Tri-Lakes Cares is a community-based, volunteer-supported, resource center whose mission is to improve people's lives through emergency, self-sufficiency, and relief programs.
Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) has been meeting the needs of economically disadvantaged residents of northern El Paso County for 36 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.
Today, TLC remains a grassroots organization - in fact, many of our programs continue to be managed by our many volunteers - operating a host of programs designed to help clients make ends meet, persevere through an emergency, and progress towards self-sufficiency. These include 6 Food Insecurity Programs, programs, housing and utilities assistance, a Neighborhood Nurse Center in partnership with Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, post-secondary education assistance, youth enrichment endeavors, self-sufficiency programs (such as "Getting Ahead" and "Individual Self-Sufficiency Plan"), and so much more.
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.
We are grateful that after more than three decades, TLC continues to provide vital, comprehensive human services to hundreds of families annually with a paid staff (12 staff members) and approximately 200 committed volunteers.
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. As of June 2020, housing assistance requests (rent/mortgage) have increased by 275% from June 2019 and utility assistance requests have increased 300% from June 2019. TLC expects this trend to continue to the end of 2019 and beyond.
From a TLC Case Manager: "Client (name withheld to protect privacy) wanted me to share how much she appreciated the groceries she received last month - she could not believe how much she was given and was so grateful. She shared that she is impressed and appreciative of the work TLC is doing, especially given how challenging things are (and with everyone being in a "tizzy"). She said thank you several times." May 2020
Note on Grocery Order Form: "I have 4 male teenagers. They are hungry and I've lost almost my entire income due to covid 19. We are grateful for anything and appreciate everything very much. Thank you." April 2020
Volunteer comment: "I am a volunteer at Tri Lakes Cares. This organization shares so much with the clients in it's service area. I consider myself fortunate to be associated with Tri Lakes Cares. I enjoy interacting with the clients who come to TLC's for their needs. The staff are very professional & caring. The staff are some of the kindest people I have ever met. I consider TLC's to provide a much needed service in this area of El Paso County." February 2020