Heart of West Michigan United Way assistance.

Staff from the United Way in West Michigan can help families that are threatened by hunger or homelessness. They offer emergency referrals to aid for these needs, as well as linkage to other non-profits in the region. Another benefit to calling upon Heart of West Michigan United Way are the referrals they will provide to job placement and resources such as credit counseling.

Struggling individuals across Kent County turn to the charity for help. They will offer resources regardless of the client''s age or religion, and support senior citizens, the disabled, and single parents as well. While resources from the United Way are limited, they will do their best to meet the needs of the less fortunate.

Emergency financial assistance

Community crisis assistance is available as a form of case management, and it will offer emergency financial assistance to low-income families and individuals who are experiencing a sudden, unexpected crisis. It needs to have not been caused by the applicant, such as mismanagement of their income. The issue needs to have been out of their control, and can be a loss of job or medical crisis.

The crisis may leave them without food, homeless, in danger of becoming evicted or facing a foreclosure. Homeless families may be eligible for programs such as shelter or a hot meal. The very low income may receive counseling and one time support as well.

When seeking any type of funds from agencies funded by the Heart of West Michigan United Way, clients will need proof of income and expenses, and need to be able to document the crisis. Individuals will need to prove their need for assistance through an assessment process. Also, any aid from Heart of Michigan is one time and contingent on the person demonstrating future income and stability. All money is limited, and the charity receives funding through a variety of state and federal grants and each has separate guidelines and timeframes for assistance.





  • Partial payment for a security deposit, if the tenant can demonstrate future financial security.
  • Free food for a family, including holiday meals.
  • Transportation to a job interview.
  • One time rental assistance, or short term loans for housing expenses.
  • United Way of Kent County may assist with energy bills as well, including heating costs.
  • Emergency motel vouchers can provide temporary shelter to homeless households at area motels, however this is very limited.
  • Other crises and bills can be paid, if they affect health or safety. This will be determined on a case by case basis by the staff.

Any type of financial assistance from Heart of West Michigan United Way will come with Coaching Services and case management. Specialists will be setting goals, and the applicant will need to meet with a coach to learn budgeting, money management, debt reduction and other life skills through case management.

Food bank provides for the immediate needs of families through the distribution of donated, pantry-type foods or surplus USDA commodities. In addition to groceries, baby formula or a meal, some non-consumable items such as paper products or free diapers may also be available, and seniors may receive home delivered meals. Distribution of foods from the pantry is made from private donations from the public as well as churches and also a grant received by the USDA.





Support services from Heart of West Michigan United Way

For low income parents that are in job training or employed, the state of Michigan may have child care vouchers. Government aid can be used to help people afford quality child care for children younger than 13. In order to get help, parents need to be going to school, working, or receiving job training to qualify. The applicant must be a resident of the county and live within income guidelines.

Victims of Domestic Violence, whether women or children, may be able to get housing as well as legal support. For people experiencing domestic violence event and that also need a safe place to stay, they can ask for referrals that are based in Grand Rapids.

Any type of case management will often include holistic mentoring, and this is done to support individuals in need of making positive choices or changes in their lives. The goal is to help people become more productive and independent. This person-centered service from Heart of West Michigan United Way will enhance the community workforce by addressing the cause of their hardship, and it focuses on employment, budgeting, and more.

This process will coordinate with other agencies as well. Staff from the Heart of West Michigan work in concert with non-profit credit counseling agencies or the department of social services and coordinate programs they offer. There are also solutions such as Career Preparedness Training, resume creation, use of a computer lab, and other self-sufficiency tools.




The non-profit United Way refers people to charities or agencies that they fund, and do not offer direct aid themselves. Call (800) 887-1107, or the main office is at 118 Commerce Avenue SW in Grand Rapids.


By Jon McNamara

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