GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There’s an initiative in Grand Rapids that is all about West Side pride. T-shirts are for sale across the area in an effort to give back to the community.

“I love living here,” said Juan Garcia, the program manager for Ambrose at the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology. “If you work, worship, live or play on the West Side, you are a West Sider.”

Garcia says giving back to his own neighborhood is an initiative he takes very seriously.

“It’s just such a beautiful community, an enduring hard-working community,” said Garcia.

WMCAT relaunched the original shirt design from Bridge Street Ministries that says “I Am West Side” in three different languages for people to be able to show their pride. For every shirt sold, 15% of the money goes towards youth school programming.

“We as West Siders are able to take greater ownership of our neighborhood by making opportunity more readily accessible to the youth that reside within our community,” said Garcia.

Garcia says the shirts also showcase culture and share the message in English, Spanish and Anishinaabemowin, reflecting the people who are Indigenous to the area.

“The three languages that we have available are reflective of our diverse community we have on the West Side,” said Garcia.

He says he hopes more people join this movement and show love and passion for where they come from.

“It’s just a really beautiful thing to be able to take this passion that we have of our community and turn it back into actionable energy, to take ownership and serve our community and our neighbors and people who live here and share our streets and our stores and our restaurants with us. It’s a beautiful thing,” said Garcia.

Ambrose at WMCAT has recently acquired the apparel brand ‘I Am West Side’ from the former Westside Collaborative via the founders of the brand, Bridge Street Ministries.

The shirts are available to purchase at the following locations:

  • Bridge Street Market located at 405 Seward Avenue NW
  • Posh Petals, located at 806 Bridge Street NW
  • West Grand Neighborhood Organization, located at 754 Leonard Street NW
  • El Granjero Mexican Cuisine, located at 950 Bridge Street NW
  • Ambrose at WMCAT