November 23, 2021
Written By: Michelle Pawelski
For decades, Bridget Stone worked as a social worker and early invention specialist helping people throughout the Black Hills.
“After I retired, I thought ‘What am I going to do?’,” she said, “I’ve always tried to help my fellow man in my job so how am I going to help now?” Bridget knew of the Hope Center so started her outreach there, and four years ago became involved with the local Love INC organization.
“I heard the term Love INC, but I didn’t know what it was,” she said. When a friend asked her to a Love INC luncheon that she discovered all the resources the organization provided for the community. “They talked about the need for volunteers and there were so many ways to give and that really got me going.”
Love INC or Love In the Name of Christ is a church-based ministry started in 1977 in Michigan. The founding vision was to partner with local churches in providing outreach and resources to assist those in the community needing support. Love INC of the Black Hills began in 2001 and has added programs ever since.
The variety of volunteer opportunities is what first attracted Bridget to Love INC, and since joining she has been involved in nearly every aspect of the organization.
Bridget first volunteered with Intake, helping people apply for assistance. Two years ago, she joined the RISE team, a sustainable social enterprise that offers restored, used, and new furniture and décor. Every Thursday, Bridget, spends three hours refurbishing donated furniture which is displayed and sold at the RISE store. Volunteers and those receiving assistance from Love INC complete all the restoration. The organization requires participants to volunteer two times for at least three hours. “We really want to help people that want to help themselves. That is really important with Love INC,” Bridget said. All the money from sales at the RISE store supports the Love INC programs.
Some individuals and families she speaks with during intake are the same she volunteers with on Thursdays. “You get to know them better and when you are visiting with the participants you get to be a friend to them. There are a few families I have connected with on a more permanent basis.”
Bridget also helps with Life INC where she cares for children while families take classes on a variety of subjects including parenting, finances, and nutrition.
“Bridget brings all the assets we look for in a volunteer, gentle spirit, willing to jump in wherever we need her along with being an encourager,” according to Sheryl Hatch, operations manager at Love INC of the Black Hills. “She comes with no judgment just love for those she is serving. We are privileged to have Bridget serving with us.”
Bridget continues her work with the Hope Center and many times sees the same people she helps at Love INC. “There are some people both (at Love INC) and at the Hope Center that touch your heart. They are just really trying hard to better themselves.”
With so many people in need and so many wonderful organizations, Bridget wishes she had more time to give.
“It is just so rewarding. You get more out of it than you give. I enjoy it and it makes me feel like I am doing something useful and contributing.”
To volunteer or donate visit loveinconline.com.