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Shelters in Heartside

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Hello, my name is Stuart Ray, I'm the Executive Director at Guiding Light Mission. Do you mind if I join this group?

 

Please do - you are in a position to shed some much needed light on this topic. I would hope someone from Dégagé would join the discussion as well.

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Mayor George Heartwell tyrannical? He may be a lot of different things to different people but I doubt you'd find many in GR who would refer to him as a tyrant. This isn't Chicago and we're not talking about Richard Daley - the City Manager wields more actual  power than the mayor here. Please give us just one example of Rev. Heartwell acting in a "tyrannical" manner. And "...slicker than Rudy." - really!?! Have you ever met the man, John? Just like "tyrannical", "slick" would be one of the last words I would use to describe him. (A little off topic but I couldn't let that one slide.)

Yes, I have met the slick, tyrannical Mayor. Hitler was well liked in the beginning also. Slick = Deceptive. I'll make a deal with you, I will stop stating that he is tyrannical when he takes measures to stop putting Fluoride in the municipal water.

Okay, I have to admit that he is not very deceptive or tyrannical. But it doesn't take much to have things blown out of purportion. The Globalists are tyrannical and Heartwell only leans toward the Globalists. But I would put him in that crowd.

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Yes, I have met the slick, tyrannical Mayor. Hitler was well liked in the beginning also. Slick = Deceptive. I'll make a deal with you, I will stop stating that he is tyrannical when he takes measures to stop putting Fluoride in the municipal water.

Okay, I have to admit that he is not very deceptive or tyrannical. But it doesn't take much to have things blown out of purportion. The Globalists are tyrannical and Heartwell only leans toward the Globalists. But I would put him in that crowd.

 

Comparing Mayor Heartwell to Hitler - you take great pictures, John and I recently posted a thank you for your efforts but with that last statement, you've lost all credibility on any topic, at least as far as I'm concerned. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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Yes, I have met the slick, tyrannical Mayor. Hitler was well liked in the beginning also. Slick = Deceptive. I'll make a deal with you, I will stop stating that he is tyrannical when he takes measures to stop putting Fluoride in the municipal water.

Okay, I have to admit that he is not very deceptive or tyrannical. But it doesn't take much to have things blown out of purportion. The Globalists are tyrannical and Heartwell only leans toward the Globalists. But I would put him in that crowd.

 

John, I think the last time you started berating and insulting people and talking about conspiracy theories, we had to give you a break from the forum for a while.

 

Wearing hats indoors? I mean seriously. This is a major social issue?

 

I have to agree that of all the words to describe Heartwell, tyrannical would be the last word I'd use. And he wasn't the one to introduce flouride into the water system.

Hello, my name is Stuart Ray, I'm the Executive Director at Guiding Light Mission. Do you mind if I join this group?

 

By all means, yes. Welcome.

Reality Check:

Heartside is upgrading and improving while the Missions and support services remain.

Money does not bring morality or virtue.

How harmful is "not in my neighborhood" mentality?

We will know that this world is back on track when men remove their hats when going indoors.

We will know that this world has reached it's purpose when people care more for others than themselves.

And round and round we go.

The facts speak for themselves - Heartside is upgrading and improving while the Missions and support services remain.

People are grossed out and uncomfortable with homeless people and I am grossed out by well-off people blowing their nose at a table in a restaurant.

People are uncomfortable with the homeless in Heartside and I am uncomfortable with men not removing their hats indoors.

The best way to help is with improvements. And that is what is being done. The facts speak for themselves.

The Avenue For The Arts Events have been very successful on Division Ave.

 

Also, I know the person who plans all those events, very well. I know the struggles she goes through to get artists to participate and to get people to come out for them. You can't base your assumptions on what you "see," you have to talk to the people who "do."

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I think this city needs to pull a Rudy Giuliani and start kicking these people off the street. I just don't get it. Is it because the city has a minister for a mayor?

 

 

This is why we can't have nice things. Everyone's afraid. I wish this town would get a Rudy Giuliani backbone.

I appoligize for my comments about Mayor Heartwell. I did go overboard with my statements.

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I appoligize for my comments about Mayor Heartwell. I did go overboard with my statements.

 

So you're comparing my comments about Heartwell being too nice, to you comparing him to Hitler? Just like comparing "removing your hat inside" and sneezing, to drug overdoses and harassment of people on the street?

