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Get your ride on to help fight poverty

Gear up for a 39-mile ride from Holland, Mich. to Grand Rapids! Here's your chance to join the Sea to Sea Bike Tour on its ride through West Michigan. The largest cross-continental bike tour ever began June 21, 2013, in Los Angeles and will end nine weeks and 3,900 miles later in New York City. On August 3, Access of West Michigan will team up with Sea to Sea for a local ride as the group pedals through West Michigan.

Sea to Sea is a cross-country cycling tour that raises awareness and funds in support of those living in poverty around the world. Past tours have raised millions of dollars that supported community development, job creation, business training, mentoring, and other initiatives that helped transform thousands of lives.

The cyclists will arrive in Holland on Saturday, August 3, and the public is welcome to pedal along for the 39 miles to Calvin College in Grand Rapids. Those a little less adventurous may join the long riders at Calvin CRC and bike just over three miles to Calvin College.

The cost to join the long ride is $50 per person, and it's $20 per person for the short ride. All proceeds will go to support the programs of Access of West Michigan, an organization that links congregational, individual, and community resources to eliminate hunger and reduce the impact of poverty in Kent County.

Oh, and all riders receive a free T-shirt. You can't beat that.

Get involved:
- Join the long ride.
- Join the short ride.
- Donate to Access of West Michigan.

Images: Courtesy of Access and Sea to Sea

Degage Ministries' ID Office helps break the cycle of dependency

Having an ID, such as a driver's license, is something most of us take for granted.

"What many people may not realize is that without legal identification, an individual is unable to apply for a job, secure housing, cash a check, receive a Social Security card, or open a bank account," says Marge Palmerlee, Executive Director of Degage Ministries.

Since 2002, Degage Ministries, 144 Division Ave. S., has helped nearly 4,300 people obtain legal identification. With each ID Card comes the opportunity to become a more self-sufficient member of the community.

On June 3, 2013, Degage expanded the program by 50 percent to meet its growing demand. Prior to the expansion, many individuals were being turned away or asked to wait a long time for help. The expansion allows Degage to meet needs faster and more efficiently.

"Lack of proper identification prohibits an individual's ability to become self-sufficient," Palmerlee says. "The identification cards have proven to be an empowering right of passage where an individual is granted freedom and access to better opportunities and the chance to survive on their own."

People utilizing the program at Degage are often homeless, recently released from prison, new to Grand Rapids, or experiencing other obstacles preventing them from obtaining an ID on their own. To get a State of Michigan ID, many forms of hard-to-obtain documentation are needed. Degage staff members have tracked down school records from schools that burned down and found midwives who assisted home births in the 1940s. Staff members also have traced family roots and re-connected families.

Degage pays for most of the costs associated with the ID and required documentation; however, patrons of the program are asked to contribute a small percentage of the costs when possible. The program is only open to residents of Grand Rapids who can prove the need for financial assistance.

Get involved:
- Learn more about Degage Ministries.
- Volunteer.
- Donate.

Images: Courtesy of Degage Ministries website

KCAD's Woodbridge N. Ferris Building Grand Opening celebrates the generosity of donors and partners

The benevolence of Grand Rapids' movers and shakers has paid off in exquisite fashion with the noteworthy renovation of the old Federal Building, now known as the Woodbridge N. Ferris Building, 17 Pearl St. NW. On Tuesday, June 18, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University thanked the donors and partners who made the $31 million renovation project possible.

'Creative red' fashion-wear splashed color amid the cream interior as 150-plus guests roamed the building and enjoyed a cocktail reception and strolling dinner featuring Michigan fare. Those present were treated to an exclusive exhibition preview of "Contemporaries, Then and Now: The Gordon Collection and West Michigan Painters."

Key project donors recognized at the event included Ferris State University, The Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, Meijer Foundation, The Wege Foundation, Herman Miller, Inc., The Frey Foundation, The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation and The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, George and Barbara Gordon, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, The Steelcase Foundation and Michael and Susan Jandernoa, The Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Nucraft Furniture Company, Haworth, Joseph Jeup, Inc., Dustin and Lisa Hoffman, and Sandi and Ron Steensma.

Among the partners recognized at the event were organizations that contributed to the project, including the City of Grand Rapids, the Michigan State Historic Preservation office, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the National Park Service, project developer and construction manager The Christman Company, architect of record Tower Pinkster, historic preservation consultants Hopkins Burns Design Studio, and interiors and furniture designers Via Design.  

