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06/18/2012 11:52 AM -

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – With the help of the public, the Griffins Youth Foundation could win $45,000 for a renovation project at Griff’s IceHouse at Belknap Park, through Erhardt Construction’s “Building Our Community” contest.

Erhardt Construction is celebrating its 50th anniversary by recognizing and supporting the work of people and organizations such as the Griffins Youth Foundation that are serving others in our community. Together with its project partners, Erhardt is giving away a construction project and prizes totaling $50,000 to area non-profit organizations.

The Griffins Youth Foundation plans to construct a new 50’ x 30’ community room expansion on the northeast corner of Griff’s IceHouse’s East Rink, to enable it to enhance its educational offerings for the more than 350 kids it serves. Additional hopes are to retrofit the hockey boards in the northeast corner of the West Rink with new doors to permit easier ice access by members of the Grand Rapids Sled Wings, a sled hockey team comprised of physically challenged kids and teens that is sponsored in part by the foundation.

Members of the public can vote for the Griffins Youth Foundation’s project once per day through July 13 at The top five finalists from this first round will advance to a second round of public voting that will take place from July 23-Aug. 17.

Winning non-profit organizations of the Building Our Community contest will receive:
• Grand Prize: $45,000 toward a construction or renovation project
• First Runner Up: $2,000 cash donation
• Second Runner Up: $1,500 cash donation
• Third Runner Up: $1,000 cash donation
• Fourth Runner Up: $1,000 cash donation

Established in 1995, the Griffins Youth Foundation promotes academic excellence, community involvement and healthy lifestyles among the youth of West Michigan, enhancing their lives through hockey and ice-related sports.

The foundation’s educational programming includes mandatory weekly homework assignments; books and computers that provide enriching activities during downtimes in game-filled Saturdays; partnerships with organizations such as John Ball Zoo; and trips to local colleges for older kids to help them set goals and a course for their future.

Space at Griff’s IceHouse for this programming is extremely limited when all kids and parents are present for games and practices, forcing activities into a small concourse area and hampering the foundation’s ability to provide, enhance and expand its educational offerings. The community room expansion will allow the foundation to serve more kids at any given time and provide it the space needed to offer tutoring, SAT-prep classes and other activities. When the foundation is not using the room, it will be available for use by other individuals and groups from our community who use this public facility.

For more information about the Griffins Youth Foundation, please visit


In conjunction with partners such as the Grand Rapids Griffins, the City of Grand Rapids, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and Special Olympics, the Griffins Youth Foundation offers a variety of programming at Griff’s IceHouse to children throughout our community, many of whom are underprivileged, at-risk, underserved or have other special needs. For nearly two decades, the foundation has worked to eliminate the high financial and logistical barriers that prevent children from playing hockey and related sports.

About 350 kids play in the foundation’s 1-2-3, 46er, 7th-12th grade and girls hockey programs, and it supports another 25 members of the Grand Rapids Sled Wings sled hockey team. All programs are non-checking, with the season running November through March.

The foundation’s ranks of current and past players are filled with success stories, none larger than defenseman Tyler Anderson. A longtime member of the Sled Wings, he also plays for the U.S. National Developmental Sled Hockey Team and has his sights set on one day representing our country in the Paralympic Games.

In addition to hockey programming, the foundation also offers ice skating opportunities, including holiday lunch skates and Special Olympics speed skating, and provides all the skates for Rosa Parks Circle Ice Rink, the downtown outdoor facility that draws over 20,000 visitors per year.

Hockey is just the start of what kids learn. From College Night at local universities for older kids, to mandatory homework programs, to community service projects and presentations on nutrition and exercise, their lessons extend well beyond the ice.

The foundation offers an education area with a library and computers for kids and their siblings to use on game days, and Griffins players make frequent visits to foundation practices to discuss topics such as maintaining good health and the importance of staying in school.

All programs are provided at no cost to the participants, with equipment, staffing and ice time paid for by the foundation. With those costs exceeding $400 per child per year, annual expenses total more than $170,000. The foundation couldn’t operate without the significant, generous support of individuals and businesses across West Michigan.

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