About 17 years ago, Crestwood resident Renee Boros traveled south to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It would be a trip that changed his life.
“We were fed, warmed and loved by community churches while we volunteered in Louisiana,” she said. “They attended to all our needs as we attended to the needs of the injured and sick.”
The experience stayed with her and she made it her mission to pass on that spirit.
“It’s up to us to show people where that love is and where they can get help and, in turn, help others,” Boros said.
As part of that ongoing effort, Boros held a spring rally earlier this month at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Country Club Hills, where she serves as president of the Lutheran Woman’s Missionary League. Over the years, this group has tried to help through projects far and near.
The group sent Bibles to inmates, collected coins for missions, sent candy boxes to students.
“We do little things like supporting food pantries, collecting baby items for single moms and doing an Angel Tree at Christmas that fills a local need for kids who otherwise wouldn’t have received gifts. “Boros said. “Whatever the needs of the community and our congregation, we try to support them.”
The purpose of the rally was to encourage other women to help their communities and to hear a presentation from Love, INC of Tinley Park, who would “talk about how they help others and how we can help them”, she said.
As League members registered for the rally, each brought a fresh bottle of laundry detergent to give away to Love INC customers. The Tinley Park-based group works with churches to meet the needs of families facing crisis in Orland Park, Orland Hills, Tinley Park, Oak Forest, Country Club Hills, Matteson, Frankfort, Mokena and New Lenox.
Lisa Dailey, executive director of Love INC of Tinley Park, said the group was not an emergency service and did not distribute money.
“Our theme is helping churches help people,” she said. “There is nothing more powerful than churches working together to transform lives in local communities. We connect the church to the struggles of the community.
Dailey said the most pressing needs right now are housing and car repairs.
“We get a lot of calls for car repairs,” she said. “To our knowledge, there is no agency or ministry that specifically deals with this issue. Yet for every church there is someone in the church who has these skills, how could attract them and create help for people who need their car repaired?”
Love INC of Tinley Park has partnered with 17 area churches. Two have food pantries, one offers an employment program called Self Help Jobs, and another has a personal care food pantry.
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Dailey said the network can be crucial in connecting people to the help they need. For example, one woman the group helped had a dilapidated fence that she could not afford to repair. She was about to be fined by her municipality.
“His church didn’t have the resources and didn’t have men in the congregation with the skills that could help him,” Dailey said. “She called Love INC, we spread the word to our churches, within an hour we had a call from pastor and said they were taking care of the job. A few minutes later, another church called and said they would cover the cost of the supplies. Suddenly we have this need that has just been satisfied.
Housing is also becoming a growing issue for people, she said.
“People tell us, we lost our house and live in our car, or they called the shelter but the shelter is full,” Dailey said. “What if churches got together and created transitional housing? We need to work together and be a holistic problem solver in our community.
“We can be that shining example. We dream of a world where churches are united in purpose, fully engaged and actively living their faith, lovingly serving those in need in their communities.
More information about Love INC of Tinley Park is at www.loveinctp.org or 708-444-2033.
Mary Compton is a freelance journalist for the Daily Southtown.