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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Guiding Light

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Religion, Religion-Related

Mission: Through the guiding light of God's Spirit, Guiding Light partners with individuals to fulfill their God-given potential through rescue, recovery and re-engagement in the community.

Target demographics: Homelessness, joblessness, addiction, recovery

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1014 Individuals back to work, off the street and on a payroll.

Geographic areas served: Grand Rapids, MI

Programs: A 120-day, live-in Back to Work program; a Long-term Addiction Recovery program, or The Job Post, a local staffing agency located within Guiding Light to serve the community.

Community Stories

29 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 1

I SAW THE LIGHT ALRIGHT...
This place felt more like a secular fraternity than a Christ filled, compassionate mission. The upper management often came across fickle, tactless, cold/uncaring -- creating unecessary scenarios for people who are already challenged enough.
A phrase I heard more than once was something along the lines of, "Ya just gotta keep stepping over the dead bodies if you want to make it through this thing!" - probably not a great motto for a professional to be spouting, but what the hell do I know!?
I'm not saying addicts necessarily need coddling -- but damn!
I really think this place is running a 'Shtick' when it comes to the whole issue of being Christ focused. Either that or there is some behemoth sized miscommunication going on between the board members and the people who are actually directing the program on the ground level. I've been wrong before but that's the vibe I got: Fake, pretentious, scientifically scripted.
From what I found, if you're an "out of the closet" & "sure in your faith" Christian here, that's how one becomes the most scrutinized as a resident.
If you're physically fit, "good looking" or gay, that's how one garners the most favor as a resident here. In a way it almost seems like management has some kind of formula for keeping a certain ratio of recovery "poster boys" in league. Probably off base here but if that were true, I guess, who could place blame? Anyhow, just an observation.
I was a resident/client with this organization for approximately 8 months (5 at GLR and 3 at Ironhouse sober living). I was evicted from the sober living community -- originally with only 2 weeks notice; whilst sober, breaking no rules and only a couple days after burying my mother! I felt and am still feeling totally stomped on by Guiding Light and was definitely staring down the barrel of homelessness (as well as suicidal thoughts & feelings). It's been extremely stressful for me as I've moved several times and have been in multiple rehabs in the last decade plus. Bottom line -- I had what I thought was a safe place to rebuild my life over the next year or two and then the rug was yanked from underneath me. Thanks for that, Guiding Light! Super great considerations for frail populations, or "Riff-raff" as I've heard them called.
Ruthless and falsely humble men sit at the helm of this organization, that is strictly my opinion. Then again, you can read the growing negative reviews right here on Google for yourself!
I'm upset at the fact that my life has been momentarily flipped upside-down, obviously...
In hindsight, however, I'm glad Guiding Light gave me the boot. Being with some of the folks I was with here felt like how I'd imagine living in a toxic, overly-complicated sorority house would feel. I'd say steer clear if you don't like the idea of people tinkering with your recovery, your faith and your life!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Guiding Light creates an avenue for men in Grand Rapids to receive assistance in recovering their lives from addiction as well as securing employment and job placement. This org is different in the sense that it helps men find their footing as opposed to giving them a resource and leaving them to fend for themselves after. Many of the men work in the facility and there is an emphasis on donor appreciation among the staff and development office that is unparalleled in the nonprofit world.

Ellie P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have become acquainted with many men who have been in the Guiding Light programs. This has been through my own recovery. I have been so impressed with the success rate of the programs, and have seen several men make dramatic life changes. What a wonderful program - it combines excellent programming, a safe environment for those in the program, and adequate time to make life changes. Throughout it all, the men are fully supported by a caring, dedicated staff. My husband and I have enjoyed volunteering and are great supporters of this nonprofit.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the Guiding Light Mission since 2006. It was good then but nowhere near as good and effective as it is today! They are not concerned about "filling beds" as they were previously. Today they focus on building up men who for whatever reason, have fallen into some type of addiction. The Mission, as I like to refer to it as, is doing all phases of rebuilding these men from recovery, job hunting and placement, housing, and follow up. I would encourage anyone and everyone to visit the Mission and take a tour. Here what they are doing and well above the national averages for program houses.

Cory Dean S.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This organization is aware of the need to support men and they value the donations as they value the men. High level of accountability and stewardship with men and donations. There is hope with the help you offer; monetary, material donations or service.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had no idea how great of an organization this is until I started working with The Guiding Light! The dedication they have to the community and those that walk through the door is amazing! The work they do definitely deserves 5 stars and I encourage anyone that isn't familiar with this non profit to go take a look!

