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Program connects students and Grand Rapids residents

  • The two-hour program concluded with a walking tour of the West Side, led by residents.
  •  Sergio Cira-Reyes, project director at Westown Collaborative

Posted on August 30, 2016

Students who attended a new orientation program August 25 learned about the history of neighborhoods on Grand Rapids' West Side and met longtime residents who live there. 

More than 50 students living in Grand Rapids attended Good Neighbor Orientation, held at the Seidman Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. The new orientation program invited students who reside on the West Side to learn about the areas in which they live, work and study. 

It's an area where Grand Valley has an increasing presence, said Melissa Baker-Boosamra, associate director for Student Life. 

"The neighborhoods that surround campus have been here for a very long time. While students living off-campus in rental houses are often temporary residents, the neighborhood around them is impacted by Grand Valley," Baker-Boosamra said. "It's important for students to understand the area's history, character and how to be a good neighbor." 

Representatives from Westown Collaborative, a group of organizations that supports residents and causes of the community, attended the event, as well as representatives from two neighborhood associations: West Grand Neighborhood Organization and John Ball Area Neighbors. West Grand Rapids includes more than 28,000 residents.

Sergio Cira-Reyes, project director at Westown Collaborative, said the West Side embraces students as residents and wants to better integrate them into the community. "We want longtime residents and students to talk and listen to each other," he said.

During the event, Julie Tabberer, a Grand Valley alumna and librarian for the Grand Rapids Public Library, provided a brief history of West Grand Rapids. A student and West Side resident provided tips on how to be a good neighbor. The pair suggested students know their neighbors' lifestyles, practice good parking etiquette and alert neighbors of gatherings. 

The two-hour program concluded with a walking tour of the West Side, led by residents. 

The Good Neighbor Orientation was organized in collaboration with Grand Valley, WGNO, West Side Collaborative, JBAN Neighborhood Association, The Other Way Ministries and Grand Rapids Public Library.  

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