GREENFIELD — The only director that Love INC of Greater Hancock County has ever known will be stepping down this spring.
Brenda Rodgers, who has been with Love In the Name of Christ since its inception here in 2004, would mark her 10-year anniversary in July, but she said she felt it was time to hand over the reins as the organization moves forward.
“For the past year, I’ve been evaluating where I am, and I feel I’ve completed what I’ve been called to do,” Rodgers said.
Love INC of Greater Hancock County is the local branch of a national nonprofit organization founded in 1977 that connects the resources of churches and community organizations at the local level with those in need.
There are currently 157 Love INC affiliates operating in 30 states through a network of 8,600 churches and more than 9,000 community organizations, according to Love INC’s website.
Locally, the group interacts regularly with about 45 county churches and their ministries and operates a telephone clearinghouse that takes calls from families and individuals who need assistance and connects them with the local resources available from community churches and agencies.
The local affiliate also coordinates church volunteer resources and oversees area gap ministries that provide furniture, bedding, appliances and shoes.
“When I think about Love INC today, we’ve accomplished so much,” Rodgers said.
The affiliate’s achievements over the years include an improved Web and social media presence, securing eight county churches that operate six gap ministries on a weekly basis and transitioning its Hearts of Hope financial mentoring ministry to an eight-week program with 19 volunteers from eight different churches, Rodgers said.
Love INC’s clearinghouse phone system processed more than 1,000 calls in 2013, “but we’re so much more than a screening service for financial assistance requests,” she said, adding that the group supports individual case management, life skills classes, volunteer training and on-site warehousing for local church ministries.
With a significant body of work behind it, the group has equally ambitious plans for the future.
It is currently launching a capital fundraising campaign to raise money for a new facility that could include warehouse, training and additional administrative and office space.
Rodgers said there is still expansion potential for Love INC’s services, especially in terms of increased skilled-volunteer involvement.
“Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, and Love INC has the potential to open new opportunities that meet needs and engage volunteers in a bigger way,” she said.
Tom Ferguson, Love INC board chair, said Rodgers’ impact on the group has been immense.
“We’re going to miss her passion, her experience and her guidance for the organization,” Ferguson said. “And she became the face of Love INC for the community, so I suppose the community will miss her as well.”
Ferguson said Rodgers was actively engaged in the development and operation of all facets of Love INC’s ministries.
“She was like the good cook in the kitchen. She had her hands in every pot. She’s a blessing,” he said.
Love INC is currently accepting applications to fill Rodgers’ position and is looking for input on qualified candidates.
“We’re currently seeking guidance from the local community and more specifically local churches, given that is Love INC’s ministry, working with the local churches and as a clearinghouse for their ministries,” he said.
The group has received about six applications so far and is beginning to plan the interview process.
“Our goal is to try to find a person that had a passion for the ministry that Brenda has had,” Ferguson said.
Though Rodgers has not settled on her future plans, she has no intention of leaving the area or the organization she helped form. She will remain with the organization for another 90 days followed by a soft exit date to help with the transition.
“I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “I want to be here for the organization.”
Individuals interested in leading the Love INC ministry can contact Ferguson at (317) 462-9174 or Love INC at (317) 468-6300.