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ave you ever looked out of an airplane window and realized how small everything appears to be? There are times when you need a reference point to get your bearings. There are times when you need to rise above the treetops in order to see the full landscape. We all need a perspective.

education, health care, opportunities for our young people and healthy living through our Marketplace and Greenhouse programing.

This year’s annual report will hopefully give us all a perspective of what Baxter’s big picture in 2016 looked like. For those of you that enjoy numbers, we have a pretty cool illustration in this issue on the impact and opportunities Baxter has had in our community. ( See Bax Snapshot)

We look at our neighborhood which is rich in history and made up of beautiful people. We also are challenged by the growing need for housing as many of our families struggle with an increase in rent or homelessness. We are challenged by the growing number of children in our Child Development Center and their parents who crave a better future with access to a great education, good jobs, financial security and higher education possibilities. We also find ourselves in “wonder” as we create STEAM (Science, Technology Engineering, Art, and Math) curriculum within our Mizizi Maji Youth Mentoring Program. Our students’ enthusiasm in learning more about God’s creation is inspiring!

Keeping life in perspective is what Baxter strives to do. Our theme for 2016 was S.A.F.E. (Securing Access and Fostering Equity). If you volunteer here, work here or use our services you know that Baxter is working hard at creating an equal playing field for our community as we address early childhood

The big picture at Baxter means pressing forward with a keen sense of both our history and our vision for the future.

The bigger picture includes Baxter’s love for growing things… plants, minds, ideas, people, potential, awareness, security and the list goes on. We continue to host a variety of community events and collaborative opportunities recognizing that we need one another in order for us all to grow into a deeper understanding of what it means to be a “safe place” for all of us to grow. May you read through these pages with both “wonder” and “wisdom”. Please know that every dollar you invest in Baxter helps all of us to get our bearings. We need you. With wonder and hope,

Melanie Beelen Executive Director

2016 marks Melanie’s 20th year as Baxter’s Executive Director





BAXIM 83,941











BAXLEADERSHIP 2016 Board of Directors John Apol

Belinda Cunningham

Melanie Beelen

Ashleigh Draft

Executive Director

Amy Roeda Borst

Angel Duff


Cindy Haverkamp

Cathy Calvenaeu

Janice Hilliard

Cle J. Jackson President

Michael Lamfers Jeremy Louters Treasurer

Lisa Smith Dan T. Vos Vice President

Brenna Walters

James Peterson

New Board Members Belinda Cunningham -

Spectrum Health | System & Marketing Communications Specialist Belinda was raised in the Baxter neighborhood where her family lived for more than 20 years and got to know and appreciate Baxter as a safe place to go and grow. She holds a degree in Business Administration and Communications from Aquinas College and is an ordained minister at Brown-Hutcherson Ministries where she serves as a Minister of Church Administration. Once a Community Health Worker, Belinda has a natural passion to care for and equip others. She is enthusiastic about Baxter’s work and is looking forward to being a vital part of Baxter’s leadership.

Cindy Haverkamp -

Harbor Steel & Supply Corporation | Vice-President of Human Resources Cindy joins our board with a passion for children. She was a longtime volunteer for the GEMS program at Eastern Avenue CRC, which focuses on helping young girls identify who they are as children of God through lessons, crafts, and activities. She currently heads up meal planning and preparation on Sunday evenings.  Cindy is a graduate of Calvin College and co-chairs the North American Steel Alliance Leadership Development Group. Cindy and her husband Brad have three daughters, and she is excited to further engage with Baxter’s work in the local community!

BAXPARTNERS Building community is all about partnership. At Baxter we are very intentional about aligning ourselves with groups, organizations and agencies whose values and priorities are similar to ours. Two of our most recognizable partnerships are Urban Core Collective (UCC) and Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative (ELNC). With both of these Collaborations there is very intentional work being done to represent and advocate on behalf of the very communities we serve, not prescribing

our solutions, however, helping to give voice to our neighbors. There are also a wide array of businesses and organizations that help Baxter respond to the human needs of the community. While there are too many to list, we’d like to highlight Blue Cross Blue Shield for their continued partnership with Baxter’s Clinic and Dental Office. Their support allows us to provide quality care and makes the Baxter community a better place for all. Thank you!

