By Jim Davis
Jeff Sorrell isn’t the type of person that most people would expect to find as the leader of a charitable
organization. He’s not a billionaire philanthropist who can fund his own charity, he’s not a community
leader with influence in high places and he doesn’t hold any degrees that would prepare him for this
type of work. Instead, he’s a guy who grew up in a broken home, never knew his own father, and served
time in prison for selling drugs. But as Jeff will tell you, “God doesn’t care what you’ve done in the past .
. . if what you’re doing is part of his plan, he’ll find a way to help you succeed.”
For many people, a prison sentence is another step along the path to a life of crime. Jeff made it the
first step towards transforming himself into a better person, a better husband, and a better father. As a
child, the Church had been a positive influence for him and so, in 1982, he made the decision to commit
his life to Christ. That choice helped him land a job as an inventory specialist at SuperValu Foods, where
he worked for seventeen years. Even with a full-time job, he continued to spend his spare time
volunteering in soup kitchens and the Greene Hall Drug and Alcohol Center. In 1987, he was ordained
and began ministering in local prisons, including the Lebanon Correctional Center.
In 1999, Jeff had the opportunity to visit the Dream Center, a Christian organization located in Los
Angeles. Based in a converted hospital, the Center offers outreach services, rehabilitation programs,
temporary living space, training and other services to the local community. He returned home
convinced that God had put it in his heart to create a similar center in Dayton. He proposed the idea to
the leadership of the Vineyard Church, who hired him to start the multi-ministry center that we know
today as the Life Enrichment Center.
That was twenty years ago. Today, the Life Enrichment Center (LEC) is a vital part of the East Dayton
community. At its core, it’s a Christian organization focused on transforming the lives of individuals and
the communities in which they live. It’s also a community center where the people of East Dayton can
attend classes, exercise in the health and fitness center, make new friends and come closer to Christ.
And it’s also a campus that hosts a variety of partner organizations that provide service for the people of
The LEC operates under the principle that “everyone has value.” To help clients realize that value, Jeff
introduced two innovative concepts. The first is the “Pathways to Growth” program, which offers clients
the flexibility to create their own path to improving their lives. “No one wants to be told what to do,”
says Jeff. “People are more willing to talk when they know they have options.” The second is the idea
of “exchange charity,” where clients earn rewards by attending classes and participating in LEC
programs. “Our goal is to help people transform their lives. We don’t want to just give people food, we
want to help them address their problems.”
Jeff’s story is a perfect example of how one person can make a significant impact on a community. Jeff
didn’t start with the funding, the connections, or the skills to start the Life Enrichment Center. But what
he did have was a strong desire to help others, the commitment to follow through, and the faith that
God would help him succeed.
Remember, It Starts with One. Will that One be You . . . .