Guiding Light Mission Opens Third ‘Community of Recovery’

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

glm1Guiding Light recently dedicated its new transitional housing facility at 530 Andover St. SE in Kentwood, which is part of its Iron House program.Guiding Light Mission intensified its quest to help homeless and addicted men regain their footing in the community with the recent opening of its third transitional housing facility.

Guiding Light executive director Stuart Ray, the rescue mission’s board of director members and the Rev. Nancy Claus, chaplain for Porter Hills retirement home, took part in a house blessing ceremony of the building on June 16.

Its name is Iron House

The four-unit apartment complex at 530 Andover St. SE in Kentwood is the third building the rescue mission purchased since starting the transitional living program in 2013 Guiding Light calls Iron House, so named after Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” The other two properties, 520 Andover and 540 Andover, flank the two-story 530 Andover facility.

Guiding Light purchased the third building for $199,000, according to Ray.

The opening of the transitional housing facility comes on the heals of an employment agency initiative Guiding Light launched earlier this year called The Job Post that is intended not only for the men involved in the rescue mission’s programs but also the community at large.

glm2Guiding Light executive director Stuart Ray said the transitional housing complex is key to men’s total recovery.Among the ministry services Guiding Light provides at its downtown Grand Rapids location are temporary shelter, substance abuse counseling, employment assistance and biblically based mentorship programs.

Meanwhile at the transitional housing facility in Kentwood, men will pay $400 per month in rent and will be allowed to stay for an average of six months to a year, said Guiding Light’s program recovery director Brian Elve. They will be responsible for paying utility bills and general upkeep of the property. Alcohol and illegal drugs are forbidden.

Weekly house meetings will be held as well as random drug test administered. Each resident is expected to maintain a job, have a mentor or sponsor and attend church to be eligible to live at Iron House.

The Kentwood location is key to helping men in their recovery, Ray said because Guiding Light’s downtown Grand Rapids location at 255 S. Division Avenue is in an area of the city rife with temptations.

Opportunity to start again

Homeless men often lose more than a place to live, Ray said. Too often they’ve lost their spouse, job and the dignity a productive life. Guiding Light takes intentional steps to make it possible for men to regain a renewed life through Jesus Christ and through new, constructive priorities.

glm3The four-unit apartment complex was completely renovated, including the kitchen shown here. Much of the furnishings came from Guiding Light’s Upscale Thrift Store in Kentwood.“We’re starting to see families reunited,” Elve said. “We saw this one man reunited with his five, three and seven year old girls. He had not seen them for three or four years. This is an opportunity for men to start again.”

The transitional living program in Kentwood gives residents additional time to recover with structure, allows men to practice “real life” again and helps them overcome credit and financial challenges that prevent them from renting.

Accomplished with dignity, respect

“We’ve done this with dignity and respect,” Ray said. “The transitional living arrangement is providing them with another year to take the chaos out of the men. Kicking them out of the door after four to six with months (in the downtown location) doesn’t work because it takes a man’s brain a year to normalize itself. This is really a community of recovery.”

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Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
About:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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