Bold vision from a bold city leader

Mayor Adam Paul

Lakewood Connects exists to merge, mentor and mobilize faith communities for meaningful partnerships with businesses, government and schools in Lakewood, Colorado. A key part of this vision is developing partnerships between churches and government. City and County Government leaders and organizations set the boundaries, strategies and responsibilities to sustain great ideas and programs. In Lakewood one of the most important political leaders to develop a relationship with is the Mayor, Adam Paul.

Adam and I have worked together for over 7 years. He lives in the Green Mountain neighborhood near the Lakewood Church where I pastored for 15 years, and we worked together on projects like the “Foothills Field of Dreams” at Foothills Elementary School in 2012-2013.

Recently the Mayor spoke at Lakewood Church along with former Mayor Steve Burkholder on the topic of “Committed to our Community.”

Each year the Mayor delivers the “state of the city” address at a lunch meeting in front of 400 people and a TV audience. I was fortunate to attend this year’s lunch Thursday March 8. It’s a big deal that the leader of the city leads the city. But it is more important that the leader of the city leads the city towards excellent, noble, and visionary goals and dreams that touch on the needs of everyone in the city and at the same time leads the city to a successful future. Lakewood is fortunate to have a person who is capable and bold enough to lead the city with that kind of vision.

Mayor Paul shared that the slogan for the City of Lakewood for 2018 is “Boldness!” There could not be a truer slogan or task ahead for any leader of any city in America today! Lakewood faces tremendous challenges in areas like aging population, homelessness, affordable housing, smart growth, its relationship with the County, its relationship with neighboring cities, and bringing together all of the diversity in the city to agree on a clear future goal and commit to working together to achieve that important common destiny!

Mayor Paul said his “one thing” for the year personally was childhood hunger. Near to that topic was affordable housing. During the lunch address he highlighted the work done by Pastor Drew Ross of Bethlehem Lutheran and their new Mobile Shower called “Living Well” and Principal Esther Valdez at Rose Stein Elementary. Both Drew and Esther are close friends and partners with Lakewood Connects!

Lakewood Connects is blessed to be a partner supporting Mayor Paul and everyone else leading in our community! It will definitely take boldness to envision the future and forge a pathway towards it! We plan to be here and appreciate your partnership and support! BOLD in 2018!

What If?

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There are challenges and problems in our society that can be solved… but never are, because they require collaboration, partnership and across-the-aisle civil conversation.

The Lakewood Faith Coalition is a network of faith communities that partner to serve together. They are currently developing Support Teams for each of the eight, Title 1 elementary schools in the city. (Title 1 is a federal designation for a school that has 65%+ of its students receiving supplemental food assistance.) A “Support Team” is comprised of community members who meet regularly with school leaders to assess needs and strategize solutions.

Recently, Lakewood City Connector Reg Cox was visiting a Title 1 elementary school in Lakewood to help build the Support Team there. He was meeting with an administrator, the Principal, and a faith leader who will chair that school’s team. Each school hopes that a relationship with the Coalition will lead to improved academic scores, lower absences, and decreased discipline issues. At this school Reg was informed that they are working with 50 homeless families. 50!

The Coalition could recruit 100 tutors but may only barely move academic scores at this school because students from homeless families face debilitating struggles that disproportionately offset the progress of the rest of the student body! These homeless families are connected to Jefferson County Human Services and other services, yet without stable housing the work of these services can only have minimal impact on improving their lives.

What if we solved this part of the larger homeless need in our county?

  • What if we had a network of property owners who partnered with the school system? What if Jefferson County Human Services, nonprofits, and county and civic leaders worked together to develop strategies to get these families in stable housing?
  • What if these families were housed in small to medium sized housing facilities in neighborhoods throughout the school district to help facilitate commutes to school, work, and transportation?
  • What if these families were rewarded with stable housing as a condition for continuing to work with support from various agencies prescribed to help them?
  • What if property owners who wanted to help solve community needs were able to use their properties for housing and could also make a modest profit to pay back investors?
  • What if Jeffco was the first major district in the country to house all of its homeless families?

What are some next steps in making this dream a reality?

  • County Leadership: In order to move this from a dream to a plan, county government leaders should begin this conversation, because they have the ability to reach beyond city boundaries to unite government, business, and school leaders to work on this need. Lakewood Connects is currently seeking advice and support for this brainstorm.
  • Model: We need a model of an affordable housing unit/facility with a modest number of families to start with. Rick Roberts and the Legacy Grace Community Development Corporation is working to purchase and develop an apartment facility for homeless housing. Legacy Grace might be the model project to test, learn from, and build on in Jefferson, County. Lakewood Connects is actively supporting Rick in this dream.
  • Story: We need a strong PR strategy to tell stories and celebrate successes of students, families, property owners and neighborhoods in order to help shape the public narrative of affordable housing. Lakewood Connects is helping spread this idea to key leaders who might make it happen.

