-- LOVE  STORIES --

Through the years, we've helped thousands of individuals and families with various needs.  We love hearing from the people we've served. We call them "Love Stories". 

If you have a love story to share about how we've served you or someone you know, please email us at office@lovethyneighborgt.org. 

Dawnette's Story- Swingshift Participant

Ever since I was in elementary school, I knew I had a disability. I was in special reading classes and knew that I wasn’t like other children at a very young age. When I reached middle school, the kids were very unkind, and the school put me into special classes that made me stand out. I needed special attention. When you reach an age where you are making friends (even though you wouldn’t usually hang around them because of their values), you find yourself attracted to that because of your own insecurities. My family was by no means considered wealthy, but I was very rich in the love department from my mom. Not that my dad didn’t love me, he was working all the time, and my mom worked around our school hours to be home with us.

 

Luckily, I made it out of high school alive, but with a price to pay. Because of my disabilities, I was not at the level where I needed to be. However, my very strong-willed mother made me feel like I could do anything in life. I expected no less for myself. Very determined and with a mindset of an entrepreneur, I was unstoppable. With a loving family that supported me, and a wonderful husband that stood by my side, I felt like I could conquer anything, but I didn’t get that until I was older. 

 

I was asked to do Swingshift and the Stars and learn more about Love Thy Neighbor. If only I had this organization as a teenager/young adult and an adult, it would have been so comforting.

 

God has also given me the strength to handle many health challenges in my life, from multiple back surgeries to open-heart surgery not too long ago. God has given me the faith to handle it and walk side-by-side with my family to the hope at the end of the tunnel. 

 

During the short time that I’ve worked with Love Thy Neighbor, I can see the support and the love they offer to those in need within our community. My second nature is to help people with self-love through all the departments of beauty. I speak to women in a one-on-one setting and groups of 1000 or more, giving back to the community. Love Thy Neighbor has earned my respect, and I hope to work more with them in the future.

 

I have a couple of mottos in life - “If there’s a will, there’s a way” (with that, I try to share the strength to put one foot in front of the other) and “Believe in yourself, you can do it!”.  I have recently adopted a new motto- “You cannot wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”

 

I am so thrilled that Love Thy Neighbor and I have crossed paths. I will be there for them if they need me in any way I can help.

 

Be sure to visit Love Thy Neighbor's Swingshift Event page for more information on the upcoming Lip Sync competition. 

 

Dawnette Wessell

 

Tarren's Story- Bridge Ministries

I have actually been personally impacted by Love Thy Neighbor. Love Thy Neighbor was formerly known many years ago as Love Inc. (in the name of Christ.) Why is this relevant? Well, to understand that we need to go back about 24-25 years.

 

I was born with a rare medical condition known as Hirschsprung’s disease. Long story short, this disease essentially shuts down your colon. I spent the majority of my infancy fighting for my life. Due to its rarity and severity, the only hospital that had any hope of diagnosing and treating my condition was Motts Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

 

The providence of God would have it that my parents had just taken a job in MI managing and living in a group home for troubled youth. This would move them out of their home in WI. However, that job fell through rather quickly after they realized that I was well… dying.

 

The demands of caring for my condition eventually cost them the job and were left without a place to live. They knew nobody. They had barely a friend to speak of since their lives were completely taken over by a dying infant and a house full of adolescents with serious anger management issues. Additionally, they had only ever been homeowners in WI. On top of that, they were now freshly jobless.

 

As you can imagine, all these circumstances piled up meant that getting an apartment was gonna be near impossible. Enter Love Thy Neighbor. They came to the rescue and helped them get into that first apartment. Because of that leg up, my dad was able to focus on finding a new job and my mom could focus on keeping me alive between hospital visits. I like to think that Love Thy Neighbor played an integral part in saving my life. Had it not been for them, I don’t know what would have happened.

 

What I do know is that I’m here today and that’s largely in part because of Love Thy Neighbor.

 

I am thrilled and honored to now have the opportunity for things to come full circle and have a chance to give back to this incredible organization.

 

Be sure to visit Love Thy Neighbor's Swingshift Event page for more information on the upcoming dance competition. 

 

Libby's Story- Life Skills Classes

 

I connected with Love Thy Neighbor in September 2020 for a Positive Parenting Class.  Despite the unsuccessful completion of the class, Pam Lardie saw some potential in me that I did not see - yet. She asked me to be in LTN’s Change Partnership (mentoring) program and I was shocked and puzzled to see them inquire this from me despite my struggles at the time.

