Rev. Iris Douglas is a member of New Life Covenant Centre and a community leader who has played an integral role within a supportive program called Loving Kindness Ministries. She has selflessly dedicated her life towards providing the necessary tools to enhance the lives of those less fortunate. My friend Natasha Morris told me about this courageous woman and I feel honored to showcase the philanthropic strides that she is making in our society. In a brief interview below, Rev. Iris Douglas has shared the motivation behind her efforts and how you can get involved with the vision and mission of this initiative.
1. Can you start off by telling us about the community projects that New Life Covenant Centre is currently involved in?
New Life Covenant Centre has several community projects, of which Loving Kindness Ministries is one of them. We serve through the prisons and hospital ministries; care ministries in seniors’ & nursing homes; glorious praise ministries -invasion of hope; local and international missions- a kindergarten school in Uganda. However, Loving Kindness Ministries is our focus for this specific purpose.
Loving Kindness Ministries is a supportive program of New Life Covenant Centre, which was implemented in 2001. The purpose of Loving Kindness Ministries is to provide support services to members of our community in times of crisis. This purpose is achieved primarily through the operation of a food bank and a scholarship program for first year students entering college or university.
Funds to support the food bank and scholarship programs are done strictly through the internal fundraising efforts of our members and friends. We aim to provide support in a sensitive and dignified manner. These ministries serve our church and members of our community who are in need. One does not need to be a member of our church to receive assistance.
2. What is the motivation behind your efforts and how has the community benefited from these initiatives?
As Christians we do believe that the complete person is not just a spiritual being. Spirituality is only one component of who we are and as such, we recognize the need to support our community using a holistic approach. In our mission work we are faced with the ongoing physical need of those around us and we know that it is our duty to care completely. It is with these convictions that we launched first the food bank program and five years ago we implemented the scholarship fund. The scholarship program is fast becoming a signature event for this Ministry of NLCC.
The scholarship fund provides financial assistance to 4 youth who are members of our church and 1 youth from our community each year. As we celebrate the 5th anniversary of the scholarship awards, we are pleased to have served 5 youths toward their career goal.
3. Why do you feel community outreach is important and what kind of long-term impact do you hope to achieve?
Community outreach is key to the success of our ministries. Christian practices have had a long history of “outreach”. This is not just a buzz word for us. We believe in reaching individuals and families where they are and supporting them to achieve their goals.
It is often difficult for those in need to seek and or receive support. Therefore, “we do believe we have both a social and spiritual responsibility to reach out and show that we care, we are here, we see, we understand and without expectation we want to stand with you.”
It is our hope that those we support today will be inspired to give back, not just to the ministry, but that they will be inspired to support their community when they are able. The motto of the scholarship program is “Building tomorrow today” this particular program is an investment in our future as a community.
4. What obstacles current exist and what strategic planning is in place to overcome them?
Our economic barometer tells us that we as a country/world are not economically stable and those who are often contributors to such cause have cut back drastically. Fundraising, to fulfill yearly commitment, continues to be a challenge for the not for profit sector of society. Traditional funders do not often give funds to programs delivered by religious institutions which are also a problem.
Our fundraising efforts employ strategies that are focused and allow for continuous contribution. Loving Kindness Ministries encourage partners to contribute whatever they are able to on a monthly basis. We also coordinate our signature event-a yearly prayer breakfast as a fundraising event. In addition, we utilize the scholarship award event as a day to fundraise for the scholarship specifically.
We are in the process of developing outreach/promotional materials which will be used, not only promote to potential service users, but will be used as a vehicle to solicit support from local businesses and the community at large.
5. How can people volunteer to lend their time and hearts to this beautiful movement?
We welcome volunteers to support various parts of the two streams of Loving Kindness Ministries. Potential volunteers can call (905) 672-1816.