Community, Kids, and Whiz Kid Christmas Dinner 2017!

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Each of the past six school years members from three Green Mountain Neighborhood area churches (Lakewood Church of Christ, Concordia Lutheran, and Faith Mountain Church) have partnered with neighbors from the Green Mountain Civic Association and other community volunteers to support students at Foothills Elementary School here in the Green Mountain neighborhood of west Lakewood. The goal of this collaboration of neighbors, churches and friends is an afterschool tutoring program called Whiz Kids.

Whiz Kids has been changing lives in positive ways and operating in Denver for over 25 years. The afterschool tutoring program is faith based and uses community volunteers for one-on-one tutoring for students. In six years the impact of Whiz Kids at Foothills Elementary has been tremendous: academic scores, enrollment, teacher morale and family engagement have all improved dramatically!

A high point of our Foothills Whiz Kid program year is an annual Christmas party held at Lakewood Church of Christ each December. On December the 7, we held our 6th and biggest dinner event yet! Over 130 were in attendance!  Students, their families, tutors, teachers, Santa, and community members attended and enjoyed an incredible meal, entertainment, dessert, a blessing from Principal Josh Shapiro, gifts and a turkey raffle! The energy in the room was joyful and festive!

The goal of the dinner is to bless these families with one of the best meals they will receive all year and celebrate the hard work of our students. When you support Lakewood Connects you literally change the future for 100s of students across Lakewood, Colorado!

This year the spirit of community was demonstrated when two families with graduated Whiz Kids came back to help with the event. Sometimes you don’t realize how important a program is to someone until you ask them to help with it after they have moved on from it. Their energy for serving at the dinner party was an unexpected highlight of the event for the tutors and community volunteers and helped us all realize that the sacrifices of what we’re doing here continues to bless and make an impact long into the future.

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Lakewood Connects – Leading Leaders

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A community is only as strong as the strength of its leaders! Wednesday November 8, 20 leaders met on the campus of Colorado Christian University to participate in the first “Lakewood Leadership Lunch.” Lakewood Connects and Thrivent Financial partnered to create the event which merged faith, education, government, nonprofit and business leaders for the purpose of growing the leadership capital in the city of Lakewood.

The event featured presentation clips from the 2016 Willow Creek Leadership conference called, “Leadership Summit.” Our first clip was a 7 minute dose of challenge from Willow Creek senior pastor Bill Hybels. He challenged that the “passion level“ of the leader sets the passion pace of their organization. He reminded us that it is no one’s responsibility to fill the “passion bucket” of the leader, other than that leader. So…what am I doing to keep my passion bucket full?

The second presentation was by bestselling author and researcher Dr. Travis Bradberry. His book called; “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” challenges us to understand the difference between IQ, Personality and EQ, or “Emotional Intelligence.” Where IQ and Personality are set our emotional intelligence can grow, morph and improve thus directly impacting our success and leadership effectiveness. We can change for the better and this presentation and subsequent discussions sharpened our resolve and set the pathway for these steps in our lives.

Finally, we were taught by the world leadership equipping leader John C. Maxwell. Maxwell aimed us at “The One Thing to Get Right.” Leaders add value to people. This call was convicting and motivating and his stories perfectly illustrated how vital and important adding value is. Leaders change people for the better and that change is THE key for positively transforming our world.

Attending the event were leaders from the largest Chamber of Commerce organization in Jefferson, County, a former Lakewood mayor, a leader of a government supporting foundation, nonprofit organization leaders and many other kinds of leaders all working together to build up one another’s leadership strengths and confidence. Fact is many of these leaders would have disagreed strongly with one another about many specific topics…but in this venue they all grew closer to one another and closer to their highest leadership potential.

Lakewood Connects is working in many ways to connect leaders to leaders and leaders to the possible community initiatives that will never be realized until we work on these problems together!

A week in the life of Lakewood Connects July 11—15, 2017

Lakewood Connects: Mobilizing churches for effective service in the community

178Monday
• Met with the new church relations director at Lutheran Family Services and helped her make plans for networking with city, school, and church leaders in Lakewood.
• Mentoring time with a local pastor. This is one of the core goals for Lakewood Connects as we work to strengthen faith leaders.
• Facilitated community connections so that 40 teen counselors from a local camp for inner city kids could have food and a nice place to meet for their celebration dinner.