 

Take a break John.

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Yes, I have met the slick, tyrannical Mayor. Hitler was well liked in the beginning also. Slick = Deceptive. I'll make a deal with you, I will stop stating that he is tyrannical when he takes measures to stop putting Fluoride in the municipal water.

Okay, I have to admit that he is not very deceptive or tyrannical. But it doesn't take much to have things blown out of purportion. The Globalists are tyrannical and Heartwell only leans toward the Globalists. But I would put him in that crowd.

 

Uh-huh.  John, you're sounding like one of those guys who writes articles for the half-cocked homeless person magazine that shows up on shelves around town.  Those might be valid issues, in the proper context--and we might even have some room for agreement about the merits of putting industrial waste byproducts in water and the remote potential for bodily accumulation when same said product is already included in something civilized people use daily and spit out--but when you just randomly insert garbage about Hitler, fluoride, and globalism, and attempt to bludgeon the mayor with them, people start scratching their heads.  It isn't a sign of a well person.  Heck, I'll go so far as to say it's part of why people don't really care for South Division--you're apt to run into some loon screaming at the top of his lungs about the globalists and holding a sign saying "Floaride==PRIZON!!==GLOBALIST cOnTROL!!"  Crazy dude might have a point, but it sure don't make him any less creepy.  That said, your measured perspective is certainly welcome, and now understanding some of your history, I understand your passion. 

 

[...] A wave that started at Fulton washed down to Cherry then to Wealthy, and now has crossed Wealthy and is looping around to the east, while a 2nd wave is working down Division. Soon both of those waves will meet up, and they will meet up roughly at Cherry and Division. [...]

 

[...] In terms of Heartside gentrification? That isn't the issue. No one was wishing the Herk would become luxury condos. People ultimately couldn't care less about living next to buildings with low-income people whom behave in a mature manner or where the buildings are kept in good condition. What people will start to demand in the next 12 months is that the "Big 3" (Guiding Light, Degege, and Mel Trotter) either clean up their operations in terms of [...]

 

I like your optimistic timeline, although I'm not sure if I can believe it.  You mention anything about a homeless shelter that isn't completely positive any you get looked at by most as a complete uncaring pig.  That's a fairly large stumbling block.  Remember--most people don't see it, and don't live with it.  All they know is that those few blocks of south Divisions are where the love of Jesus comes shining through more than anywhere else in the whole city.  That a tough nut to crack right there. 

 

Still, major improvement are happening all around this stretch, and it is hard to see the neighbors suffering this situation for long, no matter what the outside do-gooders might say.  To my admitted surprise, the ICCF project on Wealthy is finally showing some signs of life.  The new market will be opening up soon.  The area to the west is thriving, as is the area to the north.   If the neighbors actually begin to believe they don't have to kowtow the homeless shelters and live with the violence, addiction, and disorder, change could come.  But again, which politician is going to stand up and start the crack down on vagrancy?  With three shelters so tightly clustered, the solution is inherently political.  Economic forces alone are not going to be enough to make something happen. 

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It's just a little before 1:00pm and there are currently 18 people reading this topic (1 member, 15 guests and 2 on Facebook) - I can't remember if I've ever seen that many on a topic at the same time. Perhaps this will actually start an even bigger dialogue...

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Is this one of those economic Jedi mind tricks? "Pay no attention to the laws being broken, we're makin jobs over here."

 

Maybe the real question should be "Does downtown need South Division? Are more jobs, commerce and economic spending really all that important for a city in a financial hole?" Maybe the answer is no. Just add bike lanes.

I can tell you that Guiding Light Mission since it changed the structure of its program but 161 men to work last year with less than 5% recidivism back into shelter or incarceration.

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Please do - you are in a position to shed some much needed light on this topic. I would hope someone from Dégagé would join the discussion as well.

Yes, I can offer my experience as a 40resident of our community, a former business person and now at Guiding Light Mission. I believe in accountability and self responsibility. 161 men went back to work last year (do the math on the economic impact) and found housing the old fashion way, by earning it, no MSDA or HUD handouts.

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Yes, I can offer my experience as a 40resident of our community, a former business person and now at Guiding Light Mission. I believe in accountability and self responsibility. 161 men went back to work last year (do the math on the economic impact) and found housing the old fashion way, by earning it, no MSDA or HUD handouts.

