Humble Works Completed Her Faith
She left us last week, going home to be with the Lord. But she left us with memories of such a profound life that a skeptical observer might have puzzled over her actions. We can imagine the questions. Why did she waste wonderful Sunday mornings at church each week when there were delicious Sunday brunches to be shared with friends in Charlottesville? Why did she waste Wednesdays volunteering at Love INC when that was a prime time in her profession to be showing real estate? Why did she devote time shopping and caring for two poor elderly women year after year, assisting them with end-of-life planning and eventually cleaning out their apartments?
And at Christmastime each year, why did she give presents to a single mother so young that she was still in foster care?
The reason? Virginia Morris had allowed Jesus Christ to capture her heart, that is why. Her quiet testimony touched everyone she met. Love INC gave her a place to put her faith into action. And it is your generosity that gives Christian people throughout the greater Charlottesville area a place to put their faith into action, with works of care and compassion.
A dear friend of Virginia’s, Darlene Rapier, had this to say about her: “As one of Virginia’s close friends, and she had many, we all knew how much she loved LOVE INC. We also knew that Wednesday mornings were off Humble Works Completed Her Faith limits for any meetings or get-togethers as that was her time to volunteer at LOVE INC. She so looked forward to the time she shared there. When she became too ill to continue, it was like leaving a hole in her heart! She truly missed it, as we now miss her.”
And Raymond Klein, Love INC’s Executive Director, remembers her in a similar way: “Virginia was so giving. When she wanted a different car that better met her needs, she planned to donate her SUV for a needy family. But I asked if she would mind trading it in for three less expensive cars to serve three families instead of one. Virginia not only embraced the plan but was happy that so many families would receive a car from her one.
“Virginia was here when I arrived in 2003 and she had made Wednesday her Love INC volunteer day. She silently went on helping people without fanfare. She never looked for getting credit or accolades. She just silently served. You always knew where she stood. She was very private but warm, yet she was direct and firm when she took a stand—a trait for which we greatly respected her.
“In 2015, Love INC held a Volunteer Recognition Dinner and Virginia was awarded the Ruby Garnett Volunteer of the Year award. She was devoted to Love In the Name of Christ and the mission to transform lives and communities, In the Name of Christ. Her devotion to Love INC will always be remembered!”
One very lovable characteristic that Virginia embodied was humility. She never tooted her own horn, never made notes, never told other staff about her remarkable works of charity. She just did things. One year she drove to Culpeper where a then-teenage foster “child” had two little children of her own. The teen mom naturally had no money for Christmas gifts. Virginia provided lavish amounts of clothing and toys for each child. As a result of Virginia’s Christian compassion—as well as that of the good souls also involved—the young foster girl has grown up to be a responsible citizen, a faithful church attendee, and at times even a Love INC donor.
Christmas was special for Virginia, and she always picked one or sometimes two families for gifting. She would rain love and presents on their children. But her humility was such that she never put her name on anything, and it has taken a remarkable amount of digging in our database to find the families and document the kindness. She often made no notes on the families, giving the rest of the staff little indication of her generosity.
James 2:14-17 speaks to this: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
But Virginia is alive! She is living with Christ for eternity. She loved God and let that love spill over into all parts of her life, her service with Love INC being just one testament. We miss her dearly but love the legacy she left behind. Rest in peace, good and faithful servant; we will see you again.
And the Kitchen Sink, Too!
One of our dear clients called us not knowing what to do. We had found her a bed, for which she was quite grateful. We had also put her in touch with someone who could help with the repairs on her home. But this problem had her stumped.
She had to continue at work, even though it put her at risk for COVID-19. And her son needed to keep up with his schooling, even though it was online. Neither of them could figure out how to use the computer sufficiently to switch him from one class to another—it’s not always as easy as it may seem. But add to that, the boy had significant disabilities, so things were even more complicated. She had called the school repeatedly and often got no answer. Could Love INC help? We had to ask ourselves the same question.
Sometimes our staff has easy solutions, but these days numerous parents are struggling themselves with the same issues—working online or in person, yet also having to monitor online schooling. Some parents are more computer literate than others, and a few lucky parents are even able to figure out second grade “New Math”! But for all, it’s a strain and the end seems far, far away. So how on earth could Love INC help her with that?
Well, we decided to send out an SOS, an email asking Love INC volunteers for help with her maddening computer issues…and oh yeah, a little plumbing know-how for a clog in her kitchen sink. Looking back, we can see that the kitchen sink was a wonderful, literal summation for all of her problems!
Thank the Lord, the replies poured in, each with parts of the puzzle to piece together a beautiful final picture. Becky had suggestions and enlisted daughter Kristin and her husband. Renee knows the Albemarle schools well, as does Stephanie who contacted key personnel. Beverly let her pastor know so he could approach the issue systemically. But wait, it gets better! Julie had a sensible home hack for clogged drains, and Jason even offered to pay for a plumber if that didn’t work. In the end it was like the closing scene of It’s a Wonderful Life, where all of poor George Bailey’s (Jimmy Stewart’s) friends step forward to save the day with love and gifts and money.
