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“The Other Way” hosts A Westown Adventure

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 Save the date: May 16th is your opportunity to explore this time-honored community ministry

Written by Matthew Nickels (mnickels5

A collection of plastic bags hangs from the door-handle outside the offices of “The Other Way” Ministries. As cars pass on West Fulton Street the bags sway and crinkle in the sudden breeze on an otherwise still, spring day. Kyle Van Strien answers my knocking with a smile and ushers me in. Before closing the door he grabs the bags, knotted tightly around the handle, holds them up and says, “For our food pantry.” He has agreed to give me a preview tour of “The Other Way” in preparation for the upcoming event. 

The May 16th event, titled A Westown Adventure is an opportunity for you, the community, to explore “The Other Way” Ministry. “In the past we have tried videos and entertainment groups like River City Improv,” Kyle says, “but we feel that people want to know about what we do, not how we can entertain them.” So this year they are trying something new: A Tour. There are 7 unique properties located strategically throughout the neighborhood, and each is the host for a variety of activities. This year you are invited to experience them all. 

Your tour will start at 3pm at the Jean Czarnecki Family Center on Sibley Avenue NW, between Straight and Lane Streets. (Parking is available at Sibley Elementary School and the Westside Complex, on either side of the Family Center) You will be shuttled from building to building and hear from leaders about the activities and services they provide to the community. You will hear from neighbors about the impact the programs have had on their lives. Bring your walking shoes, be prepared to hear many inspiring stories, and don’t worry about packing a snack. There will be a light dinner at the end of your tour. 

The Family Center, originally built as a day-care center, has served for the past two years as a family development center. They host picnics and dinners for families in the community, parenting courses, and English as a Second Language classes. The center also has a cooperative. Families earn credits for attendance and use them to buy household items like cleaning supplies and home furnishings. 

You will then be driven to the Garden of Eatin’, an urban garden, operated by “The Other Way” and volunteers. By May 16th, the garden should be just sprouting. The obvious goal, free food for the neighborhood, is coupled with a vision for greater community involvement by the residents. Your next stop is the Main Office. Here, you will get a taste of the Christ-centered mission of “The Other Way” and be invited to pray for individuals and families involved in the programs. 

A very successful program that will be highlighted on your tour is the Youth Employment Services (Y.E.S.) program. Y.E.S. is a summer lawn service staffed by kids in the neighborhood and college interns. Ministry Leaders hope that you will be encouraged to participate in the tremendous success of this program and others like it. 

Summer is the busiest time of year for “The Other Way” Ministries. Kids are out of school and the warm weather encourages families to be active in their communities. Because May is the unofficial beginning of summer in Michigan, ministry leaders decided it would be a great time to invite people to discover “The Other Way”.  “There are a lot of different ways we walk with families in the community,” Kyle responds to a question about ministry partners, “we are always looking for people who want to be involved in Westown.” 

Your tour will end at the back at the Family Center. This place is always buzzing with people and events and today will be no different. You will gather with other groups as they finish their tours and chat about your experiences. “The Other Way” invites you and your family to join them on Sunday, May 16th, from 3-5pm. “We have been in the neighborhood for 43 years,” Kyle adds, “and we want people to know who we are and what we do.” 

To RSVP, call (616)454-4011 ext 5112, or visit the website at


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