North Kent Connect breaks ground on $2.9M expansion

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North Kent Connect on Tuesday held a 9:30 a.m. private groundbreaking ceremony on a $2.9 million, 12,000-square-foot addition to its building to offer more resources for families in northern Kent County. Rendering courtesy Nugent Builders

A faith-based nonprofit that provides basic needs and economic services to residents of northern Kent County is doubling its building footprint.

Rockford-based North Kent Connect on Tuesday held a 9:30 a.m. private groundbreaking ceremony on a $2.9 million, 12,000-square-foot addition to its building to offer more resources for families in northern Kent County. The ceremony originally was set for May 5 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Construction is expected to be completed in February 2021.

The event also kicked off the public phase of the NKC Building Connections campaign. Local businesses, organizations and individuals have already helped the nonprofit reach 91% of its $2.9 million fundraising goal, and there is $258,000 left to close the gap.

“This expansion is much-needed, as we simply outgrew our building,” said Claire Guisfredi, executive director of North Kent Connect. “By nearly doubling our space, we can continue to enhance our programs and connect even more people to resources to improve their lives. We are grateful to our numerous partners and supporters who are making this happen.”

Highlights of the expansion

  • The NKC Thrift Store, which is open to the public, will double in size to offer more high-quality, affordable clothing and household goods. All store proceeds stay local to provide individuals and families with food, basic needs and educational programming.
  • The NKC Market Pantry for NKC clients will increase to just over twice its current size, allowing for more fresh, healthy food distribution to meet the increasing number of new clients. A new teaching kitchen will help clients and community members make great use of their fresh foods and pantry staples.
  • The NKC Farm Stand, open to the public and located inside the thrift store, will have increased space for fresh, locally sourced fruits, vegetables, dairy and grocery items from more than 20 farms throughout Kent County. Two price points are offered to ensure everyone has the option to purchase healthy food within their budget.
  • Arbor Circle, a mental health and substance abuse services provider for adolescents, adults and families in northern Kent County, will have an expanded NKC location and receive its own entrance and hours of operation.
  • There will be a Family Promise/North Kent IHN Day Center, new to NKC. In partnership with local congregations, North Kent Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) provides emergency shelter and basic needs to homeless children and their families while they await permanent housing. The families are hosted overnight in churches throughout northern Kent County. During the day, families work out of the Day Center where they have access to computers, a kitchen, laundry area, showers and a living room.

“We are grateful for this partnership and grateful for the opportunity to end homelessness one family at a time,” said Cheryl Schuch, CEO of Family Promise of Grand Rapids.

  • West Michigan Works! will have a larger office, a private entrance and weekly hours of operation to help individuals in Kent County with résumés, cover letters, job searches and assistance with filing for unemployment.
  • Additionally, NKC will have space for other community partners that will complement NKC services.

A grand opening reception celebrating the completion of the expansion is being planned for late spring 2021.

More information about the expansion is at nkconnect.org.

North Kent Connect

Founded in 1973, North Kent Connect, formerly North Kent Community Services, is a nonprofit that “envisions a community of thriving people and connects people to the resources they need to move forward.”

North Kent Connect provides access to basic needs and promotes economic independence through its educational classes for residents of northern Kent County.

NKC hosts several partner agencies, including West Michigan Works! and Arbor Circle.

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