State grants $1M to nonprofit for early childhood and senior center

757
Since the start of the COVID-19 shutdown, UMCH has worked with local universities to encourage nursing students to connect with the senior population by performing regular check-ins and also offered a walking club for seniors. Courtesy United Methodist Community House

United Methodist Community House (UMCH) received $1 million in state funding for the construction of an early childhood and senior center in southeast Grand Rapids.

UMCH said Michigan Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) earlier this month announced the funds were allocated in the 2021 state budget for UMCH to put toward a public-private partnership for the construction of an early childhood education and senior activity center that will provide child care for 200 infants and toddlers and daily activities for more than 500 seniors on the southeast side of Grand Rapids.

Brinks and other legislators worked to ensure the funds made it into the state budget, which passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sept. 30. 

“The United Methodist Community House is a staple of our community that brings together generations of Grand Rapidians and helps foster respect, understanding and cultural awareness,” Brinks said. “I am proud to have fought for, and won, the inclusion of funding for them in the state’s budget so they can continue that mission. I am eager to see the wonderful initiatives that will grow from it.”

UMCH is in the midst of a transformation designed to position the nonprofit to serve more community members and reach long-term financial sustainability within five years.

“This allocation will help us provide life-changing programs for even more of our neighbors in the Grand Rapids area,” said Eric Williams, chief executive director for UMCH. “We are committed to providing excellent, industry-leading programs for older adults, children and families. UMCH is transforming to meet the challenges and opportunities of a new decade, and this state funding will enable us to move toward our goal even more aggressively.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 shutdown, UMCH has been working with Meals on Wheels to deliver two meals a day, six days a week, to its clients. UMCH also has worked with local universities to encourage nursing students to connect with the senior population by performing regular check-ins. In late summer, UMCH continued this work by offering a walking club for seniors. It also continued to provide transportation to critical appointments, offer food baskets and deliver essential needs to seniors.

“UMCH serves two of our city’s most vulnerable populations — children and older adults,” said Carla Moore, COO. “When the governor’s office initiated the stay-at-home order in mid-March, UMCH staff immediately adapted in order to continue providing essential services. We took immediate action to develop new protocols and service delivery methods to keep our facility, staff and all of our clients safe and healthy. We reopened the child development center in late June at 30% capacity and recently increased enrollment to 50%. We have been able to provide services in a safe environment for our children without any incidents of infection.”

Founded in 1902, UMCH serves vulnerable and diverse populations, including the African American community. The organization said it established the first Grand Rapids nursery and was an early adopter of serving senior congregate meals in the city. It also provides youth programming. 

Facebook Comments