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SEASONS CHANGE & SO MUST WE

 Seasons Change

FROM SHERRY

Love INC has been going through a lot of changes the past year. For some change is very difficult. I was reading a book recently called, “Necessary Endings” by Dr. Henry Cloud and he described much of what we have been experiencing. He said, “Life produces too much life.  Smart companies prune their clients, products or staff, focusing on those who deliver the most profitability with the fewest resources. Businesses prune activities, alliances, and individuals drop out of some social ties. These people have accepted the reality that they generate more activity than they can fruitfully handle. So they can cut these ties without feeling that something is wrong, or that they are being mean to someone. They respect the fact that there are limits to what they can do, to whom or what they can invest in.”

SNAPSHOT OF 2011

In the past Love INC has tried to help with just every need that is referred to us. Over the years more and more people get referred to us, but the investment into the ministry by the churches to help them hasn’t increased to help us meet the need. Times are tough on everyone and budgets have been reduced in Churches which then affects us as donations get decreased as well.  Last September we made the decision to not do screening or referrals for help with rental assistance. Our call volume had reached into the 300+ families a month and higher and was pushing our small staff to an unmanageable workload.  To give you an example of the volumes: From January to May of 2011  we were asked for more than $549,622.7 in assistance. We were only able to recruit help from partnering churches for about $37.804.00  To me that is still a lot of help in a 5 month period, but only 7% of the needs we were spending hours screening and talking to people for.  I couldn’t keep hiring more people with donations decreasing.

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Improving Our System

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On average it takes about an hour to work with each family that calls us. We couldn’t keep up with the need and it was taking away from the quality of help we could do.

In October the Board of Directors noted that we had to reduce our 2012 expenses by $35,000 because  donations were decreasing.  With the elimination of rental assistance we were able to do a better quality of work with fewer clients. We still got above 250 families a month but weren’t turning so many away for lack of resources. We reduced staff hours and closed down our Lakewood office, all to bring expenses down by the $35,000.  At the beginning of 2012 we were paying 60 staff hours a week for Client managers to take calls from families in need.  That is the equivalency of 1.5 Full time employees split between 3 people.

CHANGES IN 2012

In 2012 now we are located in one building. From January to May of 2012 we still have been asked for $219,143.00 in financial assistance for utility help (to keep electricity from being shut off, and food from spoiling in households of low income families). We have been able to recruit help from partnering churches for about $ 41,207.00 so far this year, which is actually up from last year! We have received calls for help from 1342 adults needing assistance. 974 of those families were first time, unduplicated callers to the ministry.

Since June of last year we had built an automated online database that has streamlined our client management processes and helped save hours in reporting statistics that we need showing what we are doing for the churches and community funders. This was built in such a way that we now share it with 5 other Love INC’s that didn’t have such technology in the past to use in ministry. We are blessed to be a blessing in many ways! It was a huge change for many employees who had never worked in this kind of computerized environment.

FURNITURE BANK

Recently we had to close down our little furniture bank. It was actually a big garage at our Executive Director’s property and has been filled with so many ministry things, office desks that couldn’t be moved to the smaller office, pantry items that aren’t needed yet, Linens for the beds, that there is no more room for furniture.  If there is a church or business that would like to host the furniture bank at no charge to the ministry than we can re-open it.  There needs to be at least 3,000 square feet.

Dr. Henry Cloud goes on to say, “Believe in Life Cycles and Seasons. They are real. Therefore, when the days get shorter or it is time to change, you will not think that “something is wrong” but will accept the change as readily as a farmer accepts the turning of the calendar. Then you will be able to end the previous season’s appropriate activities and move to the next.”

NEXT STEPS

We are in the process of looking forward and implementing a Christian relational program called Jobs for Life. Instead of just giving a fish (or financial assistance) we want to help people learn how to fish, (build character traits and work behaviors to not only get, but keep jobs.) This is an excellent program but to do it we need to mobilize the church. We need people willing to be mentors for the students. Role models that show it makes a huge difference in living the Christian life in the workplace and in life as a whole. There is more information on our website, loveincpiercecounty.org talking about how you can get involved in this role of significance in the life of another.

Speaking of new! We need to build our leadership team and are looking for more people to serve on our Board of Directors! If you are interested, email me at Execdir@loveincpiercecounty.com . This could be your season!

Love INC has built so many relationships along this 10 year journey, new churches, staff in churches retiring and new staff taking their place, new donors from our annual dinners, new board members on our leadership team.  We look forward to this new season in all that will bring God glory as we continue to help churches help those in need.

Sherry Phinisey 

Executive Director

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