Burton Heights nonprofit moves farther south

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In The Image last week began the move to 4255 Kalamazoo Ave. SE in Grand Rapids, just north of 44th Street. Courtesy In The Image

After 20 years on South Division in the Burton Heights neighborhood, In The Image is moving to a facility farther south that will allow it to expand and grow.

In The Image last week began the move from its longtime headquarters at 1823 S. Division Ave. to 4255 Kalamazoo Ave. SE in Grand Rapids, just north of 44th Street. Executive Director Bethann Egan said the move is expected to be completed by the end of this month. Renovations to make the space inhabitable have finished and more will continue in some parts of the building after In The Image moves in.

The nonprofit said after a lengthy evaluation of its large, aging facility and the funds it would take to keep offering its services free of charge, it decided to sell its existing building and move to the new space, which will better accommodate In The Image’s programs and services.

Egan said In The Image sold its South Division facility to the city of Grand Rapids.

“When the city of Grand Rapids approached us about their need to serve the surrounding neighborhood with a larger fire station, we knew it was an opportunity to meet the needs of our organization, the men, women and children we serve and the entire community,” Egan said.

As the organization looked for a new home, its No. 1 goal was to find a location that would ensure it can continue to serve the community in the same way it has since 1988, when it opened its first free store in the Heartside District. In The Image has continued to provide a free store, where members of the community can shop for basic necessities such as personal hygiene items and toiletries, clothing, shoes and housewares. In addition to this program, In The Image also runs the Shoes Help Our Elementary Students program, which serves 39 elementary schools in Kent County, providing students with a new pair of back-to-school shoes each fall, and the Professional Dress to Success Program for low-income workers.

To ensure clients at the current location will continue to be served after the move, In The Image has launched a pop-up shop that takes the free store on the road. The first pop-up shop was in December and served homeless residents in Heartside Park.

“We have to meet the need where the need is at, ensuring all who struggle to find the basic items in life have the opportunity to shop through In The Image’s free store right in their own neighborhood,” Egan said.

For the duration of the organization’s relocation this month, it is not accepting donations at its donation center. In The Image said it hopes to reopen the donation center by mid-March.

The nonprofit continues to offer its emergency services program, through which free store clients can request basic necessities on In The Image’s website or by calling (616) 456-6150.

In The Image, with a staff of seven people, said it would not be able to relocate without help due to limited manpower and social distancing during the pandemic. The organization is relying on community partnerships such as Two Men and a Truck, which provided a truck and moving team on Feb. 2 to help with the first day of the move.

In The Image still is in the process of raising the funds necessary to finish renovating the new building through the Building Hope Capital Campaign with a goal to raise about $70,000 more.

Community members looking to support In The Image and learn more about its relocation process can visit intheimage.org.

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