I would also like to extend an invitation to all o come visit Guiding Light Mission, speak with the men. Please e-mail me <[email protected]> or call (616) 451-0236 x19. I too share many (not all) of your concerns.

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Yes, I can offer my experience as a 40resident of our community, a former business person and now at Guiding Light Mission. I believe in accountability and self responsibility. 161 men went back to work last year (do the math on the economic impact) and found housing the old fashion way, by earning it, no MSDA or HUD handouts.

I spoke with Degage, I understand they hope to join the discussion.

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Mr. Ray, I thank you for the enlightenment on the current "civil war" raging within the City of Grand Rapids, especially within the Heartside District.  My introduction to Grand Rapids was in 1971 at the old Wealth Street Baptist Church (Wealth and Eastern) under the Pastorate of Dr David Otis Fuller, DD.  My wife and I came to interview for an Internship in the "Deaf Church" Division, now politically corrected:  "The Hearing  Impaired Church".  While being introduced to the city, it was proudly pointed out that Grand Rapids was the American "Jerusalem" with a church and a gasoline station on every street corner.  Christian Publishers were renowned worldwide for their quality of Christian literature.  Numerous radio broadcasting ministries originated in Grand Rapids (Radio Bible Class, Back to God Hour and Children Bible Hour, to name a few).  Christian Colleges and Seminaries were in abundances.  The Reformed Sunday "Blue Law" was still honored.  An American dream city to raise a family in!
 
1972  (Living and working in Grand Rapids) I transferred from Bloddgett Memorial Hospital to St. Mary's Hospital.  Within two weeks, while my car was parked in the Employee Parking lot during 1st shift, someone broke my car window and stole my musical system -- city police would not write a report saying that it was hopeless to solve the crime.  Thus I introduction to downtown life.  
 
1972 again, Wealth Street Baptist Church was divided concerning a church move to a safer neighborhood.  Dr. Fuller held the church's commitment to downtown until he died, then the church split, building sold and a prominent Christian witness was lost.  A few years later, while my wife and I attended Calvary Church (Michigan Street, West of College) the church decided to relocate to East Beltline due to uncontrollable crime.  Another major Christian witness lost!  
 
Meanwhile,  other major churches locked their doors to the community and chose to operate "drive-in" services banning all community "outsiders" with hired Security Guards.  (Once, Attorney at Law arranged for me to attend a class at Westminster Church, but after two attempts to enter the church and was denied, I stop trying.)
 
So, why is it so shocking that Heartside Community has become a ghetto for vagrant, street people!  The churches blew out their "light of witness" and tossed their "salt preserver" to the wind and now the community is reaping the whirlwind of crime and debauchery.  
 
Community charities supports this adverse lifestyle and invite abusers to continue their addictions because addictions are "mental and physical diseases" -- thus free medical support.  The police department informed me that they are fully aware of the degraded situation, but claim it is easier to contain one city site than to spread and chase!  City government legalizes marijuana, and soon all mind altering substances, making Grand Rapids into "Mob City like Atlanta City"!  The love for easy money (and accept it, entertainment is easy money) will blind every eye, then how shall the blind guide the blind, they both fall into a ditch becoming drunken sloughs!
 
Indeed, Grand Rapids, by losing her Christian Witness, is in a desperate and perhaps, hopeless situation.  Present effective rescues missions Will have to relocate into a wholesome environment for rehabilitation programs.  (1960's, Charleston, WV, while in college, I would visit the Union Mission on my free nights.  The mission was in the city's ghetto, but a visionary donated a parcel of farm land (several acres) where the mission rebuilt, incorporating on site work programs for men and women -- in 1960, young people never stayed at rescues missions -- this gave dignity to the people and kept their minds and hands busy.)  Believe it or not, manageable work makes a joyful heart and pleasant sleep.
 

