BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN When Terri Mills Harris is recognized as the 2018 Delano Citizen of the Year Saturday, March 10, the organization she manages will also be front and center.
“I don’t do anything for any limelight,” Harris said. “It’s the least favorite part of my job, vocation, and calling. I really did think if it could make Love INC and Jesus famous, then I’m up for it.”
The theme for the night will be “Knit together with love,” and tickets will be available through Saturday, March 3.
Harris grew up near Hamel and has been a longtime area resident.
She worked in youth ministry for 28 years, including a number of years at Camp Ihduhapi, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Christian ministry from Crown College.
“I enjoyed helping and encouraging youth to make positive choices and serve others through their Christian commitments,” Harris said. “There are some amazing youth. It’s been fun to see what they’ve become as adults: pastors, and lawyers, and therapists, and counselors. They all still call me mom.”
Her faith plays an important part in her life, and she was ordained by the International Ministerial Fellowship 10 years ago.
Entrepreneurialism has also been a part of Harris’ life, as she has owned a number of businesses.
“I’ve worked in corporate and nonprofit jobs over the years,” she said.
Harris has been at the helm of Love INC-Heartland in Delano since 2005.
She lives in Delano with her husband, Scott.
2007 Delano Citizen of the Year Donna Anderson has worked with Love INC-Heartland since its inception and speaks highly of Harris.
“Terri will always give of herself 100-plus percent,” Anderson said. “She is involved with all aspects of Love INC. She is a hands-on leader. Terri believes we should give a hand up, not just a hand out.”
About Love INC
Love INC stands for Love In the Name of Christ.
The local chapter serves the communities of Maple Plain, Independence, Corcoran, Loretto, Greenfield, Rockford, Montrose, Cokato, Dassel, Howard Lake, Waverly, Delano, Winsted, Watertown, and Mayer.
Over the past year, the organization has worked with 30 local churches to assist people seeking help.
Love INC is not an emergency agency and does not give away cash. Rather, it is designed to mobilize churches to help meet the needs of neighbors.
In 2017, the local organization met more than 4,900 needs with the help of more than 400 volunteers giving about 13,000 hours of their time.
Love INC-Heartland’s Fresh Start classes helped participants pay more than $10,000 in personal debt, while also teaching skills leading to personal development and self sufficiency.
Harris enjoys several aspects of the organization.
“Aside from seeing the amazing fruit of families in need who come to us, I like seeing the transformations and amazing positive impacts the volunteers and programs have on people in need in our community, and seeing Christians from our churches get up and out living their faith,” Harris said.
She likes to see volunteers from different churches and communities working together for the common good.
“It’s quite a delight to get to know so many people and all the different churches that are loving and serving God, doing the same thing in different ways,” Harris said. “One of Jesus’ last prayers was ‘I pray that you might be one, even as the Father and I are one.’ Seeing the unity of the churches and the Christians in the communities is something I really cherish.”
Love INC-Heartland has been growing at an extraordinary rate, Harris said, thanks to the gift of a 12,000-square-foot building in Howard Lake; expansion of services to Dassel and Cokato; and a partnership with Wright County Community Action to earn a grant that provides reimbursement for volunteers to drive individuals to chemotherapy and dialysis appointments.
With the growth comes a need for additional volunteers in the following areas: home repair, call center, office work, furniture delivery, and for Fresh Start classes.
“All volunteers are always welcome,” Harris said. “Anyone with a gift can approach us. We’ll find a job for them . . . We’re also looking for new board members from our churches.”
About the banquet
The General Federated Women’s Club of Delano selects the Delano Citizen of the Year, and will host the banquet Saturday, March 10, at Delano American Legion Post 377.
Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., with appetizers at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner and program at 7 p.m.
Tickets cost $25, and are available through Saturday, March 3, at Delano City Hall, Love INC, Downtown Beauty Salon, and from GFWC members.
The meal will feature beef stroganoff with salad, dinner rolls, chocolate cheesecake, and coffee.
Funds from the banquet will support a number of GFWC initiatives.
The local GFWC donates to Anna Marie’s shelter, Operation Smile, Operation Nice, Relay for Life, The Estates at Delano, and several other organizations; while it has also been instrumental in the Delano Public Library, First Recycling in Minnesota, playground equipment for Early Childhood and Family Education, the Central Park gazebo, Riverfront Park, and the splash pad at Central Park.