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Student Leaders Dish Out Help at God’s Kitchen


There’s more to leadership than being in charge or leading a group, said Crossroads Alternative High School students as they scrubbed tables, prepared food and served hot meals at God’s Kitchen in the Heartside Neighborhood of Grand Rapids.

Crossroads student Tony Bridgeforth organizes food at God’s Kitchen
Crossroads student Tony Bridgeforth organizes food at God’s Kitchen

Fourteen students from three different leadership programs at the school, Crossroads Brotherhood, Girlz Rock and Crossroads Leadership recently spent a day away from the classroom volunteering at the Grand Rapids-based Catholic Charities of West Michigan program that serves more than 200,000 meals a year to individuals and their families. Students said they were happy to help out, dishing out lunch to people in need.

“It’s about giving back, helping others, making others happy. It’s the whole purpose of doing something for others,” said senior Brian Barnes.

Teachers Michael Ketelaar and Michael Hall, advisors for Crossroads Brotherhood, said the students are often involved in community-service projects. They’ve volunteered for nonprofit housing organization Habitat for Humanity, animal-protection organization The Humane Society, and have cleaned up the The Rapid bus stop by their school.

Crossroads student Brakezia Sylvester cleans a table
Crossroads student Brakezia Sylvester cleans a table

Learning about leadership, including a strong component of community service, has improved Brian’s outlook on serving others, he said.

“I learned how to be responsible, put in effort and don’t give up,” he said. “I learned how to be an example and a positive role model to others”

Junior Montae Galles said helping at God’s Kitchen’s Capitol Lunch was a new experience for him.

“It feels good to give back,” he said. “It makes me reflect on my life. My life’s not that bad and I’m thankful for what I have.”

Ketelaar said he believes the students learned valuable lessons from being involved in the community.

“I wanted to show the kids that leadership means serving,” he said. “What better way than to serve the least fortunate in the community?”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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