Meet your neighbors

In an effort to connect with our neighbors and to help them connect with one another, our team is working to collect neighbor stories.  Whether measuring time in the neighborhood in months or decades every neighbor has a story worth telling. As we listen to and share those stories we hope that our neighbors will form deeper connections as they share their experiences and hopes for their place in 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...  Click to read more!

  • What do you like about this neighborhood?

    I really enjoy Pleasant Park.  When I first lived here as a student it was a parking lot, so to see what it’s become is really great.  The cemetery is also a great place to go on a quiet walk. There are also a lot of great shops close by, Art of the Table, Cherry Hill Market, and others are great places to grab a snack or a bottle of wine.  Click here to read more.

  • What are your best memories from living on this block?

    Oh yeah, the kids, growing up everybody played in the neighborhood.  All the neighbors looked out for everyone. And you knew everybody. You knew everybody and you knew everybody’s kids, at least in the 400 and 500 block.  As kids we had a radius too. We couldn’t just wander around. We had to be on the porch by the time the street light came on. And we did! And everybody followed rules.    Click here to read more!

  • 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. They bought the farmhouse on four acres of property and rented other land as sharecroppers. Ethel and her mom lived not only with her grandparents but also her great grandmother, one uncle, three aunts, and several cousins. They grew and canned all the vegetables and fruits they needed and had a smokehouse to process the chickens and hogs that were slaughtered.