The 1909 Beaux Arts-Style building is listed on the National Register of Historic places and has received several industry awards, including the 2012 Adaptive Reuse Award, the 2013 Governor's Award for Historic Preservation, and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network award, as well as LEED Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Get involved:

- Take a class or attend a workshop at KCAD. Beginners are welcome.

Source: Sandra Davison-Wilson, VP Administration and Finance; KCAD website
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of KCAD website

Encore: 'The Piano Cottage Rocks!' will rock your socks off

On July 26 and 27, The Crescendo Foundation and co-sponsors Sightline Display Co. and Keyboard World will proudly present a two-hour concert, "The Piano Cottage Rocks!" -- performed by kids 8-16 -- at Peter Wege Auditorium (Wealthy Theatre), 1130 Wealthy St. SE.

Launched in 2012 to serve low-income children with limited access to music education in West Michigan, The Crescendo Foundation, 1400 Colorado Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, is the brainchild of dynamic musical duo Wright McCargar, winner of six local Grand Awards, and his wife, Jody Deems-McCargar. The nonprofit's mission is to cultivate access to tuition-free, quality music education in West Michigan.

The Crescendo Foundation nurtures learning in an inspiring and joyful environment where music sparks motivation, and discipline and focus guide each student's path to achievement. The performing students are selected through a rigorous audition and rehearsal process. The culminating concert features classic rock, pop, jazz, and blues. The kids produce the professional concert from concept to completion: logo, music selection, lighting, special effects -- you name it.

The Piano Cottage Rocks! 2012 concert received positive reviews from the community, sparking over 100 phone calls the next day from interested potential students, parents, and donors. Because music lessons for children in our community are often too costly for most to afford, the students decided it should be paid forward somehow for other kids to experience the benefit of learning an instrument.

Tickets for The Piano Cottage Rocks! are available online at for $10 each. Proceeds will go toward Crescendo's mission to create a tuition-free music conservatory in West Michigan.

Get involved:
- Visit Crescendo Foundation's website.
- Donate to the Crescendo Foundation.
- Be an instrument of change.
- Play it forward.

Source: The Crescendo Foundation website
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of The Crescendo Foundation website

Elizabeth Merriman: "Lift as you climb"

The spirit, compassion, and empowerment of "doing good" always begin with the individual. If you know Elizabeth Merriman (and, as per full disclosure, I do), chances are you've received a gift of her home-baked goods or some random good deed.

Oh, and another thing: she always smiles.

Born in Grand Rapids, Liz Strong (the "Merriman" came later) grew up in Muskegon. Her family struggled to make ends meet.

"When I was growing up, my sisters and I had everything that we concretely needed, but there were no luxuries," she says.

Liz worked to help pay the family's bills and learned at a very young age how to fend for herself and act as an independent adult. In 2000, she spent a year in the Philippines. During her time there, her outlook on life changed drastically.

"I was surrounded by the exceptionally poor and downtrodden," she says. "I saw people struggling everywhere. And I noticed that despite their adversity, they were the kindest, most hospitable people."

"Lift as you climb" became her mantra.

"Appreciate what you have, and as you reach your goals, you should try to lift others up," she says. "If everybody did that, we would all be much better off. We would be a community -- not individuals competing against each other, but a community of individuals working together."

While in the Philippines, Liz lost an extreme amount of weight, and the pounds kept coming off after she returned home. She began studying welding and planned to become an underwater welder.

Then, in 2003, the extreme weight loss triggered stroke-like symptoms, and she was diagnosed with an eating disorder. The welding dream evaporated. Three months of rehab helped her walk and regain the use of her right hand.

Liz then involved herself in the film industry, attended Compass College of Cinematic Arts, and now has her own production company, Happy Hat, LLC. She and her husband, Scott Merriman, have been married five years.

"If I have it in my power to help someone who needs it, I will do what I can," says Liz. "I am not naïve to hardships and bad things in life, but I would rather go through life with a smile instead of a frown."

Get involved:
- Learn about Compass College of Cinematic Arts.
- Check out Happy Hat, LLC's Facebook page.
- Visit Liz's Linkedin page.

Source: Elizabeth Merriman
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Photos: Courtesy of Elizabeth Merriman

GRCF's $600,000 low-interest loan helps Kent County Land Bank acquire 180 foreclosed properties

Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF), 185 Oakes St. SW, has made a $600,000 program-related investment (PRI) -- a low-interest loan from its endowment -- to the Kent County Land Bank Authority (KCLBA), 82 Ionia NW, to help it acquire 180 foreclosed properties in the City of Grand Rapids.

