Category Giving

Sisters Deandra and Naomi walked in to the Paul I. Phillips Club Monday morning with sparkles in their eyes. After being home from school for more than six months, they were excited to be returning to learn in person at our full-day Learning Assistance Program, supported by caring people like you.

“Hi, Miss V!” Deandra shouted through her mask.

Miss V’s eyes smiled as she returned the greeting. “Welcome back!”

Then Miss V noticed neither girl had any belongings with them. No backpacks, no Chromebooks. They must have left them at home, Miss V thought to herself.

“Girls, did you leave your Chromebooks at home? You will need them for your virtual classes.”

Deandra and Naomi looked at each other, confused, then turned back to Miss V. “No,” said Deandra. “We don’t have Chromebooks at home.”

“Well, come on in. I’ll look into this for you and we’ll get you what you need.” Miss V replied.

Miss V contacted their school to ask about the technology. The school hadn’t heard from the girls since school shut down in March. Virtual classes for this school year had begun three weeks prior, and Deandra and Naomi had not yet logged in.

That day, the girls were able to use Chromebooks provided by the generous support of caring donors like you. Staff helped show the girls how to log in, access their classes, and complete their assignments.

Miss V worked to get the girls their school-issued Chromebooks so they were able to work on them at home, too. Although they started out behind, they know they can come to the Club for help getting caught up.

Our donors helped make this story and so many others possible through their dedicated support. Our community has ensured that kids like Deandra and Naomi have the help they need to navigate this new and challenging school year. At a time of uncertainty and chaos, supporters have helped provide a calm, caring and safe place for our members. Thank you, thank you, thank you – from the bottom of our hearts, and theirs.

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We are thrilled to announce we have received a grant of $40,944 from The Children’s Foundation to implement the new Be You Wellness Program!

The Be You Wellness Program will train staff on how to better support youth struggling with mental health, train youth on ways to manage stress, and allow a master’s-level social work intern on-site to provide therapeutic support to youth. The goals for this project are to increase awareness of mental health needs and treatment among staff and Club members, teach young people how to better manage stress and advocate for their mental health needs, and improve the overall mental health and wellbeing of Club members.

Mental health conditions are the leading cause of health problems among youth and it is estimated that only 20% of youth with a mental health condition receive treatment. This is problematic given that poor mental health is strongly correlated with numerous other health concerns and lower educational achievements. Our role is to help support children in overcoming these kinds of adversities by providing education and services, and we are working to place more attention on the mental health needs of children in the community because of the strong causal relationship between poor mental and physical health and long-term negative effects.

“We are so grateful to the Children’s Foundation for this incredible grant,” said Patrick Placzkowski, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids. “We really expect our kids will be coming out of the COVID-19 shutdown with lots of added stress. If we can do things now to help these kids to develop ways to reduce stress and anxiety, it’s going to have benefits 20, 30, 40 years down the road.”

In this project, staff will be trained by Whole Child, Inc., an organization working to limit the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on mental, physical, and emotional health. The trainings from Whole Child will help staff understand the impact of ACEs on the youth they serve, strengthen staff members’ capacities to handle personal stressors, and teach staff ways to model stress management strategies to youth. Further, teenage Club members will also have the opportunity to engage with Whole Child to learn stress management skills and self-regulation behaviors, as well as strategies to mentor younger children on these skills.

Additionally, we have partnered with Grand Valley State University to create an internship placement for master’s-level social work students. The intern will work directly with kids at all three of our locations to provide support where it is needed most.

The grant will provide funding for the trainings, leadership coordination, consultation fees for intern supervisor, and supplies for therapeutic activities.

In the News:

Interview with Shelley Irwin at WGVU

WOODTV 8 Story

Fox 17 Morning Mix

Fox 17 Morning News

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This month, local families in need will have access to more than 4,000 free meals due to a partnership between Boys and Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids (BGCGR) and MedExpress Urgent Care, a neighborhood medical center.

Starting May 18, MedExpress will sponsor BGCGR’s meal service to provide local families access to free, fresh, hot dinners to help mitigate food insecurity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. BGCGR is also providing dinner delivery to Club families who do not have access to transportation or who are unable to otherwise make it to the Club.

