Sometimes it’s the most basic things that bring people together to make a difference.
From 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. each weekday, we provide a space for our neighbors to relieve themselves. Many do not have access to any other restrooms for long portions of the day. There are few public restrooms in the Heartside neighborhood, so you can imagine what locals here find in front of their doors or behind their buildings regularly.
When some of our neighbors were publicly shamed in this regard last summer, we spoke up. Working with local businesses, the Public Safety Ambassadors from Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. (DGRI), and a local church, we found a solution.
A port-a-john now sits in a neighboring parking lot, funded by First (Park) Congregational United Church of Christ. DGRI checks it during their cleaning each morning and regularly during the day.
We have met resistance. Some local businesses have spoken out publicly against the port-a-john. On multiple occasions we have found it padlocked closed and wired shut. Before placing the unit, we knew that illicit activity would go on inside, but nothing more than already happens in the area.
The unit has made a difference in the neighborhood. It is being used by neighbors. Local businesses and the Ambassadors are finding less evidence in entries and alleyways. Partnerships have been strengthened.
This is an example of the vital work our donors do here every day on a larger scale, by providing our neighbors access to life's necessities, bringing partners together to develop and implement solutions, and by meeting the emerging needs of not just individuals, but the neighborhood, which transforms our city in positive ways. Thank you!!
By Rev. Andy DeBraber