Because We Care
Barry County Cares began as Love, INC in 1983 with Rev. Steve Reid as Executive Director. Since then, the organization has served Barry County as a faith-based clearinghouse for a wide range of services and resources for people in need.
Barry County Cares focuses on helping people find assistance with food, personal care/household items, utility bills, housing issues, transportation, clothing and medical issues. Through coordination with a variety of churches, agencies and organizations, Barry County Cares brings together people in need with people who want to help.
Barry County Cares receives funding through member churches, community organizations, businesses and private individuals.
Stories from Our Office
Many people come through our office seeking assistance for a variety of needs. Here are just a few of the stories of people who have helped and been helped through Barry County Cares.
A young teen in our community told her parents and friends she didn’t need birthday gifts this year. Instead, she requested those attending her upcoming birthday party to bring new personal care items: toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.
After the party, all the items were donated to the Personal Care and Household Pantry at the Barry County Cares office. This young teens’ unselfish act of giving inspires us.
Last fall we received a somewhat unusual request. A call came in from a case manager at the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). She told us about a gentleman living in a rural area in the southern part of the county. He lives alone and is very self-sufficient. He heats his home with wood that he cuts himself. His chainsaw had broken down and he was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to cut the wood he needed before winter set in.
We called the gentleman and he described exactly the type of chainsaw he needed. It was a modest request and through generous donations from churches we were able to assist. We called the Menard’s store in Battle Creek (the closest one to his home) and ordered the saw over the phone. We called the gentlemen back and told him he could pick up his new chainsaw at the store. He was so grateful.
He called again the next day to say that he picked up the saw and it was exactly what he needed. He repeatedly thanked us. This was an example of how Barry County Cares works with churches and agencies to meet people’s needs.
The Barry County Cares office received a call from Hastings High School asking if we would accept a donation of fruit. Students participating in the lunch program are expected to take a piece of fruit with their lunch. They are expected to “take” the fruit but not required to eat it. As a consequence, much of the fruit was being thrown out with the trash.
Now student not wishing to eat their fruit may donate it to Barry County Cares. Every other day or so a van from the high school pulls up to our office and a student jumps out with a bag of apples, oranges, and sometimes bananas. We make the fruit available to anyone coming into the office accessing the food banks or the personal/household items pantry.
We love seeing the faces of the students when they see what a good thing they’re doing to make an impact in our community.
Nati’s Rainbow began in the heart of a three year old girl named Natalia. While she was in DeVos Children’s Hospital, the floor ran out of coloring books. Kids use coloring as a way to forget the pain and fill the long hours in the hospital. Nurses were copying one page of a coloring book repeatedly to try to meet the need.
Nati’s mother went out and bought coloring books for the whole floor. When she told Nati that the coloring books were for the kids on the floor Nati asked, “What about all the other kids?”
Since that day two years ago. Nati’s Rainbow has collected and distributed coloring books and crayon to over 600 kids in need in places like Pennock Hospital, Alpha Women’s Center, Barry County Community Health, and Manna’s Market. And now, also Barry County Cares. We thank God for the blessings of a child’s heart.
A woman in the one of the churches in our community asked about our Christmas Adoption Program. Her name was Sally and she wanted her church to be more involved in helping people in the community. The church is small and could only assist two or three families. Sally was interested in families that are perhaps difficult to place. Many participating organizations like to adopt families with children. Everyone who signs up for the program gets something but sometimes families of adults are hard to place.
Barry County Cares provided Sally with the names of two families in need who had requested Christmas adoption. She and the people at her church collected food and gift items to be presented to the adopted families. When the food and gifts were delivered Sally was particularly struck by the gratitude of Linda, a woman in one of the families.
Through that interaction these women have become friends, regularly meeting for coffee and sharing in each other’s lives. Sally has become a good support to Linda and Linda has become a great blessing to Sally. This is just one of the many ways God works to connect people. Barry County Cares is blessed to be part of that.