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Guiding Light to Spotlight Addiction Recovery During Feb. 18 Virtual Ministry Update

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

The community is invited to join Guiding Light's virtual Ministry Update on Thursday, Feb. 18. Hosted on Facebook and LinkedIn, the virtual event will begin at 7 p.m. and focus on how the nonprofit is preparing to meet increased demand for its addition recovery services.

About Guiding Light

Founded in 1929 as the West Fulton St. Mission, Guiding Light has grown into a robust recovery and re-engagement 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 will host a virtual Ministry Update on Thursday, Feb. 18 focused on how the nonprofit is preparing to meet increased demand for its rescue, recovery and re-engagement programming.

The Grand Rapids-based nonprofit will begin the virtual event at 7 p.m. on its Facebook and LinkedIn pages to share the latest about Guiding Light Recovery, the organization’s intensive drug and alcohol treatment program.  

The community is invited to tune in to hear from Guiding Light Development Director Starla McDermott and Recovery Director Brian Elve, who will discuss how the men in the Recovery program have been adapting to challenges brought on the pandemic and the rising need for recovery programming in the community. West Michigan radio personality Phil Tower is volunteering his time as emcee for the virtual program.

“The pandemic has made our work more challenging and more necessary than ever,” McDermott said. “We continue to see an increase in people turning to alcohol consumption and other substances to cope with fear and grief during this time of isolation. We are also bracing for a wave of evictions and foreclosures that will create housing insecurity for thousands in our state.

“As the need continues to increase in West Michigan, we appreciate the opportunity to share our stories with those who can provide support.”

Over the last decade, Guiding Light has transformed from a traditional homeless shelter to a recovery and re-engagement community with four main programs – Recovery, Back to Work, The Job Post and Iron House. 

Known on the street as “no-joke recovery,” Guiding Light’s peer-run Recovery program provides an intensive residential treatment path for men who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. The four- to six-month program combines evidence-based practices, life-coaching, therapy, support groups, spiritual direction and resources to equip men to stay sober, reconnect with their families and re-engage with work and with society. 

The organization restarted intake for the Recovery program with several new safety precautions in place this past summer. Intake had been steady to start, but since the beginning of 2021, Guiding Light has seen a sharp uptick in the number of inquiries and program enrollments for Recovery. Elve attributes the increases to the continued stresses brought on by the pandemic.

According to a survey study published in JAMA Network Open in September, researchers found that alcohol consumption among adults increased by 14% from 2019 to 2020. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll during mid-July found 53% of adults in the U.S. reported negative mental health effects connected to the coronavirus, including increased alcohol and substance use. 

With the increased demand for its rescue, recovery and re-engagement programming, Guiding Light has implemented safety precautions to ensure the continued health of program participants and staff. The isolation mandated by the pandemic has put the onus on staff to find creative and safe ways to establish and support community. During the Ministry Update, Elve will share how staff has worked to balance the need to stay healthy with the need for connection and support.

For more information, visit or contact McDermott at [email protected] to make a donation.

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