Deep in the heart of Long Island City, Queens lies a warehouse full of bulk goods, a parkway full of church vans, and a determined group of people supporting a movement of church mobilization.
Here's Life Inner City is a remarkable faith-based organization that includes 15 offices nationwide and serves over 150 churches across New York City. Since 1983, they've provided free, or for a minimal charge, bulk food and goods, and practical life learning skills. The distinctive stance of HLIC is that they're neither a typical church or a ministry, but are connectors or middle men bringing together other faith based programs with citywide churches and their communities. "What makes us unique is that we partner up," says co-director Sandy Barnett. "We really build relationships through long term partners."
HLIC has a long history of partnership spanning from the mid-1970s. As a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ, the initial staff of HLIC in the early 1980s learned from Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, on the importance of nurturing relationships with local churches.
With HLIC's support in linking church and community, HLIC has direct involvement in ministry growth and aiding the poor of New York City. Because local churches are deeply engaged in the ins and outs of their communities, they have first hand accounts of the welfare of its inhabitants.
HLIC has three methods in which they connect churches to their communities. The first method is through banana boxed goods, which are boxes of slightly dented but good quality goods. According to director Clint Owens, HLIC receives bulk goods every 6 weeks to couple of months. Once the shipment has been received, they make phone calls to the churches on their roster. The motivation of the churches powers the pick up and distribution of the goods at the HLIC warehouse. The churches make the final decision on how to distribute the food to the needy in their community.
The second method is through Angel Food Ministries, a national food purchasing program. Lastly, the third method HLIC promotes community growth through churches is by offering faith-based programs, such as Holistic Hardware and WorkNet which provide adults practical developmental life skills. Educators, ministers, and counselors can contact HLIC to obtain study materials for mapping out career paths and teaching business culture. Through these programs, HLIC is supplying a route for churches to be better equipped to build healthier communities.
Signing up for food pick up at HLIC's warehouse is free. Work books for developmental programs are offered at a minimal price.
HLIC has expanded its community participation through yearly events, like a Thanksgiving food distribution event called Boxes of Love and a program linking college students with the urban inner city.
The reason for HLIC's success is through the empowerment growth of churches and communities. "Our vision is to see others succeed," says director Clint Owens. "We're really about someone else. We don't want families to be fed and feel empty the next day."
To help with Boxes of Love for Thanksgiving visit the website.
To find out more information on how your church and ministry can participate, contact Here's Life Inner City at 718-391-4500, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit HLIC's Official Site.
Bill Hallowell of HLIC also maintains a blog on up-to-date infomation and analysis of poverty and homelessness: www.ihopeblog.org
Photo provided by HLIC.
[Originally published JULY 6, 2010, 10:14 AM EST]