More Than Just a Website

Ever wonder who’s writing those Facebook posts for It’s not the all-powerful Oz pulling all the bells and whistles. It’s a real live mom (or two) right here in Grand Rapids!

What began as a one woman venture by our founder Melody VanderWeide has grown into a full-blown enterprise that serves thousands upon thousands of families across West Michigan. And as energetic as Melody is, there are not enough hours in the day for one person to keep this ship afloat. That’s where we, the contributors, come in. We help run the Facebook page, manage the events calendar, handle marketing and advertising, write guides and the newsletter, research for and write articles, manage all the giveaways and more.

We thought you might like a look at the faces behind Each woman brings special skills to the table that ensure a consistent product for you. We are proud to be part of such a great team and are excited to bring you the best local content for your family!

–April Hunt, Editor

Leadership Team

dsc_0861Melody VanderWeide

Founder and Director

INFJ. Mom of 3. Idea chaser-People believer-Inspiration seeker. Together we make GR amazing – Let’s go!

[email protected]

Marketing Team


Andrea Davis

Marketing Manager

Andrea is excited about joining the GRKids team after spending 12years in the corporate world as a digital marketing and sales director. She is a Chicago native who moved to Grand Rapids in 2010 with her husband. She is the mom of two sweet and strong-willed daughters, as well as a lovable 100lb rescue pup. She loves traveling and exploring new cities, trail running, and listening to podcasts and audiobooks (since there doesn’t seem to be much time for books anymore). Andrea is also a realtor with Keller Williams and especially loves showing her clients that are new to the area all the wonderful things Grand Rapids has to offer.

[email protected]


Keri Siemens

Ad Manager, Writer, Researcher, Newsletter 

Keri is a mom of four who enjoys “pizza and movie nights” at home with the family. When she is not managing ads for grkids, chauffeuring children, or trying out a new crockpot recipe, you can probably find her attempting to enjoy a cup of coffee before it gets cold.

[email protected]


dsc_0878Erin Russell

Office Manager & Sales Support

Erin is a musician who attempts to balance out her right-brained career choice with some left-brained office management and organization here at grkids. During the lulls in her active schedule, Erin enjoys time with her family, cottage time by the lake and trying out new recipes for healthy meals. She live in Grand Rapids with her husband and two children.

[email protected]

dsc_0874Tiffany Kamphuis

Giveaway Manager & Calendar Coordinator

Tiffany is a mom of three busy young boys. When she’s not chasing after her sons or working on the calendar for grkids, she can be found taking portraits of children and families for her photography business. She loves living in Holland with her husband and sons, and enjoys the lakeshore area while still being only a short drive away from Grand Rapids.

[email protected]

Writing & Research Team


 April Hunt


April is a stay-at-home-working-mom hybrid who balances her time between managing a household and using her editor brain to find all the typos in her friends’ emails. In her occasional free time she enjoys reading, quilting, antiquing and photography. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and three children.

[email protected]


Kim Guider

Editorial Assistant & Facebook Admin

Kimberly is a stay at home mommy to 2 sweet and busy little ones. She enjoys DIY house projects, photography, dreaming about her next beach vacation, and trying new recipes (that her kids will inevitably NOT eat). Most of her day is spent answering the question, “Why?” Most nights she can be found staying up way too late watching reality TV shows and HGTV. She loves exploring our great city and discovering new and exciting events and activities for her family to enjoy!

Carla Brooks


Carla is an Oregon born, Michigan raised photographer, writer, mom of two awesome boys, and wife to poet Sareem Poems. Carla enjoys adventuring, playing the piano and singing, trying different foods, reading or watching a good story, and most of all spending time with her family.

Ashley Burgin


Ashley is a stay-at-home mom and a lover of sweet coffee, yummy food, a spotless house, and Target. When she is not chasing the kids, she enjoys reading, writing, and indulging in her guilty pleasure…reality tv. She resides in Byron Center with her husband, two boys, and dog. 2

Jill Clarin

Research Team

Jill is a mom to two who loves living in West Michigan and being able to enjoy all the area has to offer. Her other loves include trying out new recipes in the kitchen, visiting local parks and trails with her children, and photographing the everyday moments of her family.

Carla Hardy


Carla is a wife and a mom to one adorable little girl. She enjoys reading, catching up with family and friends, organizing, finding new and fun things to do with her daughter, taking far too many pictures, and binge watching TV shows and movies on Netflix with her husband.

Leanne Hendrikse


Leanne is a Canadian expat, wife and stay at home mom of two loving her grace-filled life. She enjoys exploring West Michigan with her family while pushing a stroller and drinking coffee.  A few of her favorite things are perennial gardening, a garage sale score, chasing her kids and back porch dates with her husband.