BAXFUNDING 2016 Revenue

2016 Expenses

Foundations and Trusts 40%

Child Development Center 37%

Individuals and Businesses 15%

Clinic 21%

Program Fees


Marketplace 18%



Management & General 12%





United Way








Child Development Center Quality early-childhood education for every child


axter Child Development Center is buzzing with activity! This year we have worked hard to make some internal changes that have proven to be successful. Some highlights include: We changed the format of our preschool classrooms in order to offer the best possible educational experience for all preschool children enrolled. The classrooms are now arranged by age with the first year preschool students (3 yr olds) in the Explorers classroom and the 2nd year preschool students (4 yr olds) in the Adventurers classroom. This allows each classroom to offer experiences that are truly planned for the specific age and developmental level of children enrolled. We also changed the requirements in order to align more closely with ELNC classroom requirements such as 4 day per week attendance and arrival by 8:30 am. This change also provided us the opportunity to enroll students in both classes that are both paying privately and sponsored through an ELNC Scholarship. Children greatly benefit from this preschool model and are making great progress towards kindergarten readiness! Another change that has taken place is the process by which families are placed on our waiting list and enrolled. We now have a committee of teachers and support staff that monitor the waiting list and make recommendations for enrollment. The

committee has been charged with creating defining criteria that is weighted with points based on need and vulnerability in order to identify the families with the greatest need for care and education. From the work of the committee interested families can now visit our website and fill out an inquiry form. That submission populates their information right into our waiting list which assigns points for certain needs. This allows us to fulfill our vision when enrolling children into the center. We continue to work towards offering healthy meals and snacks for children while supporting local vendors. We have featured on local, state, and national conferences and webinars on the subject of offering locally sourced, fresh food in early childhood education. Our next focus will be to provide more diversity in the meals served.

Starr Morgan

CDC Director

BAXSTATS 93 children served 73 total families impacted $140,330 in scholarships and tuition assistance awarded

Our Adventurers class enjoying a cookie decorating activity during the Christmas season.

CDC children from hanging out with “Farmer Gwen” in Baxter’s Greenhouse.



he shouts of Baxter CDC preschoolers that are often heard as they explore Baxter’s garden and greenhouse include: “Jalapeno!” and “I love veggies!” That’s because CDC Chef Becky Kwasteniet has been turning the CDC’s babies, toddlers, and preschoolers into “junior foodies” over the past 2 years. Becky sources fresh, local ingredients for the healthy homemade meals she prepares daily turning meal and snack times into healthy and fun adventures.

Through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Greenhouse staff is now cross-pollinating those efforts by providing healthy, creative experiences for toddlers and preschoolers in weekly Garden Club gatherings. From harvesting peppers and planting garlic, to dressing up in a plant parts costume, to painting sticks and singing garden songs, everything tastes better when you’ve grown it yourself! Contributed by: Gwen Genzink

BAXEPIC Imagine you and your children had no other housing option but to move in with a family member. Now take all your family’s belongings and try imagining living together in a single room of a relative’s house. This is the story of one of our families, one of several facing a housing crisis this year. Thankfully, we have connected this family to various resources, from getting seasonal clothes for the children to providing furniture through another ministry. Through this and other support, the family was able

to move into their own apartment. That’s the incredible impact Baxter can have on individual lives! As an EPIC family coach (Empowering Parents, Impacting Children), I come alongside families to help, strengthen, and empower them as they face housing crises like this one because we believe every family deserves a home they can call their own. Contributed by: Susie Kim-VanderGriend EPIC Family Coach

Mizizi Maji Mentoring

Building and empowering the leaders of tomorrow


t’s been 12 years including my internship with the late, great Rosie Severson-Hair since I began with the Mizizi Maji Mentoring Program! My predecessor Barb Reynolds noticed the way I engaged with students and when my internship ended she asked if I was interested in her position and ultimately passed the baton to me! Barb established many partnerships that I continued to nurture. Gradually I developed new partnerships and the program had another growth spurt. In 2008 I created a component called 3.0 Get’s to Education Through Travel that still thrives. Our travel experiences and weekly meetings have produced a learning/ teamwork incubator for students, parents, mentors and myself. We learn from each other, and interface with people in other locations, along with organizing events, volunteering and prepping dinner together compounds our learning in measurable and immeasurable

Mizizi Maji Mentoring student participating in one of many STEAM activities during one of our weekly gatherings.

