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Grand Rapids, Mich. (Nov. 10, 2022) – Mel Trotter Ministries, the largest provider of services to people experiencing homelessness in West Michigan, announced today that its thrift store division has received an $800,000 economic development grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The grant will be used to expand the number of thrift store operations in Kent and Ottawa Counties and add 32 full and part time jobs. 

Mel Trotter Thrift is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mel Trotter Ministries and is one of the social enterprises that financially supports the day-to-day operations of the shelter. Currently, there are five Mel Trotter Thrift stores in Kent County and one in Ottawa County. With this grant three new stores will be added, along with a new distribution warehouse.  

“Two years ago, our Board of Directors affirmed the organizational goal of generating 70% of its income from sources other than charitable gifts by 2030,” said Dennis Van Kampen, president and CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries. “Our thrift store division is an integral part in achieving that objective. 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.” 

The grant application was supported by federal and local elected leaders including Grand Rapids Mayor, Rosalynn Bliss.  

“I couldn’t be happier for Mel Trotter Thrift and our residents who shop and work at the stores,” said Mayor Bliss. “Mel Trotter has partnered with the city of Grand Rapids in addressing homelessness for 122 years. This grant is simply a win/win and will allow Mel Trotter to further its services to the residents in our area while boosting the overall economy.”  

This is the second economic development grant Mel Trotter Ministries has received through the Administration of Children and Families, a division of HHS. In 2021, Next Step of West Michigan, another wholly owned subsidiary and 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. 

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