Grand Rapids-based United Methodist Community Church (UMCH) will utilize the funds for a future public-private early childhood education and senior center
Grand Rapids, Michigan – October 2020 – On October 1st, Senator Winnie Brinks announced $1 million was allocated in the state budget to the United Methodist Community House (UMCH).
The funding will be used for a public-private partnership for the construction of an Early Childhood Education and Senior Activity Center in Grand Rapids that will provide childcare for 200 infants/toddlers and daily activities for more than 500 seniors. Although the pandemic delayed the 2020 state appropriation, Sen. Winnie Brinks and other members of the legislature worked hard to ensure these funds were included in the 2021 budget. The budget passed with bipartisan support and was recently signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
“The United Methodist Community House is a staple of our community that brings together generations of Grand Rapidians and helps foster respect, understanding, and cultural awareness,” said Senator Winnie Brinks. “I am proud to have fought for, and won, the inclusion of funding for them in the state’s budget so they can continue that mission. I am eager to see the wonderful initiatives that will grow from it.”
UMCH is in the midst of a transformation that will allow the organization to be more impactful, reach more neighbors, and invest in long-term sustainability. The funding will propel those plans forward.
“This allocation will help us provide life-changing programs for even more of our neighbors in the Grand Rapids area,” said Eric Williams, chief executive director for UMCH. “We are committed to providing excellent, industry-leading programs for older adults, children, and families. UMCH is transforming to meet the challenges and opportunities of a new decade, and this state funding will enable us to move towards our goal even more aggressively.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 shutdown, UMCH has been working with Meals on Wheels to deliver two meals a day, six days a week to its clients. UMCH has also worked with local universities to encourage nursing students to connect with the senior population by performing regular check-ins. In late summer, the Community House continued this work by offering a Walking Club for seniors. It also continued to provide transportation to critical appointments, offer food baskets, and deliver essential needs to seniors throughout the entire pandemic.
“UMCH serves two of our city’s most vulnerable populations; children and older adults. When the governor’s office initiated the stay at home order in mid-March, UMCH staff immediately adapted in order to continue providing essential services,” said Carla Moore, Chief Operating Officer. “We took immediate action to develop new protocols and service delivery methods to keep our facility, staff, and all of our clients safe and healthy. We re-opened the Child Development Center in late June at 30% capacity and recently increased enrollment to 50%. We have been able to provide services in a safe environment for our children without any incidents of infection.”
UMCH has been around for nearly 120 years and is a cornerstone of the African American community. The organization established the first Grand Rapids nursery and was an early adopter of serving senior congregate meals in the city. It has also been a well-known provider of youth programming. This current transformation that the organization is undergoing will enable it to respond to the emerging and ever-evolving needs of the Grand Rapids community.
UMCH has set an aggressive goal for the next five years to be a financially self-sustaining nonprofit organization generating enough internal revenue to cover routine operational expenses. The $1 million state appropriation will help position UMCH to implement this vision and significantly increase the number of community members it serves.
About United Methodist Community House
The United Methodist Community House (UMCH)’s mission is to increase the ability of children, youth, adults, and families to succeed in a diverse community. Since 1902, UMCH has met the needs of and offered opportunities to community members to help them increase their opportunities to succeed. Located in the heart of Grand Rapids, UMCH is committed to serving a diverse population and is continually adapting its programming to best serve those who need it most—the community.
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