Dear Love INC Community,

This past Spring I had the privilege of participating in a Lead for Equity conference with some educators from our town.  I was so impressed with the incredible commitment to students I saw demonstrated by the teachers, administrators and parents who attended.

At one point in the two-day long conference, a group of educators from Chehalem Valley Middle School (CVMS) sat together to brainstorm ways to close the achievement gap that exists between low income and ethnic minority students and their better resourced classmates.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Two significant barriers to equity in our schools: lack of supplies, and the need for after school assistance with homework[/pullquote]

Principal Karen Pugsley asked a simple question of the group, “What are the barriers to equity in our school?”  I listened intently as the teachers shared their experience with students who struggled to do well in school.

The list of barriers was long, but there were two things in particular that stood out to me – lack of supplies, and the need for after school assistance with homework for those students whose parents worked long hours or lacked the education and language skills to help their children succeed.

Shortly after this conference, I was reading The Externally Focused Quest by Eric Swanson and Rick Rusaw. This book is all about shifting our thinking as pastors and church members from “How can we be the best church in the community?” to asking instead, “How can we be the best church for the community?”  In this book the authors share story after story about churches around the country who are changing their focus from serving church members to equipping members to serve in their communities.  Swanson and Rusaw tell several stories of churches getting connected to local schools to help with homework and to provide needed supplies to low income students.  And, there it was again—kids need supplies and help with homework!

In the months following these two experiences the need for Love INC Newberg to mobilize the Church to serve our local schools sat in my belly like the Newberg Fire Department’s Annual Pancake Breakfast.  It was a weight I just couldn’t digest.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]This book is all about shifting our thinking as pastors and church members from “How can we be the best church in the community?” to asking instead, “How can we be the best church for the community?” [/pullquote]

So, I brought this need to the staff and we shared our hearts with the board of directors. We brainstormed and met with educators to see how we could help with these two needs.   God was certainly confirming my suspicions that our local schools need the people of God to engage. What emerged were two new Love INC Gap Ministries.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]God was certainly confirming my suspicions that our local schools need the people of God to engage.[/pullquote]

This fall we will be establishing the School Supply Cupboard Gap and the Homework Heroes Gap.  We call these Gap Ministries as Love INC strives to fill needs that are not being met by government or other non-profit agencies. That is, we strive to fill gaps!

Dundee Elementary, Ewing Young, Edwards, Mabel Rush, Joan Austin, Antonia Crater and CVMS are all hoping we can help their students. We have team leaders in place at three of the schools but will need three to five volunteers for each school to ensure that the supply cupboard stays full.  The volunteer commitment is minimal but the impact will be huge!

Homework Heroes will be piloted at CVMS this upcoming 2015-2016 school year.  We have great collaborative leadership in place for this program already, but will be looking for high school/college students and adults to help provide a fun and productive place for CVMS students to do homework twice a week.

If a desire to help our students succeed stirs in your belly as you read this, please contact us here to get involved.  At Love INC we believe that our mission to mobilize the Church to transform lives and communities In the Name of Christ has great power to change our entire community. This year we are going to invest deeply into serving our schools as part of that holy mission. Will you join us?

Serving Together,

Jodi Hansen, Executive Director