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Love INC provides a variety of services to northern county residents, regardless of faith

PHIL HAWKINS - Guests at the sixth annual Love INC dinner and auction on Oct. 27 peruse the silent auction tables. The auction raised more than $30,000.Chances are, if you know someone in need, they can be served by Love In the Name of Christ.

Love INC of North Marion County fills what is called gap ministries, meaning it fills in the gaps to help people, whether they're in need of a home or in need of job skills. But it's not an organization that will just hand out a one-time money donation or attempt a quick fix.

"Our ultimate goal is to be able to give them hand up and not a handout," explained board President Christina Barboza. "So we help provide sustainability."

She said, for example, if someone comes to Love INC and is being evicted, instead of just handing over a rent check, Love INC volunteers will dig a bit deeper to find out what led up to this point, whether the individual lost a job or there's an illness in the family. Then volunteers connect that person with resources to address the root issue.

"If there are services that could be provided by another agency, we want to capitalize on those existing services," Barboza said.

It's a concept that has buy-in from multiple churches around town. Each church in the Love INC network specializes in a specific ministry. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church has a baby clothing closet, while Woodburn Church of Christ offers bedding, bath and kitchen supplies.

"In the past, we had muitliple churches helping separately and they were spread thin," Barboza said. "This way, each church has a need it focuses on."

Love INC, based out of Church of Christ on Hardcastle Avenue, is a clearinghouse for those gap ministries.

The ministry spreads beyond the churches. Local dentists volunteer their time every three months to provide services in the Love INC dental van. Another anonymous businessman donates 20 rolls of quarters ($200) monthly to help client families get their laundry washed.

Barboza said that whether a client is served is not contingent on whether their religious beliefs align with the organization's.

"We believe in Christ and we're all servants to the Lord, so we spread love and treat every individual who crosses our path how Jesus would," she said. "Regardless of their faith base, they can come and seek services."

Nearly 1,800 people have been served this year alone by Love INC of North Marion County, which operates on what it calls three pillars: immediate needs (helping people in poverty), relational needs (helping people get out of poverty through mentoring, counseling services, life skills training and more) and systemic needs (to eliminate the causes of poverty). One way Love INC is working on that third pillar is by launching a task force of 30 to 40 community volunteers that meet monthly to discuss collective problem-solving and resource sharing.

Love INC raises money through donations, but also its annual auction, which brought in over $30,000 this past October, as well as through a golf tournament, which raised more than $8,000 in July.

The Love INC office, located at Woodburn Church of Christ at 1560 Hardcastle Ave., is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Call 971-983-LOVE (5683), email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit http://www.loveincnmc.org for more information.

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