 

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Mr. Ray, I thank you for the enlightenment on the current "civil war" raging within the City of Grand Rapids, especially within the Heartside District.  My introduction to Grand Rapids was in 1971 at the old Wealth Street Baptist Church (Wealth and Eastern) under the Pastorate of Dr David Otis Fuller, DD.  My wife and I came to interview for an Internship in the "Deaf Church" Division, now politically corrected:  "The Hearing  Impaired Church".  While being introduced to the city, it was proudly pointed out that Grand Rapids was the American "Jerusalem" with a church and a gasoline station on every street corner.  Christian Publishers were renowned worldwide for their quality of Christian literature.  Numerous radio broadcasting ministries originated in Grand Rapids (Radio Bible Class, Back to God Hour and Children Bible Hour, to name a few).  Christian Colleges and Seminaries were in abundances.  The Reformed Sunday "Blue Law" was still honored.  An American dream city to raise a family in!.....

 

 

 

 

I don't doubt that you provide a valuable service to the area. However, can you explain the value of having so many of our social services concentrated in such a small area? Do you think the concentration impedes future growth/investment? Do you have any solutions to fix any problems that you feel may exist?

 

 

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Mr. Ray, I thank you for the enlightenment on the current "civil war" raging within the City of Grand Rapids, especially within the Heartside District.  My introduction to Grand Rapids was in 1971 at the old Wealth Street Baptist Church (Wealth and Eastern) under the Pastorate of Dr David Otis Fuller, DD.  My wife and I came to interview for an Internship in the "Deaf Church" Division, now politically corrected:  "The Hearing  Impaired Church".  While being introduced to the city, it was proudly pointed out that Grand Rapids was the American "Jerusalem" with a church and a gasoline station on every street corner.  Christian Publishers were renowned worldwide for their quality of Christian literature.  Numerous radio broadcasting ministries originated in Grand Rapids (Radio Bible Class, Back to God Hour and Children Bible Hour, to name a few).  Christian Colleges and Seminaries were in abundances.  The Reformed Sunday "Blue Law" was still honored.  An American dream city to raise a family in!
 
1972  (Living and working in Grand Rapids) I transferred from Bloddgett Memorial Hospital to St. Mary's Hospital.  Within two weeks, while my car was parked in the Employee Parking lot during 1st shift, someone broke my car window and stole my musical system -- city police would not write a report saying that it was hopeless to solve the crime.  Thus I introduction to downtown life.  
 
1972 again, Wealth Street Baptist Church was divided concerning a church move to a safer neighborhood.  Dr. Fuller held the church's commitment to downtown until he died, then the church split, building sold and a prominent Christian witness was lost.  A few years later, while my wife and I attended Calvary Church (Michigan Street, West of College) the church decided to relocate to East Beltline due to uncontrollable crime.  Another major Christian witness lost!  
 
Meanwhile,  other major churches locked their doors to the community and chose to operate "drive-in" services banning all community "outsiders" with hired Security Guards.  (Once, Attorney at Law arranged for me to attend a class at Westminster Church, but after two attempts to enter the church and was denied, I stop trying.)
 
So, why is it so shocking that Heartside Community has become a ghetto for vagrant, street people!  The churches blew out their "light of witness" and tossed their "salt preserver" to the wind and now the community is reaping the whirlwind of crime and debauchery.  
 
Community charities supports this adverse lifestyle and invite abusers to continue their addictions because addictions are "mental and physical diseases" -- thus free medical support.  The police department informed me that they are fully aware of the degraded situation, but claim it is easier to contain one city site than to spread and chase!  City government legalizes marijuana, and soon all mind altering substances, making Grand Rapids into "Mob City like Atlanta City"!  The love for easy money (and accept it, entertainment is easy money) will blind every eye, then how shall the blind guide the blind, they both fall into a ditch becoming drunken sloughs!
 
Indeed, Grand Rapids, by losing her Christian Witness, is in a desperate and perhaps, hopeless situation.  Present effective rescues missions Will have to relocate into a wholesome environment for rehabilitation programs.  (1960's, Charleston, WV, while in college, I would visit the Union Mission on my free nights.  The mission was in the city's ghetto, but a visionary donated a parcel of farm land (several acres) where the mission rebuilt, incorporating on site work programs for men and women -- in 1960, young people never stayed at rescues missions -- this gave dignity to the people and kept their minds and hands busy.)  Believe it or not, manageable work makes a joyful heart and pleasant sleep.

 

 

This sounds like it supports my theory that South Division is the dumping ground for the undesirables, as determined by the local (mostly suburban now) evangelicals. Maybe a mission should be set up in the new strip mall where Cabela's is? I believe it was developed by mainly Christian men, so I think it would be acceptable to donate some space.

