It is estimated that 5,000 individuals were homeless in Grand Rapids in 2012.
While there are shelters that provide a warm bed and daily meals, there is often a gap in consistent services and advocacy for those who are homeless and almost homeless, and those who are suffering with physical, emotional, and mental health trauma. Heartside neighbors* have many problems that reach beyond the lack of a safe and suitable home. They are often faced with many social disadvantages, unaware of available private and public services, and encounter barriers such as:
• Reduced access to health care and dental services
• Limited access to education
• Increased risk of suffering from violence and abuse
• General rejection or discrimination from other people
• Loss of usual relationships with the mainstream
• Not being seen as suitable for employment
• Reduced access to banking services
• Reduced access to communications technology
Heartside Ministry seeks to transform lives and our community by establishing relationships with our underserved neighbors so that they may experience long-term, life-altering success through our advocacy department (social workers), referral services, support groups, therapeutic art, education, and pastoral care.
Together with our neighbors, we provide a safe environment for people to enrich their lives and grow through worship & spirituality, GED classes, an online computer center, a gallery showcasing neighbor artists’ works, and studios for painting, drawing, pottery, wood work, and fabric arts. Art programs offer over 500 work sessions in any given month. This past year, neighbors benefitted from over 4,200 personal counseling sessions with staff social workers, counselors, and the pastoral care department; from accessing substance abuse recovery programs 4,000 times; and from visiting our Community Room nearly 2,000 times every month, including public restrooms and mail service for those who are homeless and have no address.
*NOTE: The people we serve are our “neighbors,” not clients or patrons or patients. Fundamental to our approach is the ability to live in solidarity with–and make common cause with–the people we affirm as our true neighbors.