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Local people helping with local needs

In 2013, Love INC began offering life skills classes such as living with a disability, Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University, ways to promote healthy boundaries and Bible studies. Pictured are 10 clients who graduated from a recent healthy boundaries class. After the eight-week class was completed, participants requested that it continue. Two additional classes are being held this month. (Contributed)1 / 4
The public is invited to the Open House and Dedication of Love INC Douglas County Lakes Area’s new facility at 44 Glenn Road NW in Alexandria on Sunday, May 18. The open house is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with the dedication ceremony at noon, featuring nationally-known speaker/author Lois Tupyi.2 / 4
Gail Barber (of The Church of St. Mary of Alexandria is a local Love INC volunteer. Barber helps with receptionist tasks, working with clients, donors and volunteers when they call or visit the Love INC clearinghouse.3 / 4
Rich Gill of Bethesda Lutheran Church in Alexandria is a local Love INC volunteer. Gill repairs appliances at the homes of Love INC clients or in the organization’s new warehouse. He also helps gather needed appliances. (Contributed)4 / 4

In the five years since it was started, Love In the Name of Christ (INC) of Douglas County Lakes Area has helped hundreds of families and individuals with a variety of needs.

As organizers have watched the community’s needs increase over the years, they have done all they can to ensure the program expands to meet those needs.


The local branch of the national nonprofit started after a visit from Robert Odom, president of Love INC National, who was in Alexandria to speak at a Unity Foundation luncheon.

Some attendees were excited about the organization’s mission to “help churches mobilize their members to be the hands and feet of Christ in their communities.”

They met with other community members, business leaders and local churches to discuss the idea of starting a local Love INC branch.

Eventually a board of directors was established, a location acquired at 803 North Nokomis Street in Alexandria and an executive director hired.

In November 2008, after more than a year of planning, Love INC of Douglas County Lakes Area was born.


The organization operates under the mission of “mobilizing local churches to transform lives and communities In the Name of Christ.”

According to executive director Tammy Boushek, the vision is to see Christian churches of all denominations united in purpose with community organizations and government resources to serve people in need.

Here’s how it works: A church becomes aware of a community member’s need, be it financial, spiritual, emotional or physical. That need is passed on to Love INC. Love INC is in contact with the person to assess the need and determine what resources can meet that need.

“We provide a service to the church to take the time to listen to the person in need, verify their situation and then propose possible resources to meet the need,” Boushek explained, noting that the resources may be a church, a volunteer or a community or governmental agency.

“This alleviates the burden on one particular church,” she added. “We offer the service to provide the caring, compassionate volunteer who can take time to listen to the client’s story, and then serve as a clearinghouse to find them the help or resources they need.”

Examples of some of the needs that Love INC assists with are finding clothing or furniture for people, arranging rides, finding counseling services, etc.


Local Love INC supporters are pleased with the services provided by the organization during its first five years, but know there is more they can do.

Board members visited other Love INC entities around the country to learn about other services. They soon realized that the only thing holding the local branch back from expanding its services was space.

“We saw how much more we could do if we had more space,” Boushek said. “We could offer Bible studies and life skills classes; we’d have a place where youth groups could volunteer and clients could come to mentor with volunteers.

“One of our core values is modeling excellence,” she added. “As we looked at our process of how we provided donated goods, we realized it truly wasn’t modeling excellence to the best of our ability.”

For example, if a washing machine was donated but ended up not working once the client received it, it was frustrating for the client as well as for Love INC volunteers.

“We were immobilized by not having space, and it really did hinder our mission,” the director said. “By having a warehouse, we can set up and test appliances, volunteers can refurbish them as needed, and – most of all – we can work with those in need to teach them repair and maintenance skills.

“This preserves the longevity of the donation, but also teaches accountability,” she added. “We do our best to promote the hand up instead of a hand out concept.”

A building committee was developed to look at available property and a fund committee was formed to seek donations.

In just two years, the donations were raised and a 7,200-square-foot building was purchased at 44 Glenn Road NW, Alexandria.

The organization is staffed by the full-time executive director, a part-time volunteer coordinator and part-time clearinghouse coordinator. Everything else is handled by volunteers.

Love INC of Douglas County Lakes Area is affiliated with the nationwide ministry of Love INC, which includes more than 135 affiliates in more than 30 states.  

For more information, visit www.loveincdouglas .org, call (320) 759-3022 or e-mail director@ loveincdouglas.

Love INC of Douglas County Lakes Area is affiliated with the nationwide ministry of Love INC, which includes more than 135 affiliates in more than 30 states.  

For more information, visit www.loveincdouglas. org, call (320) 759-3022 or e-mail director@love incdouglas.

Tara Bitzan

Tara Bitzan is editor of the Echo Press. She joined the company in 1991 as a news reporter. A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University. She and her husband, Dennis, and their children live near Alexandria.

(320) 763-1211