Family Promise announces $2 million capital campaign


Family Promise performed a $330,000 renovation of the first and second floors at its new Cherry Street location that tripled the size of its program areas. Courtesy Family Promise

It’s the start of a new home and a new campaign for Family Promise of Grand Rapids.

The local nonprofit devoted exclusively to helping homeless families and their children had a big day last Thursday that represented the culmination of months of effort.

First, it held a ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorating Family Promise’s new space. On Sept. 10, the organization moved out of its old home at 906 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids, and into a new, larger facility at 516 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Nov. 5.

The new 10,000-square-foot structure offers more office space, meeting rooms and family privacy, as well as a new Day Center space for families and a new respite room for kids who need a nap.

Family Promise was looking to increase its capacity, said Cheryl Schuch, executive director. The old location, which was 3,000 square feet, was limited in size, creating problems with privacy for families, and offering no outdoor play area for children, limited parking for families and volunteers, and was not accessible for families or volunteers with disabilities.

“This has been an absolutely amazing experience for Family Promise, the families we serve, our leadership, and for our donors, friends and supporters,” Schuch said.

“We started earlier this year with a dream and a goal, and here we are today, working in our new facility which is allowing us to serve twice as many people. The generosity of this community is incredibly humbling.”

The day’s second major moment came when Family Promise announced its $2 million campaign, “A Journey Home.” The campaign, which has already raised $1.6 million from more than 100 organizations, foundations, corporations and community members, was launched to support the move and to expand programming.

“As Family Promise of Grand Rapids nears its 20th anniversary, our board leadership has instituted a capital campaign, ‘A Journey Home,’ to meet the increasing need for our services. Five years ago, we were serving five families at a time. Today, we have over 60 families in our collective programs at any time. Our most immediate need was for a new Day Center with greater capacity for our families,” said Schuch.

“This facility will triple our program area and increase our capacity for more families to receive emergency shelter support, rapid re-housing services and aftercare support. The Day Center will also house our innovative Partners in Housing program staff, the team that has provided home ownership opportunities to almost 60 families over the past five years.”

Before moving into its new location, Family Promise did a complete $330,000 renovation on the first and second floors of 516 Cherry St. The renovation started in May.

“We worked with A.J. Veneklasen and AE Progressive, along with many subcontractors who gave of their time and talent to help make this new space affordable and top notch. They did wonderful work,” Schuch said. “The first floor was remodeled to be our family Day Center. The second floor is for administration, volunteer project space and family meeting space for our aftercare and Partners In Housing programs.”

The Journey Home campaign money will also go toward creating a reserve fund that will allow Family Promise to cover potential building expenses and ensure long-term sustainability. Donations can be made through multiple-year pledges, one-time gifts, appreciated asset gifts, asset donations and estate gifts.

Schuch said $800,000 of the campaign was for the move into the new building. Another $800,000 will go toward expanding its housing programs. This will include the Pathway Homes program, which Family Promise partnered on with Mel Trotter Ministries earlier this year. That expansion plans to create 22 rooms over the course of one year, helping 175 additional families.

It will also include the Partners In Housing program, Family Promise’s manufactured home program in which Family Promise buys manufactured homes, refurnishes them, and does the case work with a family to help them get the title, Schuch said. The whole process is about $7,300 per family, she said. Normally, Family Promise does about 10 of these per year, but with the additional funds, it wants to do 25 per year and expand the program for the next three years.

The money will also help Family Promise’s aftercare services.

“Our final step is to reach out to those who haven’t yet participated and to ask them to consider joining us in this important endeavor to invest in providing safe and affordable shelter and housing for local children and area families,” Schuch said.

“With over 3,000 homeless children in Kent County, we all want to live in a place where people care for each other, and we’re working to ensure that area families are given opportunities for success.”

Schuch said she expects Family Promise to raise the rest of the money by the end of the year and close the campaign in January.

“Housing is such a problem in Grand Rapids right now. It’s one of the reasons families are becoming homeless right now is because it’s so expensive,” she said.

“Our efforts are in community partnership. Because it’s community-based, it gives strength to the families that go through the programs. It allows them to network and feel safe.”

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