Kym Klass
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August 2, 2023

Love Loud Montgomery wants their guests to know they are
not only in a safe place but they are heard. LLM can provide more than just nutritional needs;
they also help the spirit.

Formerly known as Forest Park Ministry Center, Love Loud offers a Client-Choice food pantry helping to feed those living in generational poverty and those in more affluent neighborhoods who have lost jobs.

“Really, crisis doesn’t know a demographic,” said Donna McCullough, director of LLM. “One of the things disturbing to me is the number of our elderly living on a fixed income and who have young children dropped off at their door, and they’re having to feed them.”

Love Loud Montgomery aims to help everyone it can, and over the years, it has expanded its reach from two zip codes to all Montgomery and Lowndes counties.

Compassion ministry is part of the Montgomery Baptist Association’s Community Ministries with the primary goal of “meeting human needs and planting gospel seeds.” Its Matthew 25 building on East Ann Street provides access to food, clothing, and other help for those in need. Its guests are ministered to by a Client-Choice food pantry.

But it is more than about shopping for food. As guests arrive at Matthew 25, Love Loud Montgomery determines if and how they need help moving through life: with grief, anxiety, or other emotional and spiritual issues.

If needed, they are referred to LLM’s Luke 4 Counseling Center on East 4th Street, where guests can receive counseling, workshops on life skills, and support for grandparents who have custody of their grandchildren. During business hours, licensed counselors are available free of charge.

“The immediate human need is met at Matthew 25, and people come and shop our food pantry,” McCullough said. “Our method of delivering our services is through trying to provide dignity for those needing help, allowing them to make their own choices.

“We do this by appointment so everybody that comes has time to shop the pantry and be visited and prayed with. We want to be sure there is relationship building. Even if they don’t qualify income-wise, it gives us time to talk to them.

“As a licensed professional counselor, my goal is to minister to these people who need help with life struggles in the best ways using practices from mental health, but also from a Christian worldview. We want people to know they are in a safe place where they can be heard.”

McCollough spent 30 years working in the interior design field and continued feeling a need to be in a “helping” field. After becoming more involved in my church in various ministries, I went on mission trips. But I had never really done anything in my community.

“I went to the MBA (parent organization to LLM) and said, ‘You don’t know me, but this is my heart. How can I start volunteering or train volunteers.’”

After that meeting, she learned LLM needed a director.

“And I told my husband that there was something we needed to pray about. And he reminded me I had been praying for God to use me for two years.”

She has served as LLM’s director for 15 years, which was renamed four years ago. “When we started at Forest Park Ministry, we had two to three zip codes that we served. Today, the ministry is operated by 30 volunteers.

The USDA provides criteria for those who can access a food bank, McCullough said. They either pre-qualify by receiving SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food benefits to low-income families to supplement their grocery budget so they can afford food essential to health and well-being); TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families); or Supplemental Security Income.

“Or, their income falls below the poverty level,” McCullough said. That level is $18,954 for a single person. A family of eight can make about $65,000 or below.

“Sometimes, there are instances where there is a crisis and we can help,” McCullough said. “If you have income above that and you had a house fire or lost your job this week and are one check away from being unable to pay your bills. Or eat.”

One thing McCullough said COVID-19 did was help LLM get outside their ministry and network with others.

“That’s been really helpful because we like to refer people to another ministry,” she said. “And secondly, to be able to get our churches more involved. One of the things that has developed is the rolling food pantry, Love Loud River Region. It is a renovated school bus offering mass food distribution.

“We didn’t have to close down and instead started serving people in the parking lot. We shopped for them. We took that bus to the Garrett Coliseum parking lot. Little by little, we had churches that wanted to do their own distribution. That has been a beautiful silver lining – if you want to find something that came out of COVID, it is the fact that churches found a way to distribute.”

The Client-Choice pantry on East Ann Street has a large produce section. While Matthew 25 partners with the Montgomery Area Food Bank, they also have a large garden on the facility grounds, where they grow produce, including collards, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and okra.

Love Loud Montgomery also partners with Goodwill, which offers gift certificates to shop at its store. At Christmas time, LLM partners with Community of Hope and offers SAM’s Angel Market, allowing parents to purchase Christmas gifts for children in their household with dignity.

“Everything we do as far as physical needs, we do in a way that people can choose what they need and can use,” McCullough said. “You read in Matthew 25… if you’re feeding someone who is hungry, providing clothes, you are doing it as though you’re doing it for the Lord.

“God calls us to do this. We’re told this is how we minister and show love to our fellow man. The fact that we do it in the way we do it in a Client-Choice method makes it a unique ministry.

“We believe the Scripture that tells us we are all made in God’s image, and actually, we’re all broken,” McCullough said. “In some way or another, we’re broken by sin. And so, we want people to know that we are peer-to-peer. We want them to have the dignity of shopping for themselves.”

How you can
volunteer or give
Call: 334-269-5726
Email: loveloudmontomery

Love Loud Montgomery can use
shopping buddies to shop alongside guests in their pantries. They can also use people in their clothing area,
training volunteers to complete
intakes (helping assess needs and pray), and licensed professional
counselors to volunteer.

What’s new?
The Blessing Box, part of the
partnership with Patrick Aitken’s Homeless Outreach Mission Endeavor (HOME), assists the homeless.
The box on the Matthew 25 property is stocked with emergency bags (enough food for a day), socks, feminine
supplies, sleeping bags, and T-shirts.

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Kym Klass
Kym Klass has lived in the River Region since 2007. She is the Director of Communications at Frazer Church. She is the author of "One More Day: a powerful true story of suicide, loss and a woman's newfound faith." She serves on the board of directors for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (Alabama), the Samaritan Counseling Center, and the Alabama Coalition Against Rape.

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