What is GracesList?

GracesList.org is an emergency services and humanitarian aid directory focused on getting social services information into the hands of 1) those experiencing crisis and 2) those supporting those experiencing crisis.

How did GracesList start?

In 2016, I had the opportunity to work closely with a homeless shelter in Lansing, Michigan.

Every Tuesday morning, I arrived at the Magnuson hotel to provide lay counseling and prayer for the tenants, a role which quickly grew to include basic advocacy and room checks.

One of the largest barriers to my early effectiveness as an advocate was understanding who the local players were. Taped to the wall in the office was an old, tattered contact list; many sheets of paper offering a sea of non-profit-sounding names and phone numbers without much explanation.

The shelter itself maintained several services, including a food pantry, diapers and formula, clothing, toys for the kids, free cellphones, and the occasional furniture drive. They were great at outreach and were well-known in the community (to the point of infamy, actually.)

These were the rebels with a cause.

However, despite their boots-on-the-ground approach and Robin Hood hearts, their gift for administration was weak, with organization being one place where this weakness sang loudest.

So, I—being a 25+ year web professional left to my own—took the next most natural step; I put the list online.

I asked questions and found other lists that helped me categorize the offerings from each local social service. I knew the list needed to be fast and easy to use for the times when I had a tenant looking to me for answers.

It needed to be simple, so anyone could use it.

It needed to be easy to update, while being as evergreen as possible to make maintenance manageable.

It needed to be mobile-friendly and accessible (think readable, multilingual and ADA-compliant.)

I think we’re achieving all of this. We’re on a journey, for sure.

I, for one, am looking forward to where the Lord will take us next.

Matt signature

Matthew Schoenherr

Any special meaning to the name GracesList?

I deliberated over the name for this social services directory for a couple days. Everything I came up with sounded stodgy and corporate, and I knew this was not that.

I went through hours of brainstorming and compound word combinations.

I went through a bzillion domain name searches.

I researched all the keywords.

I knew the directory had to be simple, so I mirrored Craig’s List as a model of a no-frills user experience, right down to the list of cities they use.

At that point, I figured “list” was probably going to be in the name. Besides, it’s shorter than “directory”.

Finally, it occurred to me I could name the list after my wife, who was initially the one who prompted me to get involved with the shelter. It just so happens my nickname for her is ‘Grace’.

Of course, then we arrive at the double-meaning. GracesList is a list of social service agencies who have made it their mission to extend grace to those experiencing hardship.

So, GracesList it was.

What makes GracesList different?

Yes, there are several really great homeless solutions lists out there already. One list targets homeless shelters. Another targets free or low-cost dental work. Another list speaks to legal services for low-income families. Another list deals with rental assistance.

There are two areas where GracesList aims to be different from other homeless support or social services lists:

Bringing Light to the Shadows

First, GracesList ties humanitarian aid providers together into one single directory to better help those going through hardship. Our goal is to put solutions and key services in one spot: directly in front of those in crisis.

Homelessness can be traumatic enough without the burden of solving where to turn for answers.

We want to help people knife through the bureaucracy of homelessness.

Simple and Thoughtful

The second way we are different is in HOW we deliver this information. We do it simply.

Most of the sites you’ll find are cluttered or visually busy. Some have buried the content several clicks into the site. Maybe they’ve sprinkled the content with unnecessary pictures or ads. Maybe they’re not worried about ADA-compliancy. Maybe they’re not concerned about multilingual support.

We want people to find what they’re looking for within a few keystrokes. We want them to be able to easily identify key social services near them whether they are using a screen-reader or a translator.

How can people get involved?

There are several ways to help advance the GracesList project…

Founder Contributions

All financial contributions to the project by private individuals are NOT considered tax-deductible, so truly, those who give as founders are selflessly supporting this cause. We can give you a shout-out on the site(s) you help us develop, or you can remain completely anonymous; your call. 100% of these contributions goes toward furthering the project, usually in the form of labor to groom the list or to promote it through social media. Let us know what city you want to sponsor…

Corporate Sponsorships

If you are a company or agency, you can financially sponsor a GracesList city site. In return, we’ll place your logo or call-out at the bottom of that city’s directory. An advertising write-off for you, this helps us continue to develop and improve the site. 75-80% of these contributions goes toward advancing the project in your geographic region, with the remainder helping us with administration costs. More about sponsorship…


Do you work in the social services sector? Do you know the key partners around town? Do you see where GracesList could be improved to better represent your local housing network? Or maybe you’re just good at Internet research. If you’re tired of trying to build and maintain your own list yourself, there’s a solution: Use ours. Adding a listing is relatively easy and we’ll maintain the site, firewalls, servers, hosting, regular backups.. all that junk. We want to become a vital resource for your community. Help us help you. More about volunteering…

Social Media Champions

If you’re social media savvy and you want to help us reach others, consider sharing the GracesList.org website and/or our Facebook page with friends and family, give us a like, give us a share, promote a post, comment on our page—you know the drill.
Like our Facebook page | Find us on Twitter

Is GracesList a non-profit?

No. GracesList is a directory project run by Levaire, a web and marketing company in Lansing, Michigan. We considered going non-profit, but again, that nagging desire to cut through bureaucracy bubbled up and we just couldn’t bring ourselves to go that route.

Plus, there is a strong argument against “design by committee”. Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Our response to hardship…

Trials and hardships in life are real. We’ve posted our response to human suffering here