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GR youth finding a home in this collaborative center for change

The Bethel Christian Services partner deals with employing, housing, and even furnishing some housing for Grand Rapids youth.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — One of five community partnerships located in one building, Bethany Christian Services is known nationally for its foster youth and immigration programming. Here in GR some of those same services are extended to a range of youth in need.

“We mainly get youth ageing out of foster care with nowhere to go, but its really just homeless youth. We set you up with a job, a place, and all the necessities in between. We are here to fill the need, but again its preparing them to start living life on their own,” said Bethany’s Youth program director, Patrick Johnson.

The programming involves case managing work, mentoring relationships and numerous community resources provided to youth that come to the center for community engagement for a multitude of needs.

Monique Carter, programming staff, found her way to the center after years of serving foster youth.

“We brought our youth here for programming a few times and it got me wondering what goes on here,” Carter said. “And I loved everything about it, So when it came time for me to transition out of that role, I found a home here.”

When it comes to housing youth, each person gets paired with a case manager whose job is to understand all of their needs through developing a personal relationship. They walk through the employment process, the leasing process, and any other process that the young adults need.

“The beauty thing about problems is the fact that you don’t know you have one until its presented to you. We found that now we have the location where people can live, we solved the rent issue and got it at an affordable rate, but now there’s a space with no furniture in it,” Johnson said.

Furniture is donated by both community members and corporate partners. As a need is requested like a bed or a coach, the staff looks around the city through multiple networks to fill it. Extra’s are stored in a central location.

Youth Build is an outside organization, that uses the space provided in the center for transformation for community gatherings. Their partnership with Bethany helps kids that need employment get their construction certification. They can also get their GED’s and go other avenues to get employed.

Youth Build is a national organization with over 200 locations nationwide and Grand Rapids school works with Bethany Christian Services Youth through an Inner City Christian Federation partnership to help some students work on the buildings they will eventually get to stay in.

“Some youth go into ICCF property that’s being rehabilitated and get a construction certificate for putting in dry wall and get the houses ready for low income living long term. So we’ve seen some youth move into the buildings they’ve actually worked on and that is ultimately our goal,” said the center for community transformations program director, Tiffany Clarke.

Youth build also has a pipeline job placing program with Building Bridges, another organization at the center for community transformation.

RELATED: Two Grand Rapids non-profits merge to help youth facing homelessness

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The Inner City Christian Federation partnership is not time limited so young people can stay in their subsidized housing as long as they need to. The goal is that as their paychecks rise, their rent will until the young adults all have jobs that help them afford their rent at full price.

The center is having a large virtual event October 15th with all of their community partners and information about all they do.

If you want to donate furniture or get involved in mentorship, job training, or partner contact the center here.

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