Leticia Santana struggled financially for most of her life. She grew up on food stamps and signed up for Medicaid when she became pregnant at 18. In 2015, she lost her home.
Today, Santana works as an Appraisal Coordinator in Wells Fargo’s Mortgage Department. She has two children, two dogs and a house. And she attributes her transformation to a program called IMPACT at Love In the Name Of Christ (LoveINC) Littleton.
This year, the Christian nonprofit is celebrating the fifth anniversary of IMPACT, a program that offers weekly life skills classes and life coaching to help people improve their lives.
“[IMPACT] gave me something I could use for the rest of my life,” Santana said.
LoveINC Littleton is a local affiliate of a national organization that “mobilizes local churches to provide a holistic approach to caring for people in all areas of life,” according to the LoveINC website. In addition to the IMPACT program, LoveINC Littleton’s 44 partner churches are working together to provide physical resources such as diapers, clothing, furniture and transportation to community members in Jefferson, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, Kathryn said. Roy, executive director of LoveINC Littleton.
The partner churches span a wide range of Christian denominations, Roy said.
“It’s about sharing the love of Christ,” Roy said. “We don’t ignore the things we disagree on, we just don’t focus on it. There are so many things we are called to do, and serving and loving others is high on the list.
When community members contact LoveINC, their first point of contact is the Connections Center. The objective of this call center is not only to understand and respond to immediate concerns, but also to identify underlying needs.
“For example, if someone calls and says, ‘I need help with diapers,’ that’s a tangible ministry we’re serving. However, we like to take it a step further,” said Ann Donelson, Director of Connections Ministries at LoveINC Littleton. “Why is this need presented? What’s the cause ?
Connection Center volunteers guide community members to resources provided by LoveINC partner churches. They also often offer coupons for callers to shop for free at LoveINC’s resale store, Renewed Treasures, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
Once the Connection Center team builds trust with a community member and feels they might be ready for the program, they introduce them to IMPACT, Donelson said.
IMPACT offers classes that focus on financial, spiritual, mental, emotional and relationship wellness, said Terry Bate, relationship ministry director at LoveINC Littleton. These classes are offered on a quarterly schedule from September to June, Bate said.
The entire program is free and open to everyone, regardless of church affiliation or lack thereof.
“I always watch the composition of classes and focus groups and marvel that it’s just a real melting pot,” Bate said. “At first we said, you know, we’ll just open the doors and everyone’s welcome.”
To celebrate IMPACT’s anniversary, Bate and his colleagues received an Excellence in Leadership Award for the development and delivery of the program. The award was presented in May by Thought of the Day, an online inspirational team founded by LoveINC volunteer Anne Heathman.
Heathman was inspired to create the award when LoveINC staff asked her to nominate other volunteers for recognition of their commitment to the IMPACT program. Although she saw a fine group of volunteers to choose from, Heathman said she wanted to recognize more than her peers.
“I must have been a renegade nominator,” Heathman said.
In addition to dutifully naming some volunteers, Heathman worked slyly with the Thought Team of the Day to create a separate award to honor LoveINC staffers for dedicating their careers to IMPACT.
“Whether [LoveINC’s staff members] were in corporate America…they would make two to three times what they make here,” Heathman said. “And they choose to serve the Lord in that capacity, and they work many hours beyond what you expect of them. And the results are stunning. »
Heathman knows IMPACT on a personal level, having participated in the program in addition to volunteering. After surviving a fire in her apartment building in 2018, Heathman signed up for Affirming Potential, an IMPACT course on pursuing goals.
“They assess your skills and they assess your interests, and then they take the next step and they make you dream about what you would like to do,” Heathman said of the course. “And so, that’s where the thought of the day came [from].”
What started as a creative way to inspire her women’s group at Cherry Hills Community Church with photos and Bible verses has turned into an online email campaign that now lands in 70,000 mailboxes. receipt per day, according to Heathman.
“I think the biggest compliment I can think of for LoveINC is not just that they’ve helped individuals, but they’ve started another ministry,” she said, starting to choke. of emotion. “So, as you can imagine, my admiration for LoveINC is immense.”
Both Heathman and Santana admire LoveINC for how it has changed their lives. Santana hopes other members of the Littleton community will know they are not alone.
“It’s so beautiful how life can be changed. Because I’ve been there, I know what it’s like to be lonely,” she said. “But these people love and they want you to succeed. And it’s just amazing how much a small team of people love so many people.