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Tag Archive | "North Kent Community Services"

North Kent Community Services receives Rotary Grant


Rotary grant presentation to North Kent Service Center with Jason Parker, Kim Burge-Stout, Claire Guisfredi,  and Tom Noreen.

Rotary grant presentation to North Kent Service Center with Jason Parker, Kim Burge-Stout, Claire Guisfredi, and Tom Noreen.

In October 2016, Cedar Springs Rotarian Kim Burge-Stout submitted a $7,000 matching grant to Rotary District 6290 in support of North Kent Community Services (NKCS) in Rockford. The Rotary Clubs of Cedar Springs and Rockford each donated $3,500 towards the grant. In December, the Cedar Springs Club was notified that the grant had been approved and NKCS would receive a total of $14,000.

On January 11, the Rotary Clubs of Cedar Springs and Rockford presented NKCS Executive Director Claire Guisfredi a check for $14,000. Presenting the check on behalf of the two clubs were Rockford President Jason Parker, (a former Cedar Springs Rotarian), Kim Stout, and Cedar Springs’ President Tom Noreen.

Claire updated the Club on how past grants have been applied toward some of the Center’s programs. She talked about the difference the Thrive Empowerment Program for Women was making in the lives of mothers in the area. Women who were at their wits end have found hope and success after attending the six-month program held in the annex of the Cedar Springs Public Schools’ Hilltop Administration Building. Facilitated by NKCS Program Director Chérie Elahl, the students learn life skills, goal setting, and mindfulness skills, while holding each other accountable for the goals they have set for themselves.

Guisfredi went on to explain how the current grant money would be used. About $6,000 would be used for technology upgrades to the Center’s hardware and network. The remaining $8,000, along with funds from the Sparta Community Foundation and other organizations, would be used to fund a Community Needs Assessment.

NKCS is implementing a three-year strategic plan and has a bid out to select a group to conduct the assessment to determine whether NKCS is meeting the community’s needs with its current programming. It will look at clients, current programs, the community at large, and several other factors to determine what NKCS could be doing better to fulfill its mission “….improving the lives of all people in northern Kent County by providing access to basic needs and promoting economic independence.”

The local portion of the Rotary grant comes from funds raised by the Cedar Springs and Rockford Clubs. For the Cedar Springs Club, funds raised at the annual golf outing and Red Flannel Day chicken dinner were used. The matching portion is money returned to the district from contributions to the Rotary Foundation by Rotarians and others world-wide. The Rotary Foundation, which has a four of four-star rating by Charity Navigator, returns one-half of the funds raised within a Rotary District back to the District after three years. The District then can use these funds for local and international projects. Every Rotarian is encouraged to give $100 to the Rotary Foundation each year.

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Student Leadership Council update


 

Student Leadership Council is focusing on “giving back” and “family engagement” at the Middle School. Students brought in over 1,000 food items for a Food Drive. Students were able to build 10 baskets for our local families. Food Baskets included everything needed for a Thanksgiving Day feast and then some. Additional items were donated to North Kent Community Services, which also helps to support our families from the Cedar Springs and neighboring areas.

The group of students also suggested more opportunities for family nights. Their wishes were answered, and thanks to our partnership with En Gedi, Craig Owens was able to help us kick off a Family Fun Night at the Middle School. Parents, students and their siblings competed in Bubble Soccer. Pizza was provided. It was a great night with lots of laughs.

Students are working to coordinate the following for future give-back opportunities:

• Taking a “field trip” to Degage Ministries to help out

• Visiting the residents at Metron of Cedar Springs

• Volunteering some time to help support St. John Paul II Community Dinners

• Writing letters to our Veterans

If you or your child have any ideas for Family Fun Nights or Giving Back, please contact Jodi West at jodi.west@csredhawks.org or (616) 696-7326. Student Leadership is not an exclusive group. All students are welcome to drop in. Meeting are every other Thursday from 2:20-3:15, resuming on January 5, 2017.

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Game show comes to Grand Rapids


Pastor Steve Lindeman, Cedar Springs UMC (left) and Pastor Ken Bremer, Rockford UMC (right), were both part of the game show fundraiser for North Kent Community Services last week. Contestants Lydia Syrba and Dave Jensen with game show host Dean Lichtenwalner.

