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Friday, October 21, 2016

Positively Muskegon Welcomes Eddie Sanders Jr

Just over a year old!  Quite a milestone to me... to some it may not be much, but to know that we've started to change the way we're seen by ourselves and by others is a pretty satisfying feeling.  We ventured into and more.  We've told a story or two and we've been able to shine a light on some pretty awesome people who make Muskegon what it is.'s all been from one perspective...mine.  I mean, it's an acceptable perspective and all....but there's more!

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Thing do you go about getting more perspective?  Where you you find people who truly wish to have a better future for our area?  How do you find someone that's awesome with people?  How can you begin to show different view guests who might not otherwise want to come on?  Muskegon isn't exactly flooded with out of work news reporters and journalists you know.  Dave Alexander contributes from Downtown Muskegon, it's a nice way to keep his writing chops while he helps remold the city.  So, where do new people come from?  I'll tell you... they come from right here.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do this you know, it just takes a good heart... I mean look at me...  they don't come much more simplistic than some guy from Sparta.

Me and Eddie

I first met Eddie Sanders Jr. as he was at a Muskegon Lumberjacks game to sing the National Anthem.  His towering presence and impeccable dressing at first was a little intimidating.  Right away though, he told me he was heading to audition for one of those tv shows where they try to find the next big thing when it comes to singers, AGT.

He went out and belted out the Anthem with an amazing and towering voice to match his frame and I stood in awe.

As time went on... I learned more and more about Eddie and I have grown to not only highly respect him...I have grown to see so much of me in him it's almost uncanny.  Eddie wants better for everyone.  Eddie is a committed man to helping kids....strengthening communities and living life to the fullest.  Eddie organized the 2000 Man March in Muskegon Heights this past Summer, it was an event that blew everyone away.  It became clear to me... Eddie belongs on Positively Muskegon.

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Eddie is here today to do his first story.  Meet Elizabeth Slter-Adkins who is Eddie's vocal coach and also a teacher at Muskegon Community College.   She's got quite a story to tell and it' leads up to a huge thing for her... her Masters recital taking place Nov 4th at Montague United Methodist Church at 7:30p.  Take a listen to Eddie and Beth's conversation to learn a little more.

Well, there you have it!  Elizabetheth's got quite a story and as she works her way toward the  recital we're happy to cheer her on.  Happy to have Eddie help tell her story too!  What an amazing thing to have Eddie here.  He's awesome and I will be happy to have his point of view on things when he can.  Remember I asked earlier, "where do you find someone"?  Simple truth is look for a guy who believes in something as much as you do...and be willing to help him succeed.  It's called lifting people up... and it's awesome.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Santa's Helpers in Muskegon - Trying to Make the Holiday's a Little Brighter

9 times out of 10 you hear... "Boy, I wish someone would do something about that".  It's that one time when someone says "I'm going to do something about that" that would should pay the closest attention to.  It's that one person or group that changes the world.   It doesn't matter how big or small the changes are....what's big to some maybe considered peanuts to others....but if a need it met.....the world changes.

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Last year about this time we met up with a mom from Wolf Lake.  Andrea Rosema was in the process of making Christmas a little brighter for the kids of the area.  She put on a party at the VFW on Apple to help kids decorate Santa....send a card to a soldier and enjoy some time away from the every days hustle and bustle to just slow down and be kids.  It's an important thing to do.  We sure hope to hear back from Andrea but that doesn't mean that there's not room for more when it comes to doing god by our kids in Muskegon.

Karen Gagnon got a hold of me a couple weeks ago and wanted to talk about Santa's Helpers.  It's hard to believe....but kids needs continue to grow.  Not only do they need the basics like food, shelter and water...some thought has to be given to younger people that there is hope in this world....that good things happen for good kids and that they are not forgotten when it comes to being part of our community.  Struggle knows no color....creed or address.  Karen also remembers her earlier years when that help came from others in her own life.  Now, it's time to pay it back...or forward depending on how you look at it.

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Santa's Helpers last year served 30 local kids who would have otherwise gone without.  The need is real..and the need is growing.  Be it from a sponsor, a donation or maybe something you can give freely...a little can be a part of it all this year.

They have begun the search to find partners to help serve these kids and Karen came by along with Cathy Strait and Brittney Shotwell to tell me a little more about the endeavor.  Take a listen to our conversation below.

Grass roots effort?  Yup!  Is this the kind of thing that makes Muskegon what it is?  You better believe it.  This community is built by hard working people who take care of friends and neighbors.  It might not make the national news for any of these efforts....but they go on, day after day with the resilience only Muskegon can put up!  We're thankful for Karen and people like her who realize that a community is a direct reflection of the people in it...and that the people here are truly good hearted  and will take the reigns on things to make sure that we get needs met.  If you'd like to get involved, follow the link below.  A donation...some time....maybe some presents?  It will make you feel good....and'll be adding to the greater good, and that's something we all benefit from.

Santa's Helpers Muskegon and Surrounding Areas on Facebook

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Meet Muskegon Heights City Manager Jake Eckholm and Get Details About Dumpster Day Oct 22nd

Muskegon Heights is a city on the move.  It's been a remarkable shift in momentum and attitude on the community with Mayor Kim Sims being elected and recently the addition of a young, eager and driven City Manager in Jacob Eckholm.  The renewed spirit with events like the 2000 Man March, the work toward getting the famous Heights Tigers Marching Band back in's been an AMAZING time in Muskegon Heights.