The outpouring of support for this family was almost overwhelming. We at the office were certainly overwhelmed—with joy, that is. And gratitude. Love INC is composed of wonderful and compassionate volunteers working together to bring Christ’s blessings into this world. We thank all of you who replied and assisted. Another little family surrounded by the Lord’s love!
We’ll Call Her Deedee…
In the past we’ve told you that sometimes people try to game the system and receive assistance they don’t need. Or don’t deserve. We here at Love INC are pretty street-smart and can usually separate the wheat from the chaff; after all, the Bible tells us in Matthew 10:16 to be “as wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” But sometimes even we are caught off guard.
Enter Deedee. Our Love INC partners have made it possible for us to keep careful records of clients in need, the ones who approach churches on a regular basis. Deedee was a young woman who had worked for months to gain custody of her daughter. She seemed to have the worst luck. One church in particular helped her several times. There was always some calamity. Love INC staff members also gave freely, but the home environment seemed shaky with multiple evictions and moving to new places. The car didn’t run. She had to walk miles to work. She needed food for her daughter and a roof over the child’s head, not to mention clothing and household items.
The safety of the little girl weighed on our staff in the wee hours of the morning. We tried to keep in touch, especially after online school started. Then one morning we learned two pieces of information quite by accident. Deedee had referred one of her neighbors to us.The neighbor didn’t know her name but told us that she referred her to Love INC. It was the address that tipped us off.
We asked about the little girl. Was she alright?
“Little girl?” The neighbor seemed taken aback at the question and assured us there was no child in that household and never had been, not in the entire time Deedee had lived there. The neighbor added that no child would be safe there anyway—the young woman and her boyfriend were using a lot of drugs and drinking heavily. The neighbor even told us that the couple left used needles around on the property.
The revelations completed the puzzle to the many problems our Deedee was having. We added the information to our records and kicked ourselves for not having seen the evidence earlier, but at least there was no child there to be abused or neglected. And we have a definitive answer for our church partners who ask about assisting this young woman in the future. Having the truth will give all of us a better idea of how to really help her.
We know that drugs and booze and deception aren’t the solution for these folks. In talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus spoke of what she really needed—what we all need (John 4:13): “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The Intrepid Mr. Robert
Mr. R. had some unexpected time on his hands due to the impact of COVID-19, and he didn’t want to sit around watching bad news on TV! What could he do for someone else? He called us at Love INC and asked that very question.
We sent him our usual list of needs. He picked three right away. THREE, not just one like most volunteers. We sent him details one at a time, the first on a country road where the owner needed a light fixture installed. Mr. R. made arrangements to go the very next day. The smell was terrible. The trailer contained half a dozen pets and an extraneous family. There was excrement everywhere. But Mr. R. dutifully finished his task and was ready to tackle the next place. An elderly gentleman had asked for housecleaning assistance. Mr. R. took only two hours to finish vacuuming and cleaning, but he did advise the gentleman to pick up after himself so that his house wouldn’t get so out of hand in the future.
After all that, we’re not sure why Mr. R. wanted another job! But the third place had outside work for two elderly sisters. He had a much more pleasant time and ended up helping the ladies with a number of small tasks they had not been able to do on their own. The sisters called him back to move some furniture they had purchased. They referred to him as their “angel” when they called us to say thank you. We call him that as well.
Grateful in the Midst of Crisis
Shut down for the Coronavirus? Hardly! It takes more than a little pandemic to stop our services. But since Love INC is not considered “essential service,” we did have to close our doors to the public, as did so many other organizations all over the world. But when one of our staff members became ill, we weren’t sure what to do. Full recovery was just around the corner, though! In all, the Lord gave us much to celebrate by the time Thanksgiving rolled around. We may have had to close our doors, but that didn’t mean closing our hearts…or our operations!
During our virus protocol, Love INC has coordinated most of the work by telephone and computer. It occurred to us that some volunteer opportunities could be done safely through social distancing. Donors could safely provide furniture and household items (clothing remains the exception as it requires that families come into the office). So we set up our “new normal.”
One staff member comes to the office to answer the phones directly, the other monitors online schooling at home while remotely answering emails and voicemail messages. Other staff either come in when there is no one else in the office or they work remotely from home. Board meetings are held via ZOOM!
So what are the numbers? We were eager to see what we had accomplished “with one arm tied behind our back!” You would think with all the isolation, people in need would not be able to find relief, but we surprised ourselves by providing nearly 50 different services and meeting well over 1,200 family needs. Most of our GAP ministries continued with social distancing in place. A few families have needed ongoing assistance and case management, which Love INC does not usually provide, but these have been difficult times.
Your gifts of support have allowed our staff to continue assessing and assisting our neighbors in need. And that need has been tremendous, but with the wonderful support you provide—and with God’s strong hand of guidance and blessing—we have persevered! We thank you for your help and pray it can continue throughout the new and challenging year ahead.
Raymond Klein, Executive Director