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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Zumba on the LST 393 in Muskegon to Benefit Every Woman's Place

If you've been a part of Muskegon for any amount of time, you know that one of our most precious outreaches in town is Every Woman's Place.  They have been at the forefront of helping victims of domestic abuse in Muskegon and surrounding areas since 1975 and they continue to offer respite and shelter in a time where you'd hope that society wouldn't need their services anymore, but...they do.

One of the best things about Every Woman's Place is the way Muskegon embraces their work.  Small donations to large fundraisers, EWP is funded in part by the generosity of gifts large and small and no matter the size, they all add up and help this incredible agency do their work to protect the vulnerable.  Cash donations, health care supplies and more all add up and make a true difference.  Of course, you can ask for cash and toothpaste only so much....it takes a little innovation and pop up ideas to keep things fresh and some moolah coming in and those ideas come from people of all backgrounds and practices.
3Z Club Crew on Facebook

So,  with all the ideas..willingness to help and ways to raise money that there are in town, put them to work right!  It's happening!  We have a group in town who LOVE to Zumba and they are trying to spread their love for the workout and combine that with a way to help EWP!  There's a group called the 3ZCrew here in town.  They are all about getting YOU involved with Zumba for the good of your health and they want to take this love of the sport and help out EWP!

You have a chance to give it a whirl on the LST 393 on August 26th.  There's going to be a special event on board the ship not only to get you up and get you moving...but to send the proceeds over to EWP.  Every dime raised at this special event will go to help the agency as well as the people they serve.  7p is the time and there are no real pre requisites to be able to participate.

I met up with Elisa Hoppper and Quintina Pittman from EWP to talk about the event, take a listen.

Sound like fun?  Well, join them!  Do something fun and help out a remarkable cause and get yourself in the groove of Zumba!  You can click on the image below to get registered to be a part of the event!  It's a small donation, that will go so far...get your Zumba on and go!!  If you'd like to know more about Every Woman's Place, click on their photo below that!

Click Here to Register to Zumba on the LST

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Humans of Muskegon - A Project Detailing All of Us

So, we spend a lot of time here on Positively Muskegon trying to find those who do something remarkable and work to make a difference for all of us here in Muskegon.  Big or small projects, they all add up and they all help weave the fabric of what makes Muskegon home.  Some have unlimited grandeur to share, while others pick a small project and do all they can with what they have to make it shine.  We're not the only game in town however.

There are others who are preserving our history one human at a time.

Thing is though, it's not always easy to get someone who's more accustomed to being behind a camera or a computer screen to come out in front of one, so....I had to use a little trickery to land this meet up, but we pulled it off.

I first got to know Tara Marquard through on Facebook through her project "Humans of Muskegon".  It's a simple premise.  She asks people to send in a photo of themselves.  Can be any kind of photo that best describes "you" and a short story or paragraph about who they are, what this world is to them and what their life is all about.  It's a project that's been done in some other cities, but Muskegon is such a diverse community and has so many people from every end of the spectrum that to know a little more about them and what makes them tick...well, it gets interesting quick.  I myself have submitted a couple of stories about some parts of me that make me a unique human from my meteorite on my night stand to some of what makes me love Muskegon the way I do.

What makes Tara a "Human of Muskegon"?  All through this project, Tara has managed to battle and win breast cancer...she's a friggin warrior....she's also managed to keep working until just recently when a lay off notice came, and she's pushed and pushed to find more and more people to help share their story instead of trying to hide under a shell and wish it all went away.  She's shown strength in the face of fear and persists in wanting to leave her mark with photography and giving others a chance to share what makes them who they are.  She's kind of shy, not really one for the spotlight but definitely is working to show us all as the real Humans of Muskegon.  Meet Tara Marquard.