“The Boys and Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids understands the importance of supporting parents and caregivers by helping with essentials like food and basic household items,” said Patrick Placzkowski, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids. “Thanks to support from MedExpress, we’re able to provide some stability during this difficult time by continuing to feed families in and around Grand Rapids.”

MedExpress will also provide families with activity boxes that include kid-friendly projects and supplies like sidewalk chalk, crayons, jump rope and activity sheets to help children stay physically and mentally active during the shelter-at-home order.

“We know that there are those in our communities who need a little extra support right now,” said Emily Reinbold, Director of Communications, Community and Company Initiatives, MedExpress. “We’re here to help make sure our local families have what they need to stay safe and healthy, which includes having access to warm meals.”  

Thank you, MedExpress!

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Businesses are closing, schools have long since shut, and every day brings new pronouncements from state and federal authorities with new and more restrictive guidelines for how to stay safe. It’s a frightening time for everyone, and families in our community already under financial pressure are now facing an urgent and harrowing challenge that no one could have foreseen.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids isn’t just sitting on the sidelines waiting for the storm to clear and the kids to return. We’re facing this crisis head-on by mobilizing our resources to help our community. Unable to feed dinner to our members as we do during normal operations, we’ve repurposed our food program to serve vulnerable community members. From 4:30pm to 5:30pm, Monday through Friday, our staff serves grab-and-go meals to at-risk young people and family members who might otherwise go without a full meal for dinner. 

Although we are still in the early days of this crisis, the Boys & Girls Clubs’ work has already had a significant impact. Through the first 13 days of our emergency food program, we’ve served 2,605 meals across our three clubs to low-income parents and children in our community.

Our impact isn’t just measured by the number of meals served, however. It’s also measured by the expressions of gratitude from our community. Indeed, community members are speaking out about the crucial support the Boys & Girls Clubs is providing for disadvantaged families.

“It’s getting harder and harder to feed all my children,” said Tanika, a mother of three. “We’re grateful for the Boys & Girls Club.”

“With a lot of us being out of work, and the schools being closed, it’s hard for my kids to get food. It’s so helpful what the Boys & Girls Club is doing for the community,” said Sarah, another mother of three in our community.

The meals we provide are an essential need for those who receive them. And while a public health imperative prevents us from implementing our youth development programming, there is no doubt our emergency food program is still fulfilling our mission to help our community’s young people reach their full potential.

Community members can be confident that we’ll be here throughout this public health crisis, helping to ensure that those most vulnerable to the economic disruption have a hot meal for their family. However, the essential meals we provide for disadvantaged families would be impossible without support from the community, and we’ll continue to rely on that support as we face this challenge together.

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Our organization would not thrive without the support of our community – including our valued corporate partners. This year, Farmers Insurance has gone above and beyond with their willingness to step in and help us create great futures for our Club Members.

In addition to their financial support for our Power Hour Program – a program that helps our members achieve academic success by providing homework support, tutoring and technology engaged activities – Farmers Insurance has been ultra-engaged by sending over 240 employees and volunteering over 660 hours of their time!

Volunteering at Camp O’Malley is a hit when it comes to the Farmers Insurance employees. In the spring the hard-working volunteers helped greatly with setting up equipment and preparing the camp grounds for the upcoming camp season, with extra time being spent on readying the Farmers Insurance Garden. Then in the late fall, they helped shut down and winterize camp, and of course, their favorite, raking ALL the leaves that covered the grounds.

Their volunteer help extends into our Clubs. We are fortunate to have had multiple groups visit our spaces and donate their time and talents to help out with our daily programming. Our members received help with homework and art projects, tough competition in dodgeball and basketball, and taught the volunteers how to play carpet ball – the most popular game in our clubs.

Farmers also put us in the holiday spirit by helping our members get decorative with their holiday cookies. However, it is not all fun and games. Some groups spent their time cleaning and sanitizing the club spaces or helped with the set up for our Be Great Tailgate event. But, there is one thing for sure, every volunteer left with a smile on their face and an impact on Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids.