Once acquired, some properties will be resold "as-is" with renovation plans provided by the buyer. Others will be sold to nonprofits for rehabilitation, or renovated in a subsidized program and then resold. Severely blighted buildings will be torn down. The properties go up for auction in July.

This is the second PRI that the Community Foundation has made to the KCLBA. The first, in April 2012, enabled the KCLBA to acquire 59 properties, 73 percent of which were renovated and 70 percent resold within the 2012 calendar year.

After obtaining a property, the KCLBA clears title, cleans up the property, and lists it on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The general public has access to MLS listings, and anyone may submit a purchase offer after meeting a set of requirements, such as submitting construction specifications, proof of financing, and proof of ability to make the renovations.

The KCLBA ensures that properties are redeveloped to protect and restore the integrity of the neighborhood, reduce visual blight, improve curb appeal, increase property values, and create a positive economic impact throughout Kent County.

"Through its work, the Land Bank was able to recoup the Community Foundation's investment and reinvest in additional properties," says Marcia Rapp, VP of programs at the Community Foundation. "Neighborhoods in Grand Rapids are better because of the work of the Land Bank."

Get involved:

- Donate to the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.
- Learn more about the Kent County Land Bank.

Source: Roberta F. King, Grand Rapids Community Foundation; KCLBA website
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of KCLBA's Facebook page

Disability Advocates and AES help advance ZeroStep™ universal residential design

Disability Advocates of Kent County (DAKC), developers of ZeroStep certification, and the Alliance for Environmental Sustainability (AES) have teamed together to promote ZeroStep, a universal design certification for home and building accessibility. Their goal is to influence home construction throughout the U.S.

Twenty percent of Americans have accessibility needs, and that number is growing. Through training, education, design review, and third-party verification/certification of proper construction, ZeroStep encourages design, development, construction, and use of new and existing homes that accommodate people's needs for their entire lifespan. Thus, as people's needs change, their home remains accessible and family friendly.

ZeroStep encompasses the art and science of creating environments that are attractive, marketable, and user-friendly for people of all ages, desires, and abilities. The concept is designed for use by all family members -- young or old. The design consciously accommodates peoples' differences, not their similarities. Some aspects of ZeroStep include no-step entries, wider door widths, lower sill heights, and lower light switches.

According to DAKC Executive Director David Bulkowski, J.D., the ZeroStep certification takes "an approach to creating environments and products that are usable by all people to the greatest extent possible."
Disability Advocates of Kent County is a nonprofit disability rights organization whose mission is "to advocate, assist, educate, and inform on independent living options for persons with disabilities and to create a barrier-free society for all."

AES is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission of "working collaboratively to provide awareness, education, and access to sustainable building resources for individuals, experts, and leaders to encourage sustainable choices."

Get involved:

- Volunteer at DAKC.
- Donate to DAKC.
- Learn more about ZeroStep on their website.
- Learn more about AES on their website.

Sources: Jocelyn Dettloff, Development Director, Disability Advocates of Kent County; Brett Little, Executive Director, Alliance for Environmental Sustainability
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Disability Advocates of Kent County; Alliance for Environmental Sustainability

Landlord group teams with local youth to clean up neighborhoods

For the second consecutive year, teens tackled unruly lawns, overgrown shrubs, and unsightly trash around problem properties as part of a partnership between West Michigan landlord organization, Rental Property Owners Association (RPOA), 1459 Michigan St. NE, and the Grand Rapids nonprofit The Other Way Ministries (TOW), 839 Sibley St. NW.

The event kicked off on Thursday, June 20 with 10 teens cleaning the yard at 1025 Chatham on Grand Rapids' West Side. The goal is twofold: to provide summer jobs for teens and to improve the appearance of Grand Rapids neighborhoods.

RPOA provides financial support to TOW's Youth Employment Service (YES) and neighborhood associations for certain cleanup projects. The YES program, a summer nonprofit ministry program that hires teenagers to do yard work, provides teens with work experience and character development. Ten teens, including one teen assistant supervisor, mow up to 40 lawns each week. As part of the experience, teens participate in a variety of skill and character development exercises.

"RPOA supports the work and goals of the YES program and is pleased to support that program again in 2013," says RPOA Executive Director Clay Powell.

