Joe and Renae, L.I.F.E. Skills participants
Referred by the Allegan County Resource Development Committee (ACRDC), Joe and Renae started attending L.I.F.E. Skills to seek guidance on their financial and living circumstances. Homeless, unemployed and with two children, they needed help. They started attending classes in Hamilton to take advantage of the Children’s Ministry, an onsite childcare for children of L.I.F.E. Skills participants. However, living in Allegan with relatives and driving to Hamilton every week became a hardship for Joe and Renae. That is when the Allegan program opened their Children’s Ministry for their participants, where they now attend the program. Since then, Joe has found employment, and they are renting a home for their family. “ I went to school for 5 years to become an Accountant, and I’ve learned more from the Budget Class than from school!”, states Renae. The connection they created with other families going through the same struggles is also priceless for them. “I wasn’t a strong Christian, I was very skeptical and didn’t attend church. Two weeks after starting L.I.F.E. Skills, we decided to once again go back. L.I.F.E. Skills has renewed our faith and brought us back to God.”
Julie, L.I.F.E. Skills graduate, volunteer, & former board member
"Julie and her husband joined L.I.F.E. Skills as participants when they realized their new mortgage and credit card bills would be too much to handle. “In L.I.F.E. Skills, we learned to budget our money, and use cash instead of credit. We also learned the importance of good stewardship and how to be frugal by growing a garden, canning, etc.” Upon L.I.F.E. Skills graduation, Julie decided to give back by becoming a Children’s Ministry Volunteer. That was 8 years ago, and today she’s still involved with this ministry. “It has become my mission. You see the need first-hand to teach Jesus to un-churched children. My children are also learning the importance of service.” In the last two years, Julie has also volunteered as a Love INC Board Member. Her life experiences and conquered struggles are some of Love INC’s greatest assets for the Board. “It’s a full circle of love. From being a participant, to a volunteer and now as a Board Member. Why do I continue? The words "break my heart for what break yours" (from the song Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns) speaks to me. That’s what Love INC means in my eyes.”
Ron & Sharon
Ron & Sharon unexpectedly faced a major change in their finances when Ron’s company downsized - he lost his job. With a severance package, they decided to invest in their own business of building furniture. However, while building their business, they needed help budgeting and pantry assistance for their family of five. The L.I.F.E. Skills Program was a good fit for Ron and Sharon. They attended classes and met with their mentor weekly. "L.I.F.E Skills reaffirmed our belief that through faith we can make it,” they said, adding “We are at a point in our finances that we can start giving back.”
Seeking shelter at Sylvia’s Place after leaving an abusive marriage, Glenda had nowhere to turn. A liver transplant recipient and in her 60’s, she also had no idea how to manage her growing debt. That is when Sylvia’s Place referred her to Love INC. Glenda said “I walked in Love INC for the first time with a broken spirit, high debt and feeling lost.” Through the nurturing and guidance of her caseworker and mentor, Glenda is now a graduate of the L.I.F.E. Skills Program. “I followed exactly what my mentor told me to do. Now I’m really close to being debt free! If it wasn’t for L.I.F.E. Skills, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish as much as I did.”
"No one at Love INC judged me, instead they have shown me love and care. The help I am receiving in budgeting, time management and setting boundaries are improving things in my life. Thank you."
“He’s been faithful” - Dodi, L.I.F.E. Skills graduate
“When I first began L.I.F.E. Skills Program, I was a ‘Basket Case.’ Emotionally, I was drained. We had NO income, so how do you budget something you don’t have? We had no place of our own to live...we lived with our son. Our daughter’s children were in foster care. We went through Christmas without our daughter. We weren’t prepared for the call on New Year’s Eve to inform us that she had nearly died from an overdose of heroin. I tell you this because I want you to know that no one is free from the temptations of sin. Without my faith in God, the prayers of his people, I don’t know if I could have survived. I thought about what L.I.F.E. Skills has been to me. It is more than classes, meals, pantries and mentoring. It is friendships we have made, and lives we have shared. People we have laughed with, and cried with, but most importantly, PRAYED FOR!! God, in His infinite wisdom, gave me Mary as my mentor. I had no idea what a perfect pair we would be. Thank you, Lord, for Mary! I am not where I am today because of anything I have done, but because of the loving grace of my Heavenly Father who loves me unconditionally. I fail miserably, BUT He always pick me up and puts me back together...even stronger than before. My faith in God is what sustains me.”
"I was not sure how much L.I.F.E. Skills was going to help me and my family. L.I.F.E. Skills taught me (everyday skills), and gave me hope. We can get ahead without doubts. I found friendships, people like me that want to better themselves. Praise God! These are people who invest their time in positive things like us!"
Tami and Family
To everyone at Love INC,
"Our family would like to thank you for all your prayers and support. We appreciate all of your hard work and efforts in which we have been able to establish a stable home and happy family life. Thank your for your mentoring, advice, friendships and donations, also, for sending two of us to Camp Beechpoint. Kymberli and MacKenzie accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior! And this is the greatest gift of all! May God bless you and all of your families and Love In the Name of Christ."
