Tom Deschaine, Board President

Tom has lived on Grand Rapids’ northeast side all his life. In fact, the home where he lives now with his wife of 53 years, Jodi, is just a mile from his childhood home.

A retired college professor in his 70s, Tom’s at the age where lots of guys downsize, move into a condo or head to a retirement community down south.

Not Tom. He loves it here.

He loves getting a group of neighbors together and heading to a Grand Rapids Griffins game for $2 hot dog night. His Friday evening summer porch parties are sort of famous.

“If you have neighbors, you should be neighborly,” he says.

Tom knows the value of home. He’s been on the New Development board for the last 10 years because he loves helping others settle into a home of their own, get to know their neighbors, become part of the community.

“When you take a property that’s neglected and run down, and you make it decent, it has an impact on the other people in the neighborhood, too,” Tom says.

“When a caring homeowner moves in, it’s contagious. Other neighbors pay more attention to their own homes. When people see a permanent resident move in, maybe they’ll think more about staying, knowing that renters won’t be moving in and out all the time.”

As a kid, Tom attended St. Alphonsus church and school, in the neighborhood where many New Development Corp. homeowners live. His kids went there, too. He and Jodi still attend church there.

Tom eats at The Cheshire Grill and shops at Kingma’s Market.

“I’m part of this community,” Tom says proudly. “I have a responsibility to contribute in any way I can.

“We aren’t able to help everybody,” he says of New Development Corporation, “but we help who we can.”

He likes to think that attitude is contagious.

“Just reach out, and do what you can.”