It’s a privilege to hear our clients’ stories. Our goal is to provide support through the highs and lows, good times and bad, struggles and triumphs. Thank you to the clients who share their stories with us and on this site.
Alpha Grand Rapids (AGR) can’t exist without the support of a dedicated community. Faithful prayer partners, committed volunteers, and generous donors all work together to reach local families. Thank you for your willingness to get involved.
Places like the Alpha center made me feel like I was doing something as a dad
Fatima & Quin’s Story
They made you feel comfortable and wanted and reassure you that everything is ok.
I have grown so much. I’ve grown closer to God, I’m more patient, I’m more ambitious, and I’m a better mom.
More Client Stories
“I want to get a better paying job so I can support these handsome guys,” Sarah* said, motioning to her three adorable sons.
Sarah heard about the GED Completion Program at Alpha Grand Rapids (AGR) through the Step Up Mentoring Program. Sarah told her mentor she was interested in nursing and wanted to go to college, but had not completed high school. Sarah’s mentor shared about AGR’s GED Program and how classes are free, held at night, and include one-on-one tutoring. AGR also pays for each student to take the four tests required to receive a GED. Four months later, after attending 2-hour classes every week, taking countless practice tests, and spending hours studying, Sarah received her GED.
“Everyone here [at AGR] is so friendly and has been so supportive. They really want to help me,” Sarah said. “I feel comfortable here. I also really enjoyed the prayer times before class every week; they helped calm me.” Sarah was the first student at AGR to receive her GED with the new testing format, which is significantly more difficult in every subject area. “Sarah is very motivated and a hard worker,” said Valerie Conley, GED instructor. “I am confident that she will be persistent in accomplishing her goals for the future.” Sarah attended an AGR Job Preparedness Seminar after receiving her GED and plans to enroll at Davenport University or GRCC to get her degree in nursing.
*Name has been changed to protect client’s confidentiality
At Alpha Women’s Center of Grand Rapids (AGR), our Step Up Mentoring Program focuses on building relationships between clients and trained mentors. They meet once a month to discuss parenting, healthy relationships, finances, or other topics depending on the client’s interest. Or sometimes, clients come just to talk.
Lynn* and her mentor have been meeting for a year and have a strong relationship. Together, they have worked through Lynn getting married, parenting two kids, abuse in her family, and the loss of her mother. One evening, Lynn walked into AGR with her friend Kelly*, who was in the midst of a crisis. As they sat down in a quiet room with Lynn’s mentor, she observed Kelly’s tired, puffy eyes and how she sat with her arms wrapped around her body—as if she were holding herself together. “She decided to leave her boyfriend this morning,” Lynn told her mentor. “He’s an alcoholic and abusive, and she’s gone back and forth on this decision for a while.” Kelly had called Lynn to come pick her up that morning from her boyfriends house. When Lynn arrived, Kelly frantically left, grabbing clothes and toys for her kids but almost nothing for herself. The mentor turned to Kelly and asked her how she was feeling. Through tears, Kelly responded “Alone. Helpless. Like the world is crashing down around me.” Lynn spoke up immediately. “I know you feel that way right now, but that’s why I knew you needed to come to AGR for help. I’ve been in that situation before, and I felt all those things, but you can get through this, and this is the best place to come. You can come here to talk, you can come here to cry, and they’ll help you get better!”
The three women spent the rest of the session processing through what Kelly had been through. The mentor encouraged Kelly for her desire to be a good mother and role model to her kids. At the end of their session, the mentor offered to continue meeting with Kelly on a weekly basis, and Kelly accepted. Before she left, Kelly went shopping in AGR’s store for clothes, since she had left without grabbing any for herself. She was also able to get blankets, clothes, shoes, formula, and diapers for her kids. Kelly and her mentor continue to meet weekly, and Kelly is now living safety with a friend.
*Names have been changed to protect clients’ confidentiality
“I want to get a degree that lets me help people who’ve gone through the same things I have,” said Nadia.*
Nadia has been coming to Alpha Grand Rapids (AGR) for several years through our Step Up Mentoring Program. She grew up in an unstable home where using drugs was normal, and addiction wasn’t viewed as a problem. Now married with three kids, a hospitalized sister, and a terminally ill mother, Nadia meets monthly with her mentor. Together, they talk about her life—past, present and future. Together, they set goals.
“I’m watching her grow every month,” said Nadia’s mentor. “She is always excited to tell me what she’s been working on since our last session. She has the most positive attitude and soft heart—it inspires me.” Nadia’s mentor encourages her in all aspects of her life including continuing education, taking time for herself, and even planning a date night with her husband. “We went out for dinner and a movie, something we haven’t done it a long time, and we had so much fun!” Nadia said. Nadia is currently attending community college to get a degree in substance abuse counseling. Her dream is to work with an organization that helps women, men and families who have grown up in a home with addiction and drugs. During last month’s session, Nadia’s mentor told her “It’s awesome to see how far you have come!” Nadia responded, “I owe it all to God.”
