• Ann Duchene

Getting To The Heart Of It

Up until now, I've spent plenty of time talking about what the Rabbit & Mitten hotel is going to be like, painting a picture based on what our community wants and needs. And don't worry - things are still clicking on the hotel end.

What I haven't spent much time doing is explaining what else is going on in the building, but I think it's time.

As you know, this hotel concept has never been about making anyone rich. It's been about creating a viable business that fills a gap, while simultaneously giving back into the community we come from. We're working hard to making this something everyone is excited about and proud to call a Grand Ledge business.

One thing you may not know is that I work for a local non-profit named Great Lakes Empowerment Services (GLES). A while ago, our board basically asked, "Why don't we find a building that works for your hotel vision AND meets the needs of our non-profit organization?" So that's what we did. We found this building on Scott Street, and it is perfect for everything both parties need.

For the past several years, GLES has worked to help families create safer and healthier home environments. We focus on decreasing risks that come from things like poor indoor air quality and toxins from radon gas. This, of course, is very rewarding work. However, we've become much more than that.

We discovered that not only could we revolutionize what families experience in their home lives, but we could go a lot deeper with the people we see every single day. Our organization became an excellent platform for offering quality jobs to folks in need of mainstream resources.

And so now, along with improving our greater communities, the mission is to help our own people identify roadblocks that keep them from living their best lives, train in tools that uncover each individual's unique identity and design, and then to figure out how to apply that everyday in a supportive workplace community.

How does this tie in with the hotel? Both Rabbit & Mitten and GLES realize that we'll be stronger standing together, so we're working to figure out exactly how a partnership between us will work. We have the same agendas, so it only makes sense to collaborate. Using the hotel as one more platform, the two organizations will be collaborating to increase our reach.

There are lots of situations that make life feel like it's spinning out of control. Not making enough money to support your family well is one of those things. It creates a cycle of distress and despair. And we can offer work in a meaningful community.

In short, we plan to use the hotel as one more way to offer jobs to folks who find themselves on the edges in our hometown - teens who are having a hard time keeping up in high school, single moms trying to figure out how to make ends meet, or someone who finds themselves in an endless cycle of being hired and let go and just can't figure out why.

So however things shake out between the two organizations, everyone working in this building stands united that...

We rally around connection, not censure.

We value many perspectives, not homogeny.

We seek to co-learn, not patronize.

We aim for simple systems, not bureaucracy.

We chase accountability, not individualism.

We value transparency, not pretense.

We offer relationships, not checklists.

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