Giving Tuesday: Local nonprofits in need

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Tuesday is Giving Tuesday, a day where people are encouraged to do good deeds with their time, talent or cash.

Your donations can go beyond money — two West Michigan nonprofit groups hope you’ll help them in their efforts to help others especially during the pandemic when budgets are pressed thin. 

In times of financial hardships people are of course much less likely to give generously. The Grand Rapids Police Foundation and Bethany Christian Services are two nonprofits in need of a little boost this year. 

Without in-person events, for both fundraising and outreach, their landscape has changed. Representatives from both groups say the work they do is largely made possible by you.

“We’re getting through, we’re muddling through like everyone else, you know, trying to adapt,” Sgt. Dan Adams, administrative officer with the Grand Rapids Police Foundation said. “The struggles for 2020 has been obviously, primarily COVID with the inability to be able to gather in groups we had to cancel our youth academy, our citizen academy, our on base baseball league this summer.”

The Grand Rapids Police Foundation works hard to encourage community outreach with its officers, especially with kids through programs now put on pause due to the pandemic. It’s a large part of the department’s strategic plan to help curb violence and improve positive interactions with the community.

“We heard the community. We understand they want more of an engagement of the positive nonenforcement variety and we completely understand that,” Adams said. “I would say that the vast majority, probably all of our personnel kind of scratch their heads a little bit at the idea that kids are afraid of cops because we go to a school and it’s like the ‘pied piper.’ I mean the kids come and you know they want to ask questions and ask if we have stickers and that’s what really at the end of the day puts a lot of smile on our officers faces to have those contacts. So, that’s what the foundation is really designed to promote those.”

But during the pandemic and with tightening budgets, this program could be threatened as it depends on the generosity of donors — not taxpayer dollars. 

“Because we know when there are times of financial difficulty these are the programs that are likely to get cut,” Adams said. “The foundation is able to sustain those community outreach efforts without putting the financial burden on the department through the donations we receive.”

The burdens don’t end here. The pandemic has also put a financial and physical strain on Bethany Christian Services. 

“We are helping youth who maybe have a very tough time and maybe need additional supports right there in-person and so we have a large presence right here in Grand Rapids,” Regional Operations Vice President Rachel Willis said. “Kids who languish in the foster care system wait for longer periods of time. Then if they are not able to receive permanency, they are more likely to face difficult issues in life.  Homelessness, joblessness, higher unemployment rate for kids who don’t receive permanency.”

Willis says on Giving Tuesday there are many ways you can help them make a difference in the life of a child — not only limited to financial donations.

“If you’re thinking about ways to give, you can give both financially — that’s very important, right? That allows us to provide tangible needs and supports but you can also think about becoming a foster parent or resource for adoption,” Willis said. “So, what we need are families that are either willing to step into that gap physically and be able to support the children or the finances in order to support the resources for those kids.”

Kids and community — both in desperate need of a gift that could help them for the rest of their lives.

“Hopefully when we can move past COVID and these restrictions a bit more we can get things back on track and be out spending time with the community and the kids and get back to doing what we do best,” Adams said.

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