GREENFIELD — Two months ago, leaders of a local nonprofit worried a dip in donations would force them to discontinue programs aimed at helping residents in need.
But an outpouring from the community amid news of Love INC’s financial crisis has its leaders feeling optimistic about the future — and calling off plans to suspend educational efforts they say are core to their mission.
Love in the Name of Christ of Greater Hancock County, a nonprofit that connects people in need to area resources, especially those offered by county churches, had seen its donations drop by about half — a deficit of approximately $3,000 per month — in the first half of the year.
In response, leaders had considered suspending their transformational ministries program, which seeks to connect clients to courses addressing the underlying causes that drive clients to need Love INC’s services.
As word of Love INC’s troubles spread, people came out of the woodwork to help, leaders of the organization said.
Love INC launched a campaign to garner small monthly offerings from donors. At the same time, they received a handful of one-time gifts and grant dollars.
Together, that’s helped Love INC put an estimated $21,000 in the last few months toward its bottom line, keeping the group afloat with every one of its educational program intact, officials said.
And it’s those programs — résumé-writing, job skills training, budgeting, low-cost cooking and more — that get to the core of the organization’s mission: helping Hancock County families in need escape a cycle of poverty that has them feeling trapped, officials said.
The classes address the underlying causes of joblessness and poor money management that so often lead residents to call Love INC’s clearinghouse seeking help. And without the community’s recent generosity, it’s hard to say what might have happened to the organization’s educational efforts and the residents who rely on them, said executive director Karla Whisenand.
Whisenand, who recently took the reins at Love INC following the retirement of Jim Peters earlier this year, said she and the organization’s board of directors don’t foresee having to cancel any of the its offerings thanks to the help that poured in from every corner of the community.
“A man came in last week with $1,000. He was sort of a mysterious little angel. He just showed up with a $1,000 check,” she said. “We’ve definitely been blessed.”
Though their days of worry are behind them, Love INC’s leaders say they’ll continue to push for donations and think of creative means of fundraising in hopes of keeping those moments of panicking at bay.
Board president Keely Butrum said the group plans to spend another year encouraging benefactors to pledge monthly donations. Ensuring $25 a month from 150 individuals or families — one of their goals — would go a long way toward keeping the organization on track, she said.
They also hope to make this weekend’s Love Runs Deep 5K an annual endeavor, Butrum said. The inaugural race and church expo takes place at 9 a.m. Saturday but will hopefully be on residents’ calendars for years to come, she said.
Whisenand said she’s thankful Love INC is in a better place financially. It’s given the group’s leaders some peace of mind and a chance to focus all their attention of the group’s mission.
“We’re always looking for donations to sustain what we’re doing,” Whisenand said. “It’s hard to say what would happen in the future, but we got an overwhelming response.”