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There have been programs added.  There has been a renewed sense of community involvement from surrounding communities to be involved and recently...thanks to WZZM 13 there was a remarkable look at Muskegon Heights that was an eye opener to not only our area...but ALL of West Michigan.

The thing I think I have seen the most, is the renewed excitement of young people.  I have seen video after video of projects lined up for people to clean up the streets, mitigate some blight and take the hopes and dreams of youth and turn them into reality for the community.  It's an all hands on deck to know that other city's are stepping up to be part of the solution is just what the doctor ordered.

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I was able to catch up with Jake Eckholm, now two weeks on the job at the City Manager of the Heights.  First up!  A citywide Fall Clean Sweep!  Do you have junk that has to go?  Well, the city will be supplying the dumpsters and they are hoping that it's your chance to say out with the old!  Got broken furniture?  Get rid of it!  Old appliances sitting around... they'll take them.   It's part of a larger program called the Give Me 5 Cleanup initiative.

I was able to catch up with Jake Eckholm to talk a little more about it.  Take a listen to out chat below!

A fall clean up is not only the chance to get rid of the mess, it's a chance to see some friends and neighbors.  Maybe meet the new City Manager and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Mayor and City Council using a little elbow grease to help with the endeavor!  Muskegon Heights is making remarkable strides....something all of our communities should be taking notice of.  Positives and good deeds are contagious!  Help spread them!  To visit the city of Muskegon Heights website, click on the logo below.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Positively Muskegon Turns 1 Today!

We're 1!!  It's been one year since I sat down and announced that Positively Muskegon was putting down stakes and had every intention of showing the real side of Muskegon.  As you heart and soul have gone in to this and every single person or organization that's come on this blog gets credit for making it what it is.  This community is valuable...there are good people in it and everyone deserves a pat on the back for the things they do.

Large or small contributions all add up to make!

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The intention from day one was to begin to change the way we talk about ourselves.  Yes...we're a very proud blue collar town that loves to have a good time, but we're also a community of vast resources and hearts that go the extra mile for our friends and neighbors.  We find ways to make things work and we hold values of family...friends and community dearly.

We've published 270 stories that have been read 122,423 times since this time one year ago.  My first favorite was the story about the group of moms who were putting on a party at the VFW on Apple for kids to visit Santa, decorate cookies, send a card to a soldier and get their parents presents wrapped.  THAT is an important story.  We've gone from her "she shed" which was actually her people running for US Congress wanting to come on the blog and share what they believe about Muskegon.  A garage in Wolf Lake all the way to Washington.....just never imagined that.

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We've had some great sponsors come along.  Ladas Hoopes and McNeill Attorneys were first and Mercy Health was almost immediately there after.  We've intentionally kept prices low for our needs a resource to be able to reach people.

It was never the first intent to go for the paycheck....but my philosophy has always been, if you build it better than anyone else....the rewards will follow and I am eternally grateful for those who have seen the value in reaching our audience.

Positively Muskegon Coming Jan 2017 to WZZM
Finally....this idea...this chance and this one little voice going door to door with a GoPro and a dream...well, it's been recognized.  Beginning January 2017 Positively Muskegon will be a monthly feature on WZZM 13.  You'll be able to see the top things to do in all of Muskegon County for the month and I'll be making the trip to Alpine to help host the segment on My West Michigan.

I was asked if this was possible 6 days ago and the shock....well, it's not quite worn off yet.

In the end...all I am honestly hoping for is that Positively Muskegon is a way to remember me.  I don't expect a mountain of wealth or fame....but a footnote that says Andy O cared, well, that's what I hope the most for.  Thank you!!  From the bottom of my big Irish heart....thank you all so very much for making this a year that will be impossible to forget.  Keep Positively Muskegon in mind for 2017.....if you've got good news to's your platform as much as mine!

Muskegon - I love ya!!  Thank you for making this all possible and thank you more for your shared belief in the awesome community!

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Brand New Home for Family Promise of the Lakeshore in Muskegon

It was a while ago.  In fact, my first visit to Family Promise of the Lakeshore was just about a year ago.  Like most anything, in a can see a LOT of changes in a place like Family Promise, and the biggest of all, their new home.

Imagine the thought of losing your home and having no where to turn but a shelter.  Most shelters won't take in families.  Men have to go to one and women and kids have to find another option.

How does this help a family trying to make it?

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Thing is, in Muskegon we find a way to help people and while there's plenty of ways to make sure people are not sleeping in the streets...there is ONE organization who will not only keep people from being homeless, it will keep them a family, under one roof and while they are staying there...they also are give the tools needed so when they are ready to get back on their feet, they will understand things like budgeting....meal planning, job searching skills and more.

The idea is to give those in need of a temporary hand up the tools they need for the long term.  That way when they do find their way back up on their own two feet...the chances of them slipping again will be dramatically lower...and as a community, we are one step closer to making sure our people are sustainable...together and have avoided the trauma of being broken up in the process.

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Marian McDermed is the Executive Director of Family Promise of the Lakeshore and she invited me back to see their brand new facility at 2160 Crozier in Muskegon.  You'll have your chance to visit the new place too as they are having an open house Saturday October 23rd from 2p-4p.

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On a personal note, Family Promise of the Lakeshore was a serious eye opener for me.  It's not a flashy place...there's not a lot of posh surroundings or anything, no funding from any state or federal agencies