Home looks different for everyone. But the gifts of home, and the community in which they are shared, are something we experience together.

Your home may be an apartment or a house, a new construction or a work in progress, a historic property or a modern subdivision. You might be new to Grand Rapids or a fourth-generation Michigander. You may interact with ICCF as a tenant, a donor, a first-time homebuyer, a builder, a volunteer, or a financial empowerment class participant. But we are all united by the gifts of home—love, belonging, peace, hospitality, community—and we have the ability to share them with one another.

This Advent calendar represents many of the people and developments that ICCF is proud to work alongside. Together, we are supporting more equitable housing in West Michigan, where families can access affordable homes and participate in thriving neighborhoods.

Donate to help us bring more homes to our city at iccf.org/donate. Thank you for joining with us to provide the gift of home to our neighbors.

December 25: Always Willing to Help

Destine and her family live in a Community Homes Initiative property. We were able to provide supplemental food and rent assistance to help their family stay afloat during the COVID-19 shutdown. “ICCF is always willing to help us when situations arise,” said Destine. “We feel as though we can trust ICCF to do what they say they will do.”

Although our homes are unique, we all share the gifts of home: family and friends, peace and joy. Providing affordable housing opportunities to our community is a vital component of creating thriving neighborhoods. Thank you for partnering with us to give #thegiftofhome this year!

December 24: Support System for Families

Mike celebrates 27 years with ICCF this year! He serves as a caseworker at Family Haven, our family shelter. Mike helps residents with everything from maintenance issues to removing barriers to finding permanent housing. His goal, he says, is to work himself out of a job. “I love helping families,” he says, “being a role model for their kids. Being that support system for them during their stay at the shelter.”

December 23: A Beacon of Hope

“ICCF is a beacon of hope for those who are homeless. It has been an important part of our giving in the past, and now we are blessed to be able to make it a major part of our planned giving.” – Jack & Joan Bosscher

The ICCF Homes & Hope Legacy Society is a group of ICCF donors who recognize the vital importance of this long-range timeframe. By giving a “legacy gift” to ICCF, they support ICCF’s mission, not just this year, but for the years and decades to come.

December 22: The Community Homes Initiative

In 2017, ICCF took on what is by far the largest real estate portfolio in our history – 248 homes. They were previously owned by one out-of-state investment firm, managing them to provide above-average return to investors. All of them are now being renewed by ICCF to assure their continued availability and affordability for low and moderate income households.

December 21: A Day of Service

Another great service day this year involved volunteers from the Pan Orthodox Church. These volunteers worked to beautify landscaping at one of our single-family homes. Over 50 volunteers at 7 locations gave their time to painting, cleaning, doing demolition, and clearing brush and trash from yards. We were so grateful to everyone who came out and helped us on our journey to turn houses into homes!

December 20: 4 Decades of Service

Bassie first began working for ICCF as a young man in 1980. Now, more than four decades later, Bassie has worked to restore hundreds of homes in Grand Rapids. Along the way, he has impacted countless individuals with his hard work. “I would meet with the families [receiving housing through ICCF] and walk through the house with them,” said Bassie. “There was one house that I remember. This little girl was 8 or 9 years old and she started crying, saying ‘This is my bedroom!’ I get goosebumps every time I think of that day.”

December 19: Recognizing Leadership

ICCF couldn’t ask for a better advocate than Kevin Einfeld. Through his years of leadership on our Board of Directors to the work of his company (BDR Custom Homes) at Family Haven and in the Baxter neighborhood, Kevin’s many contributions continue to create affordable housing opportunities that add beauty to our neighborhoods. Kevin’s positive attitude is infectious and motivates others to help carry out the mission of ICCF.

December 18: Shelter for Families

Family Haven, which celebrated its 31st anniversary this year, provides temporary shelter to families experiencing homelessness. Our staff comes alongside families during their stay to identify the barriers that lead to homelessness, while also helping them secure permanent housing, employment, transportation, and educational opportunities.

December 17: Finding Independence

Jonathan has faced tough obstacles, including a difficult medical diagnosis. He has found independence, stability, and a place to call home at an affordable apartment at 415 Franklin.

December 16: Achieving Housing Goals

Latoya is a single mom who grew up in Grand Rapids. She became a mother at a young age and worked hard to get a good job in the medical field. She and her two kids received help through the Wyoming Housing Commission, living in one of their subsidized rental homes for 14 years. She attended one of ICCF’s Intro to Homeownership classes in 2016. In 2020, she achieved her goal and became a homeowner! She and Nick were married in February of that same year and they began their new life together in a home that they love.

December 15: Families Find Shelter

More than 20 years ago, Veronica and her family sought emergency shelter at ICCF’s Family Haven. Now Veronica is a team member at ICCF who helps other families reach housing stability in the midst of crisis. As a Senior Housing Resource Specialist at ICCF and one of the managers of Family Haven, Veronica has stayed committed to her promise of giving herself and other families a better life.

