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Mel Trotter Ministries expanding thrift store locations, adding staff with federal grant

November 30, 2022

By: Mlive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Mel Trotter Ministries has received an $800,000 economic development grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Grand Rapids-based organization aims to use the money to expand the number of Mel Trotter Thrift operations in Kent and Ottawa Counties, ensuring 32 full and part-time jobs.

”We don’t know the exact jobs that will be required just yet, but employees will definitely be paid livable, market rate wages,” said Beth Fisher, chief advancement officer at Mel Trotter.

In 2021, Next Step of West Michigan, a social enterprise of Mel Trotter, was awarded $525,000 to expand its current operations and create 21 new, sustainable, livable-wage jobs for low-income individuals.

Dennis Van Kampen, president and CEO of Mel Trotter, said the board of directors cemented a goal two years ago of acquiring 70% of its income from sources other than charitable gifts by 2030.

“Our thrift store division is an integral part in achieving that objective,” Van Kampen said. “Beyond that, the grant will allow us to hire more than 30 people, generating economic growth in the way of personal income and retail sales.”

Fisher said that Mel Trotter is aware of how heavily the Grand Rapids area is impacted by inflation, and are making the necessary measures to best serve the community.

“We know that everyone is impacted heavily by inflation and other ongoing rising costs,” she said. “Therefore, it is prudent that we look for ways to diversify our revenue streams in order to best serve our guests and continue to grow.”

The grant application received support from federal and local elected leaders, including U.S. Representative Peter Meijer, R-Grand Rapids Township and Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, the news release said.

“I couldn’t be happier for Mel Trotter Thrift and our residents who shop and work at the stores,” Bliss said in a news release. “Mel Trotter has partnered with the city of Grand Rapids in addressing homelessness for 122 years.

For more information on Mel Trotter Ministries, visit their website.

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