LIFE Ministries Celebrates 25 Years Of Helping Others
PRAIRIE GROVE — LIFE Ministries will recognize 25 years of helping individuals and families in the area with a celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at its facility at 881 Stills Road.
The public is invited to stop by for hot dogs, chips and drinks. Staff will be on hand to help answer any questions about services provided by the ministry or other services available to those in need.
LIFE Ministries is a faithbased, non-profit organization that provides assistance to families and individuals living in western and southern Washington County. Supported by many churches in town, LIFE stands for “Linking Individuals For Essentials.”
The ministry operates a resale shop or thrift store from half of its building and uses the other half to meet with clients who are requesting assistance with food, clothing, utility bills and prescription costs. Proceeds from the resale store are used to help those who need assistance.
In the past 18 years, LIFE Ministries has given back more than $1.4 million to the community and surrounding area by providing food and clothes to those who need it and helping to pay essential living costs.
For 2017, the ministry gave out food to about 5,000 individuals and provided assistance for qualifying individuals valued at $151,000.
In all last year, LIFE Ministries helped 1,800 families in the area, including the communities of Prairie Grove, Lincoln, Farmington, West Fork, Winslow, Greenland, Summers, Evansville, Cane Hill, Morrow and Dutch Mills.
What makes LIFE Ministries unique compared to many similar organizations is that everyone, from the director down, is a volunteer. No one receives a salary or stipend. In 2017, about 93 volunteers donated more than 18,000 hours, either helping in the resale store or in the office next door.
Betty Hileman, her husband and daughter volunteer with LIFE Ministry, and she said that’s one thing she likes about the organization: everyone is a volunteer.
“It all goes back into the ministry,” Hileman said. “That’s what I love about it.”
The ministry also gave a way for her daughter to be involved in something, Hileman said.
“My daughter needed a place to belong. She can hang up clothes here so this gave her a place to be.”
Pat Lyle of Prairie Grove has been volunteering for the organization for more than 10 years and said she views LIFE Ministries as a mission that is filling a need in the community and surrounding area.
“Every town ought to have a LIFE Ministries,” Lyle said. “I had no idea it would grow like this.”
Another volunteer, Sarah Wright of Lincoln, said she is the one who is blessed by the ministry.
“I feel blessed by knowing their needs are being met.”
Mary Jane Franks has volunteered for 25 years and she said she has been able to meet many people through LIFE Ministries who were down on their luck, burned out or just needing some help to get back on their feet.
“It’s just a good feeling when you help people,” Franks said.
Many people shop regularly at the resale store.
Stephanie Eiland of Elkins said she shops at the store because of “good deals” and to help the community.
Tamera Farquharson of Prairie Grove had Halloween costumes, jackets and other items in her cart to purchase one day. She has five children and said she comes into the store at least once a week looking for bargains.
“We’re here because it’s cheap and I love it,” Farquharson said.
LIFE Ministries started with $500 25 years ago. It is governed by a board of directors. Cindy Dobbs currently chairs the board and Keith Bostian is vice chairman. The ministry is supported by churches in Prairie Grove, along with donations of clothes, food, cash and many other items that come in throughout the year.
The organization always needs volunteers or items in good condition donated to the resale shop. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Website: lifeministriesnwa.org.
Mary Jane Franks, left, Betty Hileman, Pat Lyle and Brenda Mathis are volunteers for LIFE Ministries in Prairie Grove. Everyone who helps with the ministry, from the director down, volunteers their time. LIFE Ministries is celebrating its 25th anniversary.