By Stephen Anderson
Daily Mining Gazette/Stephen Anderson
Scott Sacrey, executive director of Love INC?of the Copper Country, stands next to a banner highlighting the core values of the company at its Hancock clearinghouse.
HANCOCK - Love INC of the Copper Country, a new local nonprofit organization, strives to help the poor and needy in the area, but it also has a much greater goal in mind when it opens operations April 17.
Love In the Name of Christ, based out of downtown Hancock, has an ultimate goal of transforming lives. It uses a ministry model that's proved successful at 160 nationwide Love INC affiliates, and it follows what Christians believe is the ultimate model.
"We're called to be like Christ, and to be like Christ is to be caring and compassionate," Love INC of the Copper Country Executive Director Scott Sacrey said. "That's what Love INC wants to do and we feel we have a good model to do that."
Love INC follows four steps to meet people's needs. First, Houghton County residents who need food, clothing, transportation, family help, etc. call the Love INC clearinghouse, where an intake volunteer collects necessary information.
Second, the volunteer analyzes and verifies the need to ensure it is legitimate, well-defined and manageable.
"This is a great way where a true need comes to the surface and can be verified," said Love INC of the Copper Country Board Chair and Evangel Baptist Church Associate Pastor Nate Marsh, who was first approached about the idea for the organization by Sharen Sam, a member of his congregation.
"The person who wants to serve can serve in a way that's God-honoring to them, but will also have a real impact," Marsh added. "It's a really, really good model that I really think will help our churches be known for what they should be known for."
Third, the volunteer will identify and match willing volunteers and material resources from a database of partnering churches, business partners and individual volunteers.
"Love INC is that central mainframe and central location so all the ministries of the church can be plugged in centrally so people aren't abusing the ministries of the church, but also so they can know what's available to them," said Sacrey, who was hired by the board of directors in October.
Finally, Love INC volunteers make follow-up calls to ensure the need has been met and to check for any additional needs.
"They get to see the church is not just about denominations and being a member and being a part of a special club; it's about sharing the love of Christ and having a relationship with God, and having a reconciliation with God that brings about life transformation," Marsh said. "Our goal is to really see the person change through their experience with Love INC, accept Christ as their Savior and then hopefully from there develop and continue to grow as a person."
Instead of duplicating current church ministries or organization efforts, Love INC hopes to meet new needs while referring people to well-established agencies where similar services are already being provided locally.
In that sense, it's more of a new networking channel that maximizes local ministry potential instead of competing against other organizations.
One service Love INC does differentiate itself from is government assistance.
"Their system is you meet the need with some type of financial support, and that only creates dependency on that. This creates a cycle where Love INC helps people overcome that and become self-supportive," Marsh said.
Sacrey added that it's not about giving people handouts, but giving them a hand up, through the church.
"It's time the church boldly shared its gifts, and I think Love INC administrates that very well," Sacrey said.
As a nonprofit organization, Love INC relies on donations from churches, individuals and businesses. That money goes toward clearinghouse operations and paying full-time employees. According to Marsh, a downstate Love INC calculated that for every dollar donated to Love INC, a value of $55 is created.
So far 16 Houghton County churches have committed to partnering with Love INC, and organizers expect that number to grow.
"We haven't quite done ministry yet, so a lot of people are kind of waiting around to see how this is actually going to work," Marsh said. "We're pretty excited that we'll see even more churches get on board once we get going."
An open house will be held at the clearinghouse from 1 to 3 p.m. April 16 at the clearinghouse, which is located at 323 Quincy St. in downtown Hancock. Operations start April 17 and the clearinghouse will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. According to Sacrey, needs may be met at any time, but processing those needs and connecting them with the appropriate resource will be limited to those times, at least for now.
For more information about Love In the Name of Christ of the Copper Country, or to become a volunteer, visit loveincofcc.org or facebook.com/loveincofcc. The ministry help line is 523-5407.
"I feel very confident come April 17 those phones will be ringing off the hook," Sacrey said. "Our volunteers are eager and our churches are excited."