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Tag Archive | "North Kent Community Services"

Help stock the Cedar Springs food pantry


Edward Jones is collecting food Oct. 16-Nov. 14


Would you like to have a chance to really make a difference in the community?

Buy a few extra items when you buy groceries this week to donate to the local food pantry and drop them off at our local Edward Jones branch.

The Cedar Springs Community Food pantry, located at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church on Main Street, works in conjunction with North Kent Community Services. They feed hundreds of local families each year. In the past, the food pantry depended on the fall food drive with the local U.S. Post office to help stock their needs. Now that the carriers are based in Rockford, they no longer have the big drive to benefit this pantry, so a local business is stepping in to help restock the shelves.

Edward Jones, 4027 17 Mile Road, Cedar Springs, hopes to collect 1,750 pounds of food for the pantry before November 14. Let’s help meet their goal! Non-perishable foods can be dropped off at their office Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Some of the supplies needed include boxed or canned meals such as soups, hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, rice, pasta, spaghetti sauce; baking and pancake mix; and canned meats. Personal care items such as bar soap, laundry soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and toilet paper will also be accepted, but not weighed.

Call 696-9370 for more information.


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Time to apply to Thrive

North Kent Community Services is seeking individuals to participate in Thrive, its new program to help people become self-sufficient. Thrive is designed to give those who are struggling in northern Kent County the support they need to achieve their life goals, such as owning a home, obtaining a better paying job or furthering their education.

Thrive is for anyone in the NKCS service area, 5 Mile to 22 Mile Roads and east and west to the county lines. You do not need to be a current client of NKCS to qualify for Thrive.

Thrive participants will be meeting in a small group as well as one-on-one with coaches to help answers questions such as:

“How can I save money when I don’t even have enough to pay my bills?”

“What are my strengths and how can these guide me towards my career path?”

“How can I have hope when I feel so hopeless?”

“I see the future I want for myself, but how do I get there?”

Thrive will take place on Monday evenings at NKCS from 6:30-8:30 beginning September 22. Fifteen mothers will be selected for the pilot program. “The best thing we can give our children is a confident and hopeful mother,” said Chérie Elahl, NKCS Program Director. “That is why we are choosing women with children for our Thrive pilot program. Everyone can succeed with proper resources in place as well as with encouragement from others. Through Thrive, participants will have the opportunity to become empowered as they achieve their goals.”

Deadline to apply is Friday, August 15.

Contact Chérie Elahl at cherie.elahl@nkcs.org or 616-866-3478 ext. 109.


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Compass Coach food drive

BUS-Compass-Coach-food-driveA Compass Coach food drive on a casino bus run to Mt. Pleasant, Michigan raised 1,100 pounds in food donations and $300.00 in cash.

North Kent Community Services, at 10075 Northland Dr., was the benefactor of this collection. Kathy Clements, the Business Manager at North Kent, was amazed at the generosity of these casino riders, along with Compass Coach donating the trip in exchange for donations.

“So many folks are short on resources this year, it’s a treat to have local businesses step up and help,” said Clements.

Compass Coach also runs a Winter Coat drive Nov. 29, along with Toys for Tots in December.

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North Kent Community Services seeking board members

North Kent Community Services is seeking board members who live or work in the Cedar Springs, Sparta and Sand Lake communities to serve on its board and committees for the next year.

“I am looking for people who are dynamic and have a passion for our ministry,” said Executive Director Claire Guisfredi. “We are launching our new Empowerment Plan, called From Survive to Thrive and would like to involve people who have expertise in finance, development, law, business, health and human services, human resources and media/public relations.”

North Kent Community Services serves struggling families with basic life needs all over northern Kent County, from 6 Mile Road to 22 Mile Road and east and west to the county lines.

“Since 36 percent of our clients are from Cedar Springs/Sand Lake and 26 percent are from the Sparta/Kent City areas, it is very important that our board and committees represent those areas,” said Claire.

Please visit the website at www.nkcs.org to apply and learn more about this opportunity. The deadline to apply is December 1.