2 John H.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My Name is John Hair. For over a year and a half I've volunteered for Guiding Light Works. I have to say the transformation in the lives of the men in this program is nothing short then a true miracle to have been able to witness first-hand! The staff are truly genuine and committed to their mission. The men in this program, are shown the tools and support for them to achieve reengaging back into the community as productive members in the workforce and as positive role models for each other including for their families and loved ones. Add to this mixture of a driven and compassionate staff at Guiding Light Works, the men in the program, in tandem with a supportive donor community network ranging from local area businesses, organizations of faith, and individual donors and volunteers, All collectively working together, equals an unparalleled success rate and proven track record.

Said in short,

"Guiding Light Works, is an amazing organization whom are in the daily business of saving and restoring lives and families each and every day, 365 days of the year"

1 JayDePoy

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Guiding Light has deconstructed the traditional methodology in serving the marginalized. The intentionality to communicate the mission, to share stories of transformation, and to celebrate individual victories has confirmed the implementation of positive changes.

I have been volunteering in the Heartside District of Grand Rapids for the past few years, and the reputation of Guiding Light is impeccable. The men whom are in recovery from self-destruction and/or experiencing a housing crisis, are frequently pointed to the brick building on the Division Avenue... the one with the sign that says, "We are not a mission. We are on one."

The holistic approach to individual transformation (mind/body/spirit) is evident from entrance to exit. The job placement program helps men rebuild their lives one dollar at a time. The recovery program helps men rebuild their lives one 'step' at a time. Within the doors of Guiding Light you can feel the sense of belonging, believing, and becoming.

There is order from chaos. There is intention and strategy behind every policy. There is grace. There is hope. There is an invitation to be a part of the ongoing narrative of redemption.

- Jay DePoy
(Volunteer, Ready For Life)

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In the last 12 months, over 600 individuals are no longer homeless and are employed full-time. Off the street and on a payroll. That is called results!

1 Sheila L.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for GL for almost 5 years now and see positive changes almost every time I’m there. The Development office is staffed by truly dedicated people who work diligently to fulfill the mission of GL. I see constant evidence of stewardship regarding the financial offerings provided by donors. As a retired professional I am proud to say I work at GL as a volunteer. They are making a lasting difference in the lives of the men who are in their programs.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Guiding Light is one of the only agencies that truly operates as a solution to end homelessness and addiction in the Grand Rapids community. Their services not only meet the immediate needs of those in our community, but also set their clients up for success in the long-term.

Additionally, funds are used extremely ethically. Nearly 80 cents on every dollar goes to direct programming. All of the programs at Guiding Light are free to the individuals who need them and are not subsidized by government funds.

1 Maria K.2

Donor

Rating: 5

Excellent recovery program for anyone really wanting to get the help they need to get clean from drugs or alcohol.

1 Olivia Jenison B.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked with Guiding Light for a year now and truly believe in the organization's mission to help men off the street and on a payroll. When men come to us they are broken and are looking for the tools to rebuild their lives. We assist them through our 120 day Back to Work program and our 120 day minimum Guiding Light Recovery program.

3 Johnny B.

Client Served

Rating: 1

While I was there at the mission I watched this organization have a policy of telling the people who wanted to get in their addiction program that if they had debt that they couldn't enter that program. I watched them turn a man away for that reason. The director himself lost his burger king buisnesses owing money to his suppliers. It seems to me that they really don't want to help some of the very people they appear to be helping. I also watched as a man named paul be very rude.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Guiding Light Mission is an excellent organization. I've been a Board Member, Volunteer (primarily as a Mentor) and a donor over the years. All of the programs are Christ centered and are designed to help the men get re-engaged back in to their families/work/community. People are fed, have a place to stay overnight, and the Addiction Recovery Program is where the men have the most life changing experience.

Alumni come back to help.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I teach the men in the program at the misson about banking services. They are eager to learn what is going on in the business world. The staff at the mission enlists my volunteer services to help the men gain valuable knowledge and provide a well rounded education. The facility is always neat and clean and the men well kept and attentive.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently came to GLM as part of a service learning programe and have had nothing but positive experiances. The staff at Guiding Light are engaged, hard working people, who seem to genuinly care about the people in our community. They, along with their volunteers, have worked hard to provide not only food and shelter, but professional level services to men in need. These services provide an effective and practicle way to change lives and to help build a better world.

