, seven senior high school students received $8,500 in grants to attend college.
Unfortunately, all community events and fundraisers were cancelled last year due to the pandemic. This only exacerbated our efforts to increase our revenue to offset expenses. Thank goodness for the generosity of the community. When we appealed to locals to help businesses, they contributed to the Lyons Share Fund. When we made a direct appeal at the end of the year, local residents stepped up again to make sure our grant cycle and scholarship fund were going to be preserved for 2021.
We cannot overstate the importance of the reliability and predictability of a monthly contribution, especially in times of crisis. We call our monthly donors Community Builders because building a better community is at the very heart of our mission and because their ongoing gifts make our work possible.
Please help us meet our goal of adding 25 new monthly donors at $25/month. That’s less than $1/day, but it can make a HUGE difference to this community we all love. Become an LCF Community Builder today, by setting up your monthly donation online at www.lyonscf.org/donate.
On Thursday, March 11th, one year after the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed the COVID-19 virus a pandemic, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The bill called the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes $7.25 billion in new money for the small-business loan program known as the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP), $15 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance payments, $25 billion for restaurants and bars, $1.25 billion for shuttered venue operators and $175 million to create a “community navigator” pilot program to increase awareness of and participation in COVID-19 relief programs for business owners currently lacking access.
Regrettably, this financial aid comes too late for four locally owned businesses who have had to close since the pandemic began a year ago. All four businesses received a $1,000 grant from LCF’s Lyons Share Fund in 2020, but the support was ultimately not enough to enable them to keep their doors open. The Lyons Community Foundation is sorry to see these businesses fall victim to the pandemic. The empty storefronts of these brick and mortar businesses on Main Street remind us of the effects of the financial crisis brought on by the ongoing health crisis, and of how critical it is for all of us to support the businesses that have so far survived.
Some recipients of the Lyons Share Fund grants, such as The Stone Cup and Defined Motion, have had to incur more debt by signing up for Emergency Assistance Loans and the Paycheck Protection Plan, all the while losing revenue over the past year. Since the lockdown, The Stone Cup has had to cut back on staff and reduce its hours. Unfortunately, the monthly sales income doesn’t cover the monthly expenses. Please support The Stone Cup during their business hours (8am-1pm) on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Co-owners of Defined Motion, Ali Kishiyama and Jasmine Lok, decided that it was in the community’s best interest to close their dance studio until the St.Vrain Valley School District determined that it was safe for students to return to school four days a week for in-person learning. After using their grant from the Lyons Share Fund to build an outdoor studio, Ali and Jasmine decided to test the waters with a six-week outdoor session limited to their teenage dancers. With classes capped at 8 students, only 40 dancers enrolled in five classes. After surveying families to see how many dancers would feel comfortable dancing in a mask (56% said yes), Ali and Jasmine decided to offer 15 classes with a maximum of 8 dancers per class for another six-week session leading up to Spring Break. Their overall enrollment is only 30% of what it was at its height last year. Before COVID-19 forced them to shut their doors, Defined Motion had a total of 360 enrollments spread out over 40 classes and taking place in two separate buildings. Cancelling their lease for Rogers Hall was not enough. With expenses remaining, both owners have had to forego a salary. The big question for Ali and Jasmine is whether local families will be able to afford to pay for dance lessons for their children. Another litmus test will take place after Spring Break when Defined Motion offers up another six-week session for local students. Jasmine sees their dance studio as, “the only community center where kids can gather outside of school.” She sees dance as vital for our youth. If you’d like your children to be able to participate in dance classes in the fall, you might consider signing them up for dance this Spring so as to send a strong message to Jasmine and Ali that you support their business.
Other local businesses such as Red Canyon Art, Wee Casa Tiny House Resort, Rosey’s Rescues, Western Stars Gallery and Studio, Baer Forestry, Living Arts Floral and Dakota Sage Building have also weathered the pandemic as best they could.
Connie McGuire of Red Canyon Art carefully observed and learned from protocols put in place at the St.Vrain Market and the Redstone Cyclery, both of which were able to stay open as essential businesses during the lockdown. She was able to reopen just in time for Mother’s Day. It felt risky at first but as summer rolled on, she got the sense that people wanted to revert back to some sort of normal. “Fall became quite dicey with the wildfire scares and shutdowns directly affecting customers for Lyons and the vicinity,” Connie reports When December finally arrived, Connie was, “elated to host Lyons people shopping and gifting in one place.” She says, “I truly felt supported by the community and I think we all better understand the concept of community having gone through this.” Connie’s goal is to help locals stay in town for their shopping needs. According to her, “Lyons has the opportunity to keep creating that magic that makes this a special place.”
