Everybody wants to make a difference, and “Love Week” is helping people do just that.
The concept of giving back is a profoundly important ideology central to many churches, local businesses and families, and Love Week has become, perhaps, one of the most recognizable such efforts in our community. In part, because of the bright red “Love Week” T-shirts you’ll see scattered all over Rapid City in the early weeks of summer. The project is founded on the principal of relationship building — that’s really where Katy Kinnan shines. She loves people, and she loves to help people help others. “I have the best job ever,” she says of her role as Serve Local + Global Director of Fountain Springs Church. “I get to mobilize people and help build bridges.”
What began as “Love Rapid City”, Love Week was born out of a startling realization. Katy and her husband David had recently relocated to our beloved town for his work as pastor of Fountain Springs Church when they had a chance encounter with a missionary group — a group that had traveled here to work and serve in our community.
“We’d never lived in a place where missions were coming,” Katy related, and that experience inspired them to ask themselves, ‘are we investing?’ “It flipped a switch,” she remembers.
People in the church wanted to go all over the world and do good things–and “there’s nothing wrong with that,” Katy asserts, adding that in the perspective she shares with David, “If we’re here, we need to be here first.”
It was 2010 when David first proposed to his congregation that they be ‘a church that nurtured the ground in which it was planted,’ and that vision – expanded to serve the greater Black Hills region – has now come to be known as “Love Week.”
Every year, congregants are invited to set aside resources to invest in their community in a particularly unique way by partnering with non-profits, organizations and people in the community already doing the work instead of striking out with their own service projects. Recognizing a serious lack of funding in our schools, for instance, one year Love Week sent 40 people per day for a week to support Black Hawk Elementary in creating more usable space. They partnered with Black Hills Works to create a park space equipped with a special wheelchair accessible swing, and connected with Habitat for Humanity on home preservation projects like providing a storm door or maintaining a yard. Love Inc., a local non-profit close to Katy’s heart because of the wide array of needs they address, has been a Love Week partner for years, and the arrangement has helped to provide furniture for families transitioning out of homelessness, wheelchair accessible home modifications, home repairs, meals for education class participants, and more.
Over 10 years and countless impacts, many local non-profits have come to depend on Love Week; Katy and her team have received over 100 requests so far for this year’s event the second week of June. Those requests will be matched with volunteers and resources from the community and the congregation, before being dispatched to projects. But this service opportunity is not constrained just to Love Week; Fountain Springs Church also hosts monthly Service Saturdays and encourages congregants to remain involved in their neighborhoods all year long — whether through service to a non-profit organization or just by reaching out to a neighbor down the street. “Love where you are; love your city,” Katy urges. “Make
it matter to you.”
Words by Jaclyn Lanae
Photos by Jesse Brown Nelson