MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — Phyllis Loudermill started fixing up her hotel during the COVID-19 pandemic to give people a place to stay who had nowhere else to go.
Soon after that, she realized the kids staying at her hotel needed a place to go to school.
“The difficulty we found was having enough WiFi. Or parents having the ability to get up in the morning,” HERCO construction company founder Phyllis Loudermill said.
People that stay at Phyllis' hotel on Seaway Drive aren't typical. Most of them are from diverse backgrounds. Many of them are formerly incarcerated and trying to turn their lives around.
“They needed that inside school, that trained teacher, responsibility. They needed that type of setting in order for them to succeed. Because all kids can not learn at home with parents,” Loudermill said.
Which is what lead her to Wells Christian Academy, one of the only schools in the area doing face-to-face school five days a week.
“Miss Phyllis. She’s a firecracker,” principal Kim Borgeson said.
Wells Christian Academy in Muskegon Heights is in its second year. It's first year open they started with just three students and ended with 19 students before they went online in March.
Named after one of the first people to die of COVID in the Muskegon Heights community, Wells Christian now has more than 30 students. Phyllis brought a lot of students there from her hotel and paid their tuition with the help of two former NFL players Calvin Johnson and Robert Sim.
They're also expanding to adult education in one portion of the building to teach students parents trades. For Phyllis, it's one small way to start change.
“This is how you start it. You find people that are already in place. Why would I have to recreate the wheel?” Loudermill said.