Vera’s House Receives Grant to Address Community Needs of COVID-19

St. Mark's Episcopal Church Newaygo and Vera's House
Posted Apr 8, 2020

Vera’s House, the Health and Wellness Center of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Newaygo, has been awarded a grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation (FACF) to address two current needs in Newaygo County: counseling for emotional health, and food for physical well-being.

The grant, totaling more than $17,000, will enhance two program offerings that Vera’s House currently has in place: Project Illuminate and Justice Street Pantry.

Project Illuminate is a program in partnership with Illuminate Counseling and Wellness, LLC, in Newaygo. This program, supported by the FACF, provides assistance to individuals and groups facing a barrage of stress factors (emotional, physical, financial, relational) who are not able to access the mental health treatment they need. The additional funding in this new grant allows us to increase the capacity of counseling services we are able to offer, including sessions conducted on the phone given the stay-at-home order in our state at this time.

Justice Street Pantry (JSP) currently provides frozen soup and bread free of charge to community members twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The JSP freezer is located behind a red door on the north side of Vera’s House, just off the Justice St. driveway between our two buildings (Vera’s House and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church). The additional FACF funding allows us to also offer “Groceries to Go” through Justice Street Pantry. Each bag of groceries will contain dry and canned goods, protein, and a simple recipe that recipients can use to prepare a meal for their family. The “Groceries to Go” bags will be available for curbside pickup at the Vera’s House driveway (announcement of distribution dates and times forthcoming).

The Rev. BJ Heyboer, Director of Vera’s House and Rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, says, “We are so grateful to the Fremont Area Community Foundation for their generosity and vision in helping Vera’s House and other local organizations care for our community at this time when many are afraid, anxious, and struggling to maintain both emotional and physical health. We are grateful, too, for our ongoing partnership with the wonderful professionals at Illuminate Counseling. In these challenging days, we are reminded again and again that every breath we take is a gift from God, and our lives are knit together for good. We are thankful for opportunities to serve our neighbors.”

More details on accessing the counseling services and “Groceries to Go” will be available to the community in the coming days.

Vera’s House is the health and wellness center of

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