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How do you say “lagniappe”? What does it mean?

Pronounced “lan∙yap”, a word popular in the New Orleans area, it denotes “a little extra” or "an unexpected gift". It is a French & Spanish adaptation of the Quechua word, la ñapa, meaning “gift”. This term brings to mind God’s grace, a spontaneous and unmerited gift.

Don’t job skills programs exist? Why Lagniappe?

Sheridan County does not currently have a paid job skills program designed to equip participants for employment at living wages. Even relatively successful job skills programs are often out-of-reach for parents because they require parents to quit jobs and/or pay for childcare while committing to an unpaid pursuit for several weeks. At Lagniappe, parents will be paid as they are learning, and also be paid for time spent pursuing relevant supportive education and programming that fosters long-term personal and financial independence (such as earning a GED).

What kind of supportive programming?

Examples include: job search mentoring, classes, leadership development, Christian spiritual formation & growth, individual or family counseling, driver’s license education, acquiring a GED, financial literacy, health & nutrition, and cooking.

What skills does Lagniappe teach?

The Lagniappe program features a commercial sewing center. Volunteers teach participants how to sew simple items like dog beds, floor pillows, and tote bags made from donated materials. Some of these materials, like industrial scrap foam and canvas, would be otherwise be discarded. Trainees also participate in in-house project management and donor cultivation. Trainees connect with current and retired Human Resources professionals to work on cover letters, resumes, and interviewing skills.

Trainees learn, not just industrial sewing, but all of the functions of a small nonprofit: customer service, inventory & logistics, marketing, digital communication, and leadership. As they explore their interests, they also pursue mentoring and volunteering opportunities in the local community. 

What do you define as “living wages”?

A living wage is one which allows a household to afford commonly accepted necessities for the area (food, housing, transportation, clothing, etc.) without any public or private assistance. Lagniappe will use a variety of sources, such as the Wyoming Self-Sufficiency Calculator and MIT’s Living Wage Calculator to determine if we are in line with living wages for our area.  

Do you have to be a parent? A single parent? A single mother?

When parents leave poverty, so do their children. Therefore, Lagniappe is focused on employing parents, in order to reduce our community’s poverty rate as quickly as possible. Also, working-age people without children can obtain employment that covers their necessities more easily than parents, simply because they have fewer expenses. 

Lagniappe is interested in employing people with minor dependents, married or unmarried.

Although the poverty rate for Sheridan County is under 10%, the poverty rate for single mothers is 23-33%, depending on the ages of their children. Most of our applicants and participants are single mothers, but it isn’t a requirement. Fathers are welcome; our first graduate was a married father.

This vision includes eventual in-house childcare for the participants to assist in nurturing and/or maintaining the bond between parent and child and fostering the integrity of the family, allowing them to spend breaks and lunchtime with their young children, and permitting nursing mothers to breastfeed on location. Our current location and funding does not permit this, however.

What are the other application requirements? How do you find applicants?

In addition to being financially responsible for minor dependents, applicants should meet income guidelines for the SNAP (food stamps) program. Candidates under the Federal Poverty guidelines will be given priority. Exceptions to income requirements can be made on a case-by-case basis.

Lagniappe reaches out to local agencies to identify suitable candidates and conduct on-site job interviews. However, anyone who meets the criteria and is seeking full-time employment is encouraged to apply. Applications are available here.

Why dog beds?

Items such as dog beds are simple to learn, do not (necessarily) require complicated pattern making, and are scalable. They can also easily incorporate leftover materials that businesses, families, and nonprofits are unable to use or sell. Furthermore, the price point for durable dog beds diverges greatly from their flimsy counterparts, allowing us to make a quality product while paying living wages.

There is no reason to limit our production to pet pillows, so we also create large duffels for the Sheridan Foster Parent Exchange that can be sponsored for $35, as well as other totes available for retail at Rooster's on Sheridan's Main Street.

Can you really earn a living by sewing?

A handful of businesses in the area incorporate industrial sewing in their products and pay living wages. However, every trainee combines her or his unique strengths, work history, and background with new skills to create a path forward that may or may not include sewing. Lagniappe trainees have obtained entry-level positions with the federal government and local manufacturers that provide full-time, benefitted employment with opportunities to advance.

How long is your program?

