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Love in the Name of Christ works to empower area volunteers

Love's formal mission statement is: “To mobilize the Church to transform lives and communities in the name of Christ.”
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More information can be found on the Love INC website. Video coverage of the national Love INC organization can be viewed on their Vimeo page. Readers can find information on the Love INC programs, local offices and how they can become involved, or apply for help.

/Timothy Burns

On the west side of Grand Rapids, a local Love INC office is making significant impact on families and churches by meeting economic and social needs via hundreds of volunteers for those living in and around Grandville. For over 26 years, churches from 20 Christian denominations have pooled their resources to provide physical, economic, emotional and spiritual assistance to families living or attending church in the greater Jenison – Grandville – Hudsonville area.  While Love INC's most visible event is their Budget Mentoring program that teaches adults how to manage money and make a budget, their impact reaches far beyond the 80 to 100 households formally enrolled each quarter. Love I.N.C.'s Hudsonville chapter is a national example of outreach effectiveness, and has become a training center for other Love I.N.C. offices across the country.

Love INC's formal mission statement is “to mobilize the Church to transform lives and communities in the name of Christ.” A few of the following strategies used to reach this goal include:

1.      Love INC's volunteers centralize material and financial resources of local churches throughout West Michigan, and then match resources with needs on a one to one, personal basis.

2.      Love INC maintains a food pantry, collecting food staples from businesses across the greater Grand Rapids area which are made available to nearly 100 households weekly.

3.      During the summer, Love INC staff and clients plant a community garden, teaching individuals to grow their own food while highlighting spiritual lessons gleaned from the seeds and soil.

4.      The staff at Love INC's office coordinates 90,000 to 100,000 assistances annually, which can include a week's groceries to a family, a set of winter hat and mittens, crutches or a wheel chairs for the impaired / injured, or rides for shut-ins to a doctor's appointment.

The greatest service Love INC provides is the opportunity for church members to serve in an environment which makes maximum impact from their contribution.

The story is told of the old man who discovered a little boy walking along the ocean's shore just after the tide receded. The man watched as the boy picked up one stranded star fish at a time and tossed it back into the waves. Hundreds of the creatures littered the sand, and they would soon die under the scorching afternoon sun. Nonetheless, the boy returned them one by one to the frothy waters. 

“You know, you can't help them all,” the man chided.

The boy stopped and gazed down the endless stretch of shimmering sand before he turned to face the old man. “I know. . . but I can save this one,” he replied as he tossed another grateful crustacean into the sea.

Norma Berens, the director of the Hudsonville Love INC office expressed her passion for their work this way.

“We empower volunteers to meet the needs of the community," she says. "There is no end to what we can accomplish together in the name of Christ.”

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