Now, here's your chance!  Think about who you are and what makes you that person!  Share your story.  It doesn't have to have your name attached.  You can maybe hide behind some shades...you can maybe even send in a picture of a shadow!  But...be part of Tara's amazing project and show your human side!  You will find the link to the Humans of Muskegon Facebook page linked below!  Don't let this pass you by.  Tell your story and help Tara continue hers! 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

70x7 - Now The Fresh Coast Alliance of Muskegon A New Start For Many

We introduced you to 70x 7 years ago.  It was an organization in Muskegon dedicated to helping those who had spent some time in prison become re-acclimated to being part of society.  How do they get used to being out in the world again.  How much has changed in the world since they were sentenced and how are they going to fit back in when it comes to things like family, friends and how will they avoid the pitfalls that got them sent away in the first place?

They are scary and tough questions but 70x7 boldly answered them and did it on a level that people could understand.  After all, the Muskegon founder of 70x7 had his fair share of knowledge of life on the other side of the law.  After his time though, Nate Johnson's life had changed dramatically and he wanted to give back his new found freedom to others.  As he says, he was part of the problem and now, it's on him to help fix it.
Follow Fresh Coast Alliance on Facebook

Today, there's a new name for what was started.  70x7 is now called The Fresh Coast Alliance and encompasses so much more than just working to end recidivism.  Today, The Fresh Coast Alliance of Muskegon offers not only reentry programs, they offer recovery, employment, housing and counselling for substance abuse.  Their ministry has extended to include both men and women and encompasses a full approach through faith in rebuilding lives that were once thought to be lost.  Fresh Coast also works to help educate the public as well as legislators when it comes to issues revolving criminal justice reform and others issues.  Which brings us to our visit today.

There will be 2 opportunities to learn a little more about Fresh Coast and their work.  First up.. "Facing Choices".  August 15th at the Fresh Coast Alliance a discussion will be held.  It will be a discussion with parolees and probation servers about guns.  We are seeing far too much gun violence in more than just one area...and this will be a very frank and to the point discussion of the consequences both state and federal if you commit a crime with a firearm.   Then on August 17th there will be a convening of Clean Slate Michigan.  It's about working to get the record of those who have served their time and made life adjustments that are so profound, that consideration of a "Clean Slate" should be given to them so then can resume their life free of a record that can keep them from things like jobs, housing or other benefits.

Nate and I sat down to recap all the changes as well as talk about the upcoming programs.  Take a listen.

Amazing work going on to help break the cycle and offer some new hope for those who have faced some of the worst in life.  From the streets to the cell and back again....it's got to stop somewhere and an organization to help those who desire to change for good is an amazing resource for people and the community.  If you'd like to know more about Fresh Coast Alliance, please....click on their logo below to visit their website and support their work.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Kool Kids Concert at McGraft Park in Muskegon August 30th

You live and work in a town for a while and you think you have a pretty good grip on who's doing what, and more importantly who's doing what and why...and then from out of the blue, you get a message on social media about an event coming up wondering if you could share a link. Take a look at the link and you think to yourself, this might be a better story than a share, so you set that up and BOOM you find out more than you ever imagined was going on!

Let's start off with the sizzle!  Do your kids like to "whip and nae nane?"  Well, that's by an artist names Silento and he's coming.  Have you ever seen your kid "flossing"?  Not the kind of floss they get at the dentist office....do your kids like dance troops they see on YouTube and maybe some of the big talent shows like AGT on TV?  It's going to be a HUGE day for kids and families at the Kool Kids Bash at McGraft Park on August 30th.  It's a star stutted day with meet and greets, fun for everyone and it's all got a purpose behind it... the Reds Youth Project.
Get Your Tickets Here for the Kool Kidz Concert

If you have not heard, the Reds Youth Project is a mentor-ship program for young people  who need a hand with direction in their lives.  How to make good choices, where to ask the tough questions, where to go when something just doesn't seem right and there doesn't seem to be anyone else to turn to.  Erika Bell is a mentor in the program and she's gotten to where she is today organizing this benefit concert and bash by having just that kind of positive influence in her life as she grew up.  There is no one who doesn't need a balancing point from time to time and a group like the Reds Youth Project finds a way, somehow to fill in the cracks that are left behind no matter the life circumstance.

Like any other small organization, they have to find ways to raise funds where they can.  It's a never ending struggle for smaller organizations without dedicated fundraising arms to find the money they need to function, but they do it...and they do it because they all know that they are making a difference.  They have seen it play out time and time again, and in the end, taking care of the next generation is essential to community building and long term success.  Grass roots takes on a whole new meaning when you look at the time and care being put in to make a difference.

