LIFE MINISTRIES: A BRIEF HISTORY
Sometime in early 1992, a few people of Prairie Grove realized that the Ministerial Alliance of the city was facing a difficult job of assisting people in need of aid for emergency situations. People were going from church to church asking for financial help and food. Without any way of coordinating their resources, each pastor was faced with making difficult decisions of using their benevolent funds.
Four interested people — Pat Hall of Prairie Grove United Methodist Church, Lila Dunham and Marjorie McElveen of First Baptist Church in Prairie Grove and Lora Bell of Prairie Grove Christian Church — began the task of forming a corporation with bylaws and a board of officers to form a non-profit organization. This took many meetings and hours of hard work with an attorney to make this happen. The Farmers and Merchants Bank owned a building on Buchanan Street and offered it to the organization for $1 per year. The corporation would be required to make any remodeling and repairs and upkeep for the building. The Ministerial Alliance gave $500 to start operation of a food pantry and provide funds for assistance with utilities, gasoline, prescription drugs and rent. (Later, it was decided to not provide gas and rent assistance).
Nine area churches pledged to make monthly contributions to LIFE Ministries (Linking Individuals for Essentials).
The building at 108 E. Buchanan St., was quickly upgraded with central heat and air and room dividers to form offices, a food pantry and resale shop of donated used clothing and other useful items. We opened for business on Jan. 3, 1993, and were open Tuesday and Thursday mornings, offering assistance to people of southwest Washington County. This did not include Fayetteville and Springdale.
As the number of people applying for assistance grew, so did the donations of food and money. Several businesses, groups, Lions Club and individuals joined in donating.
By 1995, our little building was bursting at the seams. The resale shop moved into the old Post Office building next door. We began searching for other possible locations where we might rent or buy. The Parks family of Prairie Grove Telephone Co., offered to build a larger facility to fit our needs on Stills Road. On June 4, 2004, we moved into that new space on which we make monthly rent payments.
In these past years,, we have purchased some portable buildings for storage and also more furnishings for our offices and the resale shop. The resale store is open to the public for anyone to come in and shop. The income from the shop usually makes enough to pay rent, utilities and other operating expenses so that all donations can be used to aid those in need.
LIFE Ministries has been honored by the area churches and the city for our service to the community.
This service is made possible only with a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers who spend so many hours of hard work. We have no paid workers.
The office and food pantry now uses computers to make our operations more efficient and easier to keep in touch with other similar organizations in the county.
LIFE Ministries receives no government funds but we do use the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank to purchase a lot of food items and the non-profit status, 501 (c)3 allows us to purchase food without paying sales tax from places such as Sam’s Club and Aldi’s.