New business ministry hoping to give those in need of a BREAK

Monday, December 1, 2008
KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com
As executive director of Love INC, an acronym for Love In the Name of Christ, Eva Hillis knows quite a bit about giving. The charity has received more than 1,500 requests since January.

More than five years ago, Paul Van Meter was involved in a car accident that broke a number of the bones in his body, leaving him disabled. Since then, the Cape Girardeau resident had been sleeping on an air mattress.

But five months ago Van Meter got a break that he said changed his life forever.

Representatives from a new business ministry through Love INC of Southeast Missouri provided him with a bed, allowing Van Meter to sleep through the night for the first time since his accident.

"These people have been a godsend," Van Meter said of the ministry called Businesses Ready to Encourage through Acts of Kindness, or BREAK.

"Words can't express enough of the kindness they've shown me during a difficult time," he said. "They are trying to teach people in need and are willing to help in whatever way possible."

Since Love INC was formed in January, volunteers have taken about 1,500 calls for assistance from the community. Of those, 870 individuals have been helped.

Executive director Eva Hillis said in light of the recent economic downturn it became evident the ministry could greatly increase its ability to meet client needs with the help of the business community. The result was BREAK, which officially launches this week.

Hillis is planning to advertise BREAK through local media outlets, fliers mailed to businesses and e-mails to a group of men's discipleship groups in the area.

If a business chooses to participate, it will register services and products it is willing to donate. Once Love INC identifies a client with that need and determines the request is legitimate, the business will then be contacted.

A business can indicate how frequently it wants to offer its services, Hillis said.

"We try to focus on people experiencing need due to a temporary setback, like an illness, job loss or divorce, or those who are re-entering the work force," Hillis said. "Our goal is to do as much as we can to get people back on their feet and functioning independently."

Ruppel Auto Service in Jackson is one of six businesses that have provided assistance to Love INC clients. Since owner Mike Ruppel learned of the ministry, he has provided labor to repair six vehicles of individuals needing transportation so they could return to work.

"If someone doesn't have a car, they can't get to work," Ruppel said. "Anytime we can help someone help themselves, we need to.

"A lot of time I get overwhelmed with those who need help, and if I can help just one person that's great," he said. "It's a practical way of showing the love of Christ."

Other businesses who have provided assistance include a salon that donated haircuts, a restaurant that provided meal vouchers, a concrete company that contributed materials to build a wheelchair ramp, a furniture store that provided a bed frame and an HVAC store that installed a furnace.

"The businesses that have participated so far have been grateful for the opportunity to give back to their community," Hillis said. "They realize they've been blessed to be a blessing and want to use the gifts and abilities that they've been given to reach out to people in need."

As for the future of BREAK, Hillis believes its best days are ahead.

"The community truly believes it is their responsibility to be the hands and feet of Jesus, reaching out to show Christ's love in a practical way to people in need," Hillis said.

Businesses wanting to participate should contact Hillis at 382-2457 or loveincbreak@yahoo.com.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

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