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Recent News and Love Stories

August 2014

Recovering from a drug addiction is hard enough. Recovering from the loss of a child is even harder. But Mary Dumas is a testimony of how God and widespread community support can get you through really difficult times.

Mary moved to Corvallis from Albany about seven years ago. She was homeless and had three children to support including a 6 month baby. None of the shelters there would allow her to stay with kids, but she was able to move into the Community Outreach Inc. shelter in Corvallis.

After her baby was born, Mary realized she had to stay clean and sober beyond her pregnancy in order to take care of her children. “I just gave it to God and asked him to help me,” she said. She didn’t want her kids to be taken away from her but she knew that was a possibility if she didn’t change her life permanently.

She was accepted into the Milestones Recovery program where she first met LaCheri Carlson, the Call Center manager at Love INC, and Wilma VanSchelven, Love INC’s former executive director.

“I called Love INC and was honest about my past,” Mary explained. Love INC volunteers delivered bikes to her children and she admits, at first she was a little suspicious.

“But then I got to know what Love INC is all about and they helped me with my spiritual growth and with groceries and they helped me move into a house of my own after graduating from Milestones in 2010,” Mary said. She had applied for HUD housing and a local property owner with ties to the recovery program helped her get into a large house with plenty of room for three children.

Love INC provided some furniture, dishes and other items to help the family get settled. In turn, Mary agreed to let Love INC store a lot of the donations for the annual Christmas Store in the basement of the house. “I wanted to try to give back to them and to the other organizations in town that had helped me along the way. I realized there’s a whole community here willing to help me as long as I do the right things,” she said.

Each volunteer who met Mary was drawn to her honesty and to her dependence and submission to God. She is a very “brave, courageous and persevering” woman, LaCheri says.

In December 2012, Mary’s youngest son was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder and they began to spend a lot of time at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. Love INC continued to minister to the family. They took groceries to their home where Mary’s sister cared for the other two children and LaCheri called often to pray with Mary over the phone.

When her son died just six months after he became sick, Mary said many people thought she would probably relapse into her old habits and addiction. “But I told them I have an awesome God and the community-at-large kept me going.”

Mary’s son was born on Mother’s Day and as she considered the possibility of losing him, Mary said she realized he was a “gift from God” and that she needed to give him back to God. He had been the reason she had become clean and sober and straightened her life out.

“I just gave the whole situation to God, and even though I still grieve over the loss of my son because he’s not here with me physically, I know he’s my angel. God sent him to be an angel to his older brother and sister and to make me be a better mom,” she said.

At her little boy’s funeral, Mary asked people to bring Hot Wheels cars – her son’s favorite toy – instead of flowers. Then she gave all the toys away to local charities to share with other kids so they could enjoy them as much as her son did.

Mary continues to try to give back to the community that’s helped her by volunteering with Vina Moses, the Marys River Gleaners and Love INC. She says LaCheri is still one of her biggest support persons.

“I want to help others because I’ve been in their situations before and I want them to know there is still hope even after going through difficult times. You still have to believe in Christ and stand strong, even when life gets tough,” Mary said.


July 2014

Maggie is an independent senior living on a fixed income. We first met her in 2010 when she was caring for a grandchild and her water heater failed. She is not a person who asks for help, but this cost was beyond her ability. Love INC was able to help connect her with an agency that provided a water heater for her, and a friend was able to help install it. What a blessing to see prayers answered!

Two years later, Maggie again encountered difficulty beyond her ability in the form of a leaky roof. Rain was coming into her home and leaking down the walls. Love INC was able to introduce her to Habitat for Humanity’s new home repair program and they fixed her roof to keep her safe and dry. The local newspaper interviewed her about this story, but her 150 pound tortoise stole the show!

The process of repairing her roof offered the opportunity to develop our relationship with Maggie. We referred her to a local church looking for people to “adopt” for Christmas gifts. The group at Northwest Hills wrapped and delivered a warm flannel shirt and a shiny new waffle iron. She was ecstatic! She repeatedly told us how much it meant to her, and this small kindness enabled us to deepen our relationship.

Because of the developing relationship, when Maggie had a bad fall she immediately reached out to Love INC. This strong, independent woman would simply not be able to do necessary daily things during recovery. Thankfully a new Church Ministry Liaison (CML) at Life Community Church was able to reach out and help with some basic needs. Kathie helped with dishes, vacuuming and weedingand the two became friends. Maggie was touched by Kathie’s kindness when she came by each week to make the bed or when she just called to say, “Just checking in with you . . . can I do anything for you?”

Kindness matters! This is a fine example of how Love In the Name of Christ works. A volunteer begins to care for a client, develops a relationship with them and Christ’s love speaks in their lives!

Today Maggie thrives on the emotional and moral support of Love INC and her local community. “Without you people calling me and caring and offering prayer, I would be in the toilet,” she says. She lives alone now with very little family involvement and, when interviewed for this letter, she said, “I really mean it. This has meant everything to me knowing people care about whether I live or die. I absolutely count on you for this needed moral and emotional support. You must tell people that is the most important thing.”

Moving forward, the Life Community Church will be hosting a barbecue in Maggie’s neighborhood. Pastor Dale was asking God how to minister and reach out to the local community and was reminded of the relationship with Maggie. Instead of telling folks how we can help them, he decided that food and fellowship provided the perfect opportunity to listen and get to know folks.

