Giving Back with Gracious Grounds

Sandy Baker
Sandy Baker
Photo: Sandy Baker

By Steph Lulofs

About the organization

Gracious Grounds is a faith-based place where the primary goals are to help people with unique abilities find housing, meaningful employment, and social and educational opportunities.

Gracious Grounds believes it is important to encourage its residents to become immersed in the community by creating connections and friendships, offering services to the community, and getting involved with community leaders.

Meet Sandy Baker, executive director

How did you get started here?

I am a retired special education teacher, I am also the mother of a 26-year-old son with Down syndrome. My son, students and families I served throughout my career are the catalysts for the creation of Gracious Grounds. I knew when I retired from teaching that something else was on the horizon, and I knew of the unmet needs for housing and transportation for my son and the students I served. Gracious Grounds was created to support families looking for housing options for their loved ones with unique needs.

What kind of impact does Gracious Grounds have on the community?

We presently house 15 residents and all of the residents have part-time employment in our community and have done hundreds, probably thousands, of hours of volunteer work in our community. They worship in our churches, use the public transportation system, and belong to clubs and organizations. It’s my belief that our community is a better community with the residents of Gracious Grounds residing in it. I’ve always believed that my son and the students I worked with make us — all of us — better people. 

Why this matters

I’ve always advocated, “If you pair up my son with your most apathetic employee, they will be a better employee after training my son.” It is a win-win for both involved. The not-so-motivated employee is given an opportunity to train someone, and my son benefits from that motivation. It’s my impression that a more caring community is created, and people operate in a more compassionate mode. 

How you can help

We accept financial donations from the community to keep our doors open and to continue to grow. Donations of paper products and food are always welcome, and finally, the donation of the gift of time from talented individuals who would like to volunteer.

Gracious Grounds
1515 S. Despelder St.
Grand Haven