June 04, 2014 - By C.J. Carnacchio
"If somebody is given some hope, there's a lot that they can do."
Sandy Weaver knows whereof she speaks because for the last seven years she's been in the business of giving people hope as the executive director of Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC) of North Oakland County.
"Everybody has value," she said. "We're not judgmental."
Weaver's helped countless people put food in their bellies, keep a roof over their heads and change their lives for the better.
But now she's ready to retire and Love INC is looking for someone to succeed her.
"I've been talking about retiring for probably four years," said Weaver, who served as treasurer for Oxford-Orion FISH, a local food pantry, for four-and-a-half years prior to Love INC. "It's a hard decision."
Love INC of North Oakland County is a nonprofit cooperative effort that links churches, volunteers and service agencies, and helps them organize their efforts to reach out to the poor and disadvantaged.
The organization functions as a clearinghouse for people in need. Through Love INC, folks get connected with local churches and agencies that provide assistance.
That assistance includes help with rent and utilities, food, car repairs, gasoline cards, minor home repairs, household goods, clothing, personal needs, counseling, laundry and community meals.
The clearinghouse averages over 500 calls per month and last year, received more than 5,000 calls for assistance.
To help clients meet their needs, Love INC utilizes the resources of the 26 area churches affiliated with it, plus 25 local and state government agencies and countless area nonprofit groups and businesses.
Unlike many other charitable groups, Love INC doesn't simply meet an individual or family's needs and move on. The group becomes a partner, trying to improve their lives.
"We always follow up," Weaver said. "Even when we think the need is met, we follow up to see how they're doing.
"Sometimes they're doing fine and they're just grateful. Sometimes they're still in despair, so we try to keep working with them. We don't leave them hanging. We'll be there as long as they need us."
Weaver noted a lot of people get "kind of stuck in a rut" and "we're sensitive to that."
"We try to walk alongside of them and give them loving care," she said. "
For Weaver, the most rewarding part of her job has been "seeing people get their lives together and be prosperous."
For example, she noted that through Love INC's former Transitions program – an employment networking and career guidance program that met weekly at Oxford United Methodist Church – "over 100 people found jobs. It was all through networking."
Since March 2007, Love INC has helped more than 1,500 families.
"Some of them end up coming back and volunteering or giving back to the community in some other way," Weaver said. "I think that's the greatest part."
Weaver is very excited about Love INC's new Transformational Ministry through which mentors will identify the issues a person is having and work one-on-one to solve their problems and improve lives.
This mentoring could range from helping formulate a budget plan that stretches a person's limited income to having someone to talk to, according to Weaver.
"There's just no end to what we can do with it."
Of course, Love INC will continue its other successful programs such as the Clothes Closet at St. Mary's in the Hills Episcopal Church in Orion Township and the Bed, Blessings & Beyond/Little Luxuries ministry at Chrst the King Church in Oxford.