Patricia Jones and her daughter Rachael Jones clean out a Craig apartment, used to provide temporary emergency housing for those in need in Craig and throughout the Yampa Valley. Jones is the executive director for Love INC, which is a collaboration of local churches that work to better organize and distribute assistance throughout the community.

Photo by Noelle Leavitt Riley

Patricia Jones and her daughter Rachael Jones clean out a Craig apartment, used to provide temporary emergency housing for those in need in Craig and throughout the Yampa Valley. Jones is the executive director for Love INC, which is a collaboration of local churches that work to better organize and distribute assistance throughout the community.

Love INC provides charity in Craig

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— For the last ten years, Love INC has been providing a safety net for Craig and Yampa Valley residents who have fallen on hard times.

The collaboration of local churches arose from the need to better organize and distribute assistance throughout the community.

In total, there are 157 Love INC networks throughout the United States.

The various charities realized that some individuals were abusing the system by going from church to church and receiving assistance from each.

The churches decided amongst themselves that there had to be a better way, and thus a Love INC chapter in Yampa Valley was born.

“One of our big things is that people can call and ask for anything,” said Executive Director of Love INC Patricia Jones. “Then we’ll contact the various churches and see what resources we have for them.”

The ministry receives requests for a vast array of needs, including the basics like food, personal items and clothing. And it is not unheard of for people to have their pets spayed or neutered through the organization.

One vital resource that Love INC provides and which, according to Jones, few community members are aware of is the Emergency Housing Program. In addition to shelter, it includes all food and personal needs for the duration of a family or individual’s stay.

“Our focus is to start a relationship with each person that comes to us so they know they can trust us to do the best we can to take care of them,” Jones said. “We really want to help people move through their rough times and get back on their feet, help them find employment and see them become successful and independent.”

There is one factor that limits what the housing program could achieve: Love INC currently has only one apartment in Craig that provides shelter to those in need.

“You never know from week to week how many people will need housing and it’s really hard to decide who gets the apartment,” Jones said.

The price of the program for Love INC is $500 a month, pretty steep even with the extended network of resources, Jones said.

A Yampa Valley Community Foundation grant of $1,500 at the beginning of the year has been entirely spent. For advocates of the program, however, the reward is well worth the price.

The entire goal of Love INC is to help people in times of need regain their independence and stability. The Emergency Housing Program has a greater than 80 percent success rate.

Unlike other charitable organizations, Love INC is not based on a top-down or agency model. Instead, individuals referred to Love INC by churches or agencies have their needs assessed at what is known as the clearinghouse.

The clearinghouse acts as a liaison between agencies and multiple churches, as well as a central hub for assistance planning. The combined resources from all sources compose the assistance package.

“People call us here (at the clearinghouse) and we send them where they need to go,” Jones said. “Really this is by the churches and for the churches. If we didn’t have them, there’d be no Love INC.”

Every church has the opportunity to choose a cause to promote and develop its own ministry. The Seventh-day Adventist Church of Craig provides kitchen and bedroom necessities.

Craig Christian Church provides personal items; Calvary Baptist Church of Craig is home to the largest food pantry in the area.

“We lease out the office space for Love INC,” said St. Michael’s Catholic Church administrative assistant Diane King. “We also provide a free lunch on Tuesdays and free dinners on Thursdays.”

Other churches focus more on addressing needs on a case-by-case basis.

“Pat (Jones) will let me know if she has someone with specific needs,” Pastor Tim Douglas of Ridgeview Church of God of Craig said. “I’ll help her figure out what to do for that person or find out where the best place for them to go is. We make sure they get what they need.”

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, Love INC can be reached at (970) 826-4400.

Andie Tessler can be reached at 970-875-1793 or atessler@craigdailypress.com.

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