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Guiding Light Launches 'Casting Light' Podcast Highlighting Stories of Rescue, Recovery and Reengagement

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“Casting Light, Stories of Recovery and Hope at Guiding Light” will document and share the stories of Grand Rapids men in recovery who have found hope and a new way forward.
Development Director Starla McDermott and West Michigan radio personality Phil Tower record the podcast's introductory episode.

Development Director Starla McDermott and West Michigan radio personality Phil Tower record the podcast's introductory episode. /Guiding Light

About Guiding Light

Founded in 1929 as the West Fulton St. Mission, Guiding Light has grown into a robust recovery and reengagement community designed to help those living at society’s margins fulfill their God-given potential. The nonprofit has been building on a near century of compassion and celebrated more than 90 years of serving Grand Rapids. Through its Back to Work, Recovery and Iron House programs, Guiding Light works with men struggling with addiction and homelessness to return to society. Since 2017, Guiding Light has earned a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, which underscores our commitment to accountability and transparency. For more information, visit

Guiding Light, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit, has launched a weekly podcast series to document and share the stories of Grand Rapids men in recovery who have found hope and a new way forward.

“Casting Light, Stories of Recovery and Hope at Guiding Light” will feature current and former clients of the organization’s social service programs. It will also include conversations with individuals who are a part of clients’ journeys – from the nonprofit’s staff and board to spiritual directors and donors, parents and the employers who give them a second chance.

Listeners will join West Michigan radio personality Phil Tower, the podcast’s host, as he explores how Guiding Light is partnering with individuals to overcome homelessness, addiction and other challenges. The series is being created with support from Tower’s podcasting company, GrandCast Media.

Guiding Light is one of the first West Michigan nonprofits to host a podcast, although it’s becoming an increasingly popular way for organizations to grow their audience and generate awareness of their work as podcast listenership continues to rise in the U.S.

“This podcast will be an engaging way to share what it’s like to be at Guiding Light today and how we’re able to create true change,” Development Director Starla McDermott explained. “We’re always looking for new opportunities to show the important work our donors are enabling us to do, as well as the commitment of our staff and the efforts our clients are making to transform their lives.

“We’re eager to share how we’ve transformed from being a traditional homeless shelter to a leading nonprofit offering rescue, recovery and reengagement programming that breaks the revolving-door cycle we know is prevalent in our community.”

Guiding Light believes the men in its programs must express willingness, honesty, self-awareness, responsibility, vulnerability and self-compassion to create the best opportunity for lifelong success. While talking with Tower, clients will share their successes and failures in overcoming barriers, developing life skills and transitioning back into the mainstream of society.

“This podcast will dive into the rescue story of Guiding Light – not just from addiction and substance abuse or homelessness, but also from job loss, broken relationships and a lack of faith,” McDermott said. “In our programs, men learn about the importance of vulnerability and being honest about their past in order to heal from it. Taking part in this podcast is part of that process of boldly sharing their stories – without shame but with hope – as they learn to live life in a new way.”

A short introductory episode featuring McDermott aired July 8. Subsequent episodes will air every Thursday.

The first full episode, “Bottoming out in Battle Creek,” will air July 15 and feature the story of former client Allen, who came to Guiding Light in June 2020 after a failed suicide attempt in his hometown of Battle Creek. He had been struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction for three decades.

In the second episode, “I Didn’t Want to Die,” former client Doug will share his story of addiction that started when he just 13 years old and progressed to the point that he has few memories of his high school years. He started having seizures from trying to detox at age 22 and came to Guiding Light after five years of struggling to achieve and maintain his sobriety.

Guiding Light’s podcast is currently available on the Captivate podcasting platform at and on Spotify. Each episode also is filmed on camera and shared on the nonprofit’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Vimeo accounts.

If you have benefited from the programming at Guiding Light and want to share your story, reach out to McDermott at [email protected].

Sponsorship opportunities are available for those who would like to support the podcast. For more information, contact McDermott or visit

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