GR task force hosts pitch night to invite ideas on how to curb violence

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A competition with a cause was held by the city of Grand Rapids’ Safe Alliances for Everyone Task Force on Wednesday night. 

The task force’s pitch and highlight night invited local nonprofit organizations to present ideas on how to curb violence in the city.

More than a dozen organizations presented their ideas, including The Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids.

“We have three clubs in Grand Rapids, two on the Southeast side and one on the West Side,” said Taylor Crison, the director of operations for the club. 

The club can be a haven for the children it serves. 

“On the West Side there were 40 (criminal) acts committed in October within a half mile of the Boys and Girls Club and most of our kids are neighborhood kids,” Crison said. “That’s directly affecting them and over 70 kids on Southeast side and (it’s important) to have a safe place for them to be after school or while they’re kids are working.”

Another organization, Pastors, Picnics and Police — which formed this year — presented at a pitch night event for the first time Wednesday. 

“Pastors are the first responders in our community,” said Javon Sanders, a Grand Rapids Police Department officer who helped form the group. “Being a law enforcement first responder, I just recognized the need to bridge that gap.”

The group hoped to earn one of the $10,000 awards given at the event. They had plans of using the money to jumpstart a gala called A Cinderella Moment, which Pastor Gregory Amunga says would give girls in difficult situations, like foster care or a juvenile center, a chance to connect with law enforcement and see a different side of life. 

“Let them know their value and worth,” Amunga said. “Give them an opportunity to see Grand Rapids in its finest moments but at same time let them build relationships with our law enforcement. They might be feeling lost, like they’re by themselves. We want to give them one moment that we can build off. This moment is not just a one-time event.”

Event organizers says past presenters have used the event to strengthen their initiatives. 

“Going through this experience with the city of Grand Rapids has equipped them with knowledge to successfully pitch their ideas and get more funding from foundations and other organizations,” said Grand Rapids City Commissioner Senita Lenear. “That’s exactly what we want.”

Five organizations won $10,000 awards at the event. 

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