Love INC of Linn County has made a mission out of assisting others. Now, the nonprofit, faith-based partnership is looking for a helping hand for itself.

The organization, which links a network of about 30 churches to help people in need, has begun a $200,000 capital campaign.

The money will be used to pay off the organization's new home at 1606 Santiam Road SE and to make substantial improvements to that home, such as repairing the roof and replacing windows.

A formal campaign kickoff — a dinner and auction — has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5, 2018, at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center. But Will Tucker, chairman of the capital campaign and a member of the agency's board of directors, said he's hoping people thinking about year-end charity giving remember Love, INC.

"This is the major item," he said of the two-story, 2,000-square-foot house.

The campaign already has begun, Tucker noted: After volunteers took possession of the building about a year ago, various companies gave in-kind contributions to make sure the house had handicapped-accessible parking and stair rails and met all other requirements of the city's occupancy code. However, at least $175,000 of the campaign remains.

Love In the Name of Christ, which is where Love INC gets its name, is a national organization that acts as a connector, or clearinghouse, for churches and other community-based organizations.

The idea is to provide partners with "specific, manageable opportunities" to serve those in need, according to its brochure. "It's so they don't all have to be everything," said Deb Powell, executive director of Love INC of Linn County.

Say a person needs household goods, a baby crib or a new car tire. That person calls Love INC, which then helps connect him or her with the best source of assistance. Sometimes, that's an agency such as Goodwill's job connection program or a church that has a stock of baby items. Other times, that source might be Love INC itself.

Love INC received more than 5,000 calls on its help line in both 2015 and 2016. To date his year, it has received 5,730 calls.

The Linn County branch started taking calls in 2008 and serves North Albany and Jefferson along with Linn County. It relies on a couple of part-time staffers and about a dozen in-house volunteers.

The agency's new home has provided it with new opportunities to be of service, Powell said. An upstairs space provides room for a morning prayer gathering. The downstairs living room, come January, will house a "Faith and Finances" class. A downstairs bedroom has been converted to a "career clothing closet," complete with officewear, nursing scrubs and labor gear such as work boots.

The organization used to fill up shop space belonging to the Mennonite Village to house physical items for people in need, such as wheelchairs or furniture. Now it has 900 square feet of its own garage space that, at the moment, is filled medical equipment, baby gear, and dishes, linens and other household necessities.

The items ebb and flow, said Deb Powell, executive director. Recently, she agreed to help a family make an emergency move, receiving in return a wealth of donated household items. Almost immediately afterward, the agency received a call from a formerly homeless woman who had just obtained an apartment but had nothing to put in it, and Love INC was able to set her up with the items from the emergency move.

It's that kind of serendipity that tells Powell she has to make way for God to be in charge.

"For us to really manage it from our perspective, it doesn't work," she said. When she steps back and trusts, she said: "I get to see the connections made." 

Roger Peterson, Love INC's clearinghouse coordinator, found the house for sale when the Mennonite Village asked to reclaim its shop space. Powell told him they needed an office and a warehouse, not a family home, but he encouraged her to take a look.

"He kind of painted the vision of what it could be, and I got excited," Powell said. "I love it. It's wonderful. He was right." 

Love INC still needs a variety of volunteers and churches to make it work, however: in fact, at its heart, that's what the organization is.

Powell is on the lookout currently for both a firewood lot coordinator and a maternity items coordinator. General volunteers are helpful, too.

"Our job is to mobilize the church," Powell said. "We take people from inside the four walls of the church and match them up with people in need outside the church." 

For information on how to volunteer or to help with the campaign, contact Love INC by phone at 541-924-LOVE (5683), or via its website at http://lovelinn.org/.

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