Back to the concert.  Silento took his "Watch me Whip" song to 2.4 million sales.  That's a lot of records or downloads or however the kids get their music now a days.  "Backpack Kid" first popped up on Saturday Night Live when Katy Perry played "Swish Swish" on the show and has become a way for kids to pass the time while getting down and The Future Kingz made their America's Got Talent debut in season 13 of the show! This is a BIG day for young music fans and it's happening right here in Muskegon.

I met up with Erika Bell at the site of the upcoming show with the band shell as our back drop.  Take a listen.

Pretty cool, and honestly...if you watched the interview, I am truly in disbelief it took me this long to meet Erika.  As we were wrapping up, I asked her if she was still looking for sponsors for this event and she said that the best form of sponsorship she could use....is someone to buy some tickets for kids who can't afford it.  She's a first time promoter of such an event and wants the experience to be a great one for the kids first and foremost.  Below, you'll find a link to the Reds Youth Project and you can help if you choose by getting a hols of Erika there and doing what you can to support this amazing day focused on kids at McGraft park in Muskegon August 30th.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Muskegon Welcomes the Nance Family to Head The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army of Muskegon is a staple in the community for those who seek a little solace from what life can deal out from time to time.  Be it poverty issues, substance abuse, disaster relief, hunger issues the Salvation Army is always right on hand to help when all else seems lost and hope is distant!  For the Salvation Army, it's a 24/7 365 mission while some of us only think of them when we hear the bell ringing at the holidays.

One thing very unique to the Salvation Army, is that they are not a stagnant organization.  Their actions require engagement and they also require hands on people who immerse themselves into a community and actively participate in the mantra of "Doing the Most Good".  We have been amazing lucky to have had incredible leaders of the "S.A." over the years and we've always done our best to help share the news when some new faces come along to take over the mission and add their uniqueness to the business of human need here in Muskegon.

Follow the Salvation Army of Muskegon on Facebook
Meet Major's Mark and Valerie Nance who have recently taken the helm at the Salvation Army of Muskegon.  They are very familiar with West Michigan having put their time in in Grand Rapids as well as Cadillac with the Army and are very excited to now call Muskegon home, as anyone would be, and they feel that it's the will of God that they are here to continue the mission.  Mark was considering retirement due to a back injury, but healing hands got him back in shape and it might have just been a sign from above that there was a need for the couple to put down some roots on the West Coast of Michigan and get to work.

They are in the process of getting to know the town a little better.  Coming up with some strategy....taking what they have learned elsewhere and applying it here, and learning what's worked here and what can be fine tuned.  Anytime you come to a new town, it's a new adventure but in speaking with Mark and Valerie things sure seem like a perfect fit for them to be a part of Muskegon, take a listen.

As mentioned in the video you'll have a chance to meet the Nance family at the United Way Downtown Muskegon on Clay Street from 3:30p-5. Stop in and welcome our new neighbors and see if there is anything you can do to help them in their calling to do the most good for all of us in Muskegon.  Of course, stay tuned to Positively Muskegon and The Muskegon Channel as we keep you updated with what the Salvation Army is up to!  They are always striving to "Do the Most Good".  You can click on their logo below and visit the Muskegon Salvation Army website.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The 3rd Lighthouse for Veterans Car Show - July 6th at The Mart Dock

Three years ago, we get a message about a car show that's trying to get things started.  Ok....tel us a little more.  After all, it's a car show.  There are lots of car shows and lots of cars...how does this one stand out?

As the message pops back up, "Well, this car show is a memorial for my brother...."

You have my full attention....