Pastor Steve Lindeman, Cedar Springs UMC (left) and Pastor Ken Bremer, Rockford UMC (right), were both part of the game show fundraiser for North Kent Community Services last week.
Contestants Lydia Syrba and Dave Jensen with game show host Dean Lichtenwalner.

North Kent Pastors Square Off for food pantry fundraiser

Local pastors entertained community members and leaders to net more than $70,000 (after expenses) for North Kent Community Services Wednesday night, November 2, at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

The third annual fundraising event featured church leaders from Rockford, Sparta, and Cedar Springs stacked in a giant “Tic Tac Toe” square on stage (similar to the old TV show Hollywood Squares) before 550 guests and dozens of sponsors. Proceeds from this lively and hilarious competition benefit the programming and services of North Kent Community Services (NKCS).

“We are so grateful to our local pastors for their willingness to have fun and raise money for people in need in northern Kent County,” said Claire Guisfredi, Executive Director at NKCS. “Each year, our generous community and sponsors step up to ensure NKCS is able to provide resources and lead people to self-sufficiency. We are truly blessed.”

Contestants Lydia Syrba and Dave Jensen with game show host Dean Lichtenwalner.

Contestants Lydia Syrba and Dave Jensen with game show host Dean Lichtenwalner.

The guests were treated to another version of the classic song, “American Pie”—with accompanying slideshow—by the singing duo Pastors Darrin Compagner (Blythefield Christian Reformed Church) and Jon Huizenga (River Rock Church). A new video highlighted how NKCS impacts our local community. Kimberly, one of the participants of the Thrive Empowerment Program, spoke about her journey of transformation because of Thrive.

The game show included guests as contestants trying to win prizes based on the pastors’ correct or incorrect responses. The 11 pastors bantered and bluffed their way throughout the evening, providing comical commentary to the amusement of all the guests. The celebrity square pastors were:

Jeff “Spanky” Amlotte of Mamrelund Lutheran; Paul Bradford, Rockford Reformed; Ken Bremer, Rockford United Methodist; Jeff DeRyke, Bridgeway Community; Fr. Darrel Kempf, Our Lady of Consolation; Steve Lindeman, Cedar Springs United Methodist; Mark Pietscher, Bella Vista; Justin Rowland, Rockford Baptist; Bryan Schneider-Thomas, Peace Lutheran; Laurie TenHave-Chapman, First Congregational Church; Nate Wagner, Sparta Baptist Church.

For pictures of North Kent Pastors Square Off and more information about North Kent Community Services, please visit www.nkcs.org.

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North Kent Pastors Square Off


 

Fundraiser for North Kent Community Services

 

Tickets go on sale Monday, October 3, for the annual fundraiser that helps support North Kent Community Services, the main food pantry in northern Kent County. The event, titled North Kent Pastors Square Off, will take place at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park on Wednesday, November 2, at 6 p.m.

For the last two years, North Kent Community Services (NKCS) had featured local pastors performing different talents to raise funds. This year the stakes are higher as pastors from around northern Kent County square off alongside local contestants to participate in NKCS’s own version of Hollywood Squares to see who can answer the most questions or provide the most convincing bluffs. It is expected to be the biggest year yet with 600 guests.

Local participating Pastors include: Jeff Amlotte, Mamrelund Lutheran; Paul Bradford, Rockford Reformed; Ken Bremer, Rockford United Methodist; Jeff DeRyke, Bridgeway Community; Robert Eckert, Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist; Fr. Darrel Kempf, Our Lady of Consolation; Steve Lindeman, Cedar Springs United Methodist; Mark Pietscher, Bella Vista; Kevin Reed, Grace Evangelical Free; Justin Rowland, Rockford Baptist; Bryan Schneider-Thomas, Peace Lutheran; Laurie TenHave-Chapman, First Congregational United Church of Christ; Nate Wagner, Sparta Baptist.

This year NKCS is also bringing together Pastors Darrin Compagner (Blythefield Christian Reformed Church) and Jon Huizenga (River Rock), former “Pastors Got Talent” rivals, who will open the show with a musical performance that is sure to be second to none.

Tickets for North Kent Pastors Square Off go on sale at 8:00 a.m., Monday, October 3. Seats are limited, so purchase your tickets quickly as they will sell out. Tickets are $50 and include dinner and entrance into Frederik Meijer Gardens.

