The Rapidian

GoSite Guides help visitors find what they need to navigate Grand Rapids

The 21st century welcome center shares a story from its first four months and the connections that are able to be made as our GoSite Guides do more than just provide information but create a true welcome for our visitors.
GoSite Guide Ben Mepham(far right) helping a group on a scavenger hunt

GoSite Guide Ben Mepham(far right) helping a group on a scavenger hunt /courtesy GoSite

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Downtown workers enjoying the GoSite outdoor seating on a sunny day

Downtown workers enjoying the GoSite outdoor seating on a sunny day /courtesy GoSite

A father and son relax in the GoSite while mom attends a conference

A father and son relax in the GoSite while mom attends a conference /courtesy GoSite

The GoSite Guides, as the staff of the new information sharing space at 101 Monroe Center are called, keep count of the number of visitors who walk through the door. It’s part of their job, and an important metric for reports and goal setting. Since the GoSite launched on March 31, first with limited spring hours and expanding in June to seven days a week with evening hours, nearly 5,500 people have been welcomed through the inviting downtown space.

But ask any one of the GoSite Guides, and it’s definitely not numbers they see when they think of the people they’ve met over the past several months. Their eyes light up and a big smile crosses their face as they talk about some of their favorite moments where they really, truly made someone feel welcome in the community.

Each conversation brings a new connection, a search to create the perfect itinerary or suggestions, and sometimes a friendship that grows each week. From weekend visitors trying to get their bearings around town to those who have just moved to Grand Rapids and are trying to make it feel like home, from longtime locals who come to rely on the GoSite as their friendly, central source of information weekly to college students venturing beyond their campus to get to know the city and possibly their future, there are many ways the GoSite gets to participate in each of these people's lives as they seek their own unique connections.

Ben Mepham, one of our GoSite Guides, recently met a mother and daughter visiting Grand Rapids, who used the resources and assistance available at the GoSite to help navigate their time in Grand Rapids.

The woman was in town with her 13-year-old daughter, who was participating in a robotics competition. While her daughter was in a session, the mother stopped in to the GoSite to find things to do together during their free time. As the conversation progressed, and Mepham listened and worked to find the best suggestions for their itinerary, the mother shared that her daughter was at that socially difficult to maneuver age where she was interested in robotics and scientific things and that sometimes didn’t feel like part of the regular crowd.

She really wanted her to have a fun time while here for the competition, and was grateful for Mepham’s help in taking the time to find the perfect ideas for them. Mepham let her know he could relate based on some of the interests he also pursued as a kid, and they talked a little longer about the bright future that awaits the young teenager as she stays true to her self.

A couple of days later, the woman stopped back in, this time with her daughter by her side. The mother wanted to once again thank Mepham for his help as they really had fun doing things off the suggested itinerary, and she wanted to introduce her daughter to the person who provided the advice. They shared further conversation about mutual interests in the arts and sciences, enjoying the camaraderie for a bit before saying goodbye and good luck with smiles all around.

These are what make the stories of the GoSite. This is one of many little moments that make a big impact for not only the guests stopping in, but the Guides who know they are making a meaningful contribution when they help someone feel welcome and connected to the community of Grand Rapids.

We'll bring you more stories from the GoSite in the future; in the meantime, stop on in and become part of the GoSite story yourself, you are always welcome.

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