Interfaith Community Services fittingly opened its July 25 luncheon with an interfaith invocation led by a Presbyterian reverend, an Episcopalian reverend and a Jewish rabbi in turn. The organization had gathered to announce the addition of its 100th community faith partner, Agape Christian Church International.
Pastor Anthony L. Moss of Agape Christian accepted a plaque from ICS members, and said he was excited about the partnership.
“We felt that partnering with ICS was the way to go to get help and service to our communities without our churches having to individually meet the needs of these communities,” he said.
Founded in 1985, ICS is a local nonprofit and social services agency working to fill gaps in human services with a network of faith partners, volunteers and corporate partners. The nature of these gaps varies widely: sometimes an elderly individual is looking for companionship, or someone recently released from the hospital needs a ride to their next appointment; but sometimes it could mean someone who needs money for bus fare or food donations. Faith partners include different churches, religious groups and spiritual communities working toward the common goal of helping people in need. Over 75 percent of ICS volunteers come from community faith partners.
Speakers at the luncheon, mostly past CEOs or representatives, communicated the growth and history of the company. Speaking in order of when they served, the leaders of ICS constructed a timeline of the company’s growth.
CEO Daniel Stoltzfus shared some remarks from the organization’s founding director, Rev. Barbara Anderson, who could not attend. Her words were about a vision of different faith communities coming together that not only became a reality, but grew larger than she had imagined.
“ICS has reached 100 community partners, [all of] which carry on the early vision of love, cooperation and service,” Stoltzfus read from Anderson’s remarks.
Stoltzfus corroborated Anderson’s statement when he described the ICS’ Good Samaritan Fund, now called the Emergency Financial Aid fund, which began with a $500 donation when ICS was first founded.
“You know what that $500 has grown into?” he said. “This year we are going to spend $1 million in direct assistance to our community.”
His remark was met by cheers from audience members, many of whom watched that growth happen firsthand. Some of the people present had been with the organization for its entire 30-year existence, and an atmosphere of camaraderie and excitement prevailed.
April Ritchie, daughter of the late June Head, who served as CEO of the organization from 1987 to 2002, spoke about her mother’s impact on ICS, and ICS’ impact on her mother. Starting as a secretary for the organization in her 60s, Head quickly made her way through the ranks, finding a headquarters for the organization, visiting churches and becoming close friends with her volunteers.
“With 100 faith community partners, I know that she’s smiling down from heaven right now, and the miracles will continue,” Ritchie said.
Bonnie Kampa, who served as CEO from 2002 to 2015, said it was challenging to describe the entire mission and umbrella of services ICS offers, because the organization does so much and brings so many–sometimes vastly different–communities of faith together. She said it allows congregations to pool their resources and create a larger base of help for those who need it.
“Because of that unique vision in its early years, ICS stands out,” she said.
When current CEO Stoltzfus took the stage to talk about the company’s continued growth, he also announced that ICS had just received a $125,000 Federal Senior Corps RSVP Expansion Grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. He said the grant would be used to fund the expansion of the volunteer program, in the form of recruitment, training and other support.
Barry Robinson, board member and former chair of ICS, spoke about why ICS’ work meant so much not only to him, but also to other volunteers and community members.
“I love that it gets in the trenches and helps people who need help,” he said. “It’s not ethereal–it’s grunt work. It’s people who care about people.”