Heartside Ministry and Mel Trotter Ministries announce merger

Combined organization is result of two-year partnership aimed at reducing operating costs while creating greater impact for marginalized

(GRAND RAPIDS, MI) – After a two-year shared services agreement that combined operational functions, Grand Rapids homeless advocacy nonprofits Heartside Ministry and Mel Trotter Ministries have taken the next step in their partnership by formally merging. The merger of agency assets became official Jan. 1, 2020. No services or jobs are effected by the merger.

Reducing operating costs, eliminating potential duplication of services, and creating a greater impact for the populations the agencies both serve were the driving forces for the merger, according to organization officials.

“We have enjoyed a partnership with Mel Trotter Ministries for the past two years, and have realized the benefit of combining our teams and services to provide more for the people we serve,” said Heartside Ministry executive director Gregory Randall. “We’re attempting to show radical hospitality to the same people Mel Trotter serves and we’re pursuing the same donors and volunteers, so it makes sense for us to collaborate in a formal manner.”

“Both organizations have always shared the belief that demonstrating the compassion of Jesus toward anyone experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty is what we’re called to do, so we want to be the best stewards of the assets we have to fulfill that mission,” said Mel Trotter Ministries chief executive officer Dennis Van Kampen. “The neighbors and guests of our respective agencies will benefit from this move.”

Starting in 2017, Heartside Ministry engaged Mel Trotter Ministries to share operational functions including human resources, facilities management and information technology. It was during that time that agency leaders began discussing additional ways to save money while increasing efficiency and outcomes for the people they serve. As executives from both organizations mentioned the partnership to donors and key stakeholders, it became apparent that the idea of collaborating resonated in the community. The notion of formally merging was discussed by each organization’s board of directors for more than a year, followed by in-depth talks between Randall and Van Kampen. Both boards approved a formal merger at their December 2019 meetings.

“In recent years there have been donors, community leaders and even board members that have suggested and even advocated for Heartside neighborhood agencies to combine forces, so we knew the time was right to take this next step,” said Van Kampen. “We will be better stewards of the talent and treasures given to us and grow in ways that perhaps wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.”

“As a church in the Heartside neighborhood, we depend on our community partners as we together seek the flourishing of our neighbors. Both Mel Trotter Ministries and Heartside Ministry are valuable partners because they help our church members walk alongside our neighbors,” noted Rev. Michael Hoogeboom, minister of outreach at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church. “I’m hopeful that the combination of unique gifts and experience that each organization brings to this new partnership will result in a thriving Heartside community.”

Randall and Van Kampen estimate it will take most of 2020 to sort out the best approach to combining all of the services offered by Heartside and Mel Trotter. Heartside Ministry will retain its name and current location at 54 Division Avenue South. The executives anticipate the eventual move of Heartside Ministry staff and programs to Mel Trotter’s headquarters, located at 225 Commerce Avenue SW, in an effort to reduce operational expenses in maintaining two locations.

Communicating this news to the marginalized populations of Heartside will be the immediate focus for the combined entity.

“We want to ensure continuity of services for our neighbors and guests, so we will not be making any immediate, bold changes with regard to the kinds of services we provide or how we provide them,” said Randall, who intends to continue in his role as executive director of Heartside Ministry’s services. “We know that this news might be confusing and perhaps overwhelming to those we serve, so we want to take a measured approach and provide the best care we can for our neighbors.”

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