Often I am asked about Love INC finances and how we determine who gets help. I appreciate any and all questions, as this give me the opportunity to shed light on how Love INC contributes to helping people in need in our community. Each year a certified public accounting firm conducts an independent audit. The audit for 2015 is complete, and the audit did not find any non-compliance issues. We were given a “Clean Audit Opinion.” Marilyn Tutwiler, financial coordinator, keeps our records meticulously accurate. Marilyn is not a full-time employee; however, she spends whatever time necessary to stay on top of every dime that comes in and goes out of Love INC. I personally am grateful to her as she keeps me informed on a daily basis while she keeps all our financial statements, records and reports up to date. She is like most accountants in that if she is one penny off, she will spend night and day until it all is reconciled! I have often teased, that if she retires, so will I!

All other employees perform direct services to clients. What this means is that we spend our workday talking a lot! Answering the phones, answering the door, sitting across from families in distress, sitting across people who are hurt, sick, hopeless, homeless and desperate. Our warehouse guys are picking up donations and delivering furniture and other household items people need. There are four of us who actually talk to clients. There is absolutely no way we could serve anyone without the help of our many dynamic volunteers. We answer about 8,000 calls each year. Our volunteers help us meet this demand. We may not be able to serve all who request help, but we review their case just the same. Some cases take 15 minutes, others take an hour and a half. It just depends on the circumstances.

Love INC has no federal or state funding. All funding comes from our local churches and the Nacogdoches community. We have been a Nacogdoches United Way Affiliate for several years, and these funds are designated exclusively for our Fresh Start program. Clients who want to work on self-sufficiency and comply with their individual action plan are served with United Way funding. Our Back to School event and the Fire and Rescue House are served with the designated funding from Nacogdoches Junior Forum. The Nacogdoches Country Child Welfare Board also donates to Love INC for Nacogdoches County Christmas Blessings. We are grateful for such wonderful support for these programs.

As you may guess, it takes all of us working together along with our volunteers to give everyone the chance to tell their story and review their circumstances. Our policies and procedures and set processes are in place to allow us to review each request on a case by case basis. When the request involves money, the most important issue we look for is how our funding will help with the overall situation. When someone needs help with rent, but the next month the client will be in the same situation, then there may be a bigger problem that may not involve money. Many times we reveal that there is no accounting of where their income goes. We try our best to find a paper trail for their income and their expenses to ensure that we are responsible with the funds that are entrusted to us before we spend them.

Love INC’s outreach programs greatly contribute to making these decisions. We work with other agencies, churches, hospitals, home health agencies and schools. Our own Home Visit teams go, see and listen to folks in their homes. This year, our Adopt A Building (AAB) program has really proven to help build relationships with people in need. Churches involved with AAB go on weekends and serve families in their apartment complexes. These volunteers also go, see and listen to people needing help. We search for people who are truly in need, and we are looking constantly for ways to validate and verify the requests people make. AAB has been a significant advantage to seeking out families that are truly in need.

The AAB program is at risk to continue for 2017 as the salary for the program in 2016 was an anonymous generous gift. This program is vital to Love INC and to this community. Members from our local churches actually sacrifice their weekends to bring a couple hours of joy and friendship to the working poor and low income apartment complexes. I hope to have the chance to continue the AAB program, as it is reaching many families and gives such a Christ-filled opportunity for church members to serve together.

Our country and communities are divided in so many ways. AAB is a hands-on, Christ-filled true demonstration of servanthood. For Love INC, AAB contributes to the overall delivery of services to people in need. There are other AAB programs across the nation as well. This approach is proven to not only serve the needy, but to strengthen relationships between the church and its members. It is a “win, win” for Jesus! If you would like to contribute to the AAB program, write “AAB” in the memo line of your check.

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Other reminders:

• Christmas gifts are needed for Nacogdoches Christmas Blessing event Dec. 15.

• CHAIRished Blessings Feb. 10. Sign up for a booth; silent auction items needed. Tickets go on sale Thursday.

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Current Cases:

• We request new or gently used: twin, full, and queen size blankets; twin and full beds; microwave ovens; small dining tables and chairs; dressers or chest of drawers; TV trays or folding tables; and heaters.

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