 

We got a chance to work one-on-one towards positive attributes like setting boundaries, positive self-talk, and self-care. She gave me a journal as well to write down my thoughts and feelings as healthy coping. Admittedly it took me a while to utilize this, but it’s been beneficial since put in place.

 

I took a one-on-one budgeting class in early March of 2021 with Bob Miller that inspired me to start paying off my debt and prioritize spending. Later on, in April I took another class, Healthy Relationships & Communication in which I gained insight on assertive communication and my feelings as well as others. This enabled me to appropriately portray my wants and needs while honoring that in others.

 

I’ve met with Pam Lardie or Tony Nelson around once a month or more if needed beginning in November of 2020. Recently (in June 2021) they asked me to contribute to SwingShift & the Stars testimonial interview on their behalf and it was an honor to give back to the community and my Love Thy Neighbor Family as they had so freely loved and supported me in my time of need.

 

I have so much gratitude for Love Thy Neighbor & I hope we both can continue giving back to the community through these services that lift people up in their times of need. Love you guys!

 

 

Stephanie's Story - Bridge Ministry

 

In November, during the pandemic of Covid-19, I was having a particularly difficult time with my health challenges (multiple sclerosis and its’ related issues) and my dear friend, Pam Lardie, who works with Tony at Love Thy Neighbor, was able to get me set up with some wonderful benefits from such a generous group of folks!

 

With all of the ways that they blessed my family, I am just incredibly grateful. Pam made some needed changes to my bathroom to make it safer for me to get around, especially in such limited space. Tony, at Love Thy Neighbor, was able to get me a gift card to help with some Christmas shopping for my three children.
   

To Tony, Pam, and everyone at Love Thy Neighbor I would just like to say thank you for everything! God has truly used you to bless me and my family during this very trying time. May He in turn also bless each of you throughout this precious season!

 

Sally’s Story - Bridge Ministry

The Covid-19 hitting earlier this year was just the beginning of misfortune for Sally as her husband left her and her 3 girls shortly after the pandemic hit.  She was overwhelmed with her job at the hospital, the mounting bills, and taking care of her girls all by herself.  Her church referred her to Love Thy Neighbor and we immediately took her under our wing as the newest member of our family. 

 

She has faithfully met with Tony, our C.O.O., who has been able to help her through our various Bridge Ministries such as our Transportation, Hygiene, and Connections Emergency Fund.  And as Christmas is only a few months away, we have enrolled Sally in our Adopt a Family Christmas Program, which will relieve the stress of providing presents for her girls on Christmas morning.  As a participant in our Change Program, we will continue to give Sally guidance, support, prayer, and the never-ending love of Jesus!
 

 

Janes Story - Crib Ministry

Jane came to Love Thy Neighbor 2 years ago seeking guidance after completing an addiction recovery program.  She came alongside us in our Change Program and was also able to use Bridge Ministry programs such as our Hygiene Pantry and Transportation Ministry.  She encountered a few bumps along the way, but as she was now part of our family, we were able to steer her in the right direction with the help of an amazing volunteer from one of our Partner Churches.  Jane has recently graduated from a long-term recovery program and is now employed at the same program, helping others as she had been helped.  Love Thy Neighbor has been with her on this journey, encouraging and helping her out with support and prayer.  During a recent visit with Jane, we were able to help her get her driver’s license, bringing a big smile to her face as this enables her to do her job better.  Showing the love of Jesus helps us bring awesome people like Jane into our Love Thy Neighbor family!

 

Judy's Story - Durable Medical Loan Closet

 

Dear Tony and Brenda, 

I want you to know how very much I appreciate your giving hearts. I was in need of a scooter for many weeks following foot surgery.  We checked at various locations and rented one for a substantial fee. When the lease ended, we dreaded paying again…plus not knowing how long this would continue.  Then we heard through Brenda that you loan them at No Charge!  (Yes, I tell everyone about you!)

 

To us, the most endearing quality of Love Thy Neighbor was how genuinely loving and trusting you have all been.  We were told to return the scooter when it was no longer needed.  What a sense of peace with no worries!  This truly is how you Love Thy Neighbor!  May God bless your work as you have blessed us.

Kimberly’s Story - Crib Ministry

Back in 2011, I moved back to Traverse City from Maui, Hawaii. I was single and pregnant and newly sober from years of alcohol use disorder. I moved in with my parents. My dad was struggling with kidney disease and was doing dialysis, awaiting a transplant. My life was chaos with all of the changes, but with all of the changes, came blessed miracles. I met with the Single MOMM program in Traverse City and they introduced me to Love Inc., where I would get the blessing of a free crib for my soon to be newborn! They dropped off a brand new crib, still in the box, and offered to put it together for me. Along with the crib came a layette set for the baby too. They were more than generous and kind and I was happy to donate the crib back to another family in need at Single MOMM once my son Ryder wasn’t in need of it anymore.

