Family Support

Family Support

Flat River Outreach Ministries (FROM) provides Family Support programs to help our neighbors address a variety of needs including school supplies, medical equipment, Christmas presents and more. We know that families come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes just need a little extra help to meet needs.

Student Backpack Program

Back to school can be an expensive time for families in need as they try to provide all the supplies needed for a new school year.

In order to help our neighbors in need, FROM offers a Backpack Program to help students start the new year off right by providing a backpack filled with the supplies they need (specific to their school and grade).

The Backpack Program is for families with school age students (pre-school through High School senior) that live in or attend the Lowell Area School, are facing a financial hardship, and are in need of backpacks and school supplies for their children. (Click here to see current federal poverty guidelines)

Registration and Distribution

The Student Backpack Program will be held on Tuesday August 10th, from 9:00am-12:00pm and 4:00pm-7:00pm.

Pre-registration is required

Registration can be made in person during food pantry hours or online by clicking the register button to the right.

For questions or assistance, please call the Connections Office at (616)-897-8260

Main Street Housing

In 2016 in response to the need for affordable housing in our community, FROM purchased two multi-unit homes and five city lots at 504 and 512 E. Main Street that were providing lodging for the most at-risk residents in our community.  Shortly after purchasing the properties, FROM set up Main Street Housing LLC. Main Street Housing is still part of FROM,  but is the arm of the organization focused on affordable housing.

512 E. Main Street was unoccupied when FROM purchased the properties. In 2018 FROM’s Board of Directors voted to raze the building as it was not able to be inhabited and to remodel the building to the point where it could be an additional affordable housing option was cost prohibitive.

504 E. Main Street housed nearly a dozen tenants when FROM purchased the properties, but the building needed many repairs. FROM’s volunteer team immediately went to work adding security features like locks for their doors, smoke detectors and motion censored lighting outside. They also repaired the laundry room (which had not been functional for nearly a decade) and have been making updates and repairs to individual units as needed.

As the landlord for the building, FROM has also worked to foster a sense of community with the tenants by holding monthly tenant meetings which allow tenants to voice and concerns and get to know their neighbors. FROM is also able to connect tenants with any needed resources either at FROM or at partner organizations.

Income Tax Assistance

FROM, through a partnership with United Way and the IRS, offers income tax assistance each year through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Kent County residents who meet the income guidelines can schedule an appointment to have their taxes e-filled for free by IRS trained volunteers at FROM’s Main Office.

This program is open to individuals and families who live in Kent County and meet the income guidelines. In 2021, the income guideline is an annual household income less than $67,000.

How to Schedule an Appointment

Income Tax Assistance appointments can be made after January 20, 2022 by calling United Way’s 2-1-1 phone line. Either dial 2-1-1 on your phone or call 1-800-887-1107 to schedule a tax assistance appointment at FROM or any other locations.

FROM Income Tax Assistance is held on Tuesdays (by appointments only) from February – April. Morning, afternoon, and evening appointments are available.

Medical Equipment Loan

Medical equipment can be a large and unexpected expense for many people, especially if insurance doesn’t cover the items needed. To help address this issue, FROM’s offers a medical equipment loan closet where people can borrow medical equipment and use it as long as they need. Filled with donations from the community, the equipment is inspected and cleaned before being loaned out. This service is available for anyone in need of medical supplies.

How to Borrow Equipment

The Medical Equipment Loan Closet is open during normal office hours (see below). You do not need to make an appointment, simply come in during regular office hours and let the receptionist know you are here to borrow medical equipment.

The receptionist will walk you down to the Medical Equipment Loan Closet so you can see what items we currently have available.  You will need to fill out a short form (name and contact information) and then are able to keep the equipment for as long as you need. We do encourage you to return the item if it’s no longer in use so we can put it back into rotation for others to use.

Repair & Restore (formerly Neighbor to Neighbor)

Repair and Restore is open to those living in the Lowell Area School District who have weatherization and fall clean up needs (such as insulation, furnace check, cover pipes, weather stripping, plastic on windows, raking leaves, cleaning gutters, etc.).

The program brings together volunteers who can help meet the weatherization and fall clean up needs of our neighbors.

How to Apply

To participate in Restore & Repair, you must submit an application. You can submit for your own home, or on behalf of another individual (with their permission) who is in need of weatherization and/or fall clean-up related assistance. All applications must be for a residence in the Lowell Area School District. FROM contacts each household for a pre-qualification phone interview and determines if the homeowner is willing/able to assist the volunteer team in some way.

Please note, submission of application does not guarantee that it  will be granted. 

If you are in need of assistance, please call our Connections Office at (616) 897-8260 ext. 124.

Christmas Toy Store

Parents want to provide their children with presents under the tree to open on Christmas, but for families in need that may not be possible.

FROM’s Christmas Toy Store gives parents an opportunity to shop for toys and other gift items for their children and teens.

To participate in the Christmas Toy Store you must

  • live in the Lowell Area School District
  • have children (infant through age 18)
  • be in need of assistance providing gifts for your children this Christmas

Registration is required

How to Register

To register for FROM’s Christmas Toy Store and Christmas Food Basket, you must bring a photo ID and current piece of mail to FROM’s Food Pantry between November 3 and December 1, 2021 during Food Pantry hours.

Once registered, families will come to FROM on December 11th to shop for Christmas gifts for their children.

Treasures Thrift Shop will also be open exclusively for Christmas Toy Store/Food Basket individuals for those who wish to shop from new and gently used items at 50% off regularly marked prices.

How Can I Help?

Interested in learning how you can help with our Family Support programs? Visit Other Ways to Give for ways to help including what items you can donate and available volunteer opportunities.