According to the Census Bureau Report, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015, 43 million Americans live in poverty. Children make up 14 million of that number. A New York Times article discussed the report which shows 3.5 million people inched above the poverty line in 2015. It was in large part due to increased wages, jobs, hours of employment, and a decrease in gas prices. In fact, in another article by Robert Greenstein the key indicators of well-being in the Census Bureau Report all moved decisively. The number of uninsured Americans decreased, household income increased, and the poverty rate fell. The poverty rate is showing the largest improvement since 1968.
These numbers point to the real stories. Like Chevyonne Grayson, who started as a day laborer. He was paying $300 a month to sleep on someone’s couch. With the help of a training program (The Los Angeles Black Worker Center) he was able to get into the carpenter’s union. He is now able to afford housing and transportation. Christine Magee, a mother of four, joined a Family Self—Sufficiency Program in Chicago. During the program she earned a job at a veteran’s hospital with better pay, health benefits, and educational benefits. At graduation from the program she had more than $8,000 in savings for a down payment on a home.
There are proven ways to give people a hand up out of poverty. Cascade Engineering’s Welfare-to-Career program is an example of industry creating a program. Family Self Sufficiency is a HUD program that’s being used with some success, and New Creation is a series of classes from Love INC. The things that are making lasting improvements in people’s lives include training, education, programs that act as a safety net, and mentoring. We can keep moving the bubble for adults and children living in poverty. It takes all of us.
Last week was an amazing week at Love INC! Our Heart for Giving Fundraising Dinner was held on March 2nd At Cornerstone Church. As usual the food and fellowship was wonderful, and the venue was beautiful. We were richly blessed by the many people that gave generously during the evening. We were also so blessed that Pastor Clark from Grace Gospel Fellowship joined us to share his stories about the miracles that happened as they developed over the past 50 years. He even compared our New Creation program to the early days of his ministry! Wow!
Along with those blessings, we began our first New Creation: A Transformational Journey class with our clients. While the initial class size is small (we expected that), the volunteers and participants made true connection the very first night. Several people shared their own life stories and struggles, and it is in the different journeys that we see our “sameness”.
So many times in non-profit organizations we get busy with the whirlwind of activities and details. It is weeks like this that make us all realize how blessed we are to walk beside individuals as they transform their lives. Praise God!
People are always surprised when we talk about the homeless people in Livingston County. It seems hard to believe, but we have homeless people in one of the most affluent counties in Michigan. We also don't have a homeless shelter. So what do we do?
A collaboration of area churches, along with OLHSA, the Salvation Army, and Love INC, are working together on the Severe Weather Network (SWN). They are working to provide physical, mental, and spiritual refuge to individuals struggling with homelessness. During 2016 the SWN operated for 5 weeks. During that time they provided overnight stays for 21 individuals, representing 278 stays over 35 nights.
That not only represents 21 people receiving food, fellowship, transportation and a safe place to spend the night, but also $12,232 in value based on a motel cost of $44 per night. Even better, of the 21 guests served by the SWN, 11 moved on to stable housing.
The SWN is hosted by area churches, a month at a time. If you're looking to volunteer your time, and serve your community, this is a great opportunity. You can volunteer for a few days, a week, or more! You can help with meals, transportation, supplies, or even cash. If this sounds like something you'd like to be involved in, or you'd like to ask more questions, contact us.
"9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29-31.
Love INC transforms lives through the love and power of Christ. For me, being involved as a Love INC board member is like a calling, and I’m grateful to utilize the giftedness God has given me. I have never been involved in an organization that so embodies the principles that Jesus taught and lived. He met people where they were at, developed the relationship, and they experienced transformed lives.
Our Livingston County “neighbors” all have varying degrees of need. Whether it is physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, or financial. Love INC partners with many churches and other organizations to a level that amazes me, they meet so many needs in the community. All the volunteers I have met in the organization bring their own talents and giftedness with a warm smile and heart, as well as a desire to see lives changed. I’m grateful for such collaboration, volunteerism, and love.
It gives me goosebumps and joy to think of, and hear of, the lives that have been changed and to see God provide for people and ministries with resources in ways, I find it mindboggling at times. I’m regularly informed and encouraged, with tears welling up in my eyes, by the cards that are shared of stories from people Love INC has helped.
