From Board Chair, Pat Schwartz’s message at this year’s Dinner/Auction:
In 2016, we established goals to prepare us to move to Transformational Ministry, focusing on building relationships with those we serve. As you might expect, our best laid plans, based upon our worldly wisdom got what they deserved—REVISION. He took our well-crafted, measured plans and said, “Step aside while I get this going!” He began to work—in a big way.
Here are a few examples of what He has done this year:
Thrift store leader
Many of the Love INC affiliates around the country fund a significant portion of their operations through a resale/thrift store. It is a dream for Love INC of Lake County to be able to launch such a store so that we can provide more and deeper services to those in need. As much as we wanted to move toward a store, we lacked the people and resources to move ahead on it. Well, God is at work.
He put forward a wonderful woman from Village Church of Gurnee who has a vision and a passion for such a store. Lynn Tylkowski had had one of those work days we all experience where she cried out to God on the way home and said, “God, I don’t think I can do this anymore. Please help me find a way out of this job and into something where I can make a difference for You.” Two days later, Lynn’s employer came to her with a retirement buy-out package. About that time, Lynn learned of Love INC’s dream of a thrift store. Let us just say that Lynn was inspired and embraced that idea. Another way of saying it is she grabbed hold of it with both hands and started shaking it until plans and possibilities fell out.
We have our leader!
Thrift store location
After several months of searching for suitable sites in the target area at a rent that made sense, the results were pretty discouraging. We had all but given up on finding suitable space. However, hope has been renewed as a there have been several circumstances that have provided encouragement and confirmation that God wants us to pursue this path.
A very significant one is that Village Church of Gurnee has agreed to provide 50% of its special Thanksgiving Offering to help with start-up costs for this store. It was very difficult to see how we would have been able to launch this initiative without this provision from our Lord.
The search for the space God wants us to have continues, but we are currently negotiating on an ideal space on Grand Avenue in Gurnee. God is at work.
In order to efficiently run a thrift store, we believed a couple of things were needed at our current location that just didn’t fit into the 2016 budget.
One, was to open a wall between the two adjoining warehouses we occupy so donations can be organized, prepared, and staged for sale in the thrift store. Without Love INC making an external appeal for this need, God provided. Christ Church of Highland Park heard of what we were contemplating and provided the $7,000 required to purchase and install a fire code compliant garage door between the warehouses. Skilled tradesmen from Village Church of Gurnee offered to do the required demo and installation work.
The second was that we needed to acquire and install a washer and dryer to prepare clothing for resale in the store. During a bus tour visit by a group from Christ Church of Lake Forest, Spark explained our wish to have facilities to launder donated clothes before we distribute them. At the end of the tour, a couple who had just been exposed to Love INC for the first time pulled Spark aside and said they would like to provide an industrial washer and dryer for our use. Again, men from Village Church of Gurnee provided the labor to install the required electrical and gas hookups.
God supplied the funds and resources for these needs– in both cases, without making a wide appeal for assistance. He is at work!
Addition of key staff position
Our new Transformational Ministry model requires a tremendous amount of administrative support, leadership and strategic planning. We struggled to figure out how we could free capacity of the staff to be able to follow where God was leading us.
Then, God again demonstrated He is at work. Marcia Otting from Trinity Community Church in Libertyville was new to Love INC and had embraced the vision for the new, relationship-based ministry model. Marcia was in the process of retiring from a career with Intel Corporation and she came to Spark and indicated that the Intel Foundation would pay for her to serve in a leadership role in a charitable organization for a year. An application process was involved but suffice it to say that we now have an immensely talented and dedicated Transformation Ministry Coordinator to plan and implement our new programs. God is at work!
Opening doors to new churches
Many of the that people Love INC of Lake County serves are in diverse communities of Waukegan and North Chicago. While Love INC volunteers have served people in those areas for many years, we have not attracted the levels of participation in the ministry from these areas that we hoped for.
We believe that to bring the people most in need of assistance into programs that will help them transform their lives, we must have a greater number of people from those communities involved with Love INC, particularly in leadership roles in the ministry and programs.
This summer, Spark and Board Member Jeff Jones made a deliberate effort to reach out to prominent pastors and leaders in these communities and met with three individuals to explain the transformation model we are adopting. We believe doors have been opened. Some of the things the pastors said were, “Love INC is onto something there!”, and “The message of transformation is good…because it is a holistic approach to helping people to a more stable place.” So far, those pastors have enlisted at least 3 individuals to join in our work toward a transformative ministry.
In these and so many more ways, GOD IS AT WORK!
Dinner/Auction Fun and Fellowship