Tom Merchant, Grand Rapids' Community Board Chair, works to help Ele's Place succeed.

With the Healing Hearts Society Fundraising Breakfast just a few weeks away, we thought we would ask our Board Chair and Emcee of the breakfast, Tom Merchant, some questions about his involvement with Ele’s Place.  Tom got involved with Ele’s Place about three years ago as our Grand Rapids location was just starting out.  Tom is involved in many community organizations, serving on the board of the Grand Rapids Art Museum and previously on the Boards of Gilda’s Club and Frederik Meijer Gardens.  Tom has always thought children’s grief is an important cause and was excited to be a part of Ele’s Place.

As Ele’s Place Board President, Tom works to help the Ele’s Place staff be successful in their work.  He explained that , “this may be as simple as making a connection in the community to running the Board meeting.”  The Ele’s Place Board is a strong one, and Tom works hard to make sure the Board is informed.  Tom’s favorite part of being involved in Ele’s Place is hearing stories from families that have gone through programming.  These stories, as well as seeing 400 plus people coming together to focus on children’s grief at the Healing Hearts Society breakfast each year, inspires Tom.

Tom leads the Human Resource Functions at Fifth Third Bank of West Michigan; helping people to grow their careers.  In his free time, he loves to travel, garden, and spend time with his dog, Max.  Tom has loved seeing the support that Ele’s Place has received from the community over the past three years.  In the future, he wants to focus on sustainability at Ele’s Place.  Tom said, “we need to ensure that Ele’s is here for the kids and their families.  That takes volunteers, community support, and financial resources.   All three matter a great deal to our success.” 

We are excited for Tom to be the Emcee at our breakfast.  The breakfast will be held on Tuesday, April 19, from 8:00-9:00 a.m.,  at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.  There is no cost to attend the event.  If you are interested in attending, please contact Nicole Rodammer at, or call 616-301-1605.