Nonprofit renovates space


The old Bridge facility was in “desperate need” of upgrades, according to organizers. Courtesy the Bridge of Arbor Circle

A local youth shelter nonprofit recently completed a $300,000 renovation.

The Bridge of Arbor Circle’s project was funded wholly by more than 100 corporate and individual donors.

A group of volunteers formed the Enrich the Bridge committee to spearhead the two-year remodel project.

The current Bridge facility was built in 1982. Serving an average of 250 youth per year and operating 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year, the facility was in “desperate need” of upgrades, according to organizers.

Of the total cost, half was cash donations, and half was in-kind donations.

Herman Miller Cares provided furniture, John Grace Restoration donated prep and construction services, Kendall Lighting provided new lighting at a discounted price, Steelcase designed and completed the remodel of the seven bedrooms and Via Design developed the original design concept.

There was not an expansion of the space, just a reconstruction and update of the existing space. A.j. Veneklasen served as the contractor.

Nearly every surface of The Bridge facility received updates. Core elements of the project included: new carpet, fresh paint and upgraded lighting; updated furniture in the group programming space and adding five computer work stations; constructing a new assessment office and staff space to increase efficiency and privacy for individual meetings with youth; and upgrading the dining room furniture, floor and lighting to support the family-style meals at The Bridge.

The project also included reconstructing the existing bathrooms from two single-user bathrooms to 3.5 single-user bathrooms and completely refreshing the seven youth bedrooms, giving each a unique design.

The renovations were meant to increase the efficiency and functionality of the facility, while creating a more welcoming space for the youth Arbor Circle serves, said Julie Cnossen, program director.

“Our goal really is to provide young people with safety, to help them on their goals toward stability and to reconnect them with safe family and friends, so that this episode of homelessness for them is brief and one time," she said.

The Bridge of Arbor Circle

Founded as The Bridge for Runaways in 1970, The Bridge of Arbor Circle is a safe shelter program for youth ages 10 to 17 who are facing homelessness or considering running away.

Through more than 50 programs and services, Arbor Circle provides mental health counseling, substance use treatment, family development, adoption and foster care, advocacy, prevention, and child care resource and referral services. With a variety of services in 11 West Michigan counties, Arbor Circle serves nearly 22,000 individuals and families annually.

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