BAXSTATS 20 students in Youth Mentoring 15 achieved 3.0+ GPA 15 women in Threads Class 18 adults attended Baxter’s Computer Classes ways. Over the last eight years of travel, 95% of students who stayed in the program two years or longer have qualified for our 3.0 trips! Students return from travel knowing that from region to region, language, currency, government and culture vary and that colleges vary greatly too. They know the racial climate changes from place to place. They visit museums where their culture is widely represented. Some have been inspired to study abroad and others to learn a second language! The inspiration is endless!   We also partner with local colleges annually. Our abiding partnership with GRCC’s Secchia School of Culinary Arts has allowed students to experience hands on Fine Dining and Etiquette since 2007. This Service Learning Partnership began with Prof. Audrey Heckwolf and continues with Prof Holly VanRyn. The partnership has been exceptional for GRCC and Mizizi Maji students alike! Lastly, there were several students that joined

Left to right: Sharon LaChapelle, Erica Millbrooks and Barb Reynolds.

the mentoring program shortly after I came on board. I knew then that when they graduated from high school and began college or work life, I too would also graduate, and pass the baton! In 2015 the last five seniors in that group graduated and went to college. Another went to work! Now it’s time for someone else to build on Barb and my work to continue the Mizizi Maji Program! And that person is Erica Millbrooks! Erica has had children in the Mizizi Maji Mentoring Program and caught the travel vision in the very beginning when we started 3.0 Gets to Go, Education Through Travel! She and her husband chaperoned in our first years of travel. Since then Erica lead one group of students and parents to DC and created a multi-generational trip to Cincinnati’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Erica is nurturing established partnerships, creating her own and is growing our commitment to Science,

Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. I am honored to be part of this baton passing, succession-planning, team of women! And I am excited to start a new program component at Baxter as Director of Civic Engagement and Mentoring. This new addition was birthed out of mentoring program parents identifying the need for support at Baxter in Advocacy, Policy and Legal Resource Connections. I look forward to the journey ahead for us all and am grateful for my years with the Mizizi Maji Mentoring Program and with the students, parents, mentors and coworkers that I will continue to work with and learn from and consider family!

Sharon LaChappelle

Director of Civic Engagement & Mentoring

Mizizi Maji Mentoring students participating in a STEAM learning activity in Baxter’s Greenhouse.

BAXYOUTH Fertile ground for STEAM to grow!


eally, when you think about it, everything we do offers an opportunity to weave Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) into learning, in a hands on way, that engages all ages and learning styles. Erica Millbrooks, who has seamlessly stepped into roll of Mizizi Maji Mentoring Coordinator makes that all happen on Monday nights at Baxter Community Center. Her students that range from 8-18 years old, herself and her parent and mentor volunteers are all engaged with activities like: • Field Trips to GRCC’s Science department where college students lead our students through forensic experiments, DNA extraction, brain dissection, blood pressure and lung capacity testing. • Baxter Greenhouse Science with Anna Johnson doing soil testing, seed planting and experiments with smoothie ingredients and trail mix combinations. • Connecting the many scientific contributions of George Washington Carver to the study of a cotton plant growing in their meeting room along with clusters of peanuts grown by Erica. • Or even learning the Art of Fine Dining at GRCC and then touring the kitchen to see the science behind the making of their culinary delights! All of this along with 3.O Education Through Travel trips will help to prepare fertile ground for STEAM imaginations to grow! Contributed by: Sharon LaChappelle


Sewing into the future, stitching the present with the past


ast September, Baxter’s Threads class organized the Third Bi-Annual Quilt Show, “Creatively Stitching the Present with the Past!” The class learned about sewing, quilting and fabric design emphasizing African and African American culture and tradition. In addition to outside learning opportunities, members bring their lived history and that which has been passed through generations. This is what generated a vibrant-multidimensional

journey through Baxter’s gymnasium during the quilt show weekend! The class also produced “Home-style Recipes from Grand Rapids and Beyond” a cookbook which raised $1000 for scholarships awarded to two college-bound students! Cookbooks are still available if you would like to “sew” into the next Scholarship Fund! Contributed by: Erica Millbrooks

Wholistic Health Clinic Access to health services for all


axter has a long history of looking at people in a “wholistic” way, focusing not just on needs but appreciating each individual’s uniqueness and potential. Our health services are no different. Baxter’s Wholistic Health Clinic is a medical home for families and individuals who are uninsured or receive Medicaid/Medicare. 1104 individuals used Baxter’s Clinic as their primary care provider in 2016. This is only possible because of more than 1,200 hours of volunteer service each year from doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. But Baxter’s health services don’t end there. Our Dental Office saw 340 patients in 2016. Out of those patients, 112 completed

prevention plans and 33 completed restoration and prevention. We provided examinations, cleanings, fillings, extractions, and X-rays among other services. Baxter’s WIC (Women, Infants and Children) office provided services to 115 pregnant and postpartum women and children from birth to five years of age. This includes nutritional evaluation from a registered dietician, immunizations, and the provision of supplemental food packages. As always, Baxter’s Prayer Clinic was open weekly interceding for all those in the Baxter Family. Finally, 2016 was a transition year after the passing of our beloved Rosie Saverson Hair, our longtime counselor. 2017 will resume counseling services at Baxter through a newly formed partnership with Family Outreach Center.