 

181Pictured: Teen counselors from Zocalo camp enjoying a great meal provided by Lakewood leader Bill Marino/Olive Garden/Bill Marino, Lakewood leader from the Lakewood – West Colfax Business Improvement District. The dinner was held at Bethlehem Lutheran church who offered their serving hall for free. Lakewood Connects works to link business, church, neighborhood, nonprofits, government and schools together so everyone benefits from partnership. When we pull together nothing is impossible!


183Tuesday
• Linked a new church plant with Green Mountain High School’s principal so the church can meet there this fall. Relationships make all the difference for helping link churches to schools!
• Gathered and led pastors from the Lakewood Church Network for prayer at the Cove Bar. Sometimes church leaders return to the places Jesus used to minister in!
• Participated in the nonprofit roundtable with West Chamber of Commerce. It’s important that Lakewood Connects participates in community wide vision and helps build networks for excellence and leadership across the aisle separating us.


Wednesday
• Prepared the Jeffco Human Services “Power of Partnership” program for database support. Power of Partnership links government, churches, and nonprofits for collaborative service networking in Jeffco.
• Met with city Affordable Housing Leaders to better communicate what the most vulnerable populations in the city need now and in the future. This will be one of our most important problems to solve!
• Consulted with leaders of an apartment ministry as they seek to help more families in needy neighborhoods.


Thursday189
• Consulted with leaders of local Lakewood Service Clubs as they form a new network aimed at serving the city together. Their first priority is helping Title 1 elementary schools. Pictured here, leaders from the group look at art tables in Rose Stein Elementary that were constructed by prisoners. Rose Stein will start their first reopened school year with a team of local churches, service clubs, businesses and neighborhood association partners helping the school in the years to come.
• Chaired the Lakewood Faith Coalition Team’s regular meeting. The Faith Coalition is a network of over 50 faith communities in the city serving together!


201Friday
• Met with the Lakewood Connects Action Team to plan next steps. A top priority is fund raising plans for this fall.
• Linked Thrivent Financial with Rose Stein Elementary. Pictured here are Principal Esther Valdez and Thrivent’s Tim Tier. Thrivent provided books for the school and is also researching ways to participate in a landscaping project at and for the school in the next 3 weeks! When Tim left the school that morning, principal Valdez literally jumped up in the air with excitement! Lakewood Connects is bringing joy to Lakewood!

Reg’s Activities January through May 2017 (What does Reg do everyday?)

What does Reg do each week? My time each week is focused like this:

  • 20% connecting to pastors and church leaders
  • 20% meeting with business and community leaders/leading groups
  • 20% service activities like Whiz Kids or Lakewood church involvement
  • 10% Jeffco Human Services – Power of Partnership
  • 10% Attending events
  • 10% meetings with school district, county, city leaders/serving on boards
  • 10% administration/organization

Each week I meet with at least 2 – 5 pastors. There are around 30-33 churches that are connected to or active in the Lakewood Church Network and another 20 in the Lakewood Faith Coalition. My goals in these meetings is to consult, encourage, admonish and support. I’m also preaching regularly at churches in the network across Lakewood.

Each month I organize and lead a prayer gathering for pastors from the Church Network. Usually 15-25 faith leaders, Christian therapists and others meet at one of the network churches to pray. We believe prayer is the catalyst that facilitates positive action in Lakewood.

In addition to monthly prayer I lead the Faith Coalition steering committee bi-monthly as they focus on projects and programs related to collaborative church service to the community.

In addition to these groups I serve on committees related to education at the School District Ed Center, meet regularly with other education leaders, city leaders, county leaders and business partners who are aimed at serving in the city at various degrees. These meetings are enjoyable for me and are fueling much of the project direction Lakewood Connects is involved with.

Each week during the school year I support the faith based afterschool tutoring program at Foothills Elementary called Whiz Kids. I’m there Tuesday and Thursday evenings for 2 ½ hours. I also attend Lakewood Church of Christ staff meetings and support programs linked to their community connections ministries. This allows me to nurture the relationship connection between the church and neighborhood, which is the central spiritual passion of my work.

I’m currently serving part time at Jeffco Human Services on reinvigorating their Power of Partnership program which links the county Human Services department to all the nonprofits and churches in the county. This links to various events, meetings and connections that bring together church, government, school, nonprofits and neighborhood associations to perform service together. This is wildly satisfying to participate in.