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North Kent Community Services Announces

“From Survive To Thrive” Plan


N-North-Kent-Community-ServicesNorth Kent Community Services, the largest food pantry in northern Kent County, has recently announced a dramatic change in its mission: NKCS will not just give out food to struggling families; it will now try to help people become self-sufficient, a program called “From Survive to Thrive.”

NKCS is planning to accomplish this huge undertaking in two ways: 1) implement a life-coaching program and 2) hire a program director/social worker to connect clients to educational resources in the community.

“Many of our clients do not know how to move themselves toward self-sufficiency,” said Executive Director Claire Guisfredi. “They may be lacking functional life skills which perpetuates the poverty cycle.”

Clients will be paired with a volunteer life coach who will meet with them weekly and help establish clear, attainable goals. “Because our clients’ problems are so overwhelming, it helps to have someone listen, help identify the root causes and sort out the best plan of action,” said Claire. “Our clients need someone to walk alongside them, cheering them on, guiding them, believing in their abilities and holding them accountable.” The life coaches will guide the clients to the most appropriate community resources, such as classes in budgeting, parenting and resume writing.

“From Survive to Thrive” will add an extra $72,000 in the budget for 2014. “I am out in the community creating awareness and raising funds for enhanced mission as well as current food programs,” said Claire. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Please consider NKCS for your year-end giving.”

“Through the Empowerment Coaching Program, we expect North Kent Community Services to be the ‘go to’ place in northern Kent County for your neighbors not just to survive, but thrive,” said Claire.


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Food pantry distributes backpacks to kids

Ally Krakowski (right) and sister Abby dropping off the proceeds from Ally’s Charity Bazaar for North Kent Community Services.

Ally Krakowski (right) and sister Abby dropping off the proceeds from Ally’s Charity Bazaar for North Kent Community Services.

From North Kent Community Services


“I can’t believe it. They’ve done it again,” says Claire Guisfredi, Executive Director of North Kent Community Services (NKCS). She was looking at the rows and rows of backpacks, all lined up on tables and stuffed with school supplies, ready for distribution. “Do you know what are the two best things about this community? People step up when there’s a need and they do so without seeking recognition,” she said.

A month before, those tables were empty. NKCS sent out the appeal for school supplies and the community stepped up in droves. “It wasn’t just mothers shopping for their own children who responded,” says Claire. “Business owners and physicians took up collections at their offices, children bought supplies with their own allowances, grandparents saw the sign on the marquee and also helped. We even received checks from the farthest regions of our county, such as Kent City.”

One enterprising 5th grader at Our Lady of Consolation School, Ally Krakowski, initiated a Charity Bazaar. She sold craft items, baked goods and lemonade with the proceeds going to NKCS. She stopped by with her mom, sisters, and a check for $40.31.

More than 450 children in grades K-8 all over northern Kent County picked up a backpack, ready to begin the rigors of school with the necessary supplies. “I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate this help,” said one mother of two daughters. “My husband has been off work for six months now and it’s been tough. I’m cleaning houses to earn some money, but we don’t have enough for all the school supplies my girls need.”

The backpack distribution was a community effort, involving not just donors but volunteers led by Daryl Nederveld. They organized all of the backpacks and spent hours sorting and stuffing. The Tri-County Junior Eagles were one of the groups that helped with distribution.

“Thank you to the communities of Cedar Springs, Sparta, Rockford, Belmont, Kent City, Sand Lake, Greenville, Belding, Gowen, Casnovia, Comstock Park, Ada, Cannonsburg, and Parnell for stepping up to the plate,” Claire said. “We could not do it without you. Literally.”