BAXSTATS 1104 Clinic appointments 340 Dental patients 115 WIC enrollees

BAXDENTAL Oral health can be an overlooked component of a person’s overall health. Individuals without dental insurance are 67% more likely to have heart disease, 50% more likely to have osteoporosis; and 29% more likely to have diabetes.* Baxter’s Dental Office addresses this need by serving adults without dental insurance or care they can afford. Services include examinations, cleanings, fillings, x-rays and other basic services are provided through a mix of dedicated volunteers and staff. *Source:



or over a decade, Baxter Community Center and Calvin College have enjoyed a partnership in community health. In the Community Health Nursing courses during the junior and senior years at Calvin, students have the opportunity to both shadow and have some hands-on experience with the nurses and staff at Baxter. Both the Clinic and Marketplace have welcomed students in being a part of Baxter’s important mission.

empathy and love witnessed during their time at Baxter. The work is done with a “we, not they” spirit and lives are improved. Students also pay home visits within the neighborhood, and it is not uncommon for patients to report how important Baxter is to them. They know it is a caring place where they can get the help they need. We are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of both Baxter as a community and of Baxter Community Center.

Baxter Community Center provides the nursing students at Calvin with an excellent opportunity to see how a neighborhood can come together to serve people effectively and with a caring heart. The Calvin nursing students report being influenced by observing the acts of charity,

Thank you to all who make this neighborhood a better and healthier place to live, and for allowing Calvin College Nursing to be a part of this good work! Contributed by: Muriel Larson, RN, MA

Baxter’s Marketplace

Building community through resources & education


hen I speak about the Marketplace here at Baxter I often liken it to that of a small communities “downtown” – all the little shops, you know the ones that have one specific product or another that you “need”. That’s how our Marketplace pillar is here at Baxter. It’s our physical Marketplace (the food & clothing pantry), our tax program, budgeting classes, greenhouse, canning classes, Culture of Health initiative and SO much more! This year has been an extremely exciting one for the Marketplace-there has been an awesome synergy between the many components that make up the Marketplace as a whole. A few years ago when we started our greenhouse and gardening programs – it organically (a fitting term) gave birth to our canning program and then introduced fresh produce, from the surplus we had and the relationships that we had built, to the Marketplace. Since – we have moved the greenhouse program “offices” to the ‘physical’ Marketplace, have used funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant to purchase a refrigeration unit and funds from an initiative called ‘Culture of Health’ which we are participating in as a part of the Urban Core Collective to purchase CSA shares from Blackbird Farms to keep an ample supply of produce. With the assistance of Our Kitchen Table we have begun to

purchase bulk grain and staples to allow healthier and more versatile options to our neighbors. The Marketplace is experiencing “resurgence” …there is a positive spirit, neighbors are not only participating in the programs but helping to run many of them as well. You see someone who attended a Freedom in Your Finance Budgeting Class signing up for Gardening and Canning programs as a way to not only save money but to look at a healthier lifestyle. Neighbors are being empowered to reach their own unique versions of success with the assistance of the Marketplace programming here at Baxter…..and we’re really excited about it!

Sonja Forte

Director of Community Engagement & Marketplace Programming

BAXSTATS 7,169 food services 4,511 clothing services 2,157 Holiday Baskets

Baxter’s neighbors enjoy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms through our Fresh Produce area.

BAXDELISH “Experience, friends and lots of laughs� is what one participant said she gained from our 10 week fall canning series. Our food preservation classes are about so much more than just skills and knowledge, they are places where the community comes together to find support and connection. This year we had 17 food preservation classes ranging from strawberry freezer jam, canned salsa, freezer meals and apple pie filling. From ages 5 to 80, neighbors joined together to teach each other the skills and knowledge of food preservation. Among the nearly 50 neighbors who participated, there were three sets of mother/daughter pairs! Our food preservation classes continue to be a place where people learn skills and knowledge and connect with one another in new ways.



ince the mid 70’s, Baxter Community Center has responded to a vital need in the community: tax preparation and education. Saundra Flemming, who was employed in the community services area of Baxter for nearly 30 years, remembers the early days of Baxter’s Tax Program. It all began with a group of Calvin College students who volunteered their time and energy alongside Baxter staff four days a week preparing federal, state and local taxes for Baxter neighbors. Over the years, AARP volunteers joined the tax preparation efforts, which eventually led to the program becoming an official AARP Tax Preparation site. The hours of training and volunteering that were freely given by countless volunteers over decades are immeasurable. At its peak in the mid 2010’s, more than a quarter of all free tax preparations performed in Kent Country were taking place at Baxter Community Center, bringing over one million dollars in tax refunds back to the community each year. Saundra remembers fondly a woman from the neighborhood who in the early days of the program was able to put a downpayment to purchase her first home with her refund. Phil Quist, a volunteer who took over the program upon Saundra’s retirement in 2002, shares the story of a young single mother of two who had inherited a home with $4,000 in backed taxes. She was unable to afford the taxes and therefore would likely lose the newly acquired property. Tears flooded her eyes when Phil announced to her that her tax return that year would be $6,000, more than enough to pay the owed taxes and keep the house.

