Lyons is known for having a family atmosphere… people helping people. This shone last Thursday, August 18, when Lyons Emergency & Assistance Fund (LEAF) put on a little get together in the Lyons Community Library’s community room. This year LEAF combined the annual appreciation and award parties to thank their many volunteers and to thank their donors. It was an old-fashion supper of BBQ hotdogs, chips and watermelon. If you were among the participants, you probably found that you could hardly walk two steps without seeing someone you knew. I also noticed that many of the people there crossed over membership in multiple town nonprofits, either working for them, or donating to them.
When Director Lory Barton got in front of the screen to make announcements, it was like home pictures, where the person in charge kept showing the wrong picture on the screen, or exposed surprises before they were ready. Well, everyone got a kick out of it, and just took one more sip of wine.
The individuals, couples and groups who got the “Thank You” awards came to the front of the room, and took about 10 seconds to shake Lory’s hand, grabbed their award, and quickly left. No speeches. No lingering for a proper posed camera shot. Proof that no one was volunteering or donating for any glory.
But then came the anticipated surprise announcement. Lory had been floating around the room, chatting, with a big smile stuck on her face. Now she was able to let people know that LEAF had a new location to conduct its work in. Yes, right here in town. The “brown shed” (as it came to be referred to) where the Sheriff’s offices were on Park Street, would become the LEAF offices.
The brown shed is located next door to, and east of Town Hall, and across the street, south of the Lyons Community Library. The building was vacated by the officers the day before the party. The Sheriffs’ offices and vehicles will be located in the old Depot space, which they considered a perfect fit. No remodeling or additions needed.
By signing the lease with the Town of Lyons on this building, LEAF would be saving around two-thirds (66 percent) in costs vs. taking over the old Depot building, which they would have had to renovate and expand with an additional new structure. The brown shed currently has some small offices, a reception area, and a very large garage area. All will be converted into a simple, modern facility. Architect Paul Legan, Aspect Architecture, has joined the staff and will be doing the architectural design for $1.
There will be several months of planning, design, and permitting; but they anticipate the construction will begin by the end of the year. After that, it might take about a year to finish the work. Much of this depends on donations from the public. Yes, it is going to take many thousands of dollars to make this dream a reality.
As you can see LEAF is already keeping on eye on costs, with a more casual, and a combined thank you party, and its light summer menu. It began more than a year ago when they started getting larger numbers of people applying for aid due to the pandemic, and also the increase in the cost of items for the Food Pantry due to inflation. Watch out for a new campaign to raise money for the building renovation costs, but your funds for daily expenses are needed now. (See our July ARTICLE which has a breakdown of where funds are being spent)
The LEAF Administrative office, the Wellness & Mental Health office, and the Food Pantry will be there. But, the space will also have rooms available to be used by other Town nonprofits. This would include the Lyons Arts and Humanities Commission.
The entrance door will face a patio sitting area on the east side of the building. It will include a large vegetable garden bringing fresh food to the Food Pantry. There will be plenty of parking; and, it will be more private than the current Main Street location.
The two-block area is developing into a sort of Assistance & Wellness Center… with Town hall, the library, the sheriff offices, and the LEAF building.
Not only do these facilities offer help to the public, but there are three large areas for people to grab a seat and either rest, or gather with friends. Did you know that Town hall has a beautiful, large sandstone seating area, with tables and rock seating, with native flowers, and it is lit up at night? The Depot is surrounded by a large lawn, a picnic table, or you can bring a chair, or sit on the grass under the shady trees. And, of course, the Library has a large sandstone patio and picnic bench. Plus, one day, there will be the LEAF patio with seating, and vegetation.
Yes, these are seldom used places of natural beauty, shady trees, green grass, summer breezes. Maybe you have a group that would like gather and read poetry? Or have a moms and babies picnic? Come on by and take a look. Thank you to LEAF for adding to this little wellness oasis in our town.