Here’s How Love INC Works Best

It began with a simple request for financial utility assistance.  Pretty simple, one might think; just refer the person to the appropriate agency because Charlottesville/Albemarle has organizations that help with utilities.  But what if the person on the other end of the line is unable to give her address or the account number of her utility bill?  What if she confides that she has a brain injury and cannot keep track of her bills except by going on-line — and now her electricity is off, so she has no access to the Web?

Hmm…various dilemmas are not uncommon here in the Love INC office.  Our policy is that we only ask for church assistance if the agencies have no money and if there is a true emergency beyond a person’s control.  In this case, there was agency money available, but our lady was unable to connect with them, i.e., write down a phone number and call it.

At this point, all the alarm bells started to go off in the Love INC staffer’s head when fielding this call — better contact Adult Protective Services!  But no one answered the phone, and in any case, all we had was the client’s first name and a cell phone number.

Soon thereafter an email arrived from a church in our lady’s area.  A woman by the name of Linda Irene had dropped by to speak with them about paying her electric bill, but was unable to give them any additional information.  They were quite willing to help if Love INC could do the verification process.  After four attempts, we were finally able to reconnect with Linda Irene.

Patiently, our staffer asked about her life situation —  about which she was relatively forthcoming — and her physical address, which she could not remember.  When the Department of Social Services was mentioned, she got quite suspicious, so obviously contacting Social Services at this point was not going to be well received.

“I’ll tell you what, Linda, you go home and find your electric bill, and we will call you back very soon, and you can read what is written there.”  Because we had mentioned Social Services, Linda agreed, but very reluctantly.  Would she do it?  We didn’t know, but we called back later in the afternoon and reached her.

Linda had found her bill and then said that she was on her way to work.  To work?  We didn’t know how she could manage a job, given her disability.  She read her name and the address as it was written on the bill, but the account number was a mystery to her  The staff member suggested that she might be able to take the bill to the church she had gone to, but she was unable to remember where she had been.

Armed with the lady’s full name and her address, Love INC was able to call Virginia Dominion Power and ascertain the actual balance and the “disconnect amount,” as well as the account number so that the church could pay what they wished on the bill.  When our staff contacted the church by email, we expressed great concern for this client.  We gave the church the information and explained about the brain injury and that she could not use her computer — which was her means for paying bills  — because she had no power. She obviously had great trouble with phone calls, etc.  Frankly, we didn’t see how she was still working.

We told the church that we thought Dominion Power bills could be paid by a third party and a credit card without a lot of other hassle, but Linda would have trouble doing it without assistance. Dominion no longer had a place to just “take a check” that was accessible to Linda.  The church paid the bill and then designated a volunteer to meet with her.

“I’ve been thinking about my meeting with Linda last week,” the volunteer told us, and “I’m wondering when we could touch base again about her needs and what parts we might be able to address or make referrals.  As I mentioned after the meeting, I am very concerned about her ability to function independently — and safety — in terms of employment and handling basic living demands.  She’s obviously quite a resilient and resourceful person to have made the moves she has and to have managed successfully thus far.  She has some real gifts and strengths for sure, and will benefit greatly from having those recognized and cultivated as she builds trust and is nudged to make some connections for additional support.”  That church clearly shared our concerns!

Soon the volunteer had found an agency that might be able to help Linda.  And what a good thing!  We found that Linda was in some deep financial trouble with Social Security for an overpayment.  She needed all kinds of help.  Linda Irene was put in touch with the BridgeLine Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville.

The church volunteer updated us.  “Linda Irene called and asked me over yesterday afternoon,” she said. “I went and we had a nice conversation.  She has contacted the case manager at the BridgeLine.  She started on the paperwork required and has met with the worker who will be assisting her in updating her resume.  They’ll find her some appropriate work that will perhaps pay her better.  

“She and her case-manager will be going to the Social Security Administration,” she continued, “to connect her with someone to help sort out her disability issues as well as find a Social Security attorney for legal navigation.  She’s supposed to call me this evening to update me on the appointment.  On the personal side of things…she’s extremely grateful for our help,” she told us and added, “It’s nice to meet so many confident people.”

