In an effort to connect with our neighbors and help them connect with one another, our team is working to collect neighbor stories. Regardless of length of time in the neighborhood, every neighbor has a story worth telling. As we listen to and share these stories, we hope our neighbors will form deeper connections around their experiences and dreams for the neighborhood.
Dr. Bishop Walter Durham is a man of amazing insight. Having lost his sight 17 years ago, the result of exposure to Agent Orange and a diabetic condition, he is a neighbor aware of people around him and alert to their ongoing social and economic challenges. He currently lives on Thomas street and has lived and worked on the southeast side for the last 35 years after moving back to Grand Rapids in the early 80’s.
Denise has lived in the neighborhood for 56 years after moving here with her mother at the age of three.
Elijah Libbett is affectionately known as the Street Preacher on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. He is the Owner-Operator of Ellnora’s Kitchen located at 547 Eastern Avenue SE. The restaurant was named in honor of his late mother and has become a place of community conversations over some really good soul food.
Larry Weaver is an Apostolic preacher with roots in Flint. He was commissioned by his former bishop and sent to Grand Rapids to start a new church 38 years ago. Coming from a city where the majority of residents were African-American, Pastor Weaver was initially surprised to find relative ethnic diversity within the Grand Rapids city limits. This is a context that fits well with his open-door policy and invitational approach to the community.
Mildred turned 84 last October, and it’s quite clear that she enjoys life and the people she continues to meet along the way. She has been a resident at Allen Manor for over three years, having moved from Des Moines to Grand Rapids in 2015. She has an obvious desire to get along with and love her neighbors.
Born in 1930 in Rolling Fork, Ethel lived with her grandparents and extended family members in an old, large farmhouse near the railroad tracks in Elizabeth, MS. After getting married at 17 years of age, Ethel made a number of moves in a short amount of time. In 1950, she eventually moved into her long-term home on Prospect SE and observed that race relations in Grand Rapids were harder than in MS.