Gods Kitchen In The Parade Of Homes

June 17, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Even though there aren’t two cats in the yard, at least not yet, Carol Greenburg agrees that their house is a very, very, very nice house.

Now, Greenburg isn’t related to Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young.

But she is the program director for God’s Kitchen, and the nonprofit food pantry at 303 South Division has a house in the Fall Parade of Homes, which is sponsored by the Home and Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids (HBAGGR).

“It’s nice. This is going to be so nice,” said Greenburg. “It’s going to be a lovely, lovely family home. It has a great floor plan for people with kids of any age.”

The idea to build the house for God’s Kitchen came from Rockford Companies, a Belmont-based construction and property development firm headed by John Wheeler and Michael VanGessel.

The charitable effort, known as Hammer Out Hunger, drew donated materials and labor from many of Rockford’s closest friends.

“We’re close to probably 100 different donors,” said Bill Meconis, project manager for Rockford Construction Co. “We’ve had some new ones pop up recently. So we’re going to be up over 100 different donors by the time it’s done. So it’s been exciting. It’s been fun.”

Greenburg told the Business Journal that the total value of the donations made to the project top $200,000.

In fact, she said only $13,000 had to be spent on the supplies and labor for the two-level house that has 2,500 square feet of living space. The biggest single gift came from Rockford, which bought the lot valued at $41,000.

“Rockford has been a good friend to God’s Kitchen and we’re thankful that they have chosen to support us,” said Greenburg.

The roomy four-bedroom and three-bath house is located at 2261 Forest Hill Drive SE, just off Burton Street.

The upper level has 1,600 square feet of living space, with another 900 square feet on the lower level.

The bedrooms are evenly spilt across the levels with two on each. The master bedroom has a walk-in closet. One bath has a whirlpool tub and a stand-free shower. A family room is located on the lower level.

“The kitchen is a nice kitchen with a main-floor laundry room and a nice big pantry. So it’s a very nice house,” said Meconis.

The flooring is in and the countertops are down. The painters began working a few weeks ago, while the plumbers, electricians and heating craftsmen were finishing their work. The carpet was laid last week. And the house was to have been completely done at the end of last week, a week before the parade starts.

“We’ve got about a week of cushion, which is not as much as I would have liked. But when you’re doing an all-volunteer project, it’s interesting. But it’s all come together real well,” he said.

Initially the plan was to auction the house, but that has since changed. Instead it will be listed. Tom Zandee and Greenridge Realty have offered to market the house for free and not take a commission on the sale.

“There is a very attractive benefit for the buyer that we can’t really reveal. But there is a very interesting aspect for the buyer that could be very beneficial for them,” said Meconis.

All the proceeds from the sale will go directly to God’s Kitchen, money that will be used to support the 300,000 meals the Catholic-based program feeds to the area’s elderly, low-income and homeless.

“A gift like this is half of the budget for Meals-on-Wheels for the next year, or half of the budget for Capitol Lunch for the next year. In either of those programs, that translates into 50,000 hot meals,” said Greenburg.

More than 75 new homes are being offered by HBAGGR in the fall tour, which starts on Friday and runs through Oct. 6. The association also offers a spring tour and its members are involved in numerous charitable efforts throughout the year.

HBAGGR has donated time, talent and money to the Ronald McDonald House, Hope Community Inc., Habitat for Humanity, St. John’s Home and the annual Community Repair Day it conducts with Home Repair Services.

HBAGGR created its foundation in 1988, the association’s charitable arm, and has awarded more than $50,000 to area students who are pursuing higher education studies in the home-building industry.

By the way, Greenburg said the God’s Kitchen house is listed as number nine in the tour guidebook.

“And,” she added, “it’s a very, very, very nice house.”

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