Jessica T.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Watching the people Guiding Light serves make positive transformations and find themselves in the hearts of people who care is a wonderful experience that I look forward to encountering every week when I volunteer at Guiding Light Mission. For almost a year, I have worked with the people who benefit from the services provided by Guiding Light Mission. I have heard stories that have touched my heart and changed me forever. People are truly grateful for having this haven...this place to go for help, hope, and love. I am grateful for the opportunity to grow and reach out to others. Guiding Light is a catalyst for change in the hearts and minds of the people it touches, whether they may be a volunteer, a board member, or a patron. Thank you for all you do GLM :)

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Guiding Light is a role model in its involvement with the community, its focus on holding its program men accountable, and its ability to get people talking about important issues such as homelessness. I am proud to be affiliated with GLM!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hello ny name is Rob and I am a new creation. It didn't happen overnight to be sure, but thanks to the START program I have been clean and sober for over two years. I am a successful graduate of Victory Trade School, and am back home to mend fences in my relationships and to start new ones. Thank you!!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Guiding Light Mission is such a great support for the Grand Rapids Community. It is truly amazing seeing all the wonderful things they do to help out those in need!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Guiding Light is such an awesome organization! They do so many great things for the Grand Rapids community by helping patrons utilize the tools the need to get back on their feet!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Guiding light mission is a fantastic organization! I have nothing but great things to say about all that they do for the Grand Rapids Community!

Board Member

Rating: 4

I've served as a board member for four years and have seen the organization's success blossom, particularly over the past 18 months. The efforts of the staff are 100% focused on the success of the mission's clients. A caring, positive spirit pervades every effort by the staff and volunteers to reengage the men who walk through the mission's doors in community.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I volunteered here and LOVED it. Everyone was so nice and kind. The public was so grateful they were there. I would definitely volunteer there again. What they do for people is so inspiring.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have nothing but good things to say about Guiding Light Mission. They empower and encourage their patrons to be the best that each individual can be and provide them the tools to do so. The mission ensures non duplication of services within the community and that donations are spent on necessities. All around, they are doing wonderful work for our community and I am glad to have been a part of such a great organization.

Donor

Rating: 4

Guiding Light Mission has worked hard over the past year to build a positive reputation in the community. Their focus on empowerment is commendable!

12

Volunteer

Rating: 1

There is only so much branding, marketing, and PR one can do. You can put lipstick on a pig but at the end of the day it is still a pig. The Guiding Light Mission has tried hard to revamp its image from the outside - now all it has to do is worry about the minor business of entirely restructuring the organization internally. From my experience as a former volunteer, the board at Guiding Light Mission is corrupt and the leadership is corrupt. Obviously these are strong words but just do a Google search of Guiding Light Mission, dig a little, and you'll see an organization constantly covering up negative activities and trying to put a positive spin on it. If you need further proof I encourage you to follow these links: http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/target_8/Target_8_Beat_down_near_Guiding_Light http://www.topix.com/forum/city/grand-rapids-mi/TMR9GH936M5JFTFIQ http://www.topix.com/forum/source/wood/TASJB4V365MIN8EJF Many of the folks commenting at these sites have intimate knowledge of that organization - they are staff members, board members, past volunteers, ex-donors, and most importantly residence of the facility. There are so many more worthwhile causes in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area - that help the homeless, that provide food and clothing and shelter - and all do so in a God-honoring manor – Degage Ministries , Mel Trotter Ministries, Salvation Army, Safe Haven Ministries, the Well House, the Open Door - the list goes on an on - and absolutely none of these places have long and sordid histories where time and again stories of corruption and fraud come to light. This economy will leave some places still standing and others in the dust. This community would do just as well without the Guiding Light Mission.

16

Client Served

Rating: 5

my name is David I came to the Guiding Light Mission in July after a bout with a relapse from my addiction to crack cocaine. I was welcomed and allowed to first detox, a process to get some sleep, and food during the initial phase of recovery. I then was given a responsibility. I became the morning cook at the mission.I began to serve god threw the mission, feeding his sheep. as time went on and I attended the classes, groups, and meetings offered I began to receive some self respect that I had lost in the process on my addictive lifestyle. the guiding light mission has helped me by allowing me the time and resources to get out of my self and allow God to work in and through me. I am currently attending cornerstone college, working on my business degree. I thank God for the donors, and the people at guiding light who have made this all possible.