WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — GEMS Girls Club is celebrating the opening of its new headquarters in Wyoming.
GEMS staff moved into the new headquarters, located at 1847 RW Berends Drive SW near 44th Street, in April. They’ll be celebrating the move with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday at 5 p.m. Girls and their families who are interested in joining can RSVP here.
The global organization was founded in Grand Rapids in 1958 by Barbara Vredevoogd as a Christian Reformed Church-affiliated ministry called the ‘Calvinettes,’ according to the CRC’s website. It was renamed GEMS in 1995.
“GEMS stands for ‘Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior,'” GEMS Executive Director Cindy Bultema said. “For 65 years, GEMS has been impacting the lives of girls all around the world. So we serve girls from California to Canada to Zimbabwe and everywhere in between.”
Bultema said the organization needed to move. It had outgrown its old space and needed more parking. The new headquarters is 5,800 square feet, around double the space of the old headquarters, and has room for the organization to grow.
Along with offices space, the headquarters has a recording studio, a mailroom for shipping supplies worldwide and the HUB, or ‘Here U Belong.’
“We can have girls on site in addition to girls that are meeting all across West Michigan and beyond, as well as have training and gatherings for our leaders and grown-ups too,” Bultema said.
She said they expect to host workshops and events for girls in the community.
“We’re passionate about reaching every single girl, so we have a new ‘HUBS happening schedule’ where girls, even if they’re not a part of GEMS at this time, we’d love to invite them to learn,” she said. “There’ll be faith-based activities, there’ll be crafts, there’ll be fun nights, all sorts of ways to reach out and connect with today’s girls. Because we know girls they belong to belong and be loved.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on International Day of the Girl.
“At GEMS we love to celebrate girls every single day, but once a year on October 11th, we join the United Nations and organizations all around the world to celebrate today’s girls,” Bultema said. “So it’s a great day just to celebrate the strengths that girls bring to our world as well as acknowledge and talk about the unique challenges that our girls face.”
She added it’s not easy to be a girl, as they face challenges like anxiety, bullying and depression.
“We like to take a day to bring awareness to the challenges so that we can link arms and come up with solutions, because our girls need us and our world needs our girls to grow up strong, secure and confident,” she said.
Bultema said the group is excited to celebrate the next chapter of GEMS and thank leaders “who for 65 years have poured into this ministry with their time and their talent and their treasure to get us to this place.”
“We’re super excited to celebrate,” she said. “So there’ll be a lot of fun, and confetti, too.”