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Sunday, 25 November 2012 23:17

Pay it forward: Cheryl Schuch, Family Promise of Grand Rapids

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Pay it forward: Cheryl Schuch, Family Promise of Grand Rapids PHOTO: Elijah Brumback
Having spent the first part of her career as a sales and marketing executive in the computer and software industry, Cheryl Schuch found herself looking for a change when her family moved back to West Michigan from Chicago.

As she explored her career options, volunteerism in children’s causes took a central role.

With past experience in Habitat for Humanity, Kids Foods Basket and as court appointed special advocate in Chicago, Schuch found her corporate skills translated easily into the nonprofit sector.

In 2010, she joined Family Promise as executive director.

Drawing upon her prior knowledge, Schuch is now helping keep area families together through times of crisis and homelessness.

“My soft spot is the children, and I’ve always gravitated to that kind of work,” she said. “In our world (nonprofits), there isn’t a lot of money that exists for training people in those fundamental roles and to work internally, and that’s an area I thought I could make a difference.”

Working with an annual budget of $500,000 provided primarily through the organization’s interfaith community of congregations, Family Promise hosts five families in its offices off Division Avenue and about five to 10 additional families through the Reaching Beyond Program.

With roughly 2,500 homeless children in the Kent County public school system, the need is great and continues to grow as middle class families fall into poverty because of the economy, Schuch said.

“Family Promise has grown a lot in three years, but the need has also grown faster,” she said. “Educating and conversations about the homeless stereotype doesn’t always support the reality.”

Under Schuch’s direction, Family Promise continues to look for sustainable long-term solutions for the prevention of homelessness in the community.

“When you’re frustrated and things aren’t going well, all you have to do is put a face to the name,” she said. “When you see a kid’s face, you keep working.”

Read 3291 times Last modified on Sunday, 02 December 2012 23:49
Elijah Brumback

Staff Writer

ebrumback@mibiz.com

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