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Tag Archive | "North Kent Community Services"

North Kent Community Services takes new name


N-North-Kent-connect1-logo

It began in 1973 as Rockford Community Services. Sometime in the 1980s it became North Kent Service Center. Then, in 2010, it changed its name to North Kent Community Services, to better reflect the fact it was serving the northern Kent community—from 6 Mile Rd north to the county line at 22 Mile Rd—with food, shelter, utilities support, clothing and more.

Now, in 2017, a bigger change is happening. Not only is it changing its name to North Kent Connect, it is also opening a store to the general public.

“People had difficulty remembering the name North Kent Community Services since it was so long,” explained Claire Guisfredi, Executive Director at North Kent Connect. “We needed something shorter that describes what we do. North Kent Connect does that.”

North Kent Connect connects people to the resources they need–anything from food to job training to fellowship–to help residents in northern Kent County meet basic needs and work towards economic independence.

In order to help even more people in the community, they are opening North Kent Connect Store on Friday, August 4. Anyone can shop there for high-quality, gently-used clothing and household goods at affordable prices. It will be located at 10075 Northland Drive NE. Every purchase will help local families better their lives through North Kent’s empowerment programs.

However, the store has a unique buying proposition. Not only can items be purchased at affordable prices, North Kent Connect clients can also receive store credit by volunteering in the community or taking classes. The organizations’ V.I.P. plan for clients supports the initiative of three-ways-to-pay: Volunteer, Invest or Purchase.

Guisfredi said, “Financial struggles can be a very humbling experience. Shopping at North Kent Connect Store serves as a reminder that everyone has something to offer. It gives our clients dignity knowing that they can give back in some way–through volunteering, investing in themselves (by taking a class), or purchasing items. The North Kent Connect Store is an exciting opportunity for us. It will help the community become aware of all that we offer here. Also, the store will offer job skills training for special needs young adults.”

North Kent Connect Store will be open to the public (beginning August 4) on Tuesday and Friday from 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m.—4:00 p.m. Clients only can shop Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.

 

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West Michigan Works! opens satellite site 


 

New site opens at North Kent Community Services

 

N-West-Michigan-Works-logoNorth Kent Community Services, 10075 Northland Drive NE Rockford, is now offering services to help people find jobs. On Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., West Michigan Works! will help people with resume writing, cover letters, and more at the NKCS location. Anyone can use West Michigan Works! Services. You do not have to be a client of NKCS.

West Michigan Works!, a workforce development firm that aims to develop Michigan’s economic future, helps clients take the next step in their new career, free of charge. “The best way out of poverty is through livable wage employment,” said Claire Guisfredi, Executive Director of North Kent Community Services. “People need the right skills to be competitive in the workforce. To have this vital resource available to people at NKCS will impact northern Kent County in a powerful way.”

Through North Kent’s partnership with West Michigan Works!, clients will have the opportunity to utilize the resources provided at NKCS, such as access to its computer lab, printing, and fax services. “We are pleased to partner with North Kent Community Services to better coordinate services for residents in northern Kent County,” said West Michigan Works! CEO Jacob Maas. “Employers are looking for talent; this new location will offer a variety of job search resources to make that connection.”

For more information about West Michigan Works! and to see upcoming hiring events and workshop schedules, please visit westmiworks.org.

 

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Be part of a focus group at North Kent Community Services


Be part of a focus group at North Kent Community Services

North Kent Community Services (NKCS) has partnered with the Dorothy A. Johnson Center’s Community Research Institute at Grand Valley State University to complete a community needs assessment for northern Kent County. This initiative, funded in part by the Sparta Community Foundation, Cedar Springs Rotary, and Rockford Rotary, will give insight to how NKCS can best address the needs in our community.

The Community Research Institute will be facilitating and gathering information from three community focus groups. These groups will be made up from individuals in the community whose households’ income are at or below the 200 percent federal poverty guidelines and who have never received services from NKCS. The focus groups will be held on:

Wednesday, March 22 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Friday, March 24 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Friday, March 31 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

If you or somebody you know are interested in attending one of these focus groups, please call (616) 331-7585 to sign up. Attendance is limited to the first 30 people who reserve a spot. Those who reserve a spot and participate in any of these focus groups will receive a $20 Meijer gift card.

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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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