Focus on Faith – Westminster Presbyterian Church – Making a Difference in the Lives of Older Adults
Westminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids has a long history of making a difference in the community, going back to its founding by a group of abolitionists before the Civil War. Its ministries include Camp Henry, the Westminster Child Development Center, and the Downtown Food Pantry. Westminster was even instrumental in the founding of Alma College! So it is no surprise that, when members of the church saw a need for enhanced care for older adults, they would do something about it. “Providing a service to the larger community is what motivated our members to create Porter Hills,” says Rev. Dave Baak who served Westminster Presbyterian Church in several roles over the years. “It’s still a very important relationship.” Over the last fifty+ years since Porter Hills opened in 1970, this relationship has included a Westminster representative on the Porter Hills Board. In the 1990s, Rev. Dr. William Evertsberg, pastor at Westminster, served on the board and urged the group to do more charitable work, including the idea of affordable living for older adults of limited means. He felt it was in keeping with the organization’s faith-based mission, and the Board agreed. In 1997, Porter Hills worked with HUD to create Walker Meadow Retirement Community, the first of Porter Hills’ six HUD 202 rent-subsidized independent living communities for older adults developed in the Grand Rapids area through 2005. More recently, Barbara Goodspeed, President of Westminster’s Trustees and on the staff at Spectrum Health, filled this role on the Board from 2015 to June 2021. She served on the search committee when Porter Hills was looking for an affiliate partner. “The faith-based similarities between UMRC and Porter Hills made a huge difference,” says Barbara. “We felt that UMRC was a really genuine organization and a really fine fit for Porter Hills. It felt very comfortable. It was great to find UMRC who shared our values for caring for older adults of a diverse range of income levels, who treasured affordable housing and was committed to PACE.” “As a faith-based organization, we start from the heart,” says Barbara of UMRC & Porter Hills. “We are a caring, nurturing, care-about-our-community place. As a volunteer, it makes me feel good about spending my time with UMRC & Porter Hills.” To learn more about UMRC & Porter Hills, including affordable living options, visit our website at https://mybrio.org/affordable-senior-housing-michigan/.