Last, I don’t do enough admin/organization work as evidenced by a newsletter coming out 3 months late! That’s where I could use some help! Website, newsletters and database management! If you can help please contact me or Amy. Thanks!

 

 

How can I help Lakewood Connects?

There are a few ways you can help us at Lakewood Connects:

  1. Prayer – Lakewood Connects strives to enhance the “brand” church in Lakewood Colorado through linking churches and church members to effective partnership service opportunities with secular and civic leaders in the community. This is effectively a faith building effort and we can use your prayer! Pray for opportunities to make Jesus famous in meetings and projects!
  2. Financial – As a nonprofit the entire operation depends on financial support from friends and supporters like you. Some funds are needed now for building and improving our database, website, newsletters, office supplies, an office, pastor retreats and program needs for a few of the local Title 1 elementary schools. We are always blessed by your gifts and are pursuing support to complete our salary needs and an additional $10,000 for organizational growth plans. If you are in a position to help we are ready to put your gift to work!
  3. Fundraising events in the fall – This fall we will design and host a few fundraising events. If you would like to help Lakewood Connects Board or leadership plan, host or support an event please email Reg and Amy. We will post information on these events in upcoming newsletters.
  4. Webpage development – up to now volunteers including Courtney Drysdale and Don Scanga have led Lakewood Connects webpage development. The webpage helps tell our story and connects folks to our work. We are discussing developing a more robust and professional web presence and a supporter has donated funds for this. If someone in the Denver area had expertise to coach us/help on this that would be appreciated. Please email Reg or Amy.
  5. Newsletter development – obviously Reg is struggling to balance too many spinning plates and regular communication with supporters has fallen by the wayside. If you would like to help Reg and Amy develop regular monthly newsletters please contact us via email.
  6. Supplies for Rose Stein Elementary – Reg is working with a principal of a reopened Title 1 elementary in Lakewood named; Rose Stein. The school needs classroom books, library books, PE equipment and Art supplies before August 2017. We are collaborating with the Jeffco Schools Foundation and they have set up a website to list specific school needs. Click on: https://loveourschools.communityfunded.net/, then on the right side you will see lists of schools and needs. Rose Stein is listed more than once…please donate directly here.

*The picture is of the empty library at Rose Stein elementary…Lakewood Connects is partnering with the Jeffco Schools Foundation to get the supplies this school needs before August 2017! Please Help!

The Power of Partnership and Jeffco Human Services

In every County in the U.S. there is a Government office that coordinates services for people in need that live there. Lakewood, Colorado lies in Jefferson County, Colorado. Jefferson is the most populous county in the state with over 550,000 residents. With so many residents you can imagine there are more folks with needs than any county in the state of Colorado living here.

Human Services employs hundreds and manages over 50 programs under 6 main divisions. These programs serve thousands of needs from ageing to infants and from homelessness to foster care. The work is daunting and the people who serve here are all compassionate servants.

Nationally Jeffco Human Services is known for ground breaking work with the Jeffco Prosperity Project.

http://jeffco.us/human-services/community-initiatives/jeffco-prosperity-project/, The Prosperity Project is a ground breaking program linking nonprofits and agencies of every kind in order to target, guide, mentor and support over 50 families from crushing need to sustainable life success.

Under the leadership of Human Services around 2006 the Power of Partnership was created. The Power of Partnership (PoP) is comprised of county Human Services employees, nonprofit leaders and faith leaders who work together to serve needs in the county. PoP has a steering committee and holds bi-monthly meetings designed to improve networking, awareness and collaboration for serving needs together. That’s right, the government, churches and nonprofits work together! Brilliant!

In April, Reg took a part time contact with the county to help reinvigorate PoP. He will be focused on rebuilding the church connection database, expanding church involvement and supporting a new newsletter to better communicate “win” stories, expand awareness of partnership opportunities and tools and make connections in order to grow the network. Reg’s work with PoP will enhance the impact and recognition of Lakewood Connects in the city of Lakewood and across the County. This is a great opportunity to link Lakewood Connects with Countywide impact!

The Lakewood Faith Coalition and Title 1 Elementary Schools

When Reg is introduced by city or school district leaders he’s usually called the; “Director of the Lakewood Faith Coalition.” What does the Faith Coalition mean in the city of Lakewood or in Jefferson County?

As a City Connector facilitating opportunities to mobilize churches and church members for effective service in the community the Faith Coalition is a primary connection point for achieving this mobilization.