The endeavor is a "win-win-win-win" of sorts, says RPOA, as TOW, teens, area neighborhood associations, and landlords all stand to benefit.

"We are grateful once again to the RPOA for the financial support, but more importantly we are appreciative of their concern for the future workforce," says TOW Ministries Executive Director Wayburn Dean. "Our YES program is a great model for character development, so we are hoping to reach as many area teens as possible."

Get involved:

- Ask your neighborhood association to identify owner-occupied and rental properties with the greatest need in your neighborhood. YES will contact the owner of the property to convey the offer of cleanup and schedule the service. RPOA will provide financial support for the cost of the cleanup.
- Visit RPOA's website.
- Donate to RPOA's Charitable Fund.
- Attend an RPOA event.
- Join RPOA.
- Visit TOW's website.
- Donate to TOW.
- Volunteer for TOW.
- Learn more about TOW.

Source: Contact: Craig Clark, Clark Communication
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Craig Clark and The Other Way Ministries

Lights, camera... $1,000!

Cynthia Kay and Company Media Production (CK & CO) invites currently enrolled high school and college students to get professional experience, give back to their community, and win a $1,000 scholarship. All you have to do is use your creative skills to make a video highlighting a nonprofit or exemplary business that inspires you. The contest is now open and runs through August 15.

The public will vote on the first round of entries, with input from some Creative COW readers, and the top three submissions will advance to the final round. CK & CO staff will choose the winning video from the three finalists.

Here’s the timeline:
- Competition opened June 1, 2013
- Deadline for submission is 5 p.m. on August 15, 2013
- Voting will begin the following week
- Winner will be announced in September 2013

The winner gets a $1,000 scholarship to use for any educational purposes they desire. CK & CO will also give $500 to the nonprofit featured in the winning student's video, or if the featured organization is a business, $500 will go to the business' preferred charity.

"We decided to sponsor the competition for a number of reasons,” says Cynthia Kay. “First, we want to encourage students to have a hands-on experience so they can be better prepared for the world of work. And, we hope they will have fun with it as well. We also know that there are many nonprofits that are in need of video communications, so this can benefit them.”

CK & CO is a full-service communications company that provides media production and communications consulting. The company is located at 1255 Front Street NW in Grand Rapids.

Get involved:
- Enter the contest. You must show proof of high school or college enrollment.
- Visit CK & Co’s website.
- Check out their Facebook page.

Source: Janelle LaLonde, Cynthia Kay Project Manager; Lauren Shelton
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Cynthia Kay and Company Media Production

Lucky dog! Exciting, new changes happening for Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance

Their first executive director and a brand-new identity are two of the exciting changes happening at Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance, located at 165 Blue Star Highway in Douglas, Michigan.

Sara Decker has been named executive director of the nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing animals in West Michigan. The former executive director of the Allegan Area Chamber of Commerce, Decker also served for several years as a volunteer on Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance’s marketing committee before accepting the position of executive director. She is a member of the Allegan Rotary Club and holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Davenport University.

"I have a deep passion for Allegan County and for nonprofit organizations, especially Wishbone," Decker says. "My role will be to help further the awareness of the organization in the community and its very important role in operating the Allegan County Animal Shelter."

In 2009, Allegan County began contracting with Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance, founded in 2008, to manage and operate the Allegan County Animal Shelter (2293 - 33rd Street, Allegan, Mich., just north of downtown Allegan). The shelter provides pet adoption services as well as several programs that support the health and wellbeing of pets and the community at-large. Wishbone also operates Wishbone House, a thrift shop and pet-adoption center in Douglas.

In addition, Wishbone has updated its identity and website, thanks to the hard work of Grand Valley State University (GVSU) public relations students in a class project that focused on Wishbone’s image in the community. The project began in January and included online and "man-on-the-street" surveys to gauge awareness and the types of media the public uses to get information about Wishbone and similar pet organizations.

The new identity brings clarity and cohesion to Wishbone’s online and print collateral, including the Allegan Shelter website.

Get involved:
- Visit Wishbone’s website and learn more about the organization.
- Adopt a pet.
- Volunteer at Wishbone.
- Foster a pet.
- Donate to Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance.
- Keep up to date on their Facebook page.

Source: Molly Klimas, Intent PR
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance

LMCU raises funds to help TFCU rebuild tornado-flattened credit union

On May 20, 2013, an EF-5 tornado roared through Moore, Okla., killing 24 people and wiping some 12,000 homes and businesses off the map. The tornado took an amazing 17-mile swath.

