GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Two organizations dedicated to helping the homeless in West Michigan are becoming one. Heartside Ministry and Mel Trotter Ministries announced today the two have merged operations. It became official Jan. 1, 2020.

In a statement released early Tuesday afternoon, the organizations said the move will reduce operating costs and eliminate duplication of services. The two agencies have been working together in an informal partnership for the last two years. 

“We’re attempting to show radical hospitality to the same people Mel Trotter serves and we’re pursuing the same donors and volunteers, so it makes sense for us to collaborate in a formal manner,” said Heartside Ministry executive director Gregory Randall.

The two organizations started working together in 2017 and shared functions like human resources, facilities management, and information technology. Both boards approved a formal merger at their Dec. 2019 meetings.

Dennis Van Kampen Gregory Randall
Dennis Van Kampen from Mel Trotter (left) and Gregory Randall from Heartside Ministry (Right)

“Both organizations have always shared the belief that demonstrating the compassion of Jesus toward anyone experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty is what we’re called to do, so we want to be the best stewards of the assets we have to fulfill that mission,” said Mel Trotter Ministries chief executive officer Dennis Van Kampen. “The neighbors and guests of our respective agencies will benefit from this move.”

Randall and Van Kampen say it will take most of this year to combine all services. They estimate it will take most of 2020 to sort out the best approach to combining all of the services offered by Heartside and Mel Trotter. For now, Heartside Ministry will keep its name and current location at 54 S Division Ave. Eventually, executives say they anticipate everything will move to Mel Trotter’s headquarters at 225 Commerce Ave. SW to reduce costs. 

“We want to ensure continuity of services for our neighbors and guests, so we will not be making any immediate, bold changes with regard to the kinds of services we provide or how we provide them,” said Randall, who intends to continue in his role as executive director of Heartside Ministry’s services. “We know that this news might be confusing and perhaps overwhelming to those we serve, so we want to take a measured approach and provide the best care we can for our neighbors.”



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