What is Access?
Access of West Michigan began in 1981 in response to federal government cutbacks for social services programs. A group of faith-based and community leaders recognized the need for central coordination of services in order to prevent duplication and maximize resources.
There are over 300 Kent County congregations working with Access of West Michigan to meet needs in our community. Access plays a unique and important role in this community by linking those in need with others who can help.
Thanks to the collective time, talent, and money resources of area congregations, individuals, agencies, nonprofits, agencies, businesses and the community at large, Access is able to:
- Support and coordinate the 100 Pantry Network of Kent County which serves over 7,000 households each month. The Access Food Fund provides funds to food pantries to buy necessary food and non food supplies.
- Coordinate food drives to supplement food supplies for the pantries. The Access County Wide Food Drive, which involves over 1,700 volunteers collect over 100 tons of food in one day. Southwest area schools collect over 30 tons of food during Access Care Week. The WZZM TV13 Food For Families food drive in conjunction with Spartan Stores, WZZM TV 13, and WLHT 95.7 collects over 150 tons of food for the pantries during the summer months.
- Provide Casework Services for 200 Kent County congregations. The Operation Second Mile Caseworker helped congregations determine how best to work with individuals in need. These congregations assisted with over $100,000 for rent, utility, transportation, and other emergency needs.
- Coordinate the county-wide Holiday Giving Network. Over 8,000 families were linked to holiday food basket providers in 2008.
- Offer Poverty Simulation Workshops to hundreds of participants in our community.