About Us

Thrive:  A Refugee Support Program’s mission is to provide Grand Rapids area refugees with a helping hand up by providing the services and opportunities needed to physically, economically and emotionally thrive in the community as our neighbors.

Our ESL Class meets on Sundays from 11:00 to 12:30pm- we have chosen this time to catch the people who are working 6 days a week to support their families!  The class is currently Swahili speaking Congolese refugees and Burmese refugees, although it is open to all refugees.  Volunteers can assist in teaching the class, helping with the refugee children while the parents are in class, or with transportation.

Our Cultural Broker Program works with refugees who have been in this country past the original three to six months that the resettlement agencies provide support.  This program connects refugees to volunteers for additional social support and assistance in adjusting to life in the United States and all that entails!  The volunteers given social work support to be more able to meet the needs of their refugee partners.  Between the volunteers and staff, this program acts somewhat like a case management system.  It is entirely voluntary for the refugee family.

To refer a family to our Cultural Broker program, please fill out the following form and email it to us at refugeesupportgr@hotmail.com.  Please note that we are attempting to work with families that would benefit from approximately a year of teaching/ support services, and that our main focus is NOT transportation to appointments.

We are currently unable to accept new families due to our high caseload.  Please check back for updates on when we might accept new families into the program.


Jessica Gladden, LMSW, PhD
Executive Director
(616) 206-4477

Raquel Owens
Cultural Broker Coordinator
(269) 303-3371

Transportation Coordinator, Employment
David Apol


Rev. Marcia Elders
President, Board of Directors

Anne Foltice
Vice- President, Board of Directors

David Apol
Treasurer and Secretary, Board of Directors

Ted Jauw
 Member, Board of Directors

Jessica Gladden
Member, Board of Directors

Greg Lawton
Member, Board of Directors

Raquel and Josh Owens
Members, Board of Directors


Internship/ Work Study Students
Thrive: A Refugee Support Program
Rachael Mack
GVSU Student

Emily Hoisington
GVSU student

Amelia Ackley
GVSU Student



We are located in South Wyoming United Methodist Church.  Please contact us to learn about how you can become involved!

South Wyoming United Methodist Church
2730 56th St. SW
 Wyoming, MI 49418

(616) 206-4477



                          As always, you can help by donating to Thrive now!

Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint
MapQuest Terms and Conditions Maps/Directions are informational only. User assumes all risk of use. MapQuest, Vistaprint, and their suppliers make no representations or warranties about content, road conditions, route usability, or speed.