Reflections from the past five years and how the landscape of local philanthropy has evolved
Article recently appeared in the Redstone Review
Five years ago this week, a historic life-altering event literally roared through Lyons. For anyone who lived through the floods, it was and is an experience we will never forget. We lived stranded on our five islands, we were evacuated in many cases by helicopter and under duress, we lived in temporary housing, and our kids went to school in a temporary building in the middle of Longmont. Many of us still refer to the families we stayed with as our “flood families” and events in town and in our lives are referenced as either “before the flood” or “after the flood”.
During these dark uncertain times, the best of our neighbors and the outside community surfaced. People reached out from all over the region and the country to see how they could help. Schools wrote letters to our kids, universities donated backpacks and supplies, and money poured into the Lyons Community Foundation to offer aid. Because Lyons had its own foundation, we were able to accept this type of support and in turn began distributing funds within three months following the flood. In all, LCF granted over $1.1 million in flood recovery aid that supported everything from helping businesses get through months of not being open, to individuals who needed a hand just getting through the massive damage that many sustained.
As the months and years have worn on, the demands and needs in town have changed but have only grown. In granting efforts, LCF has shifted from immediate, urgent needs in flood recovery, to other more persistent, ongoing needs. After the flood money was depleted, LCF has focused more on the ongoing, evolving causes in Lyons. The food pantry and now LEAF which is our public safety net, was founded well before the flood, but its customer base has continued to grow. LEAF has been the largest single recipient of LCF funding over the past 10 years. Our population of residents who don’t have enough to eat, need housing help, and are still struggling to recover and thrive continues to grow.
Other causes spawned by the flood, including the Lyons Volunteers and Lyons Leos youth service organization are great examples of the momentum of community service and local philanthropy being propelled. LCF was able to fund these groups as they had their start and continue to perform a tremendous amount community service in a wide variety of settings. Since the flood, they have assisted in everything from digging out residents homes to now aiding in building the new Habitat for Humanity housing.
At the same time, Lyons Community Foundation continues to fund projects that cultivate the unique culture that we love and appreciate as a community. Annual granting pays for things like the Sandstone Summer Concert Series and the Lyons Arts and Humanities Council, a champion in nurturing our strong community of artists. The Town of Lyons Parks and Recreation department has its hands full in rebuilding our parks, but LCF funding allows for things like Good Old Days, Lyons Outdoor Games and the Holiday Parade of lights to continue.
While residents are focused now on such a wide variety of causes, it is assuring to know that LCF’s core mission of creating a culture of giving continues. Our students are supported through scholarships and academic enhancement granting. Kids and adults are empowered to make a difference. Our human services groups are given a lift up in their efforts benefiting all of us as a community, and projects that otherwise would not occur are able to get off the ground.
As we go into our 11th year of funding Community Support Granting we are looking forward to seeing what ideas and projects local residents are planning. Applications for these annual grants have just closed and funds will be awarded in the next several months. In order to pay for this continued work, we host an annual gala whose proceeds provide funds for all future granting. This event will take place on Friday, November 16th at Lionscrest Manor. We will be debuting an exciting new format for the gala and but will include important elements and participation of our local community including the fabulous Mayama dance team. Please SAVE THE DATE to plan to attend this event.
The Lyons Community Foundation would like to take this moment in time to recognize the heroes in our community. During the flood, we saw our local police, firefighters, and other responders work along ordinary residents in acting heroically. Public works employees performed rescues and ensured there were not more casualties. We witnessed service groups come from all over the country to help our town rebuild and recover. We watched our neighbors reaching out to literally dig their fellow residents from under the mud and debris. Community members have stepped up to form service groups, to serve in public office, to lead our town governments. None of these jobs are easy and are quite often thankless. We are fortunate to live in a town where residents really care about one another. We are humbled by the opportunity to serve the Greater Lyons Area.
Lyons Community Foundation