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KidsFirst Stories

Watch this incredible story of how Brandon's life was impacted by the KidsFirst Emergency Shelter located on the St. John's Home campus of D.A. Blodgett - St. John's. We are so proud of Brandon!

Below are some real stories of real people who have been impacted through the KidsFirst emergency shelter. Click on their names to read how we are helping make a difference in their lives.


Hi, my name is Marcus, and this is my story:

When I was 12 years old, I was removed from my mother’s home. She had a problem with drugs and it wasn’t safe for me to live there. So I came to the KidsFirst Program. I was scared at first, but I soon learned that I would be safe there.

I was placed with a great lady, Diane Rush, in her foster home. She had several sons of her own. All of the sudden, I had older brothers who gave me support and guidance along with Miss Diane. I knew that she was doing this for all the right reasons. She was a great mother to me!

I graduated from Ottawa Hills High School and went on to Grand Rapids Community College. I completed the tech program. Now I work for Betz Industries, a local manufacturer. It’s a great place to work.

I stopped by KidsFirst the other day to see my friends there. So many of the people I met when I was 12 years old are still there after all these years! And I see Miss Diane about once a week. It’s my way of telling her “thank you” for being there for me when I needed a mother.


Toby’s Story
Toby was just past his third birthday when he came to KidsFirst, the emergency shelter for children at the St. John’s campus. His father decided he no longer wanted his beautiful, healthy toddler, so when he caught the Greyhound from Grand Rapids to Detroit he simply left Toby in the terminal.

An alert citizen called the police, who immediately brought him to a big house on St. John’s campus. A friendly counselor fed him a bowl of spaghetti, then gave him milk and a cookie. She gave him a gentle health check up, a bubble bath, and some clean overalls. Finally, she rocked Toby to sleep. Meanwhile, Protective Services located Toby’s family. By dinner time, a case worker arrived to take Toby to his grandmother’s home.

KidsFirst never closes. When a child needs a safe refuge, we are ready.


Corrie’s Story
Corrie seemed like a typical “street kid” when police dropped her off at KidsFirst one cold November night. “She was a wreck,” Berg remembers. “Dirty, scared, and hungry. She couldn’t stop crying. We learned she’d run away from a shelter in Iowa she said was like a jail. It’s no wonder she was so scared.”

Corrie soon realized things would be different at KidsFirst. She had her own cheerful room, some new clothes, and a tutor to help her in school. She pitched in to prepare a big Thanksgiving dinner and then decorated the house for
Christmas. The staff took her ice skating and to see Cinderella at the Civic Theater. She asked to start going to church with one of her counselors.

“She really changed in just a few weeks. She started helping me plan for her return to Iowa,” Berg says. “She was ready to work on her problems at a residential treatment program there.”

In late January, Corrie returned to Iowa. The next month, Berg received a letter. She wrote, “I miss all you very much! The original plan was for me to go to residential for six to nine months then to a foster home. But now, state training school is on the list. I’ve been praying so much, but it’s hard to stay happy. Life in this shelter is nowhere near as nice and comfortable. You gave me hope when I thought I couldn’t go on. You have no idea how much you helped me. Always, Corrie.”

Dan wrote back, but a few days later his letter came back marked, “addressee unknown.” “I have no idea what has happened to Corrie or why,” Dan says. “Like a lot of kids right here in Michigan, the last thing she needs is to be locked up. She needs a family.”

If there’s one thing that can undermine Berg’s natural good humor, it’s the shortage of foster homes. “If I could change one thing about my work, there would be a lot more foster homes. We have great kids who just need somebody to care for them.”