The volunteer then said, “Linda has not been eating properly because she can’t afford healthy foods.  When I mentioned that there are food pantries, she said that they have very little healthy food and she eats ‘simple things.’  I also found out that she is actually in touch with her family, though she says they hate when she succeeds in anything.  She shared her artwork with me.  She said that in all her years of living here, I’m the first person she’s invited into her home.”

“The case-manager returned my call today,” the volunteer said.  “He confirmed all that Linda Irene has shared with me.  He believes that some of her fearfulness stems from a lack of experience.  He said that whoever will be her mentor will have to earn her trust.”

In her follow-up, the wonderful volunteer wrote, “Before I left Linda, I prayed with her, but when I tried to give her a hug, I sensed her unease with being touched.  I’m going to try to connect with her on a weekly basis.  I’ll continue to update you all, and please let me know if any of you have any communication with her.”

It began with a simple request for financial assistance.  Had the bill merely been paid without a church volunteer to follow up, Linda Irene’s immediate need would have been met, but her whole life issues would not have been addressed.  With this caring church and the very special volunteer on assignment, a relationship of trust has been built.  Thankfully, Linda Irene now has a  church family to turn to with her problems.  And, perhaps in time she will come to trust her Heavenly Father and her Savior as well.

It Takes a Congregation

Volunteers, friends, and supporters of Love INC gathered at the Double Tree Inn on May 13, a sunny spring evening respite from the rain. It turned out to be a busy weekend for many who would normally attend the Love INC banquet, but God saw that the right 130 people were there.

“Bridging the Gap” was our theme for the evening. We were blessed with a number of heartwarming stories told by some dedicated servants who are active in what we refer to as gap ministries through their local churches—that is, they work in collaboration with Love INC to provide services that are not otherwise available to needy neighbors in our community. Here are a few we highlighted:

  • Loads of Love, Belmont Baptist
  • Diaper Ministry, Olivet Presbyterian Church
  • Personal Care Closet, Connect Church
  • Medical Equipment Ministry
  • Children’s Clothing Closet, Immanuel Lutheran
  • Bunk Bed Ministry, Partner Churches

Fran Storer of Immanual Lutheran told us about three women who have been loved on by their church since opening the children’s clothing closet only a year ago. Even though subset of members run the ministry, they involve their whole church in praying for and serving the families who visit. “Sometimes it just takes a congregation,” she wisely summed up.

“For me, Love INC represents the collective conscience of our Christian community,” she added. “They are an invitation, not only to give but to serve. They open the door and give you the opportunity to touch a life – to know who and how you are helping and to feel the response when you get a hug and hear the words, ‘I can’t believe it. Thank you so much.’”

Fran and the other gap ministry speakers articulated the mission of Love INC from a place of firsthand experience, and they were exactly right.  And now, Love INC is looking for churches to fill a number of other gaps, such as Furniture Delivery teams, Baby Items closet, Food Deliveries and another Diaper Ministry team.

Please contact our Executive Director, Ray Klein, to learn more about how your church can serve.

 

Kindness Begets Kindness

Rutherford was the kind of man who went about quietly helping others.  He did odd jobs throughout the part of the county where he lived.  A man of few words, he often helped the elderly and disabled — unpaid and unsung.   But then Rutherford had a massive heart attack and, still in his 50s, was rendered disabled himself.  Living in an older family home, where the primary source of heat is a woodstove,  he was now unable to cut and haul his own firewood.

Fortunately, Rutherford has a good friend.  Ginny has her own home as well and, like Rutherford, busies herself helping others.  So, when she heard of his heart attack, Ginny became his chauffeur to and from medical appointments and an advocate to garner community support.

Early on, she was on the phone with the Department of Social Services (DSS) trying to get Rutherford food stamps and other emergency assistance.  Ginny started calling churches for firewood, and that was how Love INC was put in touch with Rutherford.  The kind folks at one of the local churches called to let us know that Ginny had asked them for wood.  They were willing to assist, but wanted to make sure the need was legitimate.

After speaking with the DSS case worker, our Love INC staff realized that this was indeed a dire and emergency situation and relayed that information to the church.  With that assurance, they provided the money to purchase wood for Rutherford, but $100 worth of wood — a pickup truck full — wouldn’t last very long during frigid conditions.