Lagniappe’s goal is that through this intentional time of healing financially, mentally, physically, relationally, and emotionally from the trauma of poverty, participants would secure living-wage employment elsewhere or become self-employed, with some applicants moving on from Lagniappe’s program fairly quickly (our first trainees had job offers after approximately 100 days in the program). Others may take longer. Discipleship and individualized long-term mentoring begin at the initial assessment stages and continue during the workday, case management, and supportive programming—building connections with each other, the church, and the community. Participants don’t have to stay for a particular length of time, and will be encouraged to pursue their goals elsewhere, as soon as feasible. Lagniappe is a stepping stone.

In other words, "graduation" looks like a job offer. If trainees stop working toward outside employment goals, they will need to leave the program.

Why be a non-profit? If you’re selling stuff, why not be a business?

Few profitable businesses set out to invest into employees for the sole purpose of situating them for other employment. Although we aim to sell products with a small profit margin, the primary goal of the organization is to better the community and profit should be reinvested into Lagniappe to increase its impact. Donations to Lagniappe are tax-deductible and will help finance services not paid for by sales.

Is this a ministry? How will the gospel be preached?

The Gospel of God’s grace through Christ can be proclaimed in a variety of ways through Lagniappe’s work. Participants will know upon applying that Lagniappe is a Christian ministry and, even though conversion or adherence to Christianity is not required, there will be opportunities for prayer, spiritual discussion, and classes regarding Christian spiritual formation and growth. We ask that both the offering and declination of activities like prayer be done in a respectful manner. Small church fellowship groups may informally “adopt” a participant and her/his family.

Furthermore, Lagniappe will adhere to Business as Mission principles described here. You should expect to see intentional interpretations of Christian disciplines such as silence and solitude, sabbath, service, tithing, and celebration “baked into” Lagniappe’s organizational DNA as it pursues and supports apprenticeship to Jesus.

The Nicene Creed informs our outlook on orthodoxy.

What is Grace Anglican’s role?

Every idea needs a home! Grace Anglican Church was the sponsoring entity (fiscal sponsor) of Lagniappe, lending building space, prayer support, and the ability to make tax-deductible contributions while Lagniappe pursued becoming a 501c3. Lagniappe now has tax-exempt status, as well as its own governing board, budget, and bylaws.

Grace Anglican Church is uniquely situated to currently house Lagniappe, not only because it has available room in its facility, but also features a commercial kitchen, community garden, and storage space for inventory. Its proximity to low-income housing, as well as outreach to homeless high schoolers and the needy through its Free Food Friday program, Garden of Grace, and Christmas Basket ministry also put it in touch with suitable candidates.

Where does your funding come from?

So far, contributions from community members, grants from local foundations, and a grant from the Matthew 25 Initiative have been Lagniappe’s only funding. Aside from grants, the community has raised over $96,000! This has allowed us to match three grants providing for 12 months of payroll for 4 trainees since June 2022.

The Matthew 25 Grant. through the Anglican Church of North America, is dedicated to supporting works of Christ-centered justice and mercy. These ministries must promise to meet the real human needs of the poor and needy and to transmit the Gospel of God’s Grace to those served. Grants are only released for new programs and are administered on a matching funds basis.

How do I donate money or materials?

You may donate online at, selecting “Lagniappe Ministry”. Checks may be made to Lagniappe Ministries (Mailing address: P.O. Box 6355., Sheridan, WY  82801).

Please email before donating materials. We are also seeking partnerships with businesses that regularly use canvas, upholstery foam, Sunbrella, Cordura, Crypton, Kevlar-reinforced fabrics, or other indoor-outdoor fabrics.

Donations of durable and water-resistant textiles; heavy duty needles, thread, and zippers; and materials that can be used as stuffing (not clothing) are appreciated.

Do you need volunteers?

Yes! Volunteer sewing instructors are needed, as well as people who teach budgeting, anger management, parenting, or Christian spiritual formation. We could also use volunteers interested in assisting with administrative tasks, mailings, case management, fundraising, marketing, and website design. We are particularly looking for those who have experience in the helping professions, social work, and vocational rehabilitation. Lagniappe needs board members, community advisors, mentors, etc. Even if your skill or background hasn’t been specifically mentioned, we’d love to hear from you if you see yourself contributing to Lagniappe. Please fill out the volunteer form if interested in volunteering.

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