"...we have something that's ours again."

Sue’s key chain now include the keys to her new apartment.

Sue’s key chain now include the keys to her new apartment.

After nearly three years of not having a stable place to live, Sue* recently moved into an apartment - one that’s safe, affordable, and the perfect fit for her two boys. Getting there wasn’t easy. “Holland is one of the hardest places to move into - especially when moving into something in the low income side of things.”

Back in 2015, Sue moved out of her apartment while taking care of a hospitalized family member who, sadly, ended up passing away. The ensuing chaos of losing a close family member and moving led to miscommunications with her landlord, resulting in a bill which was expected to be pro-rated that wasn’t. What was essentially an accounting error turned into a strike on her credit history. It wasn’t until months later that she learned of the issue while searching for another rental after things had calmed down. It severely limited her ability to find another place to live. “It was so crazy - this whole mix of things happening, going wrong, all at once.” 

Sue initially connected with Community Action House while accompanying her son, who was completing community service hours at the Community Kitchen. They’ve enjoyed helping out, setting tables, rolling silverware, and often getting to the Kitchen early to see what needs doing. Her housing situation was precarious at best until a unit recently became available at a local income-based apartment complex. Having waited three years on waitlists for housing, paying the required security deposit became her only goal - this was the break she’d been waiting for. Paying it, however, left her without enough money for literally anything else - including the monthly bill for the storage unit that they’d been relying on.

Not paying for the storage unit meant risking all of her family’s belongings, including the furniture, clothing, and household items she needed in the new apartment. She had a single overlapping day to access both her new apartment and the storage unit. The biggest challenge was how to make it happen - it seemed impossible without a car, the ability to drive, or a network of people willing or able to help on such short notice.

Sue shared all of this with the staff at the Community Kitchen, who she had gotten to know and trust through time spent as a community volunteer and patron. They were able to quickly arrange for CAH’s logistics and food gleaning team to meet with Sue at the storage unit that day. “It only took them 45 minutes to load everything up - they were so fast.” The team went far outside their usual duties that day, but were happy to be able to help Sue move into the new apartment. Sue was also able to access the food pantry, ensuring that she and her family would have enough to eat during their transition.

Now, Sue and her family have a safe, stable, and hopeful future. “I’m looking forward to enjoying the fact that we have something that’s ours again.” They’re enjoying cooking their favorite family meals at home, living without the stress of unstable housing, and even saving the money that used to go towards a storage unit.

We’re grateful to have played a small part in her journey, glad to have strengthened our community, and continue to serve alongside Sue and her boys at the Community Kitchen.

The Community Kitchen serves a hot meal seven days a week, 360 days a year, at no cost for anyone in our community. Much more than a meal, the Kitchen serves as a focal point of our efforts to lower barriers to accessing local resources, building relationships and trust with our community, and brings together people for camaraderie and support. Lunch is served Monday through Friday, 11am - 12:30pm, and breakfast on weekends from 9 - 10:30am, on the campus of Western Theological Seminary (101 East 13th St, Holland, MI). We hope you’ll join us for a meal, connection, and community. All are welcome, with enough for everyone.

The Logistics and Food Gleaning Team includes volunteers and staff operating three vehicles, making daily pickups and deliveries of food and in-kind donations from generous Holland-area partner restaurants, businesses, and organizations. Their combined efforts help to facilitate over 100,000 meals each year, and one move-in day celebration so far. Inquiries from interested volunteers are welcome and needed!

Connect with us to learn more:

(616) 392-2368 ext. 127

*Please note: for privacy reasons, certain details, including names, have been altered or omitted in this article.