A Word from the Executive Director
I speak frequently around Lawrence. One of the most common questions I am asked is, “How can we help?” We are so grateful for the assistance and generosity of the Lawrence community, so I try to think very carefully about how I answer this question. It sometimes feels like we need literally everything, from money and time to clothing and baby wipes! That said, I’d like to focus here on two “big-picture” needs — affordable housing and mental health services. Every individual who comes to LCS has a different story, but many guests face two challenges: the scarcity of affordable housing and the difficulty of obtaining adequate mental health services. There are no easy fixes, and the solutions will have to come from the united efforts of the community, from every segment of it, including government, churches, not-for-profit agencies, and the private sector. As I hope you know, every day our robust case management process provides the framework and accountability to connect our guests with the services and resources they need. But we do more. In order to expand access to housing, we work directly with the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority and numerous local landlords to find housing that fits our guests’ wide range of situations. In order to expand access to mental health, we work closely with Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center to get guests assessments followed by treatment in the form of individual and group therapy and medications. Our Summer Fundraising Appeal is now underway. Your support makes it possible for us to be part of the solution, and we can’t do it without you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We hope you enjoy reading this newsletter, and if you would like further information, as ever please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5K Home Run 2016
This year’s 5K Home Run charity race, which took place on May 30, was another success. We are pleased to report that the event drew its highest number of participants ever, with approximately 420 members of the community joining us for a morning of fun and fitness in support of the Lawrence Community Shelter and Family Promise of Lawrence. We’d like to thank Family Promise for their great partnership, and of course a huge thank you goes to everyone — all the runners, volunteers, and supporters — who came out and took part!
Town Hall Meeting
The Lawrence Community Shelter is committed to transparency and dialogue. Our first Town Hall Meeting took place on July 20 at the Union Pacific Depot. 47 members of the community attended. The meeting began with a status report from Executive Director Trey Meyer. Following a period for questions, attendees broke into small groups. Participants in each were asked to discuss what brought them to the meeting, what mattered to them most as they considered the role of the shelter, and how they envisioned good communication between the shelter and the community. The groups then reconvened, and a discussion of various subject ensued, including: the circumstances that typically bring individuals to the shelter, the amount of time that most individuals spend there, the services provided by the shelter, the availability of affordable housing, the outcomes for those who have left the shelter, and the kinds of support available thereafter. Our next Town Hall Meeting will be on Wednesday, October 19, 6-8 pm. We hope to see you there!
Welcome to Our New AmeriCorps Housing Coordinator
Bobbi Frederick comes from the Hunkpati Dakota Nation of Fort Thompson, SD and also lived on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, ND. Having moved to Lawrence in 2012, she earned her BA in Indigenous and American Indian Studies, with an emphasis on Social Welfare, from Haskell Indian Nations University in the spring of 2015, and she has recently been accepted into the Master of Social Work program at the University of Kansas. As our new Housing Coordinator through the AmeriCorps program of United Way, Bobbi is thrilled about joining the LCS and the wonderful people who work there. She enjoys the simple things in life, including cooking for family and friends, laughing and cracking jokes, traveling to dance powwow when she can, and sitting down with anyone to have a conversation. Welcome to the LCS family, Bobbi!
A Guest’s Perspective, by Jeremy Parker: No Longer a Prisoner
My name is Jeremy Parker. I have served over five years in the Kansas Correctional System. But I have been a prisoner of my own mind since I was old enough to think for myself. I am an addict. I am an alcoholic. I have a lot of problems. I came to the realization that I have held myself captive. I am no different than any other person with a desire to fulfill a meaningful purpose here on earth. Albeit, it wasn’t until I truly got to know myself that I was able to face and forgive every shady fragment of my existence. Then, like a trickle building into a flood, my perspective began to evolve from selfishness to selflessness. It came slowly at first, but with practice and determination, an awareness that I did not know existed opened up. For the first time in my adult life, I have been sober for an extended period of time with a motivation that comes from within me instead of from some external source. There still exist external factors that contribute to my resolution, but there is also a song that sings inside me now that indicates the mind I once thought from no longer has control of my life. I know I explained very few specifics of how this all worked for me, but sometimes the clearest answer can be heard, even if it isn’t spoken.
A Volunteer’s Experience, by Sydney Isroff
One of my first memories was seeing my mother and father at the shelter they ran in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Many years, their big annual fundraiser landed on my birthday, so that’s what I’d spend my birthday doing. It never occurred to me until I was a little older that this was not how everyone spent their birthdays! As I grew up, I realized that giving back had become an important part of myself and my life. So when I moved to Kansas for school, I knew I needed to find the right place to volunteer. After looking around, I decided that the Lawrence Community Shelter would be a perfect fit: families were kept together, there was an effective director in place, the staff members respected and cared about the guests, and the programs were having positive outcomes. Now that I’ve been a volunteer for a while, I feel good about being part of a team that gives back to the community and produces real results. I know I made the right choice and look forward to continuing my work with the LCS family.
In the News
What We Do
Unique individuals served: 90 / night
Meals: 196 / day
Unique individuals served: 372
93 individuals, including 5 families, have found permanent housing this year
The Section 8 housing choice voucher program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. This year thus far, 40 individuals and 21 families have completed applications for Section 8 Housing.
Employment and Education Report
114 individuals found employment this year
35 individuals currently at the shelter are employed
9 individuals are currently actively seeking employment
5 individuals are currently working towards a high school diploma and/or certification
Town Hall Meeting, October 19