The Widespread Impact of Chalmers and ABCD Principles
When Angie Kidd joined The Chalmers Center’s spring “Improvising the Kingdom” webinar, she commented, “Chalmers impacted our organization so much that we completely overhauled it with this new direction. After almost 6 years of working with this, it is now impacting our entire county!” We wanted to hear more!
Back in 2013, Angie had what she describes as a “God-smack,” nudging her that something needed to change with her approach to poverty alleviation. As the Executive Director of Common Grace Ministries in Noble County, Indiana, Angie grappled with this idea for a while. At one point, she realized that 4 generations of the same family were shopping in their food pantry every week. She felt the familiar tension that she wasn’t doing enough, and at the same time that she might be doing too much.
Angie’s heart for the poor is rooted in her own story. She grew up in material poverty in the rural area where she now lives and serves. Common Grace Ministries was started 25 years ago by local churches in the county who noticed the same people consistently coming to their doors asking for the same things. The church leaders knew they needed to do more than just put a bandaid on the situation, and sought to address the underlying wound.
A New Approach to Poverty Alleviation
As she began to seek a new approach to poverty alleviation, Angie started reading books and wondering what she could learn from other poverty alleviation ministries. In 2016, she read When Helping Hurts. She shared, “That book put these experiences that I had had with people, and even in my growing up years, into perspective. It gave me a framework that I could take to the board and say, ‘We need to do something different here.’”
Once they learned that poverty is not merely material, Common Grace Ministries started to make significant changes. One of Angie’s primary takeaways from When Helping Hurts was the concept of Asset-Based Community Development. For the first time, they started to look for the assets in their community before looking for what was missing. It spurred the team’s efforts to truly pay attention and listen more to the community, and as they built relationships, they began to see true transformation.
Helping without Hurting
Common Grace Ministries also made changes in their ministry areas to reflect what they had learned. At their furniture ministry, they implemented a small processing and delivery fee. NO ONE complained. In fact, people are happy to be able to provide for their families without having to receive a hand out. This encourages dignity as they are able to invest in their community. Changes at their food pantry helped to reduce “pantry hopping,” while also increasing the number of visits from senior citizens and other especially vulnerable community members, helping to stretch their limited resources. Additionally, their financial assistance ministry moved beyond offering relief for immediate needs, and began development work to promote lasting change.
Learning to Innovate
To build on their work, a team from Common Grace Ministries joined our spring cohort of Innovate to learn new ways to faithfully love their community. Angie believes kingdom-centered innovation can help her look at challenges such as domestic violence, childcare issues, and housing through a different lens.
During Innovate training, each team works to address one specific problem in their community. Angie’s team chose transportation. Their rural community lacks public transportation, so a broken down car is a serious challenge for their ministry participants. Not only does it keep them from being able to get to work, church, the grocery store, doctor appointments, and support services, it also leads to further isolation that impacts their well-being. Angie’s team is working with their stakeholders, including the materially poor, auto repair shop owners, and other community members, to address this problem through a newly designed auto repair network.
With God’s help, Common Grace Ministries’ dedication to focus on relationships and assets is yielding true transformation in their community. Angie is passionate about their Kingdom work and she is grateful for the impact that Chalmers has had on their ministry. She shared, “Good things are happening, and Chalmers is a part of that.”
Learn More about Helping without Hurting
Interested to learn more about how you can design a poverty alleviation ministry that helps without hurting? On August 2, 2022, we’re hosting a FREE webinar to walk you through our framework and show you how it can work in your context–and you’re invited!