Love Life, a ministry to young families, is on move

Program located on Green Bay’s east side will continue to provide items for infants and toddlers at new location

GREEN BAY — The needs of low-income families with infants and toddlers on Green Bay’s east side remain, so the services provided by Love Life volunteers will continue. Where they serve will soon change.

Jean Smithback, seated, and Dave Dionne prepare to hand out a box of diapers to a young mother at the Love Life ministry’s present location at Peace United Methodist Church in Green Bay. The ministry will move to Central Church in September. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

For the past 14 years, Love Life has operated from 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursdays (no services on the fifth Thursday of a month) at Peace United Methodist Church in Green Bay. Due to security measures requiring doors at the church to remain locked, Love Life will no longer be able to use the space. Aug. 30 will mark the final date at the location.

“They have been good to us,” said volunteer Dave Dionne in reference to Peace United Methodist. “We really enjoyed this nice huge space. We utilized it as best as we can.”

The program has found a new east side home. Dionne, a member of St. Matthew Parish in Allouez, said that services will move in September to Central Church, located at 831 Schoen St., just a couple blocks east of Peace United Methodist.

Love Life began in 1993 at St. Joseph Church in Green Bay. The east side location opened in October of 2004 due to an increase in demand for services. In 2016, the west side location of Love Life moved from St. Joseph to the Hope Center on Clinton Street.

The number served by Love Life on the city’s east side grew by approximately 100 families over the past year. The program distributes diapers, wipes, formula, gently used clothing, baby furniture and toys. Expectant mothers receive a layette.

“We call it a ‘baby shower in a box,’” said volunteer Peggy Lemerond, a member of St. Mary Parish, Ledgeview, and St. Francis Xavier Parish, De Pere. “They get all the necessary items they need when they bring their baby home.”

Over the past year, Love Life has served 782 children from 616 families. Diapers are the greatest need for clients. Parents can receive diapers three times a month from Love Life until the child reaches age 3, with an exception for special needs children.

“It costs about $1,000 a year for diapers for a baby,” said Lemerond. “If a baby is in a dry diaper they view the world as a happy place.

“We keep track of the number they get,” she added. “The average number of diapers they receive is based on the age of the child. They come in when their babies are a week old. They show us these angel babies. We see them grow. The children are happy to be here. We have a toy box. They run to the toy box. We started (handing out) candy when we had a Christmas party. They run to the candy.”

Diapers are purchased from funds received through donations. Volunteers look for the best prices. Love Life also receives diapers from donation drives by businesses and organizations, including the United Way and Kimberly-Clark.

“We will get some brand names,” said Dionne. “We have some clients whose babies develop rashes so we try to keep the brand name diapers for them. “We have had very few problems. Ninety-nine percent are satisfied with the diapers we have for them.”

Once a month, clients receive formula, which is sometimes provided by the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program. Love Life also buys formula when necessary. Items and financial donations are needed, said Lemerond.

“Every little bit helps,” she said.

Four years ago, Love Life expanded its resources to offer “Love Learning,” a program that provides literacy materials for children and encourages parent-child interaction. Also, in 2015, through a grant and the support of volunteers from Resurrection Parish in Allouez, Love Life was able to distribute diapers for children at Encompass Child Care centers who qualify.

The east side Love Life location has 33 active volunteers, and four for the Life Learning program, said Dionne.

“We have tried becoming more ecumenical,” he said. “We would like to have more churches to help fill the need. It makes you feel good that you are helping.”

To make a donation to Love Life or for more information, contact Dave Dionne at (920) 336-3082 or [email protected]