It was Natasha Heykoop, and she lost her brother to PTSD from his time in the military.  He took his own live on Thanksgiving Day in 2015.  It left a hole in a family and quite honestly, a hole in the community because we lost yet another, who was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, to the demons in his mind.  The isolation and feelings of being alone and having nowhere to turn made Jeremy Heykoop one of the statistics of the 22 veterans we lose a day to the struggles they face post service. It's still happening and sadly, we'll have to face it until the stigma of proper treatment for mental health is lifted.
Find Lighthouse for Veterans on Facebook

As a remembrance and a way to heal, it was decided that Jeremy's love for cars would be the focal point for the family and friends to bring a little attention as well as hopefully a few bucks to send along to help treat those who suffer PTSD like Jeremy did.  It's the classic story of turning a tragedy into a triumph and finding some healing while offering some respite for others.  They found a little spot, back off Getty and Airline, brought in a brush hog, cleared off the lot and had a small car show.  Then year two came along....the event grew substantially and the mission continued.  Still back by the swampy small field...but instead of a few cars...it more than doubled and the size of the crowd that attended blew up too!  It would seem that the memory of Jeremy and the cause put out by the Heykoops drew some attention.

It's year 3 now.  The Lighthouse for Veterans outgrew the small lot on Getty and will be found Downtown Muskegon at the Mart Dock on July 6th.  Car show, bike show, bounce house for the kids.  A great silent auction going on along with a 50/50 raffle every hour...a live auction at 11a.  Food all day and more.  It's $10 for a car entry and if your fancy yourself as a master of corn hole, you can CLICK HERE to register your team for a small donation.  It all leads up to helping fun a retreat for veterans only in September up in Custer.  A little respite from the world and a chance to decompress and heal.  CLICK HERE for info on the retreat.

Met up with Natasha to talk about the new spot, the 3rd year and how much things have grown and will continue to grow for her passion to remember her brother and help others from having to live through the same. Take a listen.

Love it! To see something inspired by loss turn into hope for others is simply the best way we can tell a story.  It doesn't hurt either to see such incredible growth with such powerful purpose behind it.  This is humanity at it's finest, and honestly....this is what makes Muskegon so incredible.  If you wonder still, after all the years we've published Positively Muskegon what our purpose is...look no further than Natasha Heykoop and Lighthouse for Veterans.  You can visit their website by clicking below.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

D-Day Plus 75 - May 31st and June 1st at the LST 393 in Muskegon

75 years.  It was a day that can't and won't be forgotten.  The landing to free Europe form the grips of Hitler was truly one of the most world wide efforts ever put together.  To remember what happened and revere those who served with such valor and such selflessness is important, and more over...to teach younger people about what happened and why is essential so we don't have history repeat itself.

Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 has been at the D-Day Plus observations in Muskegon now since D-Day Plus 72.  It's an event that has not only grown in size, but it's also grown in stature and importance of the message it carries and it shows.  This year, the event has expanded in to two days down at the LST 393 which has a D-Day story all of it's own.  If you're not familiar with Rolling Thunder, they are an organization who advocate for POW/MIA and Veterans of all branches of  the military.  They work to make sure that no soldier is forgotten and that people understand the sacrifices made to help protect our great nation.
Follow Rolling Thunder on Facebook

D-Day Plus 75 is set for this weekend.  You'll find a variety of activity going on.  Static displays of historic vehicles, free tours of the LST 393, the Michigan Vietnam Memorial Wall, battle re-enactments, an air raid simulation, and a 1940's pin up girl contest and a swing dance.  You'll get to hear from a wonderful young speaker who at 11 has been recognized for her efforts to help POW/MIA and Veterans. There will be activities for the kids, there will be food vendors on hand and in as much as this might feel like a festival, it's an important part of history and it's a living breathing hands on learning experience for those who have only seen what war is on tv or in a movie.

Chris "Lefty" Johnson invited us back down again to talk about the event and what you'll find.  Take a minute and listen to what's to come and then plan on spending some time on site this weekend to get the full experience. 

It's a very full day with a lot to see and do, that's for sure.  As we mentioned though, while it feels like it's a party....the idea is to recognize the sacrifices made of those who served on D-Day or any battle.  Those who don't understand history are doomed to repeat it and to have the assets we do in Muskegon to make this kind of observance possible.  Add in a group like Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 who work tireless hours to make this event bigger, better and have a greater impact and we have so much to be proud of.  Thanks to Lefty for having us down and if you'd like to know more about Rolling Thunder, click on the image below to visit their website.