So, the Love INC staff asked the wood ministry from Ivy Creek United Methodist Church to assist, which they did – just in time before the massive storm hit this winter.   Love INC also asked another local church to help and they purchased additional firewood for Rutherford.  Yet another church called Love INC saying that a parishioner had some firewood to donate, asking who would be the best person to give it to.  Without hesitation, the answer was Rutherford.

Ginny called back several weeks later to tell us how much Rutherford had appreciated the wood and then shared that the word had been broadly spread of his need.  “All kinds of church folks have been bringing him wood now,” she said.  “He used to help them out, now they are helping him out.”   She said he had received FIVE loads of wood since the storm (probably enough to last through the season now).

Ginny was not able to tell our staff exactly where the additional wood had come from, but we suspect that it was from volunteers in the churches mentioned above, since some of them had known Rutherford for years.  We thank all those kind church volunteers for all they have given back to him!

NOTE:  We also thank Peter Easter from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ivy from whose properties wood is cut for the various wood ministries.

 

God Sees the Finished Picture

Beth used to call Love INC often. She was always in need of financial assistance or new beds, or she had moved and lost all her furniture — or some other almost impossible request for assistance.  Her files are littered with “referred to CARES” for financial assistance, knowing that they probably would not help again that year.

Beth always had a string of reasons why she was in need.  Her requests began before 1998 when her file was begun in our database.  All 49 of them!  She needed holiday assistance – every holiday!  She needed fans, AC units, school supplies (too late to refer to her school), beds several times because she had been evicted or had to move and was unable to take furniture with her.

Somewhere in this story, something got through to Beth, however.  She began to keep her jobs, get additional education, take her children to church — and she bought a home!

Love INC recently heard from Beth.  As a wonderful surprise to us, she and her children attend a local church.  She owns her own home and works as a nurse in a new healthcare facility.  She had obtained this very good job after her previous employer no longer had a place for her.

At the same time, she was asking for help with her utility bill — but this time the request was not for 4 months of unpaid utilities as in the past.  She was behind only one month.  We discussed the problem, and then she subsequently telephoned back saying that she had worked out the issue with the power company and would be fine –just letting us know!

She thanked Love INC for being there for her all those years when life was such a struggle for her.  We thank the Lord for all the churches and ministries that helped Beth along the way toward self-sufficiency: First UMC, Aldersgate UMC,  City Church, Lake Christian Church, Northridge Community Church of the Nazarene, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, as well as the Schoolhouse Thrift Store, the Belmont Baptist Clothing Closet and the Pregnancy Center.

Some volunteers may have wondered if they did any good at all working with Beth because for many years nothing seemed to change. Her case provides clear evidence that we never know our part in God’s work until we can see the finished picture

God Sent the Church to Her

Ruth, like her namesake in the Bible, devotes herself to the Lord. She had been in a terrible accident and had been pronounced dead in the ambulance, but through God’s miraculous intervention, she was restored to life.  And now, she declares to all who will listen that “Nothing can stop the power of God!”   As well, as a result of her own struggles, she is always ready to help another person.  And that is why Ruth found herself devoted to one of our elderly clients who needed help.

Social Services had asked for someone to assist an elderly, infirm woman having eye surgery.  Her daughter, and only remaining relative, tries to help as much as possible, but she lives in Northern Virginia and works full time.  Nonetheless, Frances’* daughter was scheduled to pick her up from the hospital and take her home where the daughter would stay for a full day.  After that, there was no one, so at this point Love INC entered the picture when the phone call came asking for a volunteer to sit with Frances for a few days following the daughter’s return to her home and job.Read More »

What a Surprise!

Tajia was a Love INC client from 2008, but she really hadn’t asked for much.  One time she requested help with moving into public housing, but she had not given us sufficient time to find volunteers.  The remainder of the requests on record came during the holiday seasons.  All Points Church had actually requested to work with Tajia and her family the following two holidays after working with them for Christmas and Thanksgiving one year.  At that time, Tajia had just gotten married and was a full-time student at Piedmont Virginia Community College.  The pastor and elders at All Points wanted very much to support Tajia in her efforts, so they maintained contact with her.

