The Rapidian Home

The optimistic vision of HQ to address youth homelessness: "Our work ultimately is very human work"

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

The mission and work of HQ, a drop-in center for runaway and homeless youth, reflects the diverse approaches of this year's Walk for Good Food recipient organizations to issues of poverty and hunger.

Online Donation Portal Closing Soon

This year's Walk for Good Food brought together 750 participants and raised over $43,000 for a number of recipient organizations, all working to promote systems of food that are fair, healthy, sustainable, and affordable.

At just $6,000 short of our $110,000 goal, we're so close!  Help us reach our goal by donating to the Walk for Good Food before June 30th, using the link here.  Thank you in advance.

/Ian Gibson

Alyssa Anten, Support Specialist at HQ

Alyssa Anten, Support Specialist at HQ /Ian Gibson

Luke Petsch, Development Director at HQ

Luke Petsch, Development Director at HQ /Ian Gibson

HQ is located in between downtown Grand Rapids and Heritage Hill.  At first glance, the unassuming brick building does little to distinguish itself from the red-brick road and the surrounding architecture, but a step inside reveals a space that is simultaneously homey and peculiar, hospitable and exceptional.

HQ is a drop-in center for youth aged 14-24 who are experiencing housing crisis or homelessness.  Implemented intentionally with youth in mind, the drop-in schedule is designed to provide youth with space, time, and resources to be utilized in whatever way they are prepared to on a given day.  

Luke Petsch, the Development Director at HQ, explained the organization’s unique schedule as a way to remove the barriers youth often encounter at homeless shelters.  Adult shelters are potentially threatening to youth, especially considering that many struggling with housing have experienced the adults in their lives to be unsupportive, abusive, and untrustworthy.

HQ works to fill a need in Grand Rapids that is both niche and necessary, as well as to provide resources and relationships that may end a lifelong cycle of poverty and homelessness before it begins.  Petsch emphasizes that HQ’s work extends beyond providing a meal, or a hot shower: “The goal is to achieve and realize your dreams, and the hopes that you have for yourself, and to not think of these challenging situations as limits from what you could do.”

The vision of HQ, and those who work to actualize that vision, recognize the principle that the very architecture of their space reflects: while the label “homeless” may homogenize a portion of the Grand Rapids community, no person is defined by their current situation.  A recognition of each person’s radical individuality is central to building relationships, and many barriers to supporting youth are dissolved by these relationships.

To quote Luke Petsch, “The more we give people their humanity and the less we stick them with a label that’s arbitrary, the more committed we can be to being a community that celebrates that humanity.”  By framing their work in terms of people rather than a problem, HQ celebrates the whole and holy humanity of those who walk through its doors.


by Molly Vander Werp, intern at Access of West Michigan


The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.