Stephanie Kozlowicz


Stephanie is a part-time working mom and wife who loves everything about Grand Rapids.  She and her husband have been married for 10 years and love taking their young children all over town to find their next adventure.  As a slightly crunchy mom she loves to cloth diaper and grow fruits and veggies in the garden.  She enjoys reading blogs to find new dinner recipes to make for her family, and on date night, you can usually find her a one of the local breweries.

Caitlin Malski


Caitlin is a stay-at-home mom to two young kids. She enjoys dancing in the kitchen, eating breakfast foods, and reading too many books at once. Caitlin is a coffee enthusiast and lover of Lake Michigan. After growing up in the Grand Rapids area, she now lives on a small hobby farm and vineyard in Grand Haven.


Kate Randall


Kate considers herself incredibly lucky to be a full time mom and part time time school social worker for Hamilton Community Schools.  While at home, she loves spending time with her kids, Cooper and Zoe. Kate loves all things creative and messy, playing games, gardening, biking, reading, and summers off with her awesome teacher-husband, Kevin.

dsc_0810Kathleen Shaffer

Event Researcher

Kathleen loves to read and has happily turned her love of books into playing Librarian in Hudsonville. She also loves graphic design and photography and her daughter has learned to smile for the camera early on. She and her husband enjoy binge watching TV shows on Netflix after a long day.

Stephanie Sneller


Steph is an explorer of local adventures having honed her skills moving all across the country (thanks to her husband’s military service) before settling down in the Grand Rapids area with her ragamuffin boy and giggly girl. When not checking out the latest going-on, she can be found gobbling up books and coffee, planning overly ambitious parties, or napping.


Mary Ward


Mary is a local mama who enjoys exploring the city of Grand Rapids. She operates a Grand Rapids play group and enjoys learning about fun things for families to do in the area. Mary and her husband David transplanted to Grand Rapids from Livonia in 2008.

Shannon Zoet


Shannon is a working mother who carefully balances a full-time career in the non-profit sector with the exciting (and exhausting) job of raising two children. When she’s not working, doing her part to run the household, or spending time with her kids, she’s an avid reader and amateur yogi.

Facebook Team

dsc_0798Patti Bartels

Facebook Team Manager

Patti was born and raised in Grand Rapids and has lived here all her life. She enjoys traveling with her husband and three kids. She is hyper-organized and uses those skills to run her household as a stay at home mom. She seldom has time to herself, but when she does she enjoys reading a good book.

contact via message on our Facebook page

dsc_0828Julie Balanda

Facebook Team

As her kids’ biggest fan, Julie can be found on any given day chauffeuring, cheering on and snapping pictures of her active Forest Hills kids at their soccer, baseball, tennis, basketball, field hockey, football, volleyball games. (Not to mention choir, orchestra, scouts and more!) When there’s a lull in her cheerleading schedule, Julie loves cooking up something new in the kitchen and exploring Michigan with her husband and five children.

[email protected]


Kristi Hertstein

Facebook Admin & Social Media Relations

I am a mother of four great kids ranging from a freshmen to a 1st grader. My heart beats to serve, whether here in my home, community or across the globe in Ethiopia, the birth country of our youngest. I’ve been married to Jesse for over 18 years. I couldn’t be more grateful that he’s my partner in this wild ride of parenting. I’m a lover of coffee and chocolate. I enjoy spending time with others, drinking coffee, reading, cheering on my kids, to name a few. I’m often found in the minivan toting kids to soccer, football and rowing. I am fortunate to be part of the GRKIDS team.

Graphic Design

Christie Tidd

Graphic Designer

Christie is a Chicago native, turned Michigander.  She’s a freelance graphic designer, wife to Gary and stay at home mom to 3 pretty great kids!  When she’s not being the social director, she enjoys date nights and Netflix watching with her hubby, crafting and curating the walls in her house, organizing, camping, hanging out at the lake and snow skiing with her family.
By | 2018-01-16T12:53:58+00:00 May 23rd, 2014|Categories: General|8 Comments

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  1. Shannon Kowalke March 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    How do I sign up for your newsletter I would love to vote on your next top docs around town:)

  2. Sarah Moe May 5, 2015 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    I just discovered this brilliant page! Love it…I am in Northeast MI and I want to have this for our community. Great work!

  3. Jackie Selleck May 27, 2014 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    Nice work ladies!

  4. Willow Cramer May 27, 2014 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    site opps!!!

  5. Willow Cramer May 27, 2014 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    Wow didn’t know your team was so big!! Thanks so much for all each one of you do!! I don’t know what I would do without your sight!!

    • Melody V
      Melody V May 27, 2014 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Thanks Willow! It takes a village! =)

  6. Meredith May 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    This was great! I actually learned a few things about our team too.

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