The Lakewood Faith Coalition is a movement, an aim and an organization that provides an effective process of connection. As a movement the coalition is something of a miracle! Reg leads a Steering Committee comprised of faith leaders, school leaders and members of the city of Lakewood’s staff. These committee members are leaders from various faith heritages and government working together as one!

The steering committee: Gregg Moss serves on staff at Mile Hi church of Mind and Science. Drew Ross is senior pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran. Larry Linsenmaier is senior pastor of Grace Covenant church. Mike Fletcher is deacon at Christ on the Mountain Catholic church. Mary Ruther serves as the Strategic Initiatives Director for the city of Lakewood. Brett Berninger serves as director of Lakewood’s family services. Sean Kovar is director of the Title 1 family engagement liaisons at the Jeffco School District. Perry Richards is the president of the LDS church in Lakewood.

The fact that this diverse group exists at all is reason enough to be impressed! The vision of the coalition is that when we work together opportunities multiply to do and accomplish more than any one entity can accomplish by themselves! Impossible becomes possible when we work together! The steering committee models the “silo” and division busting philosophy that we hope grows throughout the entire faith community in Lakewood.

As an entity that is moving in the city of Lakewood, Colorado the Faith Coalition is aimed at a certain point of service: Title 1 elementary schools. Title 1 is a federal designation that both identifies schools with great need who receive special federal funds to support programs and services to help the students and families achieve success.

For the Faith Coalition the philosophy behind this aim is critical. It is our belief that when you transform the lives of elementary school students you change the future culture of a community. These Title 1 schools are located in the most under-served neighborhoods in the city. If the efforts of the Faith Coalition can lead to positive change in the lives of hundreds of students then it is possible to transform whole areas of our city that are now struggling in many ways. This isn’t a Band-Aid social program but instead a long term commitment to change the future by strategically investing in a key population.

There are currently 6 Title 1 elementary schools in Lakewood and there will be 8 in 2017-18. Our main goal in each school for 2017-8 will be to develop a Support Team comprised of local church leaders, neighborhood association leaders and other volunteers who would serve as a group to meet regularly with school leaders to discuss the needs of that school. These Support Teams now exist in 4 of the current 6 schools and are working together to offer after school tutoring, program support for school events, backpack food programs and teacher appreciation efforts.

Long term these Support Teams will seek effective ways to serve that school. The first priority of each Support Team is to develop relationships and build trust. These relationships and trust will lead us to effective plans and programs in the future! Look for news and updates on the Lakewood Faith Coalition Support Teams in blog posts in the future.

*The picture is principal Esther Valdez of recently remodeled and reopened Rose Stein Elementary, our 7th Title 1 school in Lakewood. She is standing in the empty library. The Faith Coalition is partnering with businesses and other groups to get books before August 2017.

Law Enforcement, Faith and a new Therapist Network

A least three times a year the Lakewood Church Network meets for a lunch meeting. The lunch is designed to provide food, fellowship and focus on information pertinent to leveraging our churches to improve the community in some way. February 22 the Lakewood Church Network lunch was hosted by the Wednesday class at Lakewood Church of Christ. The meal was incredible, the fellowship energized and the presentation powerful!

Presenting to the faith leaders, nonprofit directors and citizens assembled that day was new Lakewood Police Chief, Dan McCasky. Dan introduced himself to the audience then spent 30 minutes offering connection and partnership plans so the faith community can better serve the city in partnership with law enforcement. Police ride-alongs, participation in safety summits, partnership serving the homeless, keeping dialogue open with neighbors to improve the connectivity of our neighborhoods…safety and peace is born in partnership and it’s everyone’s responsibility. It was great to feel connected to law enforcement and be invited into making our city safer.

After the lunch meeting several Christian therapists met with a group of Lakewood Church Network pastors to discuss the formation of the “Trusted Health Network” (THN). The network will be formed by and for therapists in Lakewood who will then prepare a directory of services, a list of therapists, classes, conferences and other support tools churches can use to connect strategically to therapeutic help for members or the people they serve in the community.

The directory was especially interesting for the pastors because it can be a tool for linking specific member counseling needs to the best therapist. The directory will include information on location, billing and areas of counseling expertise. All therapists listed will be referred and accepted professionally by the THN and will have reference information from churches and anonymous individuals who have enjoyed that therapists services.

The Lakewood Church Network is building networks upon networks in all areas of our world. The partnership forged in the connections between churches, public servants and therapists represents an example of how unity in one area breeds connection, partnership and unity across an entire city.