After that link was established, we didn’t hear from Tajia for several years.  In fact, the last entry was Easter of 2012, when All Points had brought an Easter basket to Tajia’s daughter.  The pastor continued to keep in touch with the family for a while.

Then one day in 2015 Love INC’s Susan Shellito was working with another agency attempting to find an intern to work in the office for the summer.  She set up an appointment for the case manager to come to the office with a client.  And, oh what a nice surprise it was when the case manager turned out to be the very Tajia that we had worked with in the past!

This resilient young woman had struggled through her poverty and moved on to acquire a good job assisting those who, like herself in previous years, are struggling to rise above their circumstances.

We say a great big thank you to All Points Church, who faithfully ministered to a woman in need.  Those seemingly small efforts helped reap a great harvest, because not only has Tajia been helped in her goals, but now she is assisting many others who struggle as she once did.

 

An Amazing Transformation!

Referred by Albemarle Department of Social Services, Greg* first called Love INC asking for some blankets or comforters for his teenage daughters — and, if available, he also needed a washer and dryer.  On a very low income, Greg was only receiving Supplemental Security Income, the type of Social Security assistance often given to those who have never worked.  He had received Rapid Rehousing funding to get him into the rental unit he had found in the county, as well as receiving food stamps and energy assistance.  Sadly, in every way he fit the profile of many Love INC clients, locked into poverty by a crippling disability.

Thankfully, our staff found him a washer and dryer through a Crozet Baptist Church volunteer.  Household items were made available through generous donations given to Love INC, the result of a labor of love by Mr. and Mrs. Falconer.  They had patiently cleaned out a home belonging to a couple, fellow First Christian Church members.Read More »

The Rest of the Story — With a Beautiful Ending!

Rachel first came to our attention several years ago when she asked us for help with yard work and repairs. Because it was contended that there were poisonous snakes on the property, volunteers had been reluctant to help, but after waiting months on our needs list, a church was finally found to assist her.

There is so much more to the story than yard and repair work that bears sharing, because of the impact on Rachel’s life. In fact, if you have ever wondered what happens to the people helped by the churches through Love in the Name of Christ, here is a “rest of the story” example in the words of the volunteer:

“Three years ago, a team from our congregation responded to a need through Love INC. Rachel had gone through a divorce, and was subsequently defrauded by someone hired to remodel her home. She had only a gutted home, without proper plumbing or kitchen facilities. Rachel had attended church as a young person and walked with the Lord, but it seemed like bitter circumstances in life had left her vulnerable, alone, and far from Him.Read More »

Giving Back: A Love Story

Salome first came to us after she and her children lost their housing in another county. In the housing crash of 2008-09, her landlord’s property had been foreclosed on, and the repercussions hit her hard. In fact, she became aware of the crisis when the sheriff came to her door and made them leave without anything but a few photos and some personal paperwork they were able to salvage.

Fortunately, social workers found her emergency housing via Section 8, but she had to move to Charlottesville. With her family all living at a distance now, she was left without even beds to sleep on. Between her Charlottesville Department of Social Services (CDSS) worker and Love INC, however, her home was gradually furnished.

She also received holiday meals and gifts for her children that year, including coats and clothes, but there was no job for her anywhere. She went into the VIEW Program through social services, so that she could gain some job training and maybe a new job in Charlottesville. It was an uphill battle all the way.

First there were issues with the father of the children, who was incarcerated and no longer paid child support. In some ways that was a relief as Salome had been trying to distance herself from him. Then some old fines resurfaced to haunt Salome. A new man in her life brought some “baggage” that was potentially threatening to herself and her children. And she was still unable to find good employment.

Later the following year, Love INC got a phone call from Mary Grant who runs classes for the VIEW program in CDSS. Would Love INC be willing to take a lady for job training? With considerable hesitation, stemming from some previous attempts with other VIEW participants, Love INC agreed. 

What a big and pleasant surprise! Salome, whom we already knew, turned out to be one sharp lady, with a knack for finding information via the Internet. She was particularly good at taking intakes and referring needs to just the right place. The Love INC staff begged to keep her on, but she was hired for competitive employment with a dispatching agency and, regrettably, we lost our lady wizard!