December 14: A Lasting Legacy

Les and Marilyn Oosterbaan gave their first gift to ICCF 30 years ago in 1990, the same year Family Haven opened. Over the next 29 years, they kept giving every year without fail. In December 2020, ICCF received a financial gift from Les and Marilyn’s estate based on an arrangement they had made with Barnabas Foundation ten years earlier. We used their legacy gift to cover the largest share of the funds needed to renovate the brand new sixth unit of Family Haven, our emergency shelter for families experiencing homelessness.

December 13: Old Building, New Start

At the Emerald Flats ribbon cutting ceremony, we celebrated 50 new units of affordable housing opening in the Highland Park neighborhood. Many community leaders joined us to mark the occasion and celebrate the restoration of this former elementary school to a place where neighbors can thrive!

December 12: Valuable Service

Have we mentioned our volunteers are amazing? Every week, we host volunteers from local businesses, churches, and organizations. They do everything from organizing clothes at Family Haven to repainting a single-family home or landscaping at one of our apartment buildings. In 2021, our volunteers logged 3,105 hours for a total value of $88,616!

December 11: Stability for Our Family

This is Leticia and her son Daniel in front of their new home! ICCF helped empower Leticia to take on the homebuying process. She met with a housing counselor and learned about available properties and resources within Grand Rapids. When asked what her new home means to her, Leticia said, “It’s more than wealth. It’s stability for our family.”

December 10: Engaging Residents

Staff members Kelsey and Anya work on the Resident Engagement team at ICCF. Here they are pictured at a resident open house event to kickoff the grand opening of Steepleview Apartments. They help residents get access to resources in the community for things like education, financial stability, and job seeking. Our team members work with neighbors to achieve their housing goals, wherever they may be on their homeownership journey.

December 9: Celebrating You

Our annual Summer Soiree — complete with yard games, food trucks, and face painting — celebrates our volunteers and donors who consistently give back through ICCF. We are constantly amazed by the generosity of our community. We are proud to live, work, and serve alongside our faithful supporters.

December 8: For Future Generations

This energy-efficient single-family home is being built in the Baxter neighborhood thanks to a special partnership with BDR Custom Homes. The home will be reserved for an income-qualifying family under ICCF’s land trust model. The Community Homes Land Trust provides affordable homeownership opportunities to income-qualified families in West Michigan, while ensuring the long-term affordability of these homes for future generations.

December 7: A Place Where Love is Realized

Robert “Bob” Van Stright has been an advocate for ICCF for 25 years, first as a donor and more recently as a volunteer. We honored Bob with an Ebenezer Award in 2021 to recognize his amazing years of service. Bob has helped with the renovation of 9 homes since 2019. He believes a home provides not only security, but a place where relationships grow, where learning happens, and where love is realized.

December 6: Accessible Spaces

Roommates Alice, Lauren, and Renee were excited to move into their new apartment this summer. Their apartment at ICCF’s new Emerald Flats building was one of several specially designed through a partnership with Oasis Communities of West Michigan, designed to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Together, we envision a thriving community where adults with disabilities can live independently alongside community members.

December 5: Partnerships at 415 Franklin

In 2021, ICCF moved our headquarters to the redeveloped high school building at 415 Franklin. We share this new space with partners like the YMCA early childhood learning center, Madison Church: Franklin Campus, and 40 affordable apartments. It was only through partnerships with many organizations, businesses, nonprofits, ministries, donors, volunteers, and our faithful staff that we were able to bring this vision to fruition. We praise God for His hand that guided us along the way!

December 4: That’s What Home Means to Me

Our neighbor Tina’s homeownership journey began in 2019 when a bank associate referred her to ICCF. Tina had been utilizing Section 8 vouchers to make ends meet. She dreamed of purchasing a home that she could pass down to her six kids as an inheritance, a place they could fall back on in times of need. With the help of ICCF’s IDA program and Community Homes Land Trust, she was able to purchase a home on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. “Home is anywhere my kids are with me,” said Tina. “As long as they’re with me, and they’re happy, then that’s what home means to me.”

December 3: Going Green

We’re proud that many of our developments are LEED certified, a rating system that highlights efforts to create healthy, liveable, and sustainable spaces. Our Stockbridge Apartments earned LEED Silver designation for its environmentally conscious features. It contains 64 mixed-income units, community space, and commercial units on the west side of Grand Rapids. As we restore and develop more homes, creating sustainable spaces is a primary focus.

December 2: Restoring Homes

These cheerful volunteers were part of a group from Orchard Hill Church. They received our 2021 Ebenezer Award in recognition of their outstanding service. In March 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning to hit, Orchard Hill took on 5 homes as part of their spring mission week. They continued their commitment to ICCF in the fall when they restored another home and again the next spring when they completed 2 more homes during another mission week!

December 1: Starting the Homeownership Journey

How do you know if you’re ready to buy a home? What resources are available on your homeownership journey? How do you check your credit score, set a budget, and choose the right home? Participants in our Introduction to Homeownership answer all these questions and more. We offer this class in English and Spanish, both in-person and online.

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