Local values

Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson visits Warren

Times Observer photo by Lorri Drumm Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, representing Pennsylvania’s 5th congressional district, spent much of the day in and around Warren on Tuesday touring various organizations and sharing ideas with leaders of those organizations and local government. Pictured from left to right at Love INC. in Youngsville are: Thompson, outgoing Love INC. Executive Director Alice Pederson, Executive Director Heidi Halcomb and Warren County Commissioner Ben Kafferlin.

Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson spent much of the day Tuesday traveling around the Warren area to hear and see some of the latest ways local government and organizations are striving to change lives.

One stop along the way gave Thompson the chance to hear from a local non-profit that’s working to break vicious cycles of need and even repeated incarceration.

Thompson joined Warren County Commissioner Ben Kafferlin and leaders of LoveINC (Love in the Name of Christ) in Youngsville to learn how the organization started, what it has accomplished and its plans for the future.

LoveINC is a nationally-based non-profit that connects local churches, church volunteers and community organizations to help people in need. The local chapter started in a church in the Brokenstraw Valley in 2010. It now has its own location in Youngsville and includes 22 partner churches of nine different denominations.

Kafferlin first came in contact with LoveINC during a summer visit that was part of his 50-50 tour. “I have visited about 50 organizations in the first fifty weeks of 2018, ranging from small to large nonprofits, manufacturers, and store fronts,” he said. “During the State of the County in 2019, I intend to share my thoughts on the economic climate of Warren County, informed by meeting with these fifty businesses.”

Michelle Holcomb, chair and founder of the local LoveINC chapter told Thompson she was inspired to start the local chapter when she worked at a soup kitchen. “I saw a lot of intergenerational poverty,” she said. “People were looking for more than just a hand-out.”

The organization considers a family or individual’s need and determines a course of action based on meeting the need, according to Holcomb. The churches provide ministries including furniture, baby needs and other basic needs that will help people move beyond difficult situations.

Executive Director Heidi Halcomb told Thompson the organization is expanding in order to provide a hand up as opposed to a hand out. “People need to learn how to break the cycle,” she said.

Kafferlin added that can be accomplished through relationships.

Halcomb said she has already received positive feedback from people who have participated in the RELATE program.

RELATE (Relationships Elevate Lives and Transform Everyone) is a fledgling partnership between the Warren County Jail and LoveINC of Warren County, Kafferlin said.

LoveINC connects volunteers from churches within the county with work-release eligible inmates for regular community service projects.

“The idea is to connect the inmates with upstanding citizens so that they build relationship with people outside their previous networks.,” Kafferlin said. “This can immediately lead to working off community service hours, but will ultimately lead to mentorship, job opportunities, and basic support.”

“The county hopes to realize a reduced recidivism rate by providing the opportunity for good influences in our inmate’s lives,” Kafferlin said. “If it works, we hope to expand the program to other consumers the County works with, including people on probation, people with intellectual disabilities, and more.”

Thompson agreed with the concept of providing church volunteers as role models for inmates. “This has the power to transform lives,” he said.

“There’s no such thing as an unworthy life where we just throw people away,” Thompson said. “All people are of value.”

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