Community Connectors

Community connectors and Bates Place staff seek to support neighbors through building trust developing gifts and participating in change. Our staff hopes to fulfill the vision and mission by prioritizing the following activities: discovering available assets and resources, connecting neighbors in areas of shared concern, collaborating with others around particular initiatives, and communicating opportunities for significant involvement.

Staff & Connectors

  • Jerry Baker

    Jerry has been living in the Bates and Henry area of Grand Rapids for over five years.  He comes from a large, close family (i.e. eight brothers and sisters) and, after some bad choices as a young man, spent 25 years in the commercial tire business.  Jerry is currently a self-employed, small business entrepreneur who enjoys reading, drawing, painting, and fishing.  His action-oriented love for people is evident and fits well with the ongoing work of the connecting team.

  • Joshua Holwerda

    Josh is a graduate of Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary who has been practicing asset based community development (ABCD) for 12 years.  He has been a part of several initiatives In Muskegon and Grand Rapids that have included community gardens, safety awareness, a children's playground, and neighborhood block parties.  Josh enjoys going door to door and speaking to neighbors about their dreams.  "It is neat to see the ‘light click on’ as neighbors understand more fully their potential for getting dreams from concept to reality."  When he is not walking any given neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Josh is looking after his two kids.

  • Luke Dehaan

    Born and raised in West Michigan, Luke has felt called to cross-cultural work since high school and has pursued that call.  He graduated from GVSU with a degree in secondary education and spent four years as a teacher in West Africa.  Luke returned to put down roots in Grand Rapids, and living and working on the southeast side has opened his eyes to issues of poverty, privilege, gentrification, and fair housing … among others.  His work as a community connector reflects a deep hope and desire to see the Bates Place neighborhood emerge as a vibrant community where neighbors reach their potential, and band together to meet local challenges and opportunities.   

  • Wayne squires

    Wayne has a background in pastoral ministry, business management, and nonprofit consulting.  He is an experienced coach and trainer of ABCD and co-author of Building Leaders to Build Community: A Community Connector Workbook.  He has had the privilege of developing several leaders and organizations for appreciative, highly relational, place-based strategies of community engagement.  Wayne is enthused about the opportunity to help Bates Place Neighbors become a catalyst for neighbor-centered social change.  He and his wife Vicki have lived in a southeast side GR neighborhood for nearly 30 years, and they remain motivated by the opportunities and challenges of good neighboring.

  • mark oostindie

    Mark has been a Resource Specialist with Bates Place for several years. He is also self-employed, helping businesses and families in the area of financial planning. Mark brings his personal experiences, financial skills, and awareness of community resources into his staff role at BPN. He is able to help friends and neighbors navigate difficult life situations through mutual planning, supportive coaching, and meaningful connections with available community resources. This reflects one of Mark’s top priorities: building caring and positive relationships with our southeast side neighbors. He and his wife Kathy, who happens to work as Church Administrator at First Church, have three adult children.

  • Ren miller

    Ren grew up in Grand Rapids and had the opportunity to learn about transformative development work as a college student and after graduating while living in Central America. In highly disparate areas of Guatemala City, Ren witnessed the potential for empowerment and the deep value and restored dignity when residents are at the center of the development of their own communities. Ren moved back to Grand Rapids with an interest in learning more about ABCD work in their own city. Ren has connected with the Bates Place team for over a year and is grateful to be a recent addition to the team. Ren appreciates extending and receiving hospitality from neighbors as connections develop and hopes that way of shared living becomes contagious.

  • araceli eikenberry

    Growing up in the Muskegon area, she has cultivated a long-term passion for seeking justice, especially with regard to race, class, the environment, and access to nutritious foods.  Via an inter-church partnership, Araceli also had the benefit of being oriented to ABCD practices and priorities. As one who appreciates the power of stories, Araceli is a good listener and a “natural” at deepening conversations and capturing key feedback. She has particularly enjoyed meeting and following up with Allen Manor residents and using her gifts to help plan for a community garden.