A local agency is changing its name to invest all of its funds in its local mission in Marion County. Love INC (Love In the Name of Christ) dropped its national affiliation to become Aspire Ministries.
“We wanted to keep all of the donations in Marion County,” said Jenni Hypes, executive director. “We wanted a name that felt positive, exciting and described our vision for unity, personal growth and transforming lives though Christ.”
Aspire Ministries works with more than 30 partner churches and over 50 area agencies through its Connection Center to link local people in need with community resources.
“One church hosts a diaper ministry. Another offers emergency food. A different partner church provides cleaning supplies for people starting over at the local homeless shelter or Turning Point’s domestic violence shelter,” Hypes said. “We work together to make it easy to find help.”
While the name has changed, the phone number is the same: (740) 382-3340. The ministry also expanded its hours to meet the increase in calls for help. It is now open full-time from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It relocated to 205 W. Center St. and hired a full-time Connection Center coordinator.
A group of caring volunteers at the Connections Center takes calls from people in need. They also offer encouragement and compassionate support.
“We want to listen to the caller’s story. We want to learn about their whole situation, not just one need. We don’t want information to just fill out a form. We want to build a relationship with them and make sure they get the help they need from local churches and agencies,” Hypes said.
The goal is to make sure the individual or family gets the right help.
“Many people are just one missed paycheck or a medical emergency away from a financial crisis. If you’re sick and can’t work, you don’t get paid in many jobs,” Hypes said.
For some individuals or families, a little help may be all they need to get through a crisis. For others, the relationships are long-term.
One client said, “Every time I’m down in the dumps and ready to throw in the towel, you guys call to check up on me and it cheers me up.”
Volunteers will also pray with clients at their request, such as over a tough situation or for a job interview to go well.
They also offer services before and after the Marion Matters Getting Ahead Class to support those looking to build a better future.
“We don’t want to add to a cycle of dependency,” Hypes said.
Aspire Ministries also works to connect local agencies and avoid redundancy. This network, the CommUNITY Collaborative, is a way for local government, social and health care agencies, nonprofits and faith groups to come together to share information and resources. This group meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. at Emmanuel Lutheran Church.
“This collaboration helps all of us stay on top of programs that are changing, share upcoming events, and identify gaps,” Hypes said. “For instance, transportation is a huge need in our community. This is one area where we can work on solutions together.”
While the needs are great, so is the local willingness and resolve to meet them.
“Marion is resource-rich with people who are partnering to help their neighbors,” Hypes said. “Marion is a unique community in how it functions and how agencies work together.”
Volunteers, Partners and Donors Needed
Aspire Ministries is expanding and asking the community to support their efforts by volunteering, partnering and donating.
“The majority of our volunteers are retirees. We rely on them. We could also use some younger people to volunteer for our furniture ministry and connecting with our younger families,” Hypes said. “We are a Christian organization. Anyone with a caring heart who enjoys people is welcome.”
For more information on this MarionMade! agency, go to aspiremarion.org.