So why do I volunteer? It’s a calling, a ministry of compassion, and a ministry of courage. Love INC reaches out to people to provide not just a hand out, but a hand up in ways most people or organizations cannot do.
Will it be messy at times? Sure. You cannot do life in the trenches, you cannot have relationships, without expecting that things can get difficult and messy at times. After all, we are all sinners by nature. It is only the grace and power of the Living God that can change us.
This is going to be such a blast, and several of the area church youth groups are participating! On Friday, November 4th students from area churches will Sleep on the Floor to bring awareness to homelessness and poverty in Livingston County. Each student will have their own fundraising page to raise funds for Love INC. Donations will be used by Love INC for homelessness, mattresses, and other Love INC ministries that assist people in need in Livingston County.
This is an excerpt from a Bridge Magazine article by Nancy Derringer on June 30, 2016, "Michigan's low investment in childcare costs state and poor children alike"
We'd love to hear your thoughts.
Helen Blank is the director of childcare and early learning at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington D.C.
The nonprofit center, which advocates for policies that promote greater opportunity for women and their families, tracks subsidized child care closely, seeing it as a key issue for working parents.
It isn’t just a nice-to-have benefit for the poor, Blank said, but a must-have benefit if low-income parents are to be able to fill new jobs being created in today’s economy, which especially in Michigan are disproportionately low-wage, with non-traditional, often erratic hours.
“Look at the needs of these moms,” said Blank. “I’m glad Michigan has a new investment in pre-K (for four-year-olds). That was good, but don’t exempt child care.”
(In 2013, the state expanded Great Start Readiness Program by $65 million a year, which allowed up to 30,000 lower-income 4-year-olds to attend quality preschool free of charge. Bridge reporting helped make the case for expanding the program to policymakers and the public.)
Blank said 22 percent of mothers of children under 3 in Michigan work in low-wage jobs and would generally qualify for child-care subsidies nationwide. Federal rules establish a broad framework for the program, but gives states considerable latitude in shaping it to their own states – and benefits vary widely.
“You have to understand what the value of this issue is to families and our economy,” Blank said. “(High-quality child care) helps children get a strong start to help them succeed, and it helps mothers work.”
We couldn't have asked for better weather, and the food was amazing, as always. Thanks Whispering Pines! And thank you to all our car exhibitors, our sponsors, and our awesome volunteers. We also want to thank Bob Dutko for sharing his time to act as the 6th Annual Le Concours de Livingston Grand Marshall. We are blessed. The biggest blessing is that funds raised will help people in need in Livingston County. We are thankful we live in such a generous community.
Katherine Janego, Executive Director
The 6th Annual Le Concours de Livingston is fast approaching, and it's always a fun time. Most people know we have amazing cars:
The afternoon also includes yummy food, entertainment, and great silent and live auction items. There are trips, artwork, sporting events, and more! Don't miss it this year, you'll have a blast!
Spring is always a new awakening, especially in Michigan, as we suddenly hear birds chirping, see flowers blooming, and the grass, only weeks ago full of snow, now is the beautiful lush color of green that only God can produce. With our newest ministry, Redemptive Compassion, we feel a renewed awakening for our affiliate, and for our families we serve, walking with them as they begin an independence they may have never experienced before.
The Core Values of Redemptive Compassion are:
- We see everyone's value
- We invest relationally in others
- We help everyone achieve their God-given potential
- We require mutual contribution and participation
- We respond with discernment and wisdom
- We serve in ways that transform
We ask for your prayers as we embark on this necessary, loving ministry. It will be exciting, challenging, empowering, and uniting for all of our churches and volunteers.
Katherine B. Janego, Executive Director
Love INC is a place of many people from many churches. It's a beautiful thing. Along the way we need to gather together to share information and update each other. That's just what happened a few weeks ago as people from several churches and many ministries met at the Love INC office.
The best part of the day was the encouragement we all felt as we discussed our current work, as well as the vision for upcoming work. What resonated throughout the afternoon was the commitment to vision, compassion, and transformation.
We are so thankful for everyone that came together to continue to invest in the true transformation of people our neighbors in need.