Salome came back briefly to work with us, but then she moved her whole family out of state, where she found an even better job and was married. She sent us pictures.

Now, nearly six years later — with many miles between us — she continues to keep in touch via social media. Her family attends a large church near her home. Both she and her husband have jobs and they are doing well. Recently a message came from her:

“hey Susan ..I’m going to start sending donations every pay period is it better to use the PayPal i see on your site or i was going to set it up to automatically come out of my ac-count..Im finally in a place where i can give to you all it has been on my heart for a long time and i want to be a faithful donor to you all. It’s not much but I want to give something every two weeks. I’m grateful that you all were there and were a part of my life and I thank you all, because you and Ray inspired me to stay on the right track. Love you all”

Never forget that your kindness and compassion to a person in need can have a life-changing impact.

 

NOTE: Due to some threats she received from the father of her children, we have not disclosed her Charlottesville church or other information. Her information from our office has been archived.

Our Success in 2014

The year 2014 was busy but successful on many fronts for the ministry of Love In the Name of Christ. New churches continue to join the network, partnering with other fellowships to help people in need. There was no letup in clients — our neighbors in need — calling Love INC seeking assistance.

Social and government agencies also continue to call Love INC seeking assistance for their clients. And, churches, both in and out of the network, continue to call and refer people to Love INC who are asking for their assistance.

The numbers of those helped continued to grow and you have been a vital ingredient in that growth through your prayers, financial support and volunteering. In fact, in 2014, you helped serve 4,090 people (1,953 adults and 2,137 children). Love INC also worked with 107 different churches and 85 different agencies providing assistance for our neighbors in need. We fulfilled a total of 1,841 requests for help, among them the following:

  • 410 households received furniture and household goods; 10 others received medical-related items.
  • 151 families received as much clothing as they could use.
  • 104 authenticated emergency financial needs were met.
  • 495 families received Thanksgiving meals, 136 families received Christmas meals, and 51 families received Christmas gifts through programs Love INC helped coordinate. In addition, 405 children received school supplies.
  • 13 people received household repairs, 5 received help with housecleaning, 3 received auto repairs, and 14 received firewood.
  • 14 families received help moving to a new residence.
  • 12 homeless individuals or families received supplies, such as tents, blankets, food, and/ or outdoor equipment.

Six hundred eighteen of you volunteered 4,852 hours to assist and make life better for your neighbors in need. Many thanks as well to the 432 donors who gave generously to fund Love INC’s work to bring churches together to transform lives and communities in the name of Christ.

We also are excited about working with churches to add new Gap Ministries to the network. These ministries are designed to meet a need not already being offered (or not offered enough) in the community. Gap Ministries are relational, and most are designed with a mentoring component that gives a hand up to people, while helping them with immediate material needs. The current and developing Gap Ministries are:

  • Laundry Mentoring Ministry – Belmont Baptist Church
  • Diaper Mentoring Ministry – Olivet Presbyterian Church
  • Personal Care Ministry – Word of Faith Church
  • Medical Equipment Ministry – Ruckersville Baptist Church
  • Children’s Clothing Ministry – Immanuel Lutheran Church
  • Furniture Delivery Ministry – Calvary Chapel of Charlottesville
  • Bunk Bed Ministry (New!) – Multi-Church
  • Firewood Ministry – Ivy Creek UMC, St. Paul’s, Ivy & Scottsville UMC

Another plus that grows out of the relational ministries is that volunteers often become aware of additional issues within the families they minister to. And in communicating these issues to Love INC, the other revealed areas can be addressed by caring volunteers, further building relationships between God’s people and those being served.

Also imperative to the Love INC ministry is the small army of loyal volunteers that come to the office, sort through donations, help with mailings, do data base projects, make deliveries to shut-ins and assist with phone calls. Would you consider joining them? We will communicate new needs as they develop through the coming year.

Now, to wrap up this summary, we want to express our appreciation to all those who have contributed their time and resources to the Love INC movement to help people in need. We have been blessed, but so have hundreds of others in our community.

Learn more about Love in the Name of Christ.