Grand Rapids

Gemini Handmade

Gemini Handmade on Cherry Street in Grand Rapids has been an evolving undertaking for Elyse Welcher and Jake Vroon. Back in 2013, Welcher was setting into motion her vision of a combination studio workshop and gallery that would double as a place for local artists to sell their wares. Vroon, her husband now and owner of Harbinger Designs, showed up with an offer to help.

Building Community: Local First

The budding group of members experienced exponential growth, so, in 2007, four years after its inception, Local First hired Elissa Sengalli Hillary as director and acquired nonprofit status in order to begin fundraising. In just two years, Local First membership grew from 150 to over 500 locally owned businesses and was able to hire additional staff to assist Hillary in brainstorming new undertakings the organization could sustain.

Building Community: The Storehouse

Various nonprofit organizations and churches can now pay a small fee and receive access to household goods, personal hygiene products, and teaching supplies for free. The Storehouse distributes the goods, and World Vision replenishes the supplies as needed.

Building Community: Grand Rapids Creative Youth Center

Inspired by 826 National, a creative writing program started by internationally acclaimed author Dave Eggers, the Grand Rapids Creative Youth Center (CYC) is the only organization in West Michigan that provides students with enriched writing instruction.