What can I do? How can I make a difference? And will my contribution be significant enough to make a difference? In other words, why bother?
These are all questions that you may have asked yourself when faced with a request to support, donate or volunteer.
I began volunteering in 2006, once a month, on Saturday mornings for Love INC’s furniture ministry. I recruited a good friend, and he and I would spend 4-5 hours picking up used furniture from people downsizing, moving out, or simply moving on. We picked up sofas, beds, dressers, kitchen tables and chairs, hauling them back to the Love INC warehouse for distribution to people in need. At the warehouse clients that had been interviewed by the Love INC Clearinghouse would shop for items that they needed. They would select their items, and a crew would deliver them to their home or apartment.
At first I was unsure how this small operation could make a difference. Where’s the need? I had lived in Livingston County since 1986 and didn’t know any people that lived in poverty, I didn’t even know what poverty in my town looked like.
What’s unique about Livingston County is that we have the lowest poverty level in Michigan (7%) yet poverty is so close to all of us. You drive by it daily. As we hit the freeway traveling to the Detroit suburbs, Flint, Lansing, or Ann Arbor for work each day we pass by the homeless and the impoverished. In Brighton and Howell poverty melds itself into the landscape, almost undetectable.
The reality is in a county of 186,000 people and 74,000 households, 7% poverty means that almost 13,000 people, or nearly 5,200 households, don’t have the means to provide for basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. They are most likely unemployed and struggling to survive in the most affluent county in Michigan.
In 2006 as I volunteered my eyes were opened to the face of poverty. Not only did we pick-up furniture donations, we delivered furniture to those without. Countless times we would be dispatched to a trailer park or an apartment complex to deliver beds, a kitchen table, or a sofa to a single mother; left homeless by a husband that fled Michigan for work elsewhere, leaving her with small children, no income, and no home. To see these faces, to bring a ray of hope to their lives, to provide comfort and a place to sleep besides the floor was one of the most impactful experiences of my life….all within a few miles of my home.
Love INC makes a difference. As we mobilize churches to serve the community we bring hope for a better tomorrow, we bring love that changes hearts and we do this because we are all called to serve others in His name. Today, Love INC serves 5,800 residents and 2,400 households here in Livingston County, less than half of the 7% struggling to make life bearable. We could do so much more with your help.
You may think that you don’t have time or resources to help your neighbor, but you do. You may consider your contribution to be too small to make a difference, but even a little helps. Volunteer-- even 4-5 hours a month WILL make a difference in somebody’s life, I guarantee it.
Everyone was put on this earth to make a difference to the world in our own unique way. You may not be able to feed 50 people, but you can feed one (donate to our food banks). The amount of your contribution isn’t important, it’s that you do something and have a heart to serve. You can help change the world by helping, one person at a time, in the name of Christ.
If you would like to talk about how you can help contact the Love INC Clearinghouse at (517) 552-3620.
Ron Craddock, Board Chair
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