Young professionals Brent and Ronda Geers, an attorney and a teacher respectively, are engaged Grand Rapidians. They give back with their time, talent and treasure to a variety of local causes and organizations. Their philanthropic interests are tied to their careers, so education and access to the justice system are among their favorite causes. “Education and justice are interdependent. At various points throughout our lives, we've benefited from a good education, which has in turn enabled us to advance and protect our rights and interests through the legal system,” Brent said.
Foremost in their monetary giving is Kentwood Community Church, where they’re members. “Tithing represents, to us, a commitment to reach out and engage, through a larger body, the community. Further, tithing—like all charitable giving—is a personal reminder to us that the more we receive, the more we are to give,” Brent said. As an educator, Ronda has firsthand knowledge of the issues students face. She appreciates that Kids Food Basket helps kids obtain the basic nutrition necessary to achieve their full academic potential. Because the Geers care about access to justice and the legal system, Brent works with local legal aid agencies on a number of pro bono cases each year.
What do you get from giving?
“What we get from giving is being a part of a community where the needs of the people are met. To us, it’s almost an act of citizenship, a responsibility to the community,” Ronda said.
Doing volunteer work is integral to their philanthropy. Ronda coaches the Science Olympiad team for the high school where she teaches, helping young women to become more interested in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) studies and careers. She also works as an academic coach for Calvin College’s Entrada Program, which encourages talented high school minority students to pursue higher education and experience what a college offers. Brent serves on Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Advisory Council, the YWCA Military Outreach Committee and the United Way Impact Council. In the legal community, he is a member of the Floyd Skinner Bar Association, a local association of African American attorneys. Brent also writes a weekly legal column for the Grand Rapids Times.
Why Grand Rapids Community Foundation?
“The Community Foundation is an unsung hero in our community. Few things happen in Grand Rapids apart from them. Brent benefited from the Community Foundation’s work as a scholarship recipient (in 1996), and, in part due to many other contributors, we’re now able to become contributors,” Ronda said.