WHO WE ARE

Guiding Light is a team dedicated to walking alongside individuals as they engage in the hard work of transformation, embrace their God-given dignity, and pursue the potential of their lives.

TEAM GUIDING LIGHT

Our vision is to awaken the person with addictions to the possibility of becoming physically, emotionally, and spiritually transformed. Our goal for men and women is lifelong recovery and a new way of being in relationship with the world.

The staff here has a vested, personal interest to the work we do.

Did you know that over half of our dedicated employees are graduates of the Guiding Light addiction rehab and recovery program? To all of us, it is not just a day job. It is a calling and a commitment.

Mark Scheffler

Mark Scheffler, Operations Associate
616-451-0236
Ops@GuidingLightWorks.org

Jalen Thomas

Jalen Thomas, Intake Coordinator
616-881-4790 (cell)
Intake@GuidingLightWorks.org

Jill VanderEnde, Major Gifts Officer
616-451-0236

Melaina Smits

Melaina Smits, Administrative Coordinator
616-451-0236
Melaina@GuidingLightWorks.org

Scott Davidson

Scott Davidson, Front Desk Associate
616-451-0236

GUIDING VALUES

These are five foundational values of Guiding Light:

WAKE UP!

 …Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, and I must go and wake him up.” Jn 11:11

LIVE AT CAUSE.

“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” Prov 12:11

HONOR GOD’S GIFTS.

“In all things give thanks for this is the will of our God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thes 5:18

EMBRACE THE DISCOMFORT.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. However, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” Heb 12:11-12

SHOW UP!

 “Do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but exhort and encourage one another especially as you see the day drawing near.” Heb 10:25

In Him was life, and that Life was the light of all mankind.

JOHN 1:4

Letter from the Guiding Light Board of Directors to our community: 

Guiding Light is about change—changing the course of each life to reflect God’s plan for health and happiness and spiritual peace. That is our calling and our passion. While historically Guiding Light has served predominantly men, we are taking up the call to expand the life-transforming addiction recovery services to the women of our community.

This ministry is showing such growth, unimagined just a few years ago. Iron House, The Job Post, and Guiding Light Recovery are yielding rich fruits for our men, the organization, and our community. From this growth and success, late 2022 we opened 2 sober living homes for women. These structured, supported homes are running at full capacity. We plan an intial pilot addiction treatment program for women to start early 2024.

We still do what we have always done – share Christ’s love by offering a hand to those at the end of their rope. Now, our local charity offers even more – real, sustainable recovery, supported with safe, affordable housing and employment that leads to full social re-engagement and personal restoration. 

This Strategic Plan charts our course for the coming years. It includes our Mission, Vision, Goal Statements and Objectives, Guiding Principles and our Dashboard. As our partners, we hope you will look carefully at these vibrant plans to meet our God-given opportunities in the future.

Real change is hard work—whether that is in a life or an organization. It takes a vision and determined commitment; and it takes many hands. Nobody changes alone—that is true for our clients and it is true for an organization. You will see this clearly in this Strategic Plan. Thank you for being part of this amazing organization, fulfilling this wonderful mission that impacts lives deeply and permanently, for the Glory of God and the coming of God’s Kingdom.

Guiding Light Board of Directors

Andy Odenhal, Board Chair, Varnum Law

Elizabeth Bovard-Strong, Board Secretary

Steve Jandernoa, Board Treasurer, 42 North Partners

Paul Davies, Director, The Mediator Group LLC

Ed Postma, Director, Plan It Financial Group

Kate Morton, Director, WXMI Fox 17

Kyle Kunnen, Director, Mercantile Bank

Dee Dee Taylor, Director, Goodwill Industries

Dave Teater, Director, Reach Recovery

Tania DeVries, Director, PNC Private Bank

A LOCAL CHARITY FOUNDED IN HISTORY, CONTINUING IN SERVICE

historical photo of the grand rapids mission building in the 1920s

Through Rescue, Recovery, and Re-Engagement, Guiding Light is committed to walking alongside individuals as they engage in the hard work of transformation, embrace their God-given dignity, and pursue the potential of their lives. We combine innovative programming with long-term relational investment to offer men and now women struggling with chronic addiction – and associated homelessness, unemployability, and isolation – a unique and successful solution. 


Founded in 1929, right before the Great Depression hit, Guiding Light has seen many different eras in our community. One thing that remains the same is Guiding Light’s commitment to serve those experiencing poverty, addiction, and cycles of broken relationships. Based in the Heartside neighborhood, with affordable sober-living apartments in Kentwood as a next option after completing our addiction rehab program, Guiding Light offers programming to address big-picture issues: Employment… Housing… Addiction Rehab and Recovery, and Community Re-building.

No longer the traditional homeless shelter from which we began, we are committed to both the non-duplication of services and being good neighbors to the life-giving local charity organizations around us. In addition to our primary programs, we still continue to:

  • Provide a warming/cooling center in times of extreme temperatures
  • Offer warm clothes, coats, and boots to those needing winter gear
  • Share significant amounts of food and food supplies with our neighboring Heartside organizations and surrounding communities.

But our own strategy of helping the homeless has changed to one that, when successful, takes the homeless or downtrodden man off the street permanently. When he takes yet another step and helps others on a similar journey, the circle of sustainability continues.

Our Financials

To the right is our 2022 Annual Report. Below is our Financial Audit and 990 Tax Form for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022.