by Jennifer Bradford
Outreach United Resource (OUR) Center, a Family Resource Center, provides critical services to residents of greater Longmont to become and remain self-sufficient. Since 1986, their programs offer a “hand-up not a hand-out” by providing food, clothing, training, childcare, direct financial assistance, and resources to those who need it. OUR Center filled the gap in the community identified by the Longmont Ministerial Association. Though OUR Center works very closely with many churches, it does not have a religious affiliation.
Like so many organizations, the greatest obstacle in the last 2 years has been the pandemic. It began as crisis management: how can we provide services when everything is in lock down? Now it is the challenge of finding staff to meet the increased needs of the community. Marc Cowell, Executive Director since 2019, says “[OUR Center’s] focus is on keeping people in their homes and responding to the COVID pandemic. There is an elevated need for services since 2020 … and that need is not tapering off.” Before the pandemic, OUR Center helped prevent households from becoming homeless by giving out on average $350,000, primarily in rent and utility assistance. In 2021 that amount was $1.4 million.
Marc says he is most proud that OUR Center “never closed our doors. The team found the resolve to quickly pivot and find out ways to continue service – remote, outside – whatever it took to continue safely.”
For those who wish to support the work of OUR Center there are several ways to get involved. Financial donations are always welcome to support rent and utility assistance for OUR Center clients. Food donations are also needed, particularly protein, fresh vegetables, and hygiene products.
For those who wish for more active involvement, there are many volunteer opportunities including helping in the pantry, kitchen, and preschool. The volunteer experience can be tailored to fit your wants and strengths. It can be a one-time experience or ongoing, for individuals or groups. There are also 2 upcoming events open to the public: on March 4 & 5 the Interfaith Quilters Annual Show and Sale, and on June 11 the Empty Bowls Fundraiser.