All proceeds from North Kent Pastors Square Off will go back to NKCS to benefit its food pantry and educational programs. Through the development of these programs, North Kent will not only be able to provide resources for those in need, but will also be able to teach sustainability and self-sufficiency to those in its community.

To purchase tickets, contact Katie Hop at (616) 866-3478. This will be a night you won’t want to miss, so secure your seat now!

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Free home maintenance classes at North Kent Community Services


North Kent Community Services (NKCS) has partnered with Home Repair Services to bring a series of free home maintenance workshops to northern Kent county. These workshops are open to the public; you do not need to be a client of NKCS to participate.

Home Maintenance Checkup

Tuesday, September 27 at 10:00 a.m.

This class and its discussion will give you some of the basics needed for you to begin making your own do-it-yourself fixes around the house.

Basic Drywall Repair

Tuesday, October 4 at 10:00 a.m.

You’ll gain the knowledge and experience for do-it-yourself drywall repairs around your home.

Basic Electrical

Tuesday, October 18 at 10:00 a.m.

You will have an opportunity to do some hands on wiring of an outlet, switch, and a light. You will gain skill sets to do some basic electrical around the home.

These free trainings will be held at North Kent Community Services at 10075 Northland Drive, Rockford. Call (616) 241-2601 for more information and to R.S.V.P. for these workshops.

 

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North Kent Community Services collects school supplies


 

North Kent Community Services (NKCS) has kicked off its annual Back-to-School Drive. Each fall, many students in northern Kent County face the prospect of starting school without adequate supplies, an issue NKCS is addressing with this program.

“By partnering with the churches and community we can ensure that all students have the tools they need to be successful as they start the new school year,” says NKCS Executive Director Claire Guisfredi.

NKCS is collecting new backpacks, notebooks, loose-leaf paper, rulers, pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers, pencil boxes, folders, 3-ring binders, crayons, markers, colored pencils, glue sticks and scissors. These supplies will be distributed to students who are entering Kindergarten through 9th grade at area schools on August 23.

Donations can be dropped off at North Kent Community Services, 10075 Northland Drive NE, Rockford (just north of 12 Mile Road), Monday through Thursday, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The Back-to-School Drive runs now through Thursday, August 18. NKCS is also looking for volunteers to sort donations and help with distribution. To volunteer, contact Cassie LaMacchia at (616) 866-3478 ext. 101 or cassie.lamacchia@nkcs.org.

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Thrive program to start in Cedar Springs


 

North Kent Community Services is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Cedar Springs Public Schools. Beginning in February, NKCS will offer its successful Thrive Empowerment Program on the Cedar Springs campus, thanks to a generous offer of classroom space from Superintendent Dr. Laura Van Duyn.

“This is an excellent opportunity to help women with children living in Cedar Springs achieve their livable wage and educational goals,” said NKCS Program Director Chérie Elahl.

NKCS launched the Thrive Empowerment program in September 2014. Since then, several women have obtained or are working toward obtaining their high school diplomas, some are furthering their post-secondary education, and others have found better paying jobs.

“One of our participants described Thrive as a family of women,” said Cherie. “Thrive is an opportunity for the group members to work on their goals without the distraction of everyday life and with the support of other women who are in very similar situations. It’s powerful and beautiful to see what happens when our participants start to believe in themselves.”

The program sessions include financial literacy, connections to resources in Kent County, and time to work on goals in a group environment. One of the favorite classes involves mindfulness for parenting; the participants learn how to parent without anger and have a calmer home environment. Thrive is open to all women with children who live in northern Kent County. There are no income guidelines. “Having participants from different walks of life really enriches the group dynamics as well as the Thrive experience,” explains Chérie.

To learn more about the Thrive Empowerment Program, contact Chérie Elahl at cherie.elahl@nkcs.org or at 616-866-3478 ext. 105. The new cohort will begin in February 2016. Make a New Year’s resolution to reach your goals in this life-changing program. Class sizes are limited so call soon!

 

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Seats and feet drive


 

Collecting socks, underwear, and more at NKCS

North Kent Community Services is once again asking residents to help families in need during their “Seats and Feet” drive.