We love and appreciate each and every one of our corporate partners that support our mission through a variety of ways such as event and program sponsorship, volunteering, workplace giving and/or cause marketing. Our organization would not have the impact that we have without the large role of our corporate partners. If you would like to know more about how you and/or your company can help support our great mission, please visit our Corporate Partner page or contact Angie Stumpo at 616-233-9370 x111 or

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It’s 3 o’clock and Jourale has just arrived. He’s the first kid in the building, and he’ll probably be the last one to leave. After dropping off his stuff with the staff at the door, he heads to the gym. He picks up a basketball and gets ready for his first jump shot of the day. He squares up, grips the ball, and launches. The ball soars with the impossibly high arc that is his signature and falls in the net with a swoosh. He smiles. It’s going to be a good day.

In a building full of talented and unique children, Jourale stands out. Already at 13, he carries himself with confidence, and, to our staff’s satisfaction, is always open to trying new things. It’s this willingness to stand out that is the hallmark of his leadership. His courage to be different shows our other members the value in new experiences, and they, through his modeling, find new interests and talents.

But if it is his courage and independence that facilitates growth amongst his peers, it is his resiliency that will allow him to be successful. He’s a fearless competitor on the court, and a tough individual off of it. Life isn’t easy for any teenager, but Jourale has been placed in uniquely challenging circumstances. And although there are missteps along the way, he continues to show up, lead by example, and set new goals for himself.

He wants to be a professional basketball player, but he’s capable of so much – things he hasn’t even realized himself. That’s why we’re here – showing him his potential. Jourale’s membership highlights how important the work we do is. He been gifted with innate talents, but he just needs people in his corner to show him what he can do.

All children are vulnerable – some more than others, but we provide kids like Jourale with a safe environment, mentorship, support, and opportunity. We show them the possibilities for their future, like the Pathways program that introduces our members, Jourale among them, to professional opportunities in policing and nursing. We leverage their talents by creating programs in performing arts, STEAM, and athletics. We fill gaps in education with our literacy and math programs. But most importantly, we give them a place to find themselves as they get closer and closer to adulthood.

But we wouldn’t have been able to do this critical work for Jourale and others without contributions from people like you. Our mission to enable all our members to reach their full potential can only be achieved with continued support from our community. So for all you’ve done, and all you continue to do, we express our sincere gratitude.

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In this season of Thanksgiving, our Club Members share what they are thankful for.

We are thankful for all of our Club Members, and for our wonderful community of supporters who enable us to provide kids in our community with a safe place to learn, grow and reach their full potential.

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If you are 70½ years old or older, you can take advantage of a simple way to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth and receive tax benefits in return. You can give up to $100,000 from your IRA directly to a qualified charity such as ours without having to pay income taxes on the money. This popular gift option is commonly called the IRA charitable rollover, but you may also see it referred to as a qualified charitable distribution, or QCD for short.

Why Consider This Gift?

  • Your gift will be put to use today, allowing you to see the difference your donation is making.
  • You pay no income taxes on the gift. The transfer generates neither taxable income nor a tax deduction, so you benefit even if you do not itemize your deductions.
  • If you have not yet taken your required minimum distribution for the year, your IRA charitable rollover gift can satisfy all or part of that requirement.

Now is the perfect time to consider an IRA charitable rollover as part of your year-end giving. Please contact Angie Stumpo at 616-233-9370 x111 or if you would like more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I’m turning age 70½ in a few months. Can I make this gift now?
A. No. The legislation requires you to reach age 70½ by the date you make the gift.

Q. I have several retirement accounts—some are pensions and some are IRAs. Does it matter which retirement account I use?
A. Yes. Direct rollovers to a qualified charity can be made only from an IRA. Under certain circumstances, however, you may be able to roll assets from a pension, profit sharing, 401(k) or 403(b) plan into an IRA and then make the transfer from the IRA directly to The Rotary Foundation. To determine if a rollover to an IRA is available for your plan, speak with your plan administrator.

Q. Can my gift be used as my required minimum distribution under the law?
A. Yes, absolutely. If you have not yet taken your required minimum distribution, the IRA charitable rollover gift can satisfy all or part of that requirement. Contact your IRA custodian to complete the gift.

Q. Do I need to give my entire IRA to be eligible for the tax benefits?
A. No. You can give any amount under this provision, as long as it is $100,000 or less this year. If your IRA is valued at more than $100,000, you can transfer a portion of it to fund a charitable gift.

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