At Love INC, we believe that lives and communities are transformed when caring people come together to meet real needs for real people. But simply “giving people stuff” does not their transform lives–even if they really need and value what we give them.
Life transformation happens best in the context of relationships–and ideally, the ‘stuff” we give people is a means to an end; an excuse to begin a relationship. Allow me to illustrate:
One of Love INC’s Client Care Coordinators set an appointment for Evie to get some new clothes for her children. When she arrived at the Children’s Closet, she was greeted by Cassie, who was there to fill the order and help Evie find the sizes and styles she needed, and Carla, who was there to welcome, connect with, and pay attention to Evie as a person. This two-by-two approach is standard protocol for all Love INC appointments–one volunteer to pay attention to the order and another to pay attention to the client.
It was here at a Love INC appointment, that a story of life transformation for two ladies named Evie and Carla, began in the context of an unexpected and delightful relationship.
Evie was married with three children. She had a job, a house, two cars, and the lifestyle that goes with it. Her husband (now ex-husband) got into trouble and ended up serving a prison term. She lost his income, her job, their house and car, and just about everything else. She ended up living with her parents for a while. Also, during this time she had to have a serious surgery and is still dealing with some related health issues. Evie was raised in Canby and attended church with her parents as a child. In her high school years, they moved to Woodburn and started attending Woodburn Foursquare Church, where she attended occasionally but was not actively involved.
Carla loves and serves God by loving and serving people. Before volunteering at Love INC, she volunteered at the Coffee Creek Prison in Tualatin, where she mentored two women. When Love INC visited the Foursquare Church and made a plea for volunteers to serve in the Children’s Closet ministry located in their building, Carla volunteered. Her job is to welcome, connect with, and pay attention to families during their appointments, learning more about who they are and what they need–in short, to ‘love on’ our clients and their families.
After Evie moved in with her parents, she spent a considerable amount of time working her way through the many different programs to get housing for her family. She found this confusing, stressful, and exhausting. There were so many rules for qualifying for the different programs and the people helping her often were judgmental or no help at all. But she persevered and finally found an apartment to rent.
With encouragement from her mother, Evie paid a visit to Love INC in September 2013. Since that time, she has received help with many of her physical needs including clothes, shoes, diapers, household goods, personal and home care supplies, and furniture. A number of our Partner Churches also provided home cooked meals for her family while she underwent surgery in 2016. This is not a typical Love INC service but an outpouring of love and care from Love INC volunteers and Partner Church members towards a family that needed to know someone cared. This was good… but the best was yet to come.
In December 2016, Evie came for an appointment at the children’s closet. Carla struck up a conversation with her and learned that Evie’s husband was in prison and that he had become a Christian. Because of her previous volunteer work with prisoners, this struck a chord with Carla. She also learned about Evie’s upcoming surgery and asked if she could visit her in the hospital and pray for her.
As it turned out, Evie was feeling a bit lost at that time. She had no one in her life that she trusted enough to talk to; no one to listen to her or offer advice and guidance. So, the two of them began a friendship that continues to this day.
“Carla is very loving and easy to talk to,” says Evie. “It just feels like she is going to treat me well and be a force for good in my life. Because she is older, I feel safe to share my feelings with her. God sent me the right person.”
When asked how this relationship has changed her life, Evie said, “I am more confident, I have learned to trust again. I’ve been pointed in a better direction and have someone to talk to when I am unsure of a decision.”
Carla says that while they began as a mentor/mentee relationship, it has turned into a family friendship. “She and I have met for coffee, shared life, read our Bibles together, attended church, shopped, celebrated holidays, and gone to the movies.” Last spring, I took her and the kiddos to visit her husband (who is still in prison in Lakeview, OR). This is God’s plan for us – – to share life together. Our relationship evolves as we spend more time together, and I’m so incredibly proud of Evie. She isn’t passive about life. She does everything she can to help her children become strong, vibrant people in their church, school, community, and home life. My life is enriched by having her and her children in it.”
The children love Carla and her husband, Bryan. They do activities together regularly. Evie’s children think of Carla and Brian as surrogate grandparents and they feel very comfortable around them. Evie and her children are now attending the Foursquare Church regularly. The children are involved in their youth group and love it. They like that it makes them feel safe and they have help making decisions when they need it. Her oldest daughter was baptized recently and is blossoming into a godly, young woman.
Evie has a job, housing, and enough to cover basic needs. She has a new side business called Simply Bliss Organizing. She will come into your home and help you organize bedrooms, bath, kitchen cupboards as well as photos and scrapbooks. For a free consultation and price quote, go to the Simply Bliss Facebook page and message Evie today.
Like any relationship, mentoring has its ups and downs, highs and lows, good times and tough times. While not always easy, mentoring always results in at least two transformed lives–the mentor and the mentee. Not sure about that? Just ask Evie and Carla.