Employees at Tinker Federal Credit Union (TFCU) had only one place to take shelter. As the tornado approached and warning sirens wailed, the employees locked themselves inside the vault. Freed by first responders, workers emerged to find the entire credit union flattened, except for the vault that saved their lives.

After hearing of the credit union’s destruction, Lake Michigan Credit Union (LMCU) Director of Business Development and Community Relations Vickie Smith (retired) felt compelled to act. She approached CEO Sandy Jelinski about organizing a relief campaign for the credit union’s employees.

A fundraising campaign was swiftly put into place at all LMCU branch and corporate locations, asking members and employees to contribute to relief efforts. Over the course of just three days, $2,700 was raised to aid TFCU’s employees. LMCU Corporate contributed another $500, and a check for $3,200 was sent to TFCU. The funds will be used to help TFCU employees needing financial assistance in the aftermath of the storm.

"The devastation was unbelievable," says Smith. "They are doing everything possible to assist many staff members who lost homes and possessions."

"LMCU is committed to being an integral part of the communities we serve," says Smith’s successor, Matt Cook. "We also feel it’s important to give our staff and members the opportunity to contribute to areas of need, even beyond our community."

Lake Michigan Credit Union is the largest financial institution headquartered in West Michigan, and the second largest credit union in the state. Assets exceed $2.9 billion, with over 253,000 members.

Get involved:

- Join LMCU - anyone can be a member.
- Visit LMCU’s Facebook page.

Source: Tim Perry, Senior Marketing Copywriter, Lake Michigan Credit Union
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of LMCU and TFCU

Face to face: KCAD students team up with DeVos Children's Hospital to create patient portraits

On May 30 at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, kids' faces out-sparkled the mosaics and out-dazzled the architecture as they encountered their own likenesses on display.

The patient portraits were the highpoint of a class project arranged by Lisa Ambrose, adjunct instructor at Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD), located at 17 Fountain St. NW in Grand Rapids. Ambrose partnered with the hospital's Child Life Specialists to create a special event connecting her senior illustration students with children receiving treatment at the hospital, located at 100 Michigan Ave. NE in Grand Rapids.

"Art and kids just go together," says Ambrose. "When you've got kids who are dealing with difficult things, it's nice to give them something else to think about."

Each student was matched up with a young patient who volunteered for the program. Kendall provided the materials, and the patients created their own artwork under the guidance of the students.

"I enjoyed being there as a teacher, not just an artist," says KCAD student Mike McClellan. "It was fulfilling to help someone else learn from something that I know how to do, and great to help people feel happy when they're going through something so serious."

The students worked with the patients to help them create self-portraits, and then created portraits of the patients. When the portraits were complete, each one was mounted on a panel beside the patient's own work, creating an intriguing juxtaposition that showed off both artists' skills and visions.

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University prepares students for leadership in the visual arts, design, art history, and art education; provides innovative, collaborative education that fosters intellectual growth and individual creativity; and promotes the ethical and civic responsibilities of artists and designers, locally and globally.

Get involved:

- Visit Kendall College of Art and Design's website.
- Donate to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
- Volunteer at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.

Sources: Elena Tislerics, Chief Communications Officer, Ferris State University
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy KCAD of Ferris State University

'Grand History Lesson' pilot project celebrates one year at GRPM; IMMER5E Program launches this fall

On May 28, the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) hosted families, teachers, and administration from schools that participated in an innovative pilot program called the Grand History Lesson (GHL) over the past year: Sibley Elementary School, Grant Elementary School, and Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center. The evening included student presentations from year one, teacher perspectives, and more.

The program was based off the 'Big History Lesson' from the State Museum in Lansing. During the pilot year, teachers designed their own weeklong program that paired the core curriculum with multi-sensory, hands-on, and object-based learning. The Museum's collections, permanent and temporary exhibits, guided tours and programs, planetarium, and learning spaces were all made available for teachers to utilize. Funded by the Michigan Humanities Council and DTE Energy Foundation, the program encourages active learning, group participation, creative writing through observation, and discussion.

Launching this fall, Immer5e is the first phase of an ongoing educational partnership between GRPM, Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS), and Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD). IMMER5E, year one of the three-year planning to an eventual 'Museum School,' will be open to ten fifth-grade classes from GRPS for the 2013/2014 school year. The program will be loosely based on the Grand History Lesson, combined with human-centered design principles and place-based education to offer compelling 21st-century learning opportunities to the youth of our region.

Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, GRPM is located in downtown Grand Rapids at 272 Pearl Street NW.  

GRPS is Michigan's fifth-largest public school district and the third-largest employer in the City of Grand Rapids, serving more than 17,000 students with 2,800 employees, including 1,500 dedicated teachers.

Get involved:

- Visit GRPS's website.
- Check out KCAD's website.
- Visit GRPM's website.
- Donate to GRPM.
- Volunteer at GRPM.
- Host an event at GRPM.

Sources: Kate Moore, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Grand Rapids Public Museum; John Helmholdt, Director of Communications and External Affairs Grand Rapids Public Schools
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of GRPM

Guiding Light Mission reveals recent renovations

The 125 people who attended Guiding Light Mission's (GLM) open house on June 5, 2013, got the inside scoop on the organization's recently completed renovations.

GLM is not a 'flop house.' The spruced-up facility now boasts five new offices; a new prayer room; updated safety, security, and fire protection; and a new set of bathrooms, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor.

Since Executive Director Stuart Ray began working there four years ago, he has seen the staff grow from three people to 15. Before the renovation, people were scattered all over the building, which made communication difficult. Now everyone is centralized.

Ray's job is to lead and set the tone for the organization. "I'm fairly particular about the culture here," he says. "It's a form of respite to quiet the mind, and our goal is to create a culture of innovation. Our group is very passionate and committed to re-launching men back into the community."

GLM guarantees transportation to and from employers. Everyone has a savings plan, and the men give something back out of their wages. Entitlements are limited because at some point, the men must go back out into the real world. People are encouraged to stay, use GLM's resources, and develop an exit strategy.

"It is easy to just provide food, shelter, chapel, to kiss them on the cheek, and send them back out," says Ray. "But it takes a full year for the brain to recover from substance abuse. Generally, in the beginning, men make spontaneous decisions that are not necessarily well thought-out."

GLM is located at 255 S. Division Ave. in Grand Rapids' Heartside. In 2012, GLM served 72,415 free meals; provided 27,908 safe and secure overnight stays; and hosted 99 men who participated in the Christ-centered, in-house drug and alcohol recovery program. GLM also helped 161 men find full-time employment in Kent County. In the first three months of 2013, these men generated $772,800 in the local economy.

Get involved:

- Visit GLM's website.
- Donate to GLM.
- Host a fundraiser.

Sources: Stuart Ray, Executive Director, Guiding Light Mission; Jenny Luth, Clark Communications
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Guiding Light Mission

Tiger, tiger, burning bright... help the Zoo bring back its might

Heeeyyyyy, party animals... get ready to Rock and Roar at RendeZoo XXIV! It happens Friday, June 14, 2013, from 7 - 11 p.m. at the John Ball Zoo, 1300 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids.

For those who are Roman numeral-challenged, it's the 24th annual RendeZoo -- your chance to help the Zoo Restore the Roar, and bring back the tigers. Where else can you enjoy a nice, cool beverage face-to-face with a lion? Well, okay, you’ll be a few inches away, but still...

There are brand-new activities and areas to explore, like the Idema Forest Realm and Funicular, which just opened June 1. The funicular (a cable-driven tram), is a three-car ride to the top of the ridge where guests get a spectacular view of the cityscape. The Idema Forest Realm has a raised boardwalk, activity pods, touchable animals, and the BISSELL Tree House rental facility.

Dance to the '80s music of Square Pegz, get a taste of street fair food, and see all of the animals, including the renovated Meijer Grizzly Bear Exhibit. Enjoy animal training demonstrations and enrichment activities. There's also a silent auction and a cash bar. Dress casually -- it's an outdoor party.

Here's the nitty-gritty: The Sponsors' Pre-Party at the BISSELL Tree House happens from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m., and only a limited number of tickets are available at $125 each (call (616) 336-3036). The party proper starts at 7:00 p.m. and goes until 11:00 p.m. Tickets are $60 each.

John Ball Zoo features over 2,000 individual animals, including lions, grizzly bears, chimpanzees, touchable stingrays, an aquarium with a flock of Magellanic penguins, and many more.

Don't just sit there… ROAR!

Get involved:

- Visit the Zoo's website.
- Rock and Roar! Register here or call (616) 336-3036 or (616) 336-3309.
- Volunteer.
- Donate.
- Sponsor an animal.

Source: Krys Bylund, Marketing Director, John Ball Zoo Society
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of John Ball Zoo Society
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