One of The StoreHouse’s founders, Jessica, visualized a pantry operated by the people who also utilized the products. She started a 75 square foot pantry inside Frontline Community Church, where approximately $1,000 of donated hygiene products were distributed in the first year.
The pantry continued operating in this way until Jessica met The StoreHouse’s co-founder, Nora. They realized there was potential for the broader community to be served by combining Jessica’s passions with Nora’s entrepreneurial background.
They formed a team to research gaps in community services, and began to dream of a community center to connect unmet needs with those looking for a way out.
The StoreHouse obtained a 501(c)3 certification and became an independent entity able to be self-governed.
After exploring many opportunities, WorldVision was welcomed as a product Sponsor and began sending shipments including not only hygiene products, but also household and school supplies. Frontline continued its support and became a Sponsor through the provision of a 20,000 square foot warehouse space.
Community connections have been formed to serve unmet household, hygiene and school supply needs. The StoreHouse’s membership has grown from six non-profits and three low-income schools to 75 non-profits and 25 low-income schools.
a letter from one of
Beginning a family at a young age brings many financial struggles, but also many opportunities for faith to grow.
This was my parents’ story. They became parents at 16 years old and had seven children. With no college education and several mouths to feed, they often struggled financially.
This didn’t discourage their generosity, however. When I was in high school, they took in two more children, and they later navigated community connections to help us attend college.
Because of them, I was a first-generation college graduate. I chose to become a teacher to follow in their footsteps and help others.
It wasn’t growing up in poverty itself that gave me a heart to help others; it was being part of a family that didn’t let that keep them from giving generously to others.
When I began teaching in inner-city Indianapolis, I saw not only great levels of poverty, but also broken families.
In my fourth year teaching, I taught the brightest, most athletic and likable student. Though he was only seven years old, his story made a profound impact on me.
He was rarely at school, and when he was, he was late and slept in class. His common excuse for not doing homework was that he didn’t have a pencil at home.
When I shared this with his mom, she told me a story not unlike others from the school.
My student was one of five kids, and his dad was an abusive alcoholic. They often sought refuge for the night in cheap motels, and the kids navigated to school on public buses.
Safety was the priority. Having a pencil or a comfortable bed was a luxury - and one that I had always taken for granted.
Though finances were tight for us as well, I felt a tug to help this family. I had the idea to share the story with the local radio station as part of an existing segment where callers respond with advice.
When the story aired, hundreds of calls poured in and, collectively, we had an amazing impact. Through the community’s generosity, this family was able to move into a safe home, obtain a car, and send the younger children to daycare while the mom finished her college degree.
This experience reinforced the truth that success depends not only on education, but also on connections. It led me to dream of starting a community center in Grand Rapids.
After years of faith and patience as we researched needs and adjusted our vision, the dream was finally realized. The StoreHouse is founded on the belief that we can do much more when we work together.