By Genine Hopkins
The multi-denominational group Love INC (Love in the name of Christ) is on a mission. That mission is to make a real difference in the lives of those in poverty, using networking for services and providing them with the pride to move out of their situation. With such high goals, this task would be difficult at best, but to these many devoted people it is an inspired passion.
Love INC seeks to unite community churches of all denominations to provide a partnership that creates a model of mobilization that can fulfill what they feel is a Biblical mandate to reach out to the community. Their goals are to be “an instrument of transformation” for both the many volunteers as well their clients.
Speaking with Amber D. Prout, the Executive Director for the Isabella County Love INC, it is clear that respect and listening is needed badly.
“Michigan and local communities have many services that often people in need aren’t aware exist. We guide them in finding the best program, but we also do something that entities like DHS can’t do, we ask our clients what they need and how we can help them attain independence.”
Prout was quick to point out that Love INC is not in competition in providing services. They simply help define the gaps, identify them so that volunteer groups can help fill them. They keep a database to prevent abuse and provide both love and listening to clients.
“There should be growth for givers as well as recipients,” she stated, “We seek to establish relationships. Every client request is responded to with an in depth interview. We don’t just serve them and go away; we help them as they confront their obstacles and help them overcome them.”
The nationwide organization was founded right here in Michigan in 1977. Currently there are over 150 affiliates stretching around the globe. Although spirituality is definitely why the many volunteers heed the calling, clients are not required to engage in any spiritual preaching, but the volunteers are free to share their view on faith as they feel necessary. It is in the acts themselves that they feel should motivate or inspire clients to learn more about whatever faith they feel called.
Prout herself felt called to serve, working as a volunteer before assuming the command in Isabella County. Growing up in poverty, she feels that the experiences as a child make her job not only fulfilling, but provides her with the understanding of that poverty cycle, something that she is determined to diminish if not extinguish through her work.
“We don’t just give hand outs; we follow through. Often clients are seeking one service, but in reality, there is something else at the core of their problem that they either may not realize or be afraid to ask help for. It’s so important that we figure out that doorknob question, the one that often goes unasked, to truly give them the tools to change their situation.”
Clare County also has an affiliate of Love INC, and they have touched the lives of many of this county’s citizens. The Executive Director’s office is located in Farwell, and any citizens wishing to seek guidance or needing a helping hand can contact them at 588-8990.