'Love INC': Otter Tail County churches band together to serve community needs
Members of churches throughout northeastern Otter Tail County are working together to form a local branch of Love in the Name of Christ, or Love INC, a Christian-based organization that helps connect community members to needed services.
PERHAM — After a year and a half in the making, a new Christian-based service organization is beginning to take root in northeastern Otter Tail County.
Love in the Name of Christ — also known as Love INC — a non-denominational Christian organization, exists to directly connect the services that local churches offer to the people who need those services most.
Currently, the closest Love INC branch to Perham is headquartered in Alexandria, but a Northeast Otter Tail County Love INC Development Team is hoping to soon change that.
The team consists of community members Sue Fresonke, Lisa Peterson, Melissa Burns, Mari Elliott, Tracy Bieger, Mark Bloomquist and Pastor Michael Bochman. The group has already met the requirement of including six different church denominations, but is still in need of additional funding from East Otter Tail County businesses and volunteers in order to create a board of directors and officially form a Northeast Otter Tail Chapter.
"Each church can work together to provide the community with all the services they offer," said team member Burns. "Each church can provide their strengths while also knowing that all community members are served."
Churches still provide the individual services that they offer, such as gas cards, diapers and more; Love INC simply serves as a connecting point so that people who need multiple services won't have to travel all around the area to find what they need. Instead, if they were to call a church affiliated with Love INC and ask for help, that would likely be the last phone call they'd have to make.
At Love INC, people fill out an application regarding their needs, and the organization verifies their employment and living situations — taking strain off church resources. Once the people are through the application process, Love INC can direct them right to the churches that offer the services they need.
"It's just a way to facilitate everything in one area, rather than many," Burns said. "We're not taking anything away. People would just make one connection instead of 15."
Love INC also aims to connect people with preventative help and services. The organization doesn't "just put a band-aid on the problem," the development team said, but rather provides the sort of 'hand-up' services and resources that help people get on more solid footing over the long-term.
Though Love INC is a Christian-based organization, community members don't need to be religious or affiliated with a church in order to be served. Love INC volunteers will, however, ask if it's alright to pray for the person in need, which team member Peterson said is unique to Love INC.
"There are a lot of people in our community surviving paycheck-to-paycheck," Peterson said. "Having something like this would be helpful. It's something here that's sorely lacking."
She believes the organization would not only help the people who currently live in the community thrive, but would also bring new people to it.
Love INC is funded equally through three different avenues: church payments, business donations and fundraisers.
Northeast Otter Tail Love INC will serve areas from New York Mills to Vergas to Perham to Ottertail. To become affiliated with the organization (as a church), or to make an individual contribution or become a volunteer, contact email@example.com.
For more information about the organization, visit loveinc.org .