LOVE INC PIERCE COUNTY HISTORY
Love In the Name of Christ Pierce County exists to unify the Body of Christ, meeting the needs of our neighbors. Since 2002, we have been privileged to serve over 43,389 families in the county, impacting countless more lives. Today, we have 4 staff members, a Clearinghouse, Christian Bookstore, various Gap Ministries, and over 100 local church partners.
In 2000, a group of 11 churches came together, (Tacoma Christian Reformed Community Church, Harvard Covenant Church, Champion Centre, Lion of Judah Evangelistic Center, Lake City Community Church, Peninsula Christian Fellowship, Calvary Community Church, Covenant Christian Fellowship, New Horizon’s Community Church,(Now called Club 1), Lake Tapps Christian Church, Summit Christian Fellowship, Bonney Lake Community Church.)
wanting to work together to meet the needs of their community. They were tired of working alone, being overwhelmed by the multitude of the need in Pierce County. The first year and half of Love INC was focused on getting the organization off the ground, struggling the whole way. After much hard work, it looked as if Love INC Pierce County was going to close.
However, in July 2002, things turned around. Sherry Phinisey came on as new volunteer Executive Director, relaunching the dream of those 11 churches. She moved the office from the storage closet of a church (with no room for volunteers,) to the new office was a 70 year old mobile home with three desks, one computer, and a fax machine. With a part time 9 hrs week Clearinghouse manager and various volunteers, the church base grew from 11 churches to over 100 within three years.
What started as a Clearinghouse that received 25 calls a month, had grown to over 500 calls by 2011 (averaging around 300). Our first year’s budget was $30,000 dollars, we currently average $200,000 year to run all of our programs.
Take a look at our brief timeline:
- 2002 Love INC relaunches in a mobile home.
- 2004 Offices move to a 970 square foot building, adding 3 more work stations to accommodate an increase in volunteers.
- 2005 Our Furniture Bank opens, providing beds, dressers, and linens to our clients.
- 2006 Staff has grown to 5; We run a Bridges Out of Poverty class for clients.
- 2007 The Northwest Furniture Bank began operating in Pierce County so we discontinued our furniture bank in 2009.
- 2009 Office move to Lakewood, adding even more work stations for new volunteers.
- 2010 Love’s Treasury opens, launching our Christian Bookstore, Personal Care Pantry, Musical Instrument Bank, and Prom Dress Ministry. (Discontinued the musical instruments and prom dresses 2012. Gave the items to local high schools.)
- 2011 Built a custom Client Management System to better serve our neighbors and partnering churches.
- 2012 Restructure: Due to budget cuts ($35,000), and the loss of one major donor, and the new automated system, we reduced our staff and one of our locations. We operate all ministry out of one site in Puyallup, WA.
- 2014-2016 We have trained 17 non profits and provided them their own customized web-based client management systems. In 2016 the value of this system was recognized by the National Love INC who wants to advertise it at the National conference this year.
- 2014 We kicked off the Jobs for Life transformational ministry program. This is a 16 week job readiness program that is strongly supported by mentors for each student that are recruited from partnering churches.We have had over 90 participants with over an 80% success rate for participating students.
LOVE INC NATIONAL HISTORY
Love INC Pierce County is an affiliate of a national movement. Below is a history of our National Beginning. Love INC was founded in 1977 as a way to encourage churches to become more engaged with the poor and to inspire a greater number of Christians to put their faith in action. Love INC’s founder, Dr. Virgil Gulker, was a social worker and outreach director in Holland, Michigan, in the late 1970s. Deeply committed to helping people trapped in poverty, he was certain God had called others to the same mission. As he talked to church members and pastors, Dr. Gulker came to understand that Christians did indeed want to help the needy, but they had few ideas about how to do so. Many times people did not even recognize that they were gifted in ways that could have a positive impact on someone else’s life. It was clear to Dr. Gulker that if churches were to better serve their communities, they needed leadership, organization, training, encouragement, and prayer. He developed the Love INC model to fill these critical roles. Love INC taught churches to assess their capabilities, and it unified local congregations so that, working together, they could more effectively help their neighbors. One man’s idea for an integrated church ministry in Holland, Michigan, began to inspire Christians in many different regions. Others duplicated the Love INC model—with its successes—as they sought to meet the needs of hurting individuals and families in their own communities. By the late 1980s, there were 50 Love INC affiliates operating in 14 states. As the Love INC ministry grew, so did the need for national leadership and support. In 1988, Love INC became an operating department of World Vision U.S., an international Christian relief and development organization, where it remained for the next 15 years. Under World Vision, Love INC continued to grow throughout the 1990s, and in 2003 Love INC separated from World Vision and again became its own national nonprofit organization, headquartered in Minneapolis. Today Love INC has over 150 affiliates in 30 states, representing a network of more than 9,000 churches, 7,000 community agencies, and nearly 300,000 volunteers meeting more than 1 million needs each year.