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Sisters land grant to help those who ‘aren’t as lucky as we are’

Will fund playground gear for homeless families’ children

Thornapple Kellogg — Sisters at Page Elementary landed a $259 grant recently from the Youth Advisory Council of the Barry Community Foundation for outdoor playground equipment for Family Promise of Barry County.

Karsyn and Morgan Boersma, fifth- and fourth-grade students respectively, play basketball together, and their aunt, Robin Walters, is a board member at Family Promise, a nonprofit that Walters said helps homeless families stay together and get back on their feet to find permanent housing. 

The agency partners with churches that provide shelter and meals for a week at a time.The playground equipment will be located at the day care center where families come to do laundry, shower and do other tasks, Walters said. 

When Walters mentioned to them that Family Promise was hoping to get a basketball hoop and other gear for the kids who stay there, and that funds could be had from the Barry Community Foundation via a grant proposal, Karsyn and Morgan were intrigued. 

“The Barry County Youth Advisory Council reviews grants twice a year, and their grant requests have to be written by youth,” Walters said. “And the grants are reviewed and approved by youth. It is a really awesome way for our youth to actively engage in community.”

Walters recalled that she took her two nieces to Left Field Cafe for hot cocoa on a Saturday in March after one of their basketball games.

“I helped them go through each question on the Youth Advisory Committee grant application,” she said, “and they used Google to get information about the cost of different items like a basketball hoop, balls, soccer balls, a bin to store the balls in. They got to use math skills in coming up with a total cost. They also got to practice persuasive writing skills.”

Altruism Close to the Heart

“We wrote it because other people aren’t as lucky as we are to have what we have,” Karsyn said in a story on the TK website. “So, we wanted to write the grant to get the kids some outdoor play stuff.”

Altruism is close to the hearts of both Karsyn and Morgan. Last summer they took part in a fundraiser called “Night Without a Bed,” sleeping outside in a tent to raise funds for and awareness about homeless families, bringing in more than $1,400 through Facebook.

Walters noted that the sisters’ empathy for the homeless comes in part because of a car accident their younger brother suffered almost three years ago, which put him first into DeVos Children’s Hospital and then Mott’s Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. 

“While in Ann Arbor, they were able to stay at a Ronald McDonald house, and various volunteer groups brought them dinner each night. The experience was similar to that of the homeless families that are guests of Family Promise.”

Both sisters were thrilled when their grant proposal was accepted and can’t wait for the outdoor gear to be purchased and put into play. “I’m really happy for the kids,” Morgan said.

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Phil de Haan
Phil de Haan covers East Grand Rapids, Kelloggsville, is lead reporter for Grand Rapids and also is the point person for the SNN Facebook and Twitter feeds. He hails from Exeter, Ontario, but has called Grand Rapids home since 1985. He is the son of a longtime public school teacher who taught both English and machine shop! Phil took both classes at South Huron District High School, but English stuck, and at Calvin College, where he met his wife, Sue, he majored in English and minored in journalism. His background includes both freelance writing and public relations work, including teaching an advertising and PR course at the college level. In the summer of 2019, he began his own freelance writing and communications business. In his spare time, Phil plays pick-up hockey and pickleball and tries to keep tabs on his two adult children. Read Phil's full bio

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