SPRING HILL — Vince Roth was helping a well-known Christian ministry when he became aware that volunteers are on their own for some of their expenses.
Though most large ministries pay volunteers' expenses once they are on site, the volunteers often must pay to get there and back.
"This limits how often they can travel and even dissuades some from serving at all," Roth said.
After he semi-retired a couple of years ago, Roth felt he "should be giving more back." He volunteered with hospice, an international relief organization called Samaritan's Purse and a disaster relief organization; his wife, Cindy, began volunteering with the soup kitchen at their church, Northcliffe Baptist in Spring Hill.
"As this developed and as I traveled (to take courses for work with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Rapid Response Team), I started to identify that very often people who want to volunteer have to really go into their own pocket for funding," Roth said.
Last winter, Roth drove from Spring Hill to North Carolina for two weekends and to Tallahassee for one weekend for training to be able serve in a pastoral/counseling capacity after an emergency. He paid his own travel and course expenses.
An incident in late January convinced Roth that it can be unsafe to choose to travel rather than spend money for an overnight stay.
"I had finished my training in North Carolina the night they had that accident due to the fog (and smoke) off of I-75," Roth said, recalling a multi-vehicle crash near Gainesville on Jan. 29. "I almost drove straight home due to finances. At the last minute, I decided to bite the bullet and get a room. I would have been coming through that area just about the time they had those accidents."
Youth groups often travel home by bus late at night due to lack of finances as well, Roth said, noting that pastors have told him there is usually no direct funding for a group that wants to travel, other than the church's general funds.
Roth began thinking about an organization that could help.
"I thought if we could find a way to get a funding mechanism in place to help, churches that were doing this kind of work could let their drivers get off the road and rest," he said. "We really could even save some lives."
In March, Roth, his wife and Marilyn Robertson, his wife's sister, began a nonprofit, nondenominational ministry that they call In God I Trust US. Its purpose is to help volunteers financially who are assisting their fellow Americans.
Cindy Roth said the ministry's name explains their purpose.
"After 9/11, a lot of people went back to God, and the flags were coming out," Mrs. Roth said. "So we are trusting God with every day that we have, and, along with those who are trusting God and willing to help with ministry to others, we want to be of help to them."
The ministry was able to use more than $1,000 it raised during a fundraiser in July to aid several volunteers. Kevin Milner, a freelance pastor who was also working as a volunteer at the Northcliffe Baptist soup kitchen, wanted to visit area businesses to gain support for the ministry. The Roths used some of the funds to fill his car's gas tank.
Milner knows how much an organization such as this is needed.
"In the past, I've been in a position to help people up North, but I just couldn't get the funds together to get up there," he said. "In this day and age, it's hard to have finances for traveling and accommodations. A ministry like In God I Trust US fills in the gap."
Others who have been helped by the organization thus far include two students at the Academy-National Institute for Crisis Response Training in North Carolina, where students are trained to serve people in crisis situations, and ministry volunteers in Alabama and Mississippi.
In God I Trust US recently helped a pastor and deacon who traveled from Indiana to assist with work at Hope Youth Ranch in Pasco County.
"We were able to provide a place to sleep and some food for them while serving," Vince Roth said. "What we could not provide was monies to assist with their travels. It is this type of need In God I Trust US hopes to reach."
Toward that end, plans are under way for two fundraisers.
On Sept. 14 and 15, there will be a garage sale at the Roths' home at 10300 Gifford Drive. Proceeds will benefit the organization. Donations of clothing and other items in good condition may be dropped off at the house. For large items or items that cannot be left outside, donors should call ahead.
The ministry is also planning a carwash for sometime in October.
To equip them for additional fundraising, the couple is seeking donations of equipment, such as a concession trailer and a hot dog or lemonade stand.
"As always, these donations will be used to further God's work," Roth said. "And we are always looking for volunteers to help with the various fundraisers, as well as for new folks that we can help who have the heart and time to volunteer but not the finances."
Ministering to others works both ways, Roth said.
"The more contact we have with people," he said, "the more we can identify needs and can try to bless people and have people bless us back the other direction so that we can help even more."