Four decades of community support services.
Following Jesus Christ, who transforms lives, we equip our community to love, serve and connect with dignity.
Love Your Neighbor has a 38+ year history of providing community support services in the Hudsonville, Jenison, and Grandville areas. Formerly an affiliate of Love INC, Love Your Neighbor launched its own nonprofit organization in 2021 in order to pursue a more localized and interdependent approach to serving its neighbors.
Love Your Neighbor functions as a bridge to the community, offering community support services to under-resourced families through partnerships with churches, businesses, schools, and local government. In 2020, the Love organization assisted 6,745 adults through the support of 600 volunteers, 35 different local churches, 69 business partnerships, and over 35,000 hours of volunteer hours in our local area.
But it’s been a process to grow our outreach over the years. In 1984, our community support services consisted of food provision for 68 families and transportation to medical appointments 57 times.
Our footprint now includes a thriving relational ministry program, where individuals from the community can participate in a year’s worth of educational classes on finance, relationships and faith, as well as develop personal goals with a weekly volunteer mentor. All the while these individuals are earning a holistic level of resources that include weekly groceries, gasoline, housing stipends, auto repair, clothing, household items, school supplies, professional counseling and more.
We say “earn” because one of our core values is dignity, and in every interaction we want to elevate the dignity of the person we are helping. We believe the best way to elevate dignity is to remind ourselves that every person is made in the image of God, and that God calls us to live in openness, grace and community, where there is both giving and receiving in every relationship. And it’s often through these interdependent relationships that God brings transformation. This philosophy has been vital to the growth and health of our relational ministry, where it is now common for someone graduating from the Life Skills Program to serve as a volunteer, recognizing that they have gifts to contribute to the community.
Serving from an asset-based approach is what sets us apart in our community support services. We recognize and address the need, but more importantly, recognize that the need is not what defines the person who is under-resourced. Although we continue to meet needs, our shift towards an asset-based approach and away from a needs-based approach has transformed the program in a positive way. Goals are being sustained, fewer individuals are coming back for help for a second time, and the ministry as a whole has been blessed with six graduates joining our staff, along with 78% of graduates volunteering, which has brought an irreplaceable value to the ministry’s perspective on helping those who are under-resourced in a dignified way. This asset-based approach fosters an atmosphere of collaboration and diligence among the participants and volunteers in our programs.
In addition to the relational facet of our ministry, we have three resale shops that have created opportunities for the community to donate second hand items to a ministry that reuses, recycles and restores in both literal and figurative ways.
Our mission statement includes three key action words: love, serve and connect.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
– 1 John 3:18
- We equip our community to LOVE.
HOW we love
We have been known as “Love” in the community for a long time. This word is foundational to our organization, as we believe God calls us to love more than anything else. To love him and to love others. When we focus on others, we are reminded in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, as love covers a multitude of sins.” Love is the top priority for this organization, through all the ups and downs during our life journey. We believe we can help people learn to love others with dignity in a way they may not have known they were missing, or the way God calls us to. When we love others well, we are practicing grace and openness. When we love others well, we are loving diligently. We want this common song to ring true: They’ll know we are Christians by our love.
- We equip our community to SERVE.
The WAYS we demonstrate our Love. A unique facet of our ministry is the amazing depth of technical skill and variety that our volunteers exemplify. With 30+ different volunteer roles to be filled, it’s very likely there’s a way for someone to use their interests and God-given gifts through Love. Believing every person has something to offer, we can live out this belief in so many unique ways, with so many different people from different walks of life and in different stages of life.
- We equip our community to CONNECT.
WHO we are connecting with as we Love.
This action is lived out in several different ways:
Under-resourced neighbors will connect with Love as the first step towards resources, programs or help when they are in a time of struggle.
A church may connect with Love to better understand community needs. A church may connect with Love when they want to connect with others who also desire to bring about positive, long-term community change. A church may connect with Love to connect with others who are hurting.
A person may connect with Love when they are looking for purpose, and will form friendships as they become part of a volunteer family.