Dear Grand Rapids Christian Schools Friends and Families:
Welcome to Black Tie Blue Jeans, Grand Rapids Christian Schools' signature event that celebrates Christian education, honors individuals who have had a significant impact within our community and around the country, and highlights the unique accomplishments of our students. Through sponsorships and the generosity of hundreds of members of our community, BlackTie Blue Jeans also raises necessary funds to ensure a Grand Rapids Christian education is available to families that desire a Christian education for their children but are unable to afford the full cost on their own. This year, our goal is to raise $600,000 for that purpose.
Today, we honor Mr. Tom Welch, Regional President of Fifth Third Bank, as the first recipient of the Eagle Impact Award. In his role at Fifth Third Bank and as members of the Grand Rapids community, Tom and his wife, Laurie, have significantly supported Christian education through prayer, ongoing commitment to the cause, and generous charitable giving. The Welch family is deeply convicted to and understands the value of a Christian education, and we are honored to work alongside and partner with them in the education of their children.
We also are pleased to honor Olivia Haverkamp, Class of 2019, with the 2020 Richard M. DeVos Distinguished Alumni Award. Olivia demonstrated the qualities the Award represents throughout her life personally and as a student. Though Olivia lost a battle with cancer and recently passed away, the impact she had on students, staff, and parents reflected the heart and soul of what the DeVos Distinguished Alumni Award is intended to represent. Her deep commitment to her faith and her determination to reflect joy throughout her suffering set an example for us all, and we join Olivia's family and friends in celebrating her life here and her new unblemished life with her Heavenly Father.
Black Tie Blue Jeans is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Grand Rapids Christian Schools' long history of preparing students to be effective servants of Christ in contemporary society. It provides us with a time to reflect on all that God has done through the hundreds of dedicated Christian educators in the lives of His children. Thank you for celebrating that with us, for considering a gift in support of those children unable to attend due to cost, and for your prayers and support as we seek to continue to achieve our mission for generations to come.
Thomas DeJonge, Superintendent
The Eagle Impact Award is presented annually to recognize individuals and organizations who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and service in advancing the mission of Grand Rapids Christian Schools.
Eagle Impact Award recipients have used their gifts and resources to enrich our programs, strengthen our faculty, and make a Grand Rapids Christian education accessible to more students and families. In doing so, they have made lasting contributions to the Grand Rapids Christian Schools community and impacted students for generations to come.
President of Fifth Third Bank
We are honored to present the inaugural Eagle Impact Award to Tom Welch, president of Fifth Third Bank and Grand Rapids Christian Schools parent.
Tom and his wife, Laurie, arrived in Grand Rapids in 2014 with their family to continue his career with Fifth Third Bank. Grand Rapids Christian stood out to them as the best choice for their children’s education.
As president of Fifth Third Bank, Tom is passionate about strengthening families and building a stronger community. He believes strongly that the Bank is an instrument for good work in the community to ensure that all kids and families, regardless of financial background, have access to all that Grand Rapids has to offer.
The Richard M. DeVos Distinguished Alumni Award is presented annually to recognize alumni of Grand Rapids Christian Schools who embody the Schools' values, characteristics, and commitment to being servants of Christ in contemporary society. This award serves to bring honor to the school community and advance the mission of the Schools.
The award is named in honor of Richard M. DeVos in recognition of his shared devotion to Christian education and his generous support to various non-profit organizations that have benefited individuals worldwide. Richard and his wife, Helen, have strengthened our schools, revitalized our spirits, and impacted lives for generations to come.
Class of 2019
This year, we are pleased to present the 2020 Richard M. DeVos Distinguished Alumni Award in honor of 2019 Grand Rapids Christian High School graduate, Olivia Anne Haverkamp.
While a student at Grand Rapids Christian High School, Olivia courageously battled cancer, and on January 26, 2020, she went home to be with the Lord.
Olivia boldly professed her love for Jesus, and because of this love, she very publicly decided to choose joy throughout her battle with cancer. Her determination to live every day with gratitude was an inspiration to all of us who knew her. More importantly, her joy was a testimony of her love for Jesus Christ and His love for her.
MAKE YOUR EAGLE IMPACT.
Please consider a gift to the Eagles Fund.
Your gift provides immediate resources to impact students, programs and strengthen our faculty,
in addition to making a Grand Rapids Christian education accessible.
Black Tie Blue Jeans is Grand Rapids Christian Schools’ signature fundraising event and an opportunity to celebrate Christian education.
Our goal remains to raise $600,000 for the Eagles Fund to provide immediate resources to every student by raising funds for tuition assistance and student support services.
The last few weeks have certainly been a trying time for our world, our nation, and our Grand Rapids Christian Schools community. We are facing a life-altering pandemic that has shifted our daily lives and the need for student support is even greater. Because of the investment our community has made in the Eagles Fund, we were able to respond.
During these unprecedented times, Grand Rapids Christian Schools faculty developed and implemented a comprehensive off-campus learning platform with the same care and meaningful instruction for our students as when they were on campus. And they did so in record time! We are one of the few schools in the area that is able and equipped to provide a virtual off-campus learning experience to nearly 2300 students. Our dedicated faculty and staff are not only continuing to lead students in meaningful academic instruction but also continuing to guide them in their faith journey through virtual prayer circles and Bible study.
A Christ-centered, student-focused education is more important now than ever before. The Grand Rapids Christian Schools community remains connected. Learning continues. Our commitment to our mission has never been stronger. Both the benefits and the need for a healthy Eagles Fund are clear.
There is no higher priority than ensuring immediate resources are available to sustain our educational and fine arts programs, allow for enrollment regardless of financial status, and create innovative opportunities for all students to excel and go on to impact their communities in positive ways as servants of Christ.
None of this is possible without you!
By investing in Grand Rapids Christian Schools, you ensure the continued strength of our educational programs and students’ seamless access to technology and Student Support Services. Please prayerfully consider how you can contribute. Every gift matters. Every gift impacts our ability to fulfill the mission to which God has called us.
Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you
wherever you go.
— Joshua 1:9
THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS
BLACK TIE BLUE JEANS 2020 EVENT SPONSORS
Doug & Lois Nagel
Black Tie SPONSORs
Take His Hand Foundation
Thomas S. Fox Family
John & Cathy Konynenbelt
Blue Jeans SPONSORs
Samuel & Janene Cummings
Ron & Heidi Hofman
Greg & Carol Jeltema
Dave & Jodi VanWingerden
For more information on event sponsorships and gifts, please contact La’Leatha Spillers, Director of Development, at 616.574.6017 or LSpillers@grcs.org.