 

I will say that the loitering in front of Guiding Light does seem to have been cut down considerably. How's the security situation? Several women I know visited the place a year or two ago for a "tour for the local business community" and had to be escorted in via security guards.

 

And interestingly enough, I walked by Degage' today and there was not one soul outside. There was a guy passed out on the sidewalk in front of the Goodwill store, and one poor guy passed out on the bench in front of UICA, but otherwise it looked like the street had been cleared.

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Hello, all! I've been lurking around the forums here for a while, so I thought it was about time I join and give my first thoughts.

 

The missions seem to help two different groups of people: the homeless and those struggling with addiction. Those who are exclusively homeless (without addictions) do not seem to be the problem, so we should primarily focus our efforts on how to handle those who have an addiction. Since we know that addiction is a mental illness/mental health issue, I'd like to contrast the South Division area to another place that deals with mental health: Pine Rest. While I wouldn't consider Pine Rest's location in suburban Cutlerville vibrant, the area does seem to have more appeal than South Division in terms of cleanliness and area residents' willingness to live around the facility. I think that this is primarily because Pine Rest is a private institute in which those who seek treatment pay to go there. Thus, Pine Rest attracts addicts from middle- and upper-class backgrounds, and the missions in South Division tend to get "the rest" (for lack of a better term). Since many people who struggle with an addiction cannot afford private treatment, these missions do indeed serve a useful purpose. However, as many have said, the concentration of the missions and/or the presentation of the area is inhibiting further development. Pine Rest's model, whatever that may be, cannot be applied to the missions in Heartside because of the income gap, so other solutions need to be examined.

 

Simply moving the missions further down Division will not, in my opinion, be a long time solution. If we truly do want Division Ave. to become a true corridor of commerce again, the missions in their current state will not be able to last for any significant amount of time on Division. We do not want to have this discussion again when development sweeps even further down Division. Yet, we cannot simply place the missions in an undesirable area and have a repeat of the same story. Here is my, as of now, fairly undeveloped proposal:

 

GVSU should expand its School of Social Work into an all-encompassing School of Social Work and Mental Health. As part of that expansion, the university could build new facilities (wherever that may be) in conjunction with other organizations that will house the new school, provide room for at least some of the missions from Heartside, and offer space for other social work and mental health related organizations (such as The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan). While this would still provide for a concentration of many services, the new facilities would be mixed-use in order to diversify the area. GVSU and the missions could take advantage of combined/nearly combined facilities to enhance each other. As part of degree programs offered by GVSU, students could intern with the various missions and organizations in order to learn important real-life application techniques. With that, the missions would receive additional help in caring for those in need which could soften the external negative impact often associated with the localities of the missions.

 

I understand that there are many wholes to fill with this idea, but that was just my initial thought. Perhaps it is not even a good idea, but it does not hurt to at least brainstorm!  Please let me know your thoughts!

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I don't doubt that you provide a valuable service to the area. However, can you explain the value of having so many of our social services concentrated in such a small area? Do you think the concentration impedes future growth/investment? Do you have any solutions to fix any problems that you feel may exist?

If you step back for a moment, remember Dwelling Place has 800 units south of Division, many MSDA supported, all on 30-50 year Federal mortgages. So, low income residents will be here to stay. In fact the new Herkimer remodel has 42 rooms set aside for the chronically homeless. The question I sked myself upon arrival to Guiding Light Mission, was what was our value proposition and how could we make a contribution to our community, therefore the new emphasis. Many of the individuals utilizing Heartside services are not from the neighborhood but actually drive in.

 

In October of 2012 Guiding Light Mission introduced Bob Lupton and Toxic Charity to the community, that sparked conversations that still continue across the community trying to figure out the empowerment vs. enabling process. God's Kitchen, Heartside Ministries, Mel Trotter and Guiding Light Mission have all participated, including a gathering of 75 community leaders last week.

 

I'm encourage the "wait line" at God's Kitchen beginning in 2014 will no longer be on the street but within the facility.

 

I would love to see South Division more vibrant from a business standpoint. Other than chipping away at it, I don't see any quick fixes. Degage just added outside security and Dwelling Place has hired security to patrol S. Division from Weston to Cherry. What we do lack is a commitment by all stakeholders to engage in long-term dialogue, everyone tends to retreat to their own corners.

