Making a Difference Together
There are many benefits to volunteering as a family; not only can you spend quality time together, you as a parent are also demonstrating the power of compassion to your children and leading by example. In addition to strengthening family bonds, volunteerism also strengthens communities. The act of volunteering makes us more aware of the issues faced by our community, allowing us to develop a greater sense of belonging.
The following is a list of ways you and your family can support a more equitable Grand Rapids through volunteerism and good citizenship:
- Volunteer as a family (remotely or in person). As mentioned above, volunteering is a great way for GRPS families to gain pride as a community and demonstrate good citizenship. Volunteers can either give their time remotely or in person (while following safety guidelines). Here are a few opportunities focused to serve our communities most impacted by COVID-19:
- Visit the Heart of West Michigan United Way’s website to view their list of volunteer opportunities in the Grand Rapids area.
- Other great organizations for families to volunteer with include Feeding America West Michigan, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, Women at Risk, ACT (Artists Creating Together), and Kids Food Basket; check out the complete list on the GR Kids website.
- Even though the district has imposed certain regulations, there are still ways for GRPS parents and caregivers to give their time to their child’s school! Get in touch with the FACE office for ideas and inspiration. (616) 819-1977 or email@example.com.
- Buy locally from POC-owned businesses and restaurants. Many businesses and restaurants owned by people of color (POC) have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- To find a list of Black-owned restaurants in Grand Rapids you can support, follow this link (many of these restaurants have pick-up or delivery options; contact the business directly for more information). The Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB) website is also a great online resource.
- The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce website contains a list of their member restaurants and other businesses that are worth checking out.
- The West Michigan Asian American Association’s Business Directory lists businesses and restaurants around the region that you and your family can support.
- Support local Native American-owned businesses! Follow this link to shop Native American-owned artisan products, view art by Jason Quigo, local Native American artist, or have your dinner party/wedding catered by Jiibaakwaan Foods!
- Donate. Heart of West Michigan United Way maintains an updated list on their website of their donation needs. If your family is interested in sewing face masks, giving essential supplies, or offering other types of donations, follow this link to Heart of West Michigan United Way’s website to see what is currently needed.
- Wear a mask in public spaces. Viruses don’t discriminate. However, communities of color are among the hardest hit by the impacts of COVID-19. Ensuring that you and your children are wearing masks in public, washing your hands frequently, and practicing safe social distancing protocols shows that you are doing your part to stop the spread of the virus.
Get Involved: Local Organizations
This list was compiled by the Grand Rapids Public Library as part of their anti-racism resource list.
A faith-based anti-racism organization that provides a blog, training tools and partnerships to help people and organizations respond to the racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world so that people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society, but grounded in truth and all are equipped to flourish.
GARE Grand Rapids – Government Alliance on Race & Equity
- 300 Monroe Ave NW Suite 840, Grand Rapids MI 49503
The city of Grand Rapids provides racial equity tools through GARE to proactively work to advance racial equity, focusing on eliminating inequities and increasing success for all. The Office of Equity and Engagement promotes Community, Workforce and Supplier Diversity for employees and residents, and makes sure the City complies with civil rights laws.
- 250 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
- (616) 771-0300
The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce provides an opportunity to start a dialogue bringing racism to the forefront of discussions and examining it as both a personal and societal problem.
- 745 Eastern Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
It is the vision of the Urban League to be The Leader – and preeminent agency in West Michigan – effectively utilizing diverse and abundant resources to redress racial injustice and promote racial equality. Their mission is defined as working to provide the means to empower African Americans and other minorities to achieve economic self-reliance, parity and civil rights.
Kent County Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
- 300 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids MI 49503
The Kent County DEI and Cultural Insight Council provide Community Resources for a culturally diverse population. Their mission is to advance a culture that demonstrates diversity, equity and inclusion in leadership, organizational culture, and accountability in Kent County.
Michigan League for Public Policy: Racial Equity
Racial equity and inclusion are part of the MLPP core. All work is done through a racial equity lens, recognizing that until we remove the racist barriers that have been built over time, the people of Michigan cannot thrive. MLPP provides tools for exploring and adapting policy in personal and organizational settings.
- 1530 Madison Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507
The Greater Grand Rapids NAACP is dedicated to eradicating racial discrimination and building a stronger society in which all individuals have equal rights.