By Brooke Stevenson
A different type of Ministry is about to celebrate its one-year anniversary in Sevier County.
LIVE-IT, the ministry started by Seymour residents Paul and Terri Danis, was created with the “pay it forward mentality” to enable neighbors to help neighbors.
“Really the whole concept around LIVE-IT is surrounded by the concept of pay it forward,” said Paul. “What happens if one person does three things for people who can’t do it for themselves and they then get involved in doing it and the next thing you know, you have a movement of people who are looking out for their neighbors’ best interest.”
Paul and Terri began LIVE-IT after traveling to Africa for mission work. They said they thought it was their calling to start an orphanage in Africa, but then began thinking about those in need back home.
“Really all of the (mission work in Africa) was to get us ready for what God was going to call us to do here locally, and that is to get into a ministry that focuses on loving our neighbor,” said Terri.
The ministry’s purpose is to help those less fortunate in the community while encouraging those individuals to use whatever talents or skills they have to help others as well.
“Our country has created a mentality where it is almost like giving the less fortunate a fish but not teaching them to fish,” said Terri. “A lot of people get to the point in their life where they don’t think they have anything else to give.”
The organization receives all types of calls from elderly couples in need of home repairs, to families who cannot afford to move on their own, to fixing household appliances, to helping individuals who have structural damage to their homes.
Once the word got out that there was an organization that would help those in need and not charge for the service, Paul said the flood of calls began.
“But there is a catch,” he added. “The catch is when we go out there Terri will ask those we’re helping what they can do or have done and then she’ll ask them to use those skills to help others in the community.
“We encourage people who receive our help to go out and help others in any capacity that they can.”
LIVE-IT now has about 180 volunteers, and 80 to 90 of them have been involved in several projects throughout the year.
Not only does the organization have a large amount of volunteers, but Paul says that about 50 percent of the roughly 108 projects that have been completed this year have been paid-forward by those who received help.
The ministry also depends on independent volunteers to help those in need and they welcome everyone who wishes to participate, no matter what religious background they may have.
“It is not a religious thing,” said Paul. “We’re not affiliated with any particular church; we’re out of the box.”
With a very successful year behind them, the organization has a very ambitious goal for 2011. They would like to be able to touch 16,000 lives.
“If everybody we have contact with helps somebody in need and invites someone they know to do the same, then we’ll have 16,000 people by the end of 2011 who have been associated in some way with ‘live it forward’ and that is really the goal,” Paul said.
While the ministry does help those in need by fixing houses, appliances and so on, Terri said that is not what it is all about.
“The whole reason we exist is not fixing their homes, but it is really about changing their lives and making them feel they have value and embracing them and making them feel like they are a part of something,” she said.
For more information about LIVE-IT call (865) 223-7599 or go to the organization’s Web site at www.live-it.tv.
Ministry Lives it Forward
By Brooke Stevenson