The nonprofit Guiding Light received a grant that will support its Back to Work program.
The Grand Rapids organization announced the grant Monday, noting this is the third consecutive year it received a $20,000 grant from the SpartanNash Foundation, which has provided a total of $70,000 to the nonprofit since 2016.
Back to Work provides a short-term stay for men who are experiencing homelessness and seeking full-time employment, along with support for their job searches.
“We are so grateful for the SpartanNash Foundation’s continued support of our organization and our work,” said Stuart Ray, executive director of Guiding Light. “This grant will allow us to continue to support men who face significant barriers to finding and keeping full-time work, including debt, lack of housing, lack of transportation and other challenges.”
Men in the program can work and save money while they pay down debt and rebuild credit histories before they look for more permanent housing. They are given shelter, meals and tools and resources needed to safely find a job, including access to computers for job research and creating résumés, job coaching, life skill courses, budgeting guidance and other essentials for success.
In 2019, 336 men went through the Back to Work program. When they arrived at Guiding Light, the average debt per man, not including child support, was $10,127.
The SpartanNash Foundation is the charitable giving arm of SpartanNash, the nation’s fifth-largest food distributor and a distributor of grocery products to military commissaries around the world. Its local West Michigan grocery stores include Family Fare, D&W Fresh Market, Ada Fresh Market and Forest Hills Foods. The SpartanNash Foundation gives grants to nonprofit partners to provide hunger relief and shelter to communities and to support military veterans. The foundation is funded by the company with contributions from its family of associates.
“Guiding Light’s Back to Work program is transforming the lives of West Michigan men in powerful and sustainable ways,” said Meredith Gremel, SpartanNash vice president of corporate affairs and communications and executive director of the SpartanNash Foundation. “By creating a stable environment and providing training, counseling and pathways to employment, the Back to Work program is breaking a cycle of failure and rebuilding lives. We are grateful for the opportunity to support their vital mission.”