To say that life has changed since the Coronavirus would be a massive understatement! In other words, Grand Rapids residents have had to adjust to a life that we never imagined.
We are locked down and sheltered at home. Schools are online through the end of the year. Restaurants, small businesses, churches are all closed. Life as we know it will never be the same. We no doubt will certainly feel the aftershock for months (probably years) to come.
However, times like these also bring out the best in people. For instance, over the past few weeks, we’ve witnessed businesses and charities alike mobilize in ways you’ve never imagined to protect the community. The love for our neighbors is shining brightly in our fair city and here are some of the inspiring stories.
The Susan Mast ALS Foundation
Founded over 4 years ago with the intent to provide respite care to families living with ALS, it has grown into serving over 100 families with not only respite, but support with speech, psychological needs, family meal delivery and equipment.
The foundation has quickly mobilized to serve their families at home by moving all support groups online using Zoom meetings and phone calls, as well as continuing to deliver meals and equipment from a safe social distance.
Fundraising has gotten interesting, too.
Two weeks ago, SMAF launched the #Guzzle4Good campaign on Facebook. This is a way for people to challenge each other to help raise awareness and funds for their favorite non-profits.
The challenge is this: Guzzle your favorite drink within 15 seconds, and challenge your friends to do the same thing. They can either continue the challenge online, or donate a buck or two to the cause. The Susan Mast Foundation has raised over $1500 in this effort!
They’ve been featured on The Morning Show with Shelley Irwin,
as well as on Channel 9/10 in Traverse City.
Local Restaurants like Amore Trattoria have joined in on the fun, too. Maybe you should try it! There’s not much else to do, right?
Hand2Hand started in one school and 19 students. When Cheri Hondred learned that kids were going home on weekends with little to no food to sustain them, she went to work.
You’ve likely heard of Kids Food Basket who provides food for kids during the week. Many people don’t realize that, if kids are facing food insecurity during the week, they risk going hungry over the weekend too!
Hand2Hand does that by mobilizing schools, churches, businesses and individuals to provide a backpack of nutritious food over the weekend.
One initiative that has come out of our current crisis is the Win-Win program. After a clearly answered prayer of Cheri Hondred, Hand2Hand has partnered with local restaurants in 8 school districts. Restaurants offer a menu that feeds a family of 4, is reasonably priced, and still would produce a profit for the restaurant.
Not only is this keeping them in business, but they are able to help families.
They have been funded with matching grants up to $30k and they are accepting donations. This helps keep restaurants in business so they are also not wondering where their next meal is coming from too!
Hand2Hand is also close to our hearts at Grand Rapids Girl, as they are our charity partner with the Amway River Bank Run. If you haven’t heard, GRG’s own Anne DiVitto is a 2020 road warrior!
Uccello’s has a staggering 600 team members! With the mandate to close all of their location dining rooms, this has left a big hole. Let’s be honest, all restaurants are struggling, and continuing to order take-out is a great way to support them.
Uccello’s is doing many different things to step up during this time.
15% of all purchases, March 30-April 5 will go toward their team relief fund to help support their staff during this time.
A GoFundMe page is up for the public to “tip” their workers when they carry out!
On March 27th, they offered free meals for all First Responders, and have continued to host different events for free meals! Follow their Facebook page to see all of the activity.
Third Reformed Church
Is anyone else wondering how Holy Week is going to go this year? To all of you faithful church-goers, Easter is not going to feel the same without the ability to meet with our church communities.
You can find online worship happening on Ada Bible Church’s website, as well as Calvary Church. Third Church responds to this by posting weekly Wednesday reflections, as well as a Sunday message to their Facebook page.
They also have kicked off the virtual #ThirdPalms initiative. This would help, in the midst of social distancing, to be connected as we enter into the Holiest of Weeks. We may be physically isolated, but not separated. His people are united as members of the body of Christ. We are the Church.
Grab a few, hang them on your front door to prepare the way for the King, and email a picture or post it on social media using #ThirdPalms.
If you can’t get out and are unable to pick up palms, you can use any green branch or you can even draw a picture of a palm to use!
Christians in our community can connect with palms as we enter Holy Week!
Bible Study Fellowship
Are you feeling the need to connect on a deeper level as we are going through this unprecedented time of isolation and confusion?
Many BSF groups around the world continue to meet in online formats during the COVID-19 pandemic. The gospel is unstoppable, and no amount of social or physical distancing can stop its advancement.
You can find a group in your local area by visiting their website. Locally, several groups meet using Zoom technology and materials housed online.
Email us if you want to learn more about BSF as both of us are longtime members of this amazing Bible study organization.
Experience Grand Rapids
Residents and visitors alike don’t get too far on the web without finding a link to this great website. Experience Grand Rapids is the official Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for the area whose efforts produce millions in direct and indirect revenues and taxes that uplift the local economy.
Experience GR quickly mobilized to help the Grand Rapids local business community by creating specific pages to support local restaurants and shops that allow them to detail what they are offering during the mandatory shut-down.
Be sure to visit as many places as you are able to keep our economy going!
You can visit our Instagram page to see #reposts of area businesses as well. We are doing our best to feature everyone we can!
We will get through this together.
Whatever you do to support GR during this time is more than enough. Even sharing and engaging on social media helps our neighbors. There is no doubt after this that Grand Rapids comes out better than ever when all is said and done.
Most of all we are praying for and thinking about all families that have been affected by the virus itself! We hope for swift healing and recovery and for this pandemic to flatten for good!