 

Any of that helpful?

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This sounds like it supports my theory that South Division is the dumping ground for the undesirables, as determined by the local (mostly suburban now) evangelicals. Maybe a mission should be set up in the new strip mall where Cabela's is? I believe it was developed by mainly Christian men, so I think it would be acceptable to donate some space.

 

I will say that the loitering in front of Guiding Light does seem to have been cut down considerably. How's the security situation? Several women I know visited the place a year or two ago for a "tour for the local business community" and had to be escorted in via security guards.

 

And interestingly enough, I walked by Degage' today and there was not one soul outside. There was a guy passed out on the sidewalk in front of the Goodwill store, and one poor guy passed out on the bench in front of UICA, but otherwise it looked like the street had been cleared.

Degage has hired a private security company to patrol it's corner, Dwelling Place is patrolling S. Division from Weston to Cherry.

 

As far as Guiding Light Mission, if there is loitering out front, they are not our clients, they are coming from elsewhere or waiting for the bus. It would always be our practice to be gentlemen and escort females out of courtesy not security. There has not be any issue of security at Guiding Light Mission by a client in over three years, something I will not tolerate. Just because you are homeless or in tough times does not excuse not being a gentleman.

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I don't doubt that you provide a valuable service to the area. However, can you explain the value of having so many of our social services concentrated in such a small area? Do you think the concentration impedes future growth/investment? Do you have any solutions to fix any problems that you feel may exist?

Guiding Light Mission has attempted to reduce all replication. Two years ago, there were seven meals in Heartside, today six. There is still a great deal of replication with few measurable outcomes. Anything else someone is doing well and will report an ROI, we do not offer here. 

 

In 2011 there were over 4,000 brand new winter jackets distributed in Heartside within one month. Of course it was all on the media, that will attract people rom all over the county.

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If you step back for a moment, remember Dwelling Place has 800 units south of Division, many MSDA supported, all on 30-50 year Federal mortgages. So, low income residents will be here to stay. In fact the new Herkimer remodel has 42 rooms set aside for the chronically homeless. The question I sked myself upon arrival to Guiding Light Mission, was what was our value proposition and how could we make a contribution to our community, therefore the new emphasis. Many of the individuals utilizing Heartside services are not from the neighborhood but actually drive in.

 

In October of 2012 Guiding Light Mission introduced Bob Lupton and Toxic Charity to the community, that sparked conversations that still continue across the community trying to figure out the empowerment vs. enabling process. God's Kitchen, Heartside Ministries, Mel Trotter and Guiding Light Mission have all participated, including a gathering of 75 community leaders last week.

 

I'm encourage the "wait line" at God's Kitchen beginning in 2014 will no longer be on the street but within the facility.

 

I would love to see South Division more vibrant from a business standpoint. Other than chipping away at it, I don't see any quick fixes. Degage just added outside security and Dwelling Place has hired security to patrol S. Division from Weston to Cherry. What we do lack is a commitment by all stakeholders to engage in long-term dialogue, everyone tends to retreat to their own corners.

 

Any of that helpful?

Very much so - thank you. I still would like to hear from one of the people in charge of Dégagé - added security will help and I would like to see a more personal, walking the beat or even bicycle type presence from GRPD - two regularly assigned officers on each shift would make a world of difference. Once again, thank you for the "insider" input.

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This sounds like it supports my theory that South Division is the dumping ground for the undesirables, as determined by the local (mostly suburban now) evangelicals. Maybe a mission should be set up in the new strip mall where Cabela's is? I believe it was developed by mainly Christian men, so I think it would be acceptable to donate some space.

 

 

another alternative would be the village of Ada, which is half owned by Amway.  we all know that the folks who run amway are good christians.   there should be plenty of space there and the fresh air would be good. not to mention the homeless could get closer to "Christian witnesses".  

 

BTW, a witness is defined as a person. a church cannot be a witness (maybe a collection of witnesses)

 

is it just me or does it seem like the post referring to 1972 and christian witnesses was done on Mr. Rays computer by a third party when Mr. Ray forgot to log off. just wondering 

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Hello, all! I've been lurking around the forums here for a while, so I thought it was about time I join and give my first thoughts.

