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Steelcase Designers Offer their Skills to Well House

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

Steelcase designers and the Volunteer Center have organized a project to connect talents to need at Well House, a former shelter that is transitioning to permanent housing.

/(Teresa Z.) Here, Steelcase designer Hyun Yoo takes notes as Well House director Judi Buchman describes some of the needs.

Underwriting support from:

Additional Resources

You also might be interested in reading this White Paper of best practices from the Taproot Foundation: “Making Pro Bono Work: 8 Proven Models for Community and Business Impact.”

Otherwise, stay tuned for more updates on this project.

/(Teresa Z.) Well House staff member, Therese Kent, clarifies distinctions between two of the houses that comprise Well House.

By: Teresa Zbiciak, Volunteer Center Program Assistant 

Across the nation, corporations are increasingly integrating skills-based volunteerism and pro bono work into their philanthropic goals. At Volunteer Center GR, we are thinking about new ways to help connect corporations with non-profits that could make a huge impact with their skills.

Recently, designers from Steelcase came to Volunteer Center GR for assistance in finding the perfect non-profit partner for a community building project. They explained their proposal to Volunteer Center director Jane Royer, who knew of several organizations that would be a great potential match. Jane put out a request for proposals, specifically targeting partner agencies engaged in an initiative to increase their use of skilled volunteers in their efforts to end homelessness in Grand Rapids.

The designers chose a proposal from Well House, a unique transitional housing community seeking to create a sustainable eco-village within an urban neighborhood of Grand Rapids, and Jane helped to facilitate an initial meeting. The design team met with the staff and residents of the Well House, and it soon became clear that initial notions of a simple public seating project were out the window. What the staff and residents could really use was a team to help them re-vision how they use their space. From straightforward storage ideas to radically altered layouts of office and personal spaces – the design studio at Steelcase has a unique opportunity to stretch their imagination and offer valuable advice to this non-profit.

Last week, the design team reconnected with Well House to learn more about the space and the possibilities, and the brainstorming has begun. As a VISTA for the Volunteer Center and friend of the Well House, Teresa Zbiciak was on hand to provide suggestions and support, as well as to help document the process of this great project. In the coming weeks, Volunteer Center GR will provide coverage of this project, as it develops.

If you are looking for an opportunity to develop your professional skills through volunteer service or connect your corporation to a non-profit partner, we would love to hear from you

If you are a non-profit neighbor hoping to connect with skilled volunteers, or learn more about how you can build capacity within your organization by developing skills based volunteer opportunities, we’d love to hear from you too



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Looking forward to seeing what comes out of this! What a great organization/community! Kudos to these Steelcasers.

It's really perfect timing for this kind of project, with all the transitions happening as a result of the Vision to End Homelessness. Well House is moving from providing transitional and emergency housing to providing permanent housing. We'll talk more about this in the next article covering this project.

Great! I can't wait to learn more!