Fast forward to 2020. I am now in a different position in life. I am now a Peer Recovery Coach at Munson Medical Center and I help people who suffer from addiction or substance use disorder (SUD). Part of my job is to help moms who have Substance Use Disorder find resources to have a healthier, happier life. Along with resources for SUD, I also help pregnant, or new moms find resources for things they might need to help the baby, whether it may be food, clothing, insurance, and cribs. Remembering my experience from 2011, I googled Love Inc. and found Love Thy Neighbor. It was the same people who donated my crib, just with a different name. I got a hold of Tony and he explained that they still have the crib ministry as well as classes for families in need also. I was elated to find out that the same organization that gave me my crib 9 years ago was still working miracles to this day and that I could refer women to them that were in need and they could get blessed like I was. I am excited to work with this amazing group and help women find the resources they need to succeed in a healthier, happier, life.

Thank you Love Thy Neighbor!

                   

 

Nicholas' Story - Bridge Ministry

His mother wrote "My youngest son is 8 years old. Through Christ's miracle, he was born despite a 10% chance of survival. He had a cystic hygroma in utero and was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. He has severe cognitive delays but is a little boy who strives to have fun like other children. Nicholas has severe hypotonia due to Down Syndrome. He can't walk far, he is still trying to learn to jump and we wanted for him to have a bike so he could be like the other kids. However, his bike would need to be a three-wheeled special needs bike.


We have Children's Special Healthcare to help offset some of the costs that our insurance doesn't cover. However, to get this bike you must ask at least 3 agencies to help cover the cost. Love thy neighbor stepped up, and because of them our son now can ride a bike like other children, get exercise and work on his core strength. Thank you Love Thy Neighbor!"

Pam's Story -

 

The scope of help that Love Thy Neighbor provides to help community members through challenging times in their lives is above and beyond others. Giving a hand up and not a hand out is the driving principle that this organization stands for in helping people make real changes to their lives. Kudos to LTN.

 

Nancy P’s Story -

Love Thy Neighbor is truly a gem in our community!! It helps so many people, from free classes to cribs to durable medical equipment. Our director, Tony Nelson is a wealth of information. If you have a need call 231-941-5683.

Mary's Story -

 

Mary came to our winter classes on Smart Food Shopping, Parents Stop the Whining and Nagging and Improve Your Communication and became more talkative in each class.  Seeing the benefit she asked if her husband could attend the final class with her-Boundary Basics-even if he hadn’t signed up.  Mary and Joseph attended together, being active participants indicating that communication and boundaries were areas of life that they realized they needed work to improve the path of their lives.  With new children in foster care because of previous “life issues” they were committed to change.   Since their first classes, they have subsequently taken our longer courses of Powerful Parenting and Manage Your Money and currently in the process of family re-unification.  Partnering with Love INC they are on the pathway to transforming the life of their family and improving their future.


Rachel’s Story -

 

Rachel came to our Powerful Parenting course as a requirement of the court system.  She was struggling in a co-dependent relationship that involved substance abuse.  She failed the course despite trying hard to meet the requirements; her life issues proved too overwhelming.  Six months later she contacted us contrite and requesting help for meeting the requirements of the court system to have any hope of being re-united with her children.  Instead of just enrolling her in educational sessions, we talked of partnership, recurrent themes in her life had prevented change in the past and goal setting for moving forward.  The message of forgiveness and grace for herself was a powerful message for making the change she was unable to do earlier.   She successfully completed our Powerful Parenting course, we have helped with transportation to help stabilize her employment situation that now also helps with her housing.   She continues to partner with us and is well on her way to family re-unification.

 

Mykaela’s Story -

 

Mykalea came to our Heathy Cooking on a Budget as an exhausted new mother with little confidence in the kitchen.  She was committed to making sure that she learned skills for ensuring the health of her new family growing into the future.  Building on information from class and practice in our kitchen, she gained confidence in herself, literally bursting with enthusiasm and pride in what she had learned.   She proudly informed the class about what she “discovered” as she started reading labels at the store and “googling” information on the internet about cooking.  Practical skills and information for setting goals and achieving are integral to our Life Skills classes and Mykalea would agree!

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