Nonprofit relocates to urban farmhouse

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Courtesy New City Neighbors

A Grand Rapids-based youth empowerment nonprofit is set to open its new headquarters at a refurbished farmhouse in the Creston neighborhood.

New City Neighbors, originally operating on the property of Fourth Reformed Church at 1226 Union Ave. NE, will open its new location Friday, May 20, at 1115 Leonard St. NE.

To celebrate the grand opening, New City Neighbors will host a public housewarming event from 2-6 p.m. The event will include food, outdoor games and a photobooth.

Built in 1859, the farmhouse sits on a 1-acre farm site and features a newly renovated commercial kitchen created to open a community café. This move will allow the organization to continue providing training and opportunities for neighborhood youth and contribute fresh produce to local food pantries and households.

“Today, we sit in the best position we’ve ever been to serve our community,” said Ricardo Tavárez, executive director of New City Neighbors.

Ricardo Tavárez. Courtesy New City Neighbors

The move follows the organization’s split from the church in 2021. New City Neighbors said the church severed relational ties due to “theological differences” when the organization hired Tavárez, a Calvin Theological Seminary graduate and gay minister, as its leader.

Financial support for the relocation came from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation in the form of a $150,000 grant.

“New City Neighbors plays a vital role in our city, providing access to healthy, local food; green space that benefits many neighbors by cutting food cost; and building community cohesion,” said Eugene Sueing, program director, Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Tavárez said the foundation’s support for creating a new home has launched the New City Neighbors into more meaningful community partnerships.

“We’re grateful that partners like Grand Rapids Community Foundation believe in the work that we’re doing,” he said.

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