History of In The Image
In 1987, Rev. Barb Peckich and Rev. George Heartwell noticed a few homeless men digging through a pile of discarded clothing in the corner of Heartside Ministries’ chapel.
People often donated clothes to the church, and all too often they would end up in a pile—unorganized, unsorted and unavailable to those who needed them. Barb and George saw no dignity in that, and began thinking of a better way to serve the needs of their neighborhood.
Kay Bond, Jeannette Hayes and Eddie Prong were recruited as volunteers to start a clothing bank in the basement of Heartside Ministries. By 1988, a program was established.
By 1989, with help from Con Moelling, a volunteer and local real estate developer, they opened a storefront at 25 S. Division. The new program was named In The Image, following Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 25, that all men and women are created in the image of Christ and worthy of being treated with dignity in all areas of life.
At the new location, In The Image began to grow. Donated clothing and housewares were displayed in a store atmosphere for clients to shop, free of charge. At that time, In The Image served about 200 people each month.
In 1990, a used city van was donated and In The Image also began to deliver donated furniture.
Growth and Change
In 1991, under Con Moelling’s leadership, In The Image relocated to a larger facility at 111 S. Division. The new location attracted more donations and more shoppers.
In The Image began to outgrow its sponsorship through Heartside Ministries, and started on the journey to become an independent non-profit agency.
On January 1, 1994, with three paid employees and one truck, In The Image was on its own. Through the contributions of staff and volunteers, furniture was delivered to 425 families and more than 16,000 shoppers were served.
Throughout the 1990s, In The Image continued to grow in scope and size. In its first five years, furniture deliveries and shoppers increased nearly 300 percent. In 1999, Paul Haagsman joined the organization as Associate Director, in charge of fundraising and operations support. He eventually took over operations as Executive Director and moved the operation to 1823 S. Division Ave. where it still stands.
Paul led In The Image into a decade of growth caused by the economic changes of the Grand Rapids Community. In The Image saw it's S.H.O.E.S. (Shoes Help Our Elementary Students) Program serve over 6000 at risk elementary school students in Grand Rapids and increased the number of families served to over 600 per week.
In 2009, Paul left In The Image in the capable hands of Jay Starkey. A longtime leader in the for profit world and a man that over came a childhood of poverty and a period of homelessness, Jay has used his life experiences and passion to challenge In The Image to extend the scope and coverage of it's services. While, focusing on the individual dignity of every person that is served.
In 2012, In The Image distributed over 9000 pair of brand new shoes to children in the Grand Rapids, Wyoming, and Kentwood School Districts. The number of families served per week increased to over 900. The building has seen major enhancements. And, as the needs of the community change, In The Image is rising up to the challenge of helping at-risk families at NO CHARGE to them!
The history of In The Image and those that serve and are served continue to develop. As God leads, In The Image follows!