Love INC gets down to business

Saturday, January 5, 2008
Mount Auburn Christian Church

After years of progress, Love INC (In the Name of Christ) is finally here.

Following an open house and dedication ceremony Sunday, the area's newest helping agency will begin its work at 10 a.m. Monday in its temporary office in the rear of St. Andrew Lutheran Church.

Love INC is a clearinghouse call center that will unite agencies and volunteers with people in need.

People who might come now to a church asking for assistance will be referred to Love INC, which will verify the need and match the individual or family to the most appropriate sources of help.

St. James United Church of Christ

Since she was hired in September, Love INC director Eva Hillis has been visiting churches and civic organizations drumming up support and gathering volunteers in anticipation of the day when the organization would become a reality. She has so far recruited 14 churches and more than 100 volunteers, and has a few projects ready to go.

St. Andrew Lutheran Church

"I have been really thrilled with the response from people in the agencies," Hillis said.

One of the projects Love INC will begin is a wheelchair ramp ministry. Volunteers from several local churches will build ramps for wheelchair-bound individuals in their homes to make getting around easier.

"We're collecting items for our 'We Care' kits," Hillis said. "That's just getting started."

Volunteers are donating blankets, personal hygiene items, pajamas, clothing and a toy or two to give to children who find themselves entering the foster care system. Completed kits will be given to the Department of Family Services to give to children who often are taken from a bad situation with only the clothes on their back and nothing of their own to cling to. The We Care kits are intended to give them something of their own and help ease the transition.

Other projects include providing transportation for people without a working car and delivering meals to homebound people.

Evangelical United Church of Christ

"We have already had an opportunity working with an agency," Hillis said. "We had an opportunity to arrange transportation for a single parent whose child needs special services and the agency relocated. They could no longer walk there and didn't have a car."

Other volunteers will be manning the phones, taking calls for assistance -- nine hours a week at first, and as the program grows, eventually full time at five days a week.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Chapel

While she was visiting churches and groups building support, Hillis said she could see that by being there and talking about Love INC and inspiring volunteers to participate she was able to connect, then follow up and inspire those volunteers to commit. The next step is linking people who have resources to share with those who need them and watching a relationship build.

"I've really been amazed by how much need there is," she said. "It's easy to assume there is not a problem and not any real need when you don't see it. That has been for me so rewarding to get information out to the other people who do not realize how much need is out there."

La Croix Church

Also benefiting are people who may be temporarily down on their luck, people who have been making their own way who find themselves in need and have no idea where to turn for help.

"They don't know what's out there," Hillis said. "They always managed to make it and suddenly they're not. They do not know how to go to a food bank. They've been working all their lives and did not know how to find out."

Sunday's dedication service will be low-key, Hillis said. The doors will open at 2 p.m. and at 2:30 the Rev. Paul Short of St. Andrew and the Rev. Wes Wright of Mount Auburn Christian Church will offer prayer. Then visitors may come until 4 p.m., and enjoy fellowship and refreshments.

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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