Churches, Grand Rapids area social service agencies and the business community agree, a change to help the public respond to panhandling was needed.


The Heartside Neighborhood Collaboration Project expects "Real Change, Not Spare Change" should give people being solicited a worthwhile option to digging into their pockets or purse. Program Coordinator Kate O'Keefe told WOOD Radio there is a way out that may ease your mind. "It's okay to say 'No', but it's also okay to say 'Have a good day.' We really worked on both educating the public as well as being respectful and taking care of each other."


O'Keefe said project members in the Heartside neighborhood were hearing from supporters who had personal concerns, their discussions with Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. pointed to a solution with the Grand Rapids government through a panhandling ordinance. Some DGRI members now have "Real Change, Not Spare Change" donation boxes so visitors and residents can give with confidence.


O'Keefe told WOOD Radio they hope this is a good outcome for what can be an uncomfortable situation. "They can go onto the website, or they can make a donation to a local social service agency." She said this may give people who may refuse a chance to offer support because "you'd like to know where your money is going."