It is because of people like Saundra and Phil, along hundreds of others with a passion and love for community, that Baxter’s Tax Program has had a significant impact in our community. Upon receiving the news of her tax return, that mother said to Phil “I bet you don’t get many customers who cry, do you?” Phil responded with a statement that perhaps has driven not only him but so many others who’ve made this program a reality: “I don’t, but it is those tears that keep me coming back for more.” Baxter Community Center is deeply grateful for all the volunteers, staff and other contributors who have made this program possible for over 40 years. Thank you for your selflessness, commitment and love. Written by Juan Fernandez Contributors: Saundra Flemming, Phil Quist

BAXVOLUNTEERS Baxter could not be the place it is today if it wasn’t for the dedication and service of our committed volunteers. Each year we have hundreds of individuals who give thousands of hours (4,870 hours in 2016, to be exact) to make our community a better place. From reading books to the children in the Child Development Center to stocking shelves in the Marketplace or even spreading mulch each Spring... It is volunteers that make what we do possible. We want to say THANK YOU to all of our volunteers – We appreciate you so very much! Since there are too many volunteers to list them all, this year we are highlighting our Medical Volunteers at Baxter’s Clinic. Thank you to our “docs” for your incredible commitment to Baxter’s mission!

Baxter Medical Clinic Volunteer Doctors Dr. Akuorkor Addy - Alger Pediatrics

Dr. Robert Riley - Spectrum Health

Dr. Robert Bulten - Private Practice

Dr. David Scholten - Private Practice

Dr. Douglas Daining - Alger Pediatrics

Dr. Richard Van Dyken - Spectrum

Dr. Ronald Hofman - Alger Pediatrics

Dr. James Visser - Renal Associates

Dr. Matthew Marvin - Spectrum Health

Dr. Stephanie Walter - Alger Pediatrics

Dr. Duane Oetman - Spectrum Health

Dr. Yelena Yavich - Spectrum Health

Dr. Jane Rauwerda - Alger Pediatrics

Dr. Rebecca Klesmith - St. Mary’s

Sharon LaChappelle joined by PROACTIVE volunteer Kathi Harris during the 2016 “Get the Vote Out” Campaign held at Baxter.

Baxter Community Center held its annual Opening Doors Celebration November 3rd, 2016 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. This year, the theme was “SAFE,” an acronym for Securing Access and Fostering Equity, which is a main focus throughout all of Baxter’s efforts. The event is always a great occasion to highlight Baxter heroes with our St. Francis Award, which this year was presented to Phil Quist and Dallas Lenear. We are deeply thankful for all who helped make Opening Doors a roaring success. Mark you calendars for this year’s celebration to be held November 16, 2017, at the JW Marriot. See you there!

Melanie Beelen and Baxter’s Child Development Center staff enjoying their time right after Baxter’s 2016 Opening Doors Celebration.

BAXEVENTS ----------------------------------------------------

BAX to the Future Our monthly tours are great chance to learn more about Baxter’s work in the community. If you’d like to join us for this one-hour snapshot of Baxter, sign up online:

Fix Up Day Baxter’s Fix Up Day was once again a time of work and fellowship as the community came together to get our Tip! facilities in tip-top shape just in time for the Spring and Summer months. Thank you to over 100 volunteers!

Growing Roots Our annual luncheon happens each Spring, and gives us an opportunity to introduce new friends to Baxter’s work. Join us May 17, 2017, for our upcoming Growing Roots! Sign up online:

CDC teacher, “Mr. Chess” enjoys the sun and outdoor fun during the 2016 Strawberry Jamboree, one of many Baxter community events.

Baxter Community Center 935 Baxter St. SE Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Contact Information 935 Baxter St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506 Tel (616) 456-8593 Fax (616) 456-8595 Web Baxter Community Center is a 501(c)3 organization. Your donation is tax deductible.

Annual Report 2016 - Baxter Community Center  

Baxter Community Center - A Christian Response to Human Needs

Annual Report 2016 - Baxter Community Center  

Baxter Community Center - A Christian Response to Human Needs