About Sister Carmen Community Center

“I’ve noticed that SCCC brings people together. When you’re struggling, you feel alone and think that you’re the only one with these problems. Having community is so important as a first step of feeling supported and empowered, and it reassures you that you’re moving in the right direction. And you just keep moving forward.” – Tiffany, SCCC Participant

A Pressing Need

Economic struggles affect us all from time to time—the loss of a job, an unexpected illness, divorce, and other life events. The many people we serve include the underemployed, newly unemployed, seniors, people with disabilities, young adults, families, and the largest group experiencing poverty—children.

Did you know that over 42,000 Boulder County residents live below the poverty line?

That means, for a family of four, their monthly income would be $2,089 or less.

The actual monthly cost of living in Boulder County is $6,238. As housing costs grow and wages and income stay stagnant, more and more families, many of whom have been here for generations, are being pushed to the brink of homelessness. They can’t afford childcare—the second largest household expense in Colorado—and many parents have to choose between working or staying home with their children. One illness, car repair, or loss of a job can be detrimental to a family.

We’re here to help.

Our origins stem from Sister Carmen Ptacnik [Puh-TASS-nik], a Catholic nun that was assigned to assess the needs of the people in Lafayette, Colorado in 1970. Sister Carmen became very well-known in the community for her efforts to support those in need, particularly those in monolingual communities, thanks to her Spanish-speaking abilities. The community embraced Sister Carmen and continued her humanitarian efforts by responding with donations of food, clothing, toys and household goods for her to distribute to people in need.

When Sister Carmen returned to her home state of California in 1976, her legacy of compassion she built in Lafayette was carried on through community members. Named after this inspiring woman, Sister Carmen Community Center officially became a registered non-religious nonprofit organization in 1978, offering critical resources to thousands of individuals and families a year, without discrimination.

Learn more about our history here.

Sister Carmen Community Center is the only organization providing comprehensive basic needs services and resources to the most vulnerable residents in East Boulder County (Lafayette, Louisville, Superior, and Erie). Through our family-centered programming, we promote health, safety, well-being and economic stability by meeting one-on-one with the people we serve. We aim to improve the quality of life for our participants, and assist them in recovering from challenging experiences by providing timely and meaningful wrap-around support in our program areas:


Ensure the residents of East Boulder County have access to basic needs, such as:

  • Nutritious food and hygiene items
  • Clothing and necessary household goods
  • Education and access to living a healthy lifestyle
  • Connections to healthcare and mental health support


Using a strength-based approach, we support participants in advocating for themselves and their families to attain economic stability and provide referrals to additional resources (such as employment, childcare, and life skills). We help prevent homelessness and improve access to stable housing for the residents of East Boulder County through:

  • Family Development Services
  • Utility assistance
  • Mortgage and rent assistance
  • Connections to housing, education, and additional resources


We empower individuals by offering them the skills and resources they need to succeed through family and community educational opportunities, including:

  • Best practice parenting strategies
  • Parenting support groups
  • Digital literacy classes
  • Civic engagement

We offer a range of nationally recognized professional development trainings to both internal and external human service professionals and stakeholders in an effort to improve the knowledge and skills of our organization’s members and its partners.

In 2012, we officially became a Family Resource Center (FRC), an organization that is a part of the Family Resource Center Association—a network of organizations across the state committed to strengthening families through partnership and collaboration. FRC’s provide a safe, accessible place for individuals and families to connect to comprehensive and coordinated services that help families achieve their goals. Family Resource Center members agree to adhere to the Principles and Practices of Family Support, established by Family Support America and the Colorado Revised Statute and provide Family Development services and Resource Information and Referral as well as other core services to their communities. Programs at each organization are tailored to the culture, resources, and needs of the community they serve and focus on building upon the strengths of each family and individual.

Family Development Services:  Through this program, trained Bilingual Advocates work one-on-one with families to help them set and achieve transformative goals in their lives and help them become more self-reliant. The Family Development framework, a research-based approach, focuses on helping families build from their strengths, take charge of their lives, and access resources that are available in their communities.

Resource Information and Referral:  Our Advocates are well-versed in community resources, including other nonprofit organizations and government programs, to support our participants. Anything we can’t do ourselves, we try to refer out, offering specific information and direction for participants so they know what programs they are eligible for and how to connect with them. This provides the best wrap-around support for participants so they can quickly get the help they need through our guidance and knowledge.

Family Resource Center Association

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