North Kent Connect completes $3.3M expansion

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A northern Kent County nonprofit completed a 12,000-square-foot expansion to better serve its clients and is inviting the public to an open house to tour the facilities.

Rockford-based North Kent Connect (NKC), a faith-based nonprofit that provides basic needs and economic services to residents of northern Kent County, said Wednesday that it completed its $3.314 million expansion that doubled the nonprofit’s footprint.

Construction, which began about a year ago, wrapped up in early May.

“This expansion was much needed, as we simply outgrew our building,” said Claire Guisfredi, executive director for 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 have made this happen.”

The public is invited to a community open house from 3-6 p.m. May 26 to tour the building and speak with NKC staff and on-site partners from Arbor Circle, Family Promise and West Michigan Works!.

Highlights of the expansion

  • The Thrift Store, which is open to the public, has doubled 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 Farm Stand, open to the public and located in the Thrift Store, has increased space for fresh, locally sourced fruits, vegetables, dairy and grocery items from more than 20 farms throughout Michigan. Two price points are offered to ensure everyone has the option to purchase healthy food on a budget.
  • The Pantry, for NKC clients, has doubled in size, allowing for more fresh, healthy food distribution to meet the increasing number of new clients. A new teaching kitchen helps clients and community members make good use of their fresh foods and pantry staples.
  • A licensed kitchen is now on-site for repackaging dry goods and pantry items that arrive in bulk. Items are sold in the Farm Stand, as well as distributed in the Pantry to NKC clients.
  • Family Promise/North Kent IHN Day Center. 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.
  • Arbor Circle, a mental-health and substance-abuse services provider for adolescents, adults and families in northern Kent County, has an expanded NKC location, its own entrance and hours of operation.
  • West Michigan Works! has a larger office, a private entrance and hours of operation to help individuals in Kent County with résumés, cover letters, materials to aid in job searches and assistance filing for unemployment.

Additionally, NKC now has the space for additional community partners that will complement NKC services.

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