“Socks and underwear, along with pajamas and mittens, are the items most requested by our struggling families,” said Claire Guisfredi, Executive Director at North Kent Community Services. “Many of our families are working but still cannot make ends meet. With winter coming, help us keep children warm by covering their seats and feet.”

They ask donors to please use the front door to drop off new and unopened packages of underwear, socks, and pajamas to North Kent Community Services, Monday through Thursday between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. All donations are needed by Monday, December 14 in time for the Christmas store. NKCS is located at 10075 Northland Dr. NE (north of 12 Mile Road) in Rockford.

They are also looking for something you might not think to donate: your tangled or broken Christmas lights.

Your unusable Christmas lights will be recycled for their glass, copper and plastic while NKCS receives a small amount per pound, money that goes toward the food pantry, educational programs and Christmas store.

You can drop off your old or broken Christmas lights seven days a week on the south side of the building, which is attended seven days a week.

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North Kent Pastors got talent


Pastor Craig Carter, of North Kent Community Church, rapped for the audience. Photo courtesy Wise Photography.

Pastor Craig Carter, of North Kent Community Church, rapped for the audience. Photo courtesy Wise Photography.

Local clergy sang musical parodies, danced righteous medleys, rapped with soul, and dazzled with Tae Kwon Do on Thursday, September 24, to raise funds for individuals in need throughout northern Kent County.

The second annual North Kent Pastors got talent event featured a spirited, yet friendly, competition of church leaders, from Rockford, Sparta and Cedar Springs. Close to 500 spectators and dozens of sponsors came to cheer on the pastors and pledge contributions to North Kent Community Services (NKCS).

More than $65,000 was raised, after expenses, for food and educational programs.

Pastor John Huizenga, of River Rock Church, tried some moonwalking. Photo courtesy Wise Photography

Pastor John Huizenga, of River Rock Church, tried some moonwalking. Photo courtesy Wise Photography

“We are grateful that these talented pastors graced the stage to help us raise these funds for families in our community,” said Claire Guisfredi, executive director at NKCS. “North Kent Pastors got talent continues to bring together a host of area leaders and generous community members to make a difference for so many of our own neighbors struggling simply to get by.”

The pastor that won the Judges’ Pick was Pastor Jon Huizenga, from River Rock Church, for his rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.”

The pastor that won the popular vote was Fr. Mark Peacock from St. Patrick Parnell for performing a musical parody about Pope Francis.

North Kent Community Services is located at 10075 Northland Drive, at 12 Mile. For more info on NKCS, visit them online at http://nkcs.org/ or call 616-866-3478.

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Help NKCS provide summer lunches


 

While children across the county are counting down the days until summer vacation, North Kent Community Services is preparing to distribute additional food to families through its Summer Lunch Bag Program.

Nearly 50 percent of students in Kent County are eligible for free or reduced lunch. The additional cost to the parents, many who are working low-wage jobs just to make ends meet, can result in a family having to choose between buying food and paying their bills. That’s where North Kent Community Services comes in.

The Summer Lunch Bag Program provides additional food for children during the months of June, July and August. The bags contain nutritious items such as milk, peanut butter, soup, lunch meat, cheese, juice, cereal and fruit. Each Summer Lunch Bag helps to keep children’s brains and bodies healthy and alert during the summer so they are ready to learn in September when school begins.

North Kent Community Services is asking for donations for its Summer Lunch Bag Program. A special effort is taking place this year to ensure that families are receiving healthy, nutritious food in place of overly-processed and high-fat options. Please donate:

Jam

Lunch Meat

String Cheese

Milk

Whole Wheat Pasta Meals

Canned Fruit in Light Syrup/Juice

Low Sodium Soup

Whole Grain Pancake Mix

Low-Sugar Cereal

Granola Bars

Real Fruit Snacks

Raisins/Dried Fruit

100% Fruit Juice Boxes

Nuts/Trail Mix

Healthy Snacks

North Kent Community Services is also in need of grains such as pasta, rice, cereal and more for its regular food pantry.

Donations can be dropped off Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Please visit our website at www.nkcs.org for more information and a complete list of needs.

North Kent Community Services is the largest food pantry in northern Kent County, serving families and individuals from 5 Mile to 22 Mile Roads and east and west to the county lines. We provide food, clothing, senior meals on wheels, tax preparation and more to those in need.

 

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