For the fourth year in a row, Volunteers In Service (VIS) connected with Grand Rapids Christian High School during their 2016 Winterim term - a two week learning experience that gives students the opportunity to choose a course that interests them. This year, VIS arranged projects for students at eleven different locations, including sites like Adams Park, Mt. Mercy, and Leonard Terrace Apartments which are subsidized housing complexes for seniors and disabled individuals.
For the duration of Winterim, these groups of students have had the opportunity to put on a pancake breakfast, play bingo with apartment residents, assist with cleaning projects and spend time getting to know individuals with various backgrounds.
I met up with the group on an afternoon when they are at Adams Park dishing out ice cream and mingling with residents. It’s a cold and dreary day—typical to January in West Michigan—but the atmosphere inside the social room is cheerful and loud. I find students and residents playing games and interacting over lively conversations.
I take a seat next to a sophomore named Brenna and ask if she’d be willing to talk about her volunteer experience. She agrees but adds a disclaimer that she needs to pay attention so she doesn’t miss her turn in the competitive game of cards in which she’s involved.
Right off the bat I ask Brenna why she chose this particular class. “I actually did this class last year, too. I wanted to go to parts of Grand Rapids I usually don’t see. I wanted to get outside my bubble, meet new people and hear their stories.” She continues, “I could have chosen a crafting class but I wanted to step outside myself.”
Brenna goes on to tell me stories of new friendships and how the residents are impacting her just as much—if not more—than she is impacting them.
I hear similar sentiments from a freshman named Tony. “It seemed like a meaningful way to get involved,” explained Tony when asked why he chose this particular Winterim class. “It feels good to meet new people and try to help.”
Brenna and Tony weren’t the only students who wanted to spend a meaningful couple of weeks and stretch themselves in the process as over 200 students chose classes that paired with VIS to get involved in the community.
Specifically, the ice cream social at Adams Park was clearly a hit as less than halfway through the students ran out of the frozen dessert. Residents were calling for more as a school staff assistant was overheard exclaiming, “Man, these people can eat ice cream!” while running out the door towards Walgreen’s to reload.
To see more pictures of this Winterim experience, go to Photos & Videos above, or click Here.
- Many thanks to Drew De Vries for writing this article, and to Staci Kool De Vries for taking such amazing pictures! Staci and Drew are awaiting the arrival of their first child in the next week or two, so we pray for them as their family grows!
We are excited to announce the recent hire of Rosemary Tymes as one of our Casework Connections Associates! Rosemary has been a Social Worker with the Big Brother/Big Sister Program at DA Bldogett/St. John's for the past 18 years and comes to VIS with a passion for reaching out and making a difference.
Rosemary is a native of Grand Rapids, graduating from GR Christian High School and then earning an undergraduate degree from MSU. She received her Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from Grand Valley State University. Rosemary's husband is retired from GM so working part-time now at VIS fits in well with their schedule. They have two daughters who live in the Grand Rapids area, and have one beautiful 18 month old granddaughter! Rosemary enjoys reading, walking and spending time with her family. She and her husband are members of Heritage CRC in Byron Center, and she is excited to be a part of VIS!
Her contact information:
Rosemary Tymes, Casework Connections Associate
(616) 459-7500 Ext. 14
It's a girl!
We are excited to announce that our Casework Connections Associate, Zjanee Anderson, and her husband, Ken, had their baby this past January 5! They had a daughter and named her Zjanee Sophia. All are doing great, and they look forward to going home soon! We thank God for His faithfulness to this new family, and it is our prayer that God will bless them!
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)