GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Rich DeVos gave to more institutions and charities than most people realize, but one of them was close to his heart, his family and his home.
He graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School in 1944 and had a dream that one day, all of the students and teachers would be able to gather in the same place together for worship, praise, and entertainment.
It was DeVos’ wife, Helen, who insisted as newlyweds that they set aside 10 percent of their income for causes near to their hearts. They donated to his alma mater 20 years ago to build the Center for Arts and Worship that now bears that couple’s name.
Prior to the construction of the center, GRCHS students had to go to two separate chapels to worship and were not able to do it together as one school community. In the first all-school chapel since Rich DeVos’ death, Tom DeJonge, the superintendent of Grand Rapids Christian Schools, said he was confident DeVos would be proud of the faithfulness that was on display.
“He took great pride in Grand Rapids Christian High School, he loved this building, he loved this school, it represented all the relationships and values of a Christian school education,” DeJonge said. “For him to see our student body singing and praising God together today would have been very meaningful for him.”
Music fills the hall every week, and so do words of encouragement for the students. Besides the artists who join them for chapel, all the district’s musical and other performing arts events happen in the center.
It’s also open to the public for events, which was another part of DeVos’ vision. DeJonge said what it means to give back was as important to DeVos as anything that existed, and he wanted to exemplify that in his life.
“My hope for our students when they think back on the life and legacy of Rich DeVos is that they realize that they, too, can make a significant impact,” DeJonge said. “They, too, are called by God to give back… whether giving is big or giving is small, giving is important.”
This year’s mantra for students is to “leave your mark” — a fitting message for the year that West Michigan said goodbye to a man who did that and so much more — here, and around the world.
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