By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Service to others is an integral part of Christianity. Each local church or organization has found its own way to minister to the needs of the poor, cold or hungry of the community, resulting in a patchwork of services available across the region. This created a sometimes problematic situation, where a person with specific or broad needs might require more than what their local church can meet, but that person's needs might be met by the collective abilities of several churches. Better that they all network together, and that's just what the organizers of Love INC are seeking to accomplish.
Love INC – the INC stands for "In the Name of Christ" – is an organization that is headquartered in Saint Paul, Minnesota, which started in 1977 and which currently has 155 affiliates around the country. Each affiliate employs a model that connects the local Christian churches and service organizations through a network. Love INC aims to act as a clearinghouse, so that when a person with a particular set of problems approaches a member of the network, the other members of the network can be leveraged to work together to more efficiently, and more effectively, provide charitable works.
A group of local people, representing a variety of churches and denominations, is organizing Love in the Name of Christ of the Lakes Region, which aims to bring such a network to central New Hampshire. Patrick's Pub and Eatery in Gilford is hosting a fundraiser to help launch the effort. From Dec. 11 to Dec. 15, diners who mention the organization will have 25 percent of their bill donated to Love INC which is opening an office in Laconia and which hopes to hire a part-time administrator.
Though the local effort is in its infancy, there are already 10 partners already on board, including some notable agencies such as the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, and the Salvation Army. Ultimately, organizers hope to include up to 60 local Christian entities, including members of all Christian denominations.
"One church can't do it by themselves," said Ron DeDucca, one of the organizers of Love INC of the Lakes Region, "but if we can be unified, we can do it in a much more effective manner."
A common problem for churches, DeDucca said, is that 90 percent of the work is performed by 10 percent of its members – the other church members might feel too busy or otherwise unable to help. Part of the Love INC model is to solicit "talent surveys" from member organizations, so that each person's abilities might be recorded and applied to a particular need. For example, a mechanic might be able to help a person get their car running, while another could help write a resume.
Ultimately, the goal of Love INC is to gather together thousands of talents so that individuals who come looking for a basic need can be helped in ways far greater. Linda Wright said the organization hopes to someday be able to offer classes, such as job interviewing skills, nutrition and cooking, and parenting.
For more information, visit www.loveinclr.org.
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