TREASURE VALLEY — Mary and Tom are in trouble: The month is half over, and the fictional couple has only $4 on their food stamp card. Their sons, ages seven and nine, need shoes and warm coats, and their car battery is dead. Tom lost his job and Mary has been ill, so neither is working. Not surprisingly, they argue a lot.

Love INC — which stands for “Love In the Name of Christ” — could provide them with food, shoes and coats, and a volunteer to fix their car. 

But Love INC aims to provide another kind of help, things that couples like Mary and Tom need on a much deeper level.

Lois Tupyi, executive director of Love INC of Treasure Valley, explains: “Who are ‘the needy?’ So often, we focus on felt needs — it’s easy to provide food and clothes. It’s harder to see past the needs to the person.  And too often, people become imprisoned by their needs and don’t realize that they themselves could do more to reach their potential.”

Tupyi says Love INC focuses on “developmental compassion.” She said this can work to transform individuals, taking them by the hand and leading them to a better life where they are held accountable for their choices. 

Some 80 local churches help support Love INC, which serves people in their congregations. It is a collection of ministries that provides everything from firewood to career clothing, in-home care for the elderly to tutoring.  

Mary and Tom — who represent thousands of families helped by Love INC in the past 10 years — could call Love INC and tell their story, and be fed, clothed, and invited to attend classes to help them develop their potential.  

Classes include: budgeting and penny pinching; shopping, cooking and nutrition; parenting and life skills; gardening and canning; homemaking; job preparation; and Bible studies. By attending, students receive vouchers to be used for food, clothing, gasoline and other needs.

The Life Skills class teaches more than a work ethic — it includes managing one’s time and resolving anger issues.

During the 11 years that Love INC has taught financial classes, $2 million of debt has been paid off by 300,000 families, and 97 percent of couples say their marriages were saved because they got on top of their finances, Tupyi says. Nutrition and cooking classes teach how to stretch food or food stamp funds. All the classes include prayer and Bible study, since Love INC is a religious nonprofit organization.

“There’s a lot of negative emotion attached to poverty,” Tupyi says. “We either affirm that, or we help people help themselves by changing how we address needs.”

Love INC’s second hand store, The Grace Place, sells clothing, furniture, toys and other items.  Volunteers staff the store and perform other services.

There are 156 Love INC groups in the United States. Love INC of Treasure Valley stretches from Eagle Road to the Oregon border. There are Love INCs in Boise, Ontario and Weiser.

To contact the group, call 466-7810.

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