Chrystal Decoster, proprietor of Western Stars Gallery & Studio, explains that she and her husband David have had to pivot and re-pivot after last Spring’s mandatory shutdown. After closing for six weeks, they altered the flow of traffic, added a sneeze shield and sanitizer at various touch points. Hours have been cut back to only include weekends. Appointments for personal shopping have been added. Chrystal has opted to cut back on orders for new inventory and sell down what is in stock. She says that despite a recent rent increase, they are doing their best to make ends meet and continue a positive trajectory, largely in part to her seeking out, completing and obtaining much needed grant funding. Chrystal points out that what they need are loyal local customers who come in often and let her know their needs and wants, spread the good word to their friends and family and regularly take advantage of their eclectic offerings.
Kenyon Waugh of Wee Casa Tiny House Resort has learned from the uncertainty of the pandemic. During the first three weeks of the statewide lockdown, they experienced mass cancellations and had to come up with enough cash to cover refund requests. Various loans and grants, such as the PPP, the revolving loans fund, etc. all helped them to stay afloat until the summer began. Luckily for them, Colorado families as well as groups of friends wanting to vacation together but live separately came to stay in a tiny home as they appreciated that there were, “no shared hallways, no elevators and everyone had their own kitchen.” Kenyon is happy to announce that, “Wee Casa is planning an expansion to allow for more of these newly discovered guests to visit Lyons.” He sees 2021 as the start of a new growth period for Wee Casa.
Just like the time period post flood, Lyons residents need to band together to support our local businesses. We are very fortunate to have so many services at our doorstep. If we don’t use them, we may lose them. To those businesses who have survived thus far, please hang in there, more federal aid is on its way. To the new businesses looking to set up shop in Lyons, the Lyons Community Foundation would like to welcome you. We look forward to discovering new bread (Moxie Bread Company), new beer (Main Street Brewery) and new products (Solace).
The Stone Cup is open for business from 8am-1pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Defined Motion, aka Mayama recently opened for dance class for children ages 3-18.
Connie McGuire welcomes you at Red Canyon Art on Main Street. Feel free to stop by and browse.
Western Stars Gallery & Studio is one-stop shopping for gifts.
Wee Casa is the world's largest tiny home resort. Choose from 22 different styles!
Dr. David Mencin has lived in Lyons since 2005 and considers there to be no better town or community. He is the Director of Data Services at UNAVCO and a Research Scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Ella Levy has been a Boulder County resident for nearly 20 years. She recently moved to Lyons in search of a tight-knit community, access to the outdoors and music. As a former non-profit fundraising professional, she now specializes as a sales professional in the start-up technology sector.
In this uncertain time of health and economic crisis and political strife, the Lyons Community Foundation wants you to know there is a small advisory board of caring and dedicated volunteers, and a staff member who work hard to raise money to support diverse non-profit groups whose intent is to improve the quality of life and encourage positive change in the greater Lyons area. We do it because we care.
WE CARE about the economic stability of our local restaurants, shops and art galleries, hair salons, auto repair shops, and health care services - as well as many others who make up our business community.
WE CARE about our residents who need food and assistance in time of need.
WE CARE about our musicians and artists and service workers whose ability to make a living has been greatly diminished during this pandemic.
WE CARE about the groups who want to beautify our community, who choose to teach us about the pioneers who began and grew this town, and those who want to encourage us to use plants and methods to support our native ecology, and those who wish to enhance the education of our young people.
WE CARE because we appreciate the essential services, the outstanding entertainment, and the community connection these people provide for us.
WE CARE because these people are our Neighbors and Friends.
We are immensely grateful for the many generous residents who appreciate what we do and helped us come very close to reaching our goal of $30,000 through their monthly and end of year giving. You are our angels, and we need all of YOU so that we can do our work of improving the quality of life, and encouraging positive change in the greater Lyons area. We approach this new year with hope that the health and economic crisis will end, and our community will connect in kindness, compassion and joy!
Happy New Year to all!
Lyons Community Foundation