The barbecue is planned for this month — please join us in praying for this event. Thank you, Life Community Church, for loving the members of your community! Maggie is delighted about people coming to be friendly and share food, not just “shove” Jesus at them. She is all about being real.

Thank you to everyone involved in this story for listening to discover ways to help and for going “above and beyond” in opportunities of servitude. Love and kindness are truly impacting this client’s life in profoundly positive ways. All of this was put in motion when a feisty lady called Love INC to ask for help she really did not want to ask for. Now she calls for encouragement and prayer. Now she has volunteers in her life who are also caring and praying. Now she feels loved In the Name of Christ.


June 2014

Transformation often takes a while. Chatting with a single Dad recently we were reminded that God is a God of new beginnings.

Mark (not his real name) came to us one Christmas because he had heard we help with gifts for children. When we explained that he could earn vouchers to “buy” gifts for his family he was all over it! One hour of volunteer work equals one gift voucher. Each family member can earn a total of four vouchers. Family vouchers cap out at 20. We came to find out that this man has nine children total, some being step-children, the others are birth children with several different birth mothers. That’s a LOT of Christmas gifts to buy!

When we met Mark he was at a place in life where he wanted to “step up” and be a better Dad.

When Mark was a child, he was an altar boy. He loved the symbolism of the water and wine and sitting upfront during mass, but commented, “You know, carrying that cross, was heavy.” As Mark grew up, his childhood was happy.

Things then changed when his parents went through a divorce for the second time . He admits that he decided that “if they aren’t trying. I’m not going to either.” So as a young teen he began huffing glue and doing weed. “I didn’t like my reality, so I tried to escape it.” By his late teens, Mark was shooting meth. Later he would go on to be a seller.

Life continued to happen and when his third child was born, Mark decided he should be a better parent. He became clean and sober for about seven years. However, when another relationship fell apart after another child was born, Mark returned to using. He ended up doing time, twice.

Mark became sober again. After a bit of time, some of his kids needed to move in with him. He determined he would be a better person, being responsible and being present for them by staying clean and sober. This has been true since we have come to know Mark. The kids did eventually move and Mark has remained sober and responsible. He now says that “the cobwebs are cleaned out” and his motivation is to be there for a younger child who is now in his life, as well as all the others.

Besides our Christmas program, Love INC has been able to help Mark with quite a bit of dental needs, plus some linens and one food box. He doesn’t ask for much and is making life work. Each Christmas he is super motivated and does all that is required to earn those vouchers to bless his children with gifts.

“Love INC has really been there for me,” he says. “They call and support me emotionally and also help me with practical needs. I really appreciate these awesome, beautiful people!

“I have mostly had a good life,” he added. “I’ve had a couple of really hard things to get over, but I am doing well and am blessed and happy.”

Thanks for praying for this man who has overcome much. Thanks for donating so he and others like him have a way to bless their children at Christmas time and throughout the year. God is in the work and beauty of transformation. We get to hear this in Mark’s voice as he appreciates and enjoys life now.


May 2014

(A heartwarming testimony from one of our volunteers who wishes to remain anonymous.)

I recently decided to redecorate a bathroom in our house. The last time we redid the bathroom wasn’t that long ago, but we just weren’t satisfied with the choices we had made.

As I thought about what to do with the slightly used items I wanted to replace, a Love INC client came to mind – a grandmother who is raising three granddaughters in their early teens. What young lady wouldn’t like a shower curtain with multi-colored butterflies on it? I also had pink and teal-colored accessories, including a big butterfly print ceramic pot of flowers to share.

The next week while at the Love INC office, the very client I had been thinking about called to request some towels and sheets from the Linen Closet. We asked if she would also like a shower curtain. Yes, she would!

I kept thinking about this family as we gathered things from the Linen Closet for them. We tried to call to say we were on the way to their rural location, but there was no answer. We continued on our drive, praying they would be home. I had an image built up in my mind about what was coming — the joy our gifts would bring them, our conversation during the visit, etc.

When we arrived, the grandmother wasn’t home, but the older teens were. They were appropriately “cautious” since they didn’t know us and were reserved as they politely answered our questions with little expression on their faces. We also offered them handmade quilts and said they could choose which ones they wanted out of the colorful options we had brought. Again, there wasn’t much response from the girls as they took them from us.

A bit disappointed, we blessed them and left. We reminded ourselves it was good they were being careful and cautious.

The next day we spoke with the grandmother on the phone. She was almost speechless with gratitude. She shared that the last time they had gone to the laundromat, someone had stolen some of their things and that’s why they were so in need of towels and blankets.

She went on to say how each girl chose the quilt she wanted and how happy they all were. She mentioned she especially loved her quilt with roses on it. Then she told me that before she returned, her granddaughters had decorated the whole bathroom! They hung the butterfly shower curtain, put the rugs down and stacked the towels on the shelf. They were so excited to show her their “new” bathroom when she arrived home.

We never know all the results of our actions when we serve and give to others. We’re often planting seeds and in this case, when we got to hear the “rest of the story” we discovered what a blessing Love INC had been to them!

As we looked around and saw just basic needed items, it was clear that the gifts we were able to bless them with contributed extra color and beauty to an otherwise simple, small home. The truth is, girls and women alike love beauty. We hope these gifts ministered to their soul as well as their spirits and that they can believe in a future filled with even more beauty, gifts and hope!