Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) has been meeting the needs of economically disadvantaged residents of northern El Paso County for 38 years. Originally founded as a food pantry in 1984 by a group of citizens concerned for the wellbeing of the growing number of neighbors living in or near poverty, TLC quickly grew in response to its clients' evolving needs.
In a newsletter printed in December 1985 by St. Peter Catholic Church of Monument (a primary partner and supporter of TLC) noted that, among the various services provided in November 1985 that 10 families (28 people) were fed; $233.15 in utilities' assistance was distributed; and, 47 Thanksgiving meals were provided to 77 people valued at $564. By 2003, Tri-Lakes Cares had served 690 individuals and distributed approximately 60,000 lbs of donated food.
Steady growth is reflected when you look at our annual report for Fiscal Year 2019 (October 1, 2018 - September 30, 2019) where nearly 225, 000 lbs of food and sundries were distributed through our Food Insecurity Program; $143,100 in rent, mortgage and utilities assistance was provided to 126 households; 369 households received holiday food bags for Thanksgiving and Christmas along with gifts to 194 youth and 87 senior citizens (gifts valued at $32,846).
This growth also necessitated expansion of space. Once housed in the basement of the Lewis-Palmer Administration (School District 38) building (after residing several years in a smaller space), in March 2003 a move was necessitated due to growth within the school district. It was quickly realized that Tri-Lakes Cares needed its own building and a capital campaign was launched. Due to the generosity of the community, Tri-Lakes Cares moved into its own space in June 2007.
In recent years, Tri-Lakes Cares responded to both the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 and the Black Forest Fire in 2013 providing services to those displaced by the fire including food, clothing, household goods, financial assistance, and referrals to other organizations and agencies. The Black Forest Fire in particular was challenging since it was in our "own backyard." But, with partnerships like Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado and the support of the local community we were able to provide 638 individuals (377 adults, 177 youth and 84 senior citizens) with over $97,845 donated inkind goods and services; and, $141,583 in financial assistance. This was accomplished while still delivering and maintaining services to our regular clients.
COVID-19 Pandemic: In March 2020, in response to guidelines issues by local and state governments, TLC worked to protect the health and well-being of staff, volunteers and clients by changing its operational protocols. All services were removed to a remote service with the ability to place grocery orders for the Help Yourself Market and the Pantry via an online Google form or via paper forms delivered to a lock box. Case Managers continued to work with clients to provide financial assistance as needed via email and telephone. Most of those TLC serves were / are impacted by business closures in industries such as restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues, clients are seeking more financial assistance as their household income has been reduced. In August 2021 demand for services remained high, especially with the uncertainty of the rent eviction moratorium and the slow opening of businesses that closed during the pandemic.
In 2022, we began to contemplate re-opening for in-person services. We realized it as the perfect opportunity to restructure our downstairs Market area. Following the construction project in which walls were removed to create a more spacious area, new front doors were installed and additional shelving was put in place to expand the Market area, we re-opened in June 2022.
In 2018, Tri-Lakes Cares was named "Nonprofit of the Year" by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, achieving that honor also In 2010 & 2012. Since 2016, TLC has consistently earned the "Platinum" status. We have also been distinguished as a "Top-Rated Nonprofit" on greatnonprofits.com since 2013.