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Gently used items needed at North Kent Community Services

Poverty is everywhere. It’s not just impacting the inner city anymore; it’s becoming more prevalent in our own backyard. North Kent Community Services is dedicated to helping our neighbors in need, but we can’t do it alone.
“We see that many of our clients are getting jobs, but they are low paying jobs that can’t sustain a family,” says Claire Guisfredi, executive director of NKCS. “Our families come to us for food, clothing and personal care items, the things that many of us take for granted.”
NKCS depends on community donations to supply our clients with these everyday necessities. We are currently in need of:
•     Gently used clothing, shoes, and accessories
•     Gently used household items and linens
•     Child-friendly food items (e.g., cereal, juice, peanut butter)
•     Personal care items (e.g., shampoo, soap, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products)
You can make a difference in our local community. As you clean out your closets and garage this summer, please consider donating your gently used items to NKCS. Drop off all food and other items Monday-Friday, 8:00 to 6:00. We are located at 10075 Northland Dr. NE (north of 12 Mile Road.)
Thank you for supporting NKCS as we serve your friends, family and neighbors.
North Kent Community Services is the largest food pantry in northern Kent County, serving families and individuals from 6 Mile to 22 Mile Roads. We provide food, clothing, senior meals on wheels, tax preparation and more to those in need.
For more information on NKCS, please visit www.nkcsc.com. Follow us on Facebook at North Kent Community Services and on Twitter at @nksc.

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Easter basket supplies needed

North Kent Community Services is collecting items to make 500 Easter Baskets for children in northern Kent County. We would appreciate donations of the following new items by March 22:

• Candy or Fruit Snacks

• Easter Baskets and Grass

• Small Stuffed Animals ~ Beanie Baby size

• Bubbles and Sidewalk Chalk

• Jump Ropes and Balls

• Crayons, Colored Pencils, Markers & Coloring Books

• Books, Stickers, Erasers

• Small Cars & Trucks ~ Small Dolls

• Any other suitable items for children ages 1 – 10

Please contact Sandy Waite, Executive Director, at 616.866.3478 ext. 100 or sandy.waite@nkcsc.com with any questions.



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Church to collect food from city residents on Sunday

City residents may get a knock on the their door Sunday morning, September 25. The Springs Free Methodist Church will be coming around door to door from 10 a.m. to noon to collect donations of food for North Kent Community Services.
Residents are asked to donate canned goods and dry boxed items such as cereal, noodles, brownies, cakes, hamburger or tuna helpers, etc.
They will try to collect from as many homes as possible, but they run out of time and are not able to collect your donation, please feel free to bring to the church, at the corner of Oak and Grant, when you can.

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Volunteers needed for community garden

Do you like to help people in need? Or maybe just help things grow? North Kent Community Services needs your manpower in their Community Garden! Last year the agency received over 3,570 pounds of fresh vegetables to distribute to families in need. That huge amount of food was planted and harvested by a handful of volunteers, who worked an acre of land to create a Community Garden. The NKCS is the largest food pantry in Kent County and services over 12,000 families. The fresh vegetables were a welcome sight for families who normally received canned or frozen when they pick up groceries.
Merrill Post, of Post Berry Farms, donates the land, on Myers Lake Avenue and 12 Mile Road, where the volunteers plant and harvest. For the third year in a row, Mr. Post has set aside an acre of land that he tills, fertilizes, and waters to make sure that the plants will grow. He even allows the group a space in his own private garden, where a high fence keeps the deer away from the tender bean plants. Post also donates to the NKCS corn, pumpkins, berries and other food that the volunteers do not grow in the Community Garden.
All of the seeds needed for planting are donated by The Cedar Mill in Cedar Springs. Also, several of the group members start seeds in peat pots or flats at home.
This year, there are two specific planting dates already set. Many more volunteers are needed because the goal is to harvest two tons of food this year. If you would like to help, volunteers will meet on Wednesday, May 10, at 7:00 p.m., at Post Farms, 9849 Myers Lake Road, to plant seeds in the greenhouse.
Once the seeds are ready to be transplanted outside, other dates and times will be determined for planting and a schedule will be set for weeding and harvesting. If you love to garden, want to learn more about gardening, need to put in hours for community service at your school, or have a desire to feed people in need, then call Deb McIntyre, volunteer coordinator at the NKCS, at 616-866-3478 ext. 103 Monday–Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. No gardening experience is necessary.

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