 

The missions seem to help two different groups of people: the homeless and those struggling with addiction. Those who are exclusively homeless (without addictions) do not seem to be the problem, so we should primarily focus our efforts on how to handle those who have an addiction. Since we know that addiction is a mental illness/mental health issue, I'd like to contrast the South Division area to another place that deals with mental health: Pine Rest. While I wouldn't consider Pine Rest's location in suburban Cutlerville vibrant, the area does seem to have more appeal than South Division in terms of cleanliness and area residents' willingness to live around the facility. I think that this is primarily because Pine Rest is a private institute in which those who seek treatment pay to go there. Thus, Pine Rest attracts addicts from middle- and upper-class backgrounds, and the missions in South Division tend to get "the rest" (for lack of a better term). Since many people who struggle with an addiction cannot afford private treatment, these missions do indeed serve a useful purpose. However, as many have said, the concentration of the missions and/or the presentation of the area is inhibiting further development. Pine Rest's model, whatever that may be, cannot be applied to the missions in Heartside because of the income gap, so other solutions need to be examined.

 

Simply moving the missions further down Division will not, in my opinion, be a long time solution. If we truly do want Division Ave. to become a true corridor of commerce again, the missions in their current state will not be able to last for any significant amount of time on Division. We do not want to have this discussion again when development sweeps even further down Division. Yet, we cannot simply place the missions in an undesirable area and have a repeat of the same story. Here is my, as of now, fairly undeveloped proposal:

 

GVSU should expand its School of Social Work into an all-encompassing School of Social Work and Mental Health. As part of that expansion, the university could build new facilities (wherever that may be) in conjunction with other organizations that will house the new school, provide room for at least some of the missions from Heartside, and offer space for other social work and mental health related organizations (such as The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan). While this would still provide for a concentration of many services, the new facilities would be mixed-use in order to diversify the area. GVSU and the missions could take advantage of combined/nearly combined facilities to enhance each other. As part of degree programs offered by GVSU, students could intern with the various missions and organizations in order to learn important real-life application techniques. With that, the missions would receive additional help in caring for those in need which could soften the external negative impact often associated with the localities of the missions.

 

I understand that there are many wholes to fill with this idea, but that was just my initial thought. Perhaps it is not even a good idea, but it does not hurt to at least brainstorm!  Please let me know your thoughts!

 

I think that's a very interesting idea, personally. Where does GVSU have their social work programs now? I assume in Allendale? Could there be room downtown for something like that?

Degage has hired a private security company to patrol it's corner, Dwelling Place is patrolling S. Division from Weston to Cherry.

 

As far as Guiding Light Mission, if there is loitering out front, they are not our clients, they are coming from elsewhere or waiting for the bus. It would always be our practice to be gentlemen and escort females out of courtesy not security. There has not be any issue of security at Guiding Light Mission by a client in over three years, something I will not tolerate. Just because you are homeless or in tough times does not excuse not being a gentleman.

 

Thanks for the clarification. It was actually unnerving to them rather than reassuring. Just some feedback for you.

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I think that's a very interesting idea, personally. Where does GVSU have their social work programs now? I assume in Allendale? Could there be room downtown for something like that?

 

Thanks for the clarification. It was actually unnerving to them rather than reassuring. Just some feedback for you.

As an FYI, all of Pine Rest Out Patient Mental  Health will be moving into Commerce in the new facility under construction.

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So what exactly are the policies of these shelters when it comes to whom they allow to use their facilities? Do they actually have just a blanket show up policy? Because this is my biggest issue with them is that they are huge magnets for "homeless immigrants". People that arent from GR, never had a home in the area, and have come here from all over the nation because they know of all the freebies available with no questions asked. I know for a fact that some of these people are from as far away as the west and east coasts, and took the bus here for the express purpose of getting off and walking right up to Division where they are just here to be yet another homeless person wandering the streets of GR, subsidized by the various entities in the area.

 

And with respect to Guiding Light Mission, I highly doubt you guys are escorting females around your facility out of good old "gentlemen courtesy". I mean, seriously? You guys know as well as anyone else that simply is not the case.

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I think that's a very interesting idea, personally. Where does GVSU have their social work programs now? I assume in Allendale? Could there be room downtown for something like that?

 

 

According to this document, the school is located downtown, and there is an enrollment of 500 in just the MSW (Masters of Social Work) program.

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