Senior citizens should not be afraid in their own homes. That was something community activist Adeline Kuzma believed, and two assaults in her own home -- the second one even after she applied safety tips offered by WGNO -- underscored that belief. In memory of Adeline, a program named after her was instituted to boost senior safety in the neighborhood. Adeline's Promise provides locks for seniors to put on their homes, trims bushes, shovels sidewalks, installs smoke detectors, repairs plumbing, provides home-security checks -- just about anything a senior needs to feel safer. The program is operated free of charge to seniors, through a system of volunteers, and in partnership with Hoogerhyde Safe and Lock.
Auto Theft Prevention Authority
A specially designed program to combat auto theft, ATPA is supported by a Michigan State Police grant. Through ATPA, each automobile's Vehicle Identification Number is engraved on all pieces of auto glass with a stencil and special acid. Because thieves can't re-sell a VIN-etched car without exposing their activity, and because replacing auto glass is prohibitively expensive, research shows that autos with VIN-etched glass are far less likely to be stolen. Many insurance companies offer reduced premiums to owners of cars with VIN-etched glass. Two retired policemen, Jim Brower and Rob Prescher, coordinate the ATPA program throughout southern Michigan, and work out of the WGNO office.
An effort for businessmen to watch out for each other’s mutual interests is coordinated by WGNO. Businessmen monitor activity in the community, under the auspices of a number of Business Watch Captains, with a structure very similar to that of the Neighborhood Watch program. Businessmen can share information about avoiding risky clients, bad-check passers, cleaning up panhandling areas and telephone poles inundated with unsightly fliers, etc.
Galvanizing our neighborhood through comprehensive instruction in using programs and tools for community improvement, through a neighborly approach to community activism, is one of WGNO's central objectives. WGNO, works to help instruct residents and businesses about communicating with city departments such as Housing, Zoning, Planning, Streets and Sanitation, and the Judicial System. They also work as a neighborhood improvement sounding board by asking residents their opinions about issues and developments which have impact on the area, including how to grow the neighborhood positively and avoid what residents perceive as negative growth.
Neighborhood/Business Watch Groups are formed, and Watch Captains are designated, with instruction on how to keep neighbors informed about criminal activity, and tools to combat that activity and avoid being victimized. They partner with Grand Rapids Police Department to offer proactive crime-prevention techniques. Community Officers from the GRPD, work with WGNO to inform residents and businesses how to avert and avoid criminal activity.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
CPTED is a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design. CPTED focuses on enhancement of lighting, design of buildings and open spaces, to discourage criminals. Free CPTED surveys can be arranged through WGNO.
Annually, WGNO oversees a city-funded program whereby neighborhood residents can bring a wide array of disposables to a line-up of dumpsters, at City View Church, and dispose of them. Almost anything can be discarded as long as it is non-toxic, excluding car batteries, gas-powered items, paint cans and tires. Almost 90 tons of disposables were collected at the Dumpster Day, in June 2011.
West Grand Farmer’s Market
WGNO coordinates Farmer’s Markets during the spring, summer and fall, where residents can purchase farm-fresh produce. The organization currently sponsors weekly Farmer’s Markets, on Thursdays at Leonard Christian Reformed Church. Farmer’s Markets begin in May and conclude in October.
West Grand Youth Leaders
WGNO is looking for youths between 5th and 12th grades that would like to volunteer in their community by helping to run programs here at West Grand Neighborhood Organization. Click the button below to learn what programs our youth leaders are running.
WGNO participates in, and in some cases coordinates, a number of fund-raising activities to advance the vitality of the organization and the community. Among those fundraising functions is Taste of Grand Rapids. Fund-raising activities spur volunteerism and allow residents and business owners a sense of neighborhood ownership.
WGNO helps coordinate a web of neighborhood eyes and ears, all with a design to reduce the impact and incidence of criminal activity within residential areas. Block Captains are designated to serve as lead monitors for each residential block.
A e-newsletter is published for WGNO members, containing information not otherwise available on this Web site. The Web site includes standing information that regularly affects and benefits residents and businesses, and is updated frequently.
Personal Safety Presentations
Businesses can coordinate with WGNO to have a trained Personal Safety Representative instruct employees on methods for staying safe at work, protecting personal property, leaving work safely after dark, and other factors related to personal safety. Neighborhood Watch presentations with similar information, most commonly targeted at seniors, also can be arranged through the organization.
Turner Gateway, Murals, Raingardens
For 30 years, WGNO has maintained the Turner St. Gateway of small gardens as a beautification project, and regulated the largest raingarden in the nation, which monitors water runoff from the two major highways which intersect in downtown Grand Rapids, into the Grand River. The raingardens can be observed from 4th Street, underneath the junction of Interstate 196 and U.S. Highway 131. WGNO also commissioned the murals at the raingarden, and another on the side of 418 Leonard St. N.W., at the area considered the gateway to the West Leonard Business District.