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Habitat for Humanity raises millions to revitalize GR's West Side

The West Side is about to become the best side. Habitat for Humanity of Kent County has raised $3.5 million as part of its $5 million Building Blocks campaign to revitalize Grand Rapids' West Side neighborhoods. Launched in January and chaired by community leaders John Benz, Laurie Termaat, and Ted Adornato, the Building Blocks campaign takes a holistic approach to transforming the western core of the city. Residents, businesses, churches, local government, and other nonprofits work together to implement a shared vision of renewal.

"This has been an absolutely amazing experience for Habitat and for our donors, friends, and families," says Mary Buikema, Habitat's executive director. "We started this year with a dream and a goal, and here we are, nine months later, and we've already raised 70% of that goal. The generosity of this community is humbling."

The Building Blocks campaign's objectives are to fund the construction, rebuilding, or renovation of more than 200 homes on the West Side; and to fund improvements at Habitat's ReStore outlets, which sell gently used home improvement items.

In its initial "silent phase," more than 120 community donors supported the fundraising effort. Now, as the campaign enters its next phase, the hope is to garner even more support. "We want to reach out to those who haven't yet participated and ask them to join in restoring our neighborhoods," says Benz. "You can see the trend in our community. Reinvestment and rebirth is happening on the West Side, and Habitat is helping to lead the charge."

Laurie Termaat of Chemical Bank says, "We are privileged to have one of the nation's most respected Habitat affiliates here in our community. It is our responsibility to ensure that it continues to impact our local neighborhoods in a positive and permanent way."

The public announcement of Building Blocks is both a celebration and a call to action, says Ted Adornato of Spartan Stores. "Raising $3.5 million in a recovering economy is something the entire community should be proud of," he says. "We now hope the public will embrace this campaign and help us raise the funds needed to complete our effort."

Established in 1983, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County builds hope and transforms lives through neighborhood revitalization and homeownership for families who otherwise could not afford a home of their own. Habitat Kent has helped more than 350 families turn their dreams of homeownership into reality and has lifted more than 1,000 children out of substandard housing.

Get involved:
- Support the campaign by donating online or by dropping off a donation at the Habitat Kent offices at 425 Pleasant St. SW.
- Volunteer at Habitat.
- Stay current with Habitat happenings on their Facebook page.
- Learn more about Habitat by visiting their website or by calling (616) 774-2431.

Source: Philip Zoutendam, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Kent County
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