The Lyons Volunteers (LoV) Board of Directors has announced that LoV will become a new program under the Lyons Emergency & Assistance Fund (LEAF) umbrella. The organizational change should be completed within the next few months, but LoV and LEAF are already coordinating to provide volunteer help in response to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions. The move will minimize administrative expenses, especially insurance costs, and help ensure LoV can continue to provide volunteer help to Lyons residents and to the Town of Lyons.
LoV was organized as a grassroots effort to coordinate the many individuals, disaster relief organizations, and charity groups who came to town wanting to help residents and the Town of Lyons recover after the 2013 flood. Edward Kean, one of LoV’s founders, said, “Seeing devastated flooded homeowners and massive visiting volunteer groups wanting to jump in, we had to organize the matching of needs to assistance. At the same time, we also had amazing local volunteers, including LifeBridge Church, and the result was the formation of Lyons Volunteers in a project management role.”
That effort was originally under the oversight of the Town of Lyons, which allowed for receipt and disbursement of donations and grants to buy tools, equipment, and supplies for the volunteers. In 2014, through the efforts of LoV’s leadership, LoV was incorporated as a Colorado non-profit corporation and also was approved by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity.
This structure allowed LoV to become a stand-alone entity, primarily devoted to helping residents with flood recovery efforts. LoV has directly provided and coordinated thousands of hours of volunteer labor to answer flood-affected residents’ help requests, supplying tools and building materials where needed. Now, more than six years after the flood, there are only a few residents still trying to finish projects.
LoV’s focus has shifted to providing volunteer labor for community service and community beautification projects. For example, LoV has a “weed posse” group that helps the Town of Lyons control and eliminate noxious weeds and invasive species by hand pulling them during the spring to fall growing season, thus eliminating the need to use herbicides on many acres of Town property each year. LoV volunteers also helped Habitat for Humanity build the affordable townhomes at the east end of Park Street.
Recently, LoV built the Santa Sleigh for the 2019 Parade of Lights float, which will be used in many parades to come. LoV is helping the Rocky Mountain Botanic Garden non-profit organization construct the Lyons Botanic Garden at the former Foothills Mobile Home Park property now owned by the Town of Lyons.
LoV also helps Lyons meet its Green Star Community/Zero Waste goals at Lyons’ Zero Waste events like the Outdoor Games and Lyons Cleanup Day, collects scrap metal and block styrofoam (waste that cannot be dropped off at the single-stream recycling bins) from residents approximately monthly, and delivers these recyclables to the CHaRM facility in Boulder for recycling.
In the spring and summer of this year, LoV intends to help the Town of Lyons with several maintenance projects, such as repairing and staining the dog park fence and refurbishing the archway at the Fourth Avenue footbridge to Bohn Park.
To finalize this transition, LoV will terminate its Colorado non-profit corporation status and close out its 501(c)(3) charity and transfer its remaining funds to LEAF. Mike Karavas, LoV Board Chairman, said, “We know there is a continuing need for volunteer help in the community, and LEAF serves so many people who need help. We think this will be a really good fit for our two organizations.”
Lory Barton, LEAF Executive Director, said, “LoV and LEAF leadership have been talking over the last few months about how we could work together to help LEAF clients and the community by identifying situations where volunteer labor, tools, and materials are needed, and deploying LoV’s resources to get the job done. LoV will maintain its identity and continue to provide volunteer services to individuals and the community and be a repository of expertise to respond on a larger scale if there is another natural disaster affecting Lyons.”
LoV will retain its identity through its website, volunteer database, and leadership, but will now operate under the LEAF banner. Those who need the kind of help LoV can provide will still be able to go to the website and fill out the on-line help request form.
Rick DiSalvo and his wife Bonnie have lived in the Lyons Confluence neighborhood since 2004. Rick has served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Lyons Volunteers since 2014.