*Name has been changed to protect client’s confidentiality.
A Message From Some of Our Partners
“The mission here is just incredible, and the more you’re here, the more you see the incredible things God is doing through Alpha.”
– Alpha Donor
“It goes from two strangers being in a room together to a friendship… It’s so rewarding.”
More Partner Stories
As a young woman, Sherry wished she had someone to go to for help. Someone to talk to. Someone who would just listen. Now as a volunteer, mentor and supervisor at Alpha Grand Rapids (AGR), she is able to help others in similar situations.
In 2012, Sherry heard about AGR’s Step Up Mentoring Program through her church. She was searching for a place to get involved and was drawn to AGR. As a wife of 29 years, mother of four children, and soon-to-be grandma, Sherry offers a variety of life experience. “I’ve always had a desire to help other women. Depending on what my client needs, I can be a friend, a teacher, a quiet listener, or even a second mom,” Sherry said. “I am here to love them, to get to know them, and to show them the love of God.”
Sherry is a self-proclaimed “problem solver” and is constantly searching for ways to help people. “It’s hard to see a woman face something I’ve gone through and not get involved,” Sherry said. As a supervisor, Sherry oversees mentors—helping with data entry, developing curriculum, answering questions, and offering advice. With her friendly and positive nature, she’s quick to be a source of support to not only clients, but also volunteers. “I’d be here all the time if I could,” Sherry said enthusiastically. “This is the most rewarding thing I do!”
At AGR, we encourage volunteers to help in the area they’re passionate about and gifted in. For Liz, that area is the administrative department. Liz volunteers at AGR every week reviewing client charts and helping with other tasks, while also coaching a girls’ soccer team, finishing her bachelor’s degree in marketing, and working full time.
“[AGR] told me it didn’t matter where I helped as long as it was something that I enjoyed and that fit my strengths,” Liz said. During her tour of AGR, Liz said she expected it to look like a clinic or a hospital. Instead, she found it warm and welcoming. Soon after her tour, Liz began working where she felt most drawn to- the admin team. “I thought all AGR did was pregnancy tests,” Liz said. “I had no idea they offered so many classes like ESL and Single Moms Support Group!” Liz says she brings up AGR in conversation with friends, coworkers, and family almost daily. She strongly believes there’s a need for this kind of care—not only in our community, but also in society. Liz says she is encouraged by her involvement at AGR. “I love coming in and seeing a bunch of familiar faces thanking me,” Liz said. “I always get a good vibe and know that I am valued and that I am helping.”
What do you do when you have a passion to help international people learn English? Tutor in an English as a Second Language (ESL) class. What do you do when you have a passion for women, families and relationships? Become a mentor. MaryAnn Frazier decided to do both at Alpha Grand Rapids (AGR).
Born and raised in Jordan (between Israel and Iraq) and bilingual in Arabic and English, MaryAnn has a love for culture and people. After spending 17 years in Jordan, she came to America to attend Cornerstone University here in Grand Rapids. When MaryAnn graduated with a degree in Psychology and Family Studies, she started looking for a way to work with women and families. In the summer of 2014, her friend told her AGR was looking for ESL tutors. MaryAnn had experience teaching English to refugees through Bethany Christian Services—she was a perfect fit! A few months after MaryAnn began tutoring for ESL she wanted to do even more—to meet with women one-on-one and build relationships with them. She decided to attend volunteer training and became a Step Up mentor.
MaryAnn wants clients to know that she is here just for them, and has created her own tagline “let’s bond” which she uses when she is first getting to know a client. She says she is highly relational and people are her passion, in part due to being raised in Middle Eastern culture. “I like to listen,” MaryAnn said. “Not to tell people what to do, but just to let them know they can talk, vent, say whatever they want. People have a tendency to jump in and share their own experiences, but I’m just here to listen.”
Although the majority of AGR clients speak English or Spanish, we sometimes have clients that speak other languages. One day, MaryAnn was meeting a client for the first time. When she walked into the waiting room, she realized the client was from the Middle East and spoke very little English. “Here in America, it seems like people are always going somewhere, going to an event, going to do something,” MaryAnn said. “But in the Middle East, people are sitting and talking, with coffee or tea, and just spending time with friends and family.” MaryAnn began speaking Arabic with her and the woman nearly cried. She said it was so comforting to have someone who could understand her—not just her native tongue, but her culture. At AGR, our volunteers are all different ages and backgrounds, and even come from other countries and languages. This intercultural makeup creates a beautiful dynamic that strengthens AGR and lets us better meet the unique needs of our clientele.