Eloise, L.I.F.E. Skills graduate, volunteer
Overwhelmed with the daily grind of life, Eloise joined the L.I.F.E. Skills Program in 2012 looking to learn how to manage her finances more successfully. What she found instead was a family in L.I.F.E. Skills. “It gave me hope and fueled the desire for a change. I also learned that being a good steward doesn’t only mean being responsible with finances and tithing to my church, but being responsible with my relationship with others and the choices in my life...totally submitting to God.” In L.I.F.E. Skills, Eloise learned how to budget, new parenting skills, how to deal with her past, and about nutrition. “Twice I had perfect attendance. I was like a sponge wanting to learn everything. I overcame something that was dragging me down: myself!” Today, Eloise and her husband are current with their bills, have an emergency fund, and have been able to help others. Since graduating from the program, Eloise has volunteered every Thursday night trying to help and encourage those in L.I.F.E. Skills. “I’m out of survival mode. I will never be able to give back enough for what L.I.F.E. Skills equipped me with: spiritually, emotionally and financially. To God be the glory!”
Santos and Jody, L.I.F.E. Skills participants
Santos and Jody were in a rough situation. Laid off and with overwhelming bills, Jody decided to contact Love INC after talking to a friend who was going through the same struggles. After the initial contact, Santos and Jody signed up with the L.I.F.E. Skills Program for weekly classes and mentoring. Through L.I.F.E. Skills, they were able to take advantage of the many resources Love INC had to offer on a regular and on-going basis, like the food pantry and personal need items. But one of the most beneficial help they received from L.I.F.E. Skills was the opportunity to meet with a mortgage specialist, who looked through their mortgage documents and found many errors. Their home ownership was in jeopardy and with the help of the specialist, they were able to reduce their mortgage payments and improve their financial burdens. When asked how Love INC changed their lives, Jody said “Love INC showed us we were not alone. They showed us how to manage our budget and taught us skills to help us in everyday life. They showed us there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is hope. They are a caring family.”
Dawn, L.I.F.E. Skills participant and volunteer
“I really have been blessed by the support and fellowship that I am blessed to enjoy. L.I.F.E. Skills has become a balm for my soul when stressed by the financial needs and daily grind. How blessed I have been by my mentor, the godly friends I have made and by the classes. The real blessing is the support, the financial help is the frosting on the cake. I came to L.I.F.E. Skills to get help with food and tangible needs. What I gained was a family who understands, who cares about me and is truly cheering me on. And I get the privilege of supporting and cheering them on too. I am so very blessed!” Dawn
Struggling with a divorce, and having a hard time making ends meet, Ann and her daughter first came to Love INC looking for assistance with food, baby items and personal care. Not only did she receive the material items she was looking for, but she was also blessed with a lot of support and care from the staff and volunteers here at Love INC. "They touched my life because of the care I received. I found out there are people willing to help and listen. Love INC is like a family, my backbone. And she realized that her daughter no longer needed the items Love INC had provided, she knew exactly what to do with them. "I decided to bring them back to Love INC, because I want these items to make a difference in someone else's life, just like it made in mine. I wanted to give back."
Needing help making ends meet, Sally first came to Love INC in 2009. “I needed help with food and clothing, but most of all, I needed moral support”. She started the L.I.F.E. Skills Program, and slowly Sally has made great improvements in her life. She has since finished her G.E.D., has a good full-time job with benefits, and lives on her own in an apartment. “I had no one to turn to. If it wasn’t for the support and care of L.I.F.E. Skills’ staff and volunteers, I’d had fallen back into drugs and alcohol. L.I.F.E. Skills helped me turn my life around.” Her goals now are to buy her own home and regain custody of her children. “I recommend L.I.F.E. Skills to everyone I know who is facing a hard time. It is a wonderful program.”
"My mentor at LIFE Skills is great! I needed someone to encourage me and hold me financially accountable. The church pantries have been such a support and I want to thank the churches and everyone who is involved with and supports the Love INC network."
Mike and Shaunda
Mike and Shaunda live in Pullman with their two children. Love INC has been a place for them to receive and give help in their community. Struggling financially, they first came to Love INC to receive help with some food and personal care items. Because of the care they experienced and the relationships they developed, Love INC became a place they enjoyed visiting. Not wanting only to receive, but to give back, Mike and Shaunda began volunteering on Fridays in the food pantry every week. They have participated in the L.I.F.E. Skills program since last fall. Shaunda says the L.I.F.E. Skills program has "helped me know the difference between needs and wants." Budgeting assistance has improved their financial situation in that they no longer need as much help from the pantries. Last month, a group from Bentheim Reformed Church spent a Saturday at Mike and Shaunda's home helping them with yard work, cleaning and general repair including fixing a floor and laying new carpet. Praise God for the gifts of receiving, giving, relationships and friends.
“I came to Love INC looking for help to get my life back in order. In the L.I.F.E. Skills classes they offered, I have been able to get a handle on my debt and am successfully budgeting my money. I have a renewed belief in God and a better understanding of what “In The Name of Christ” means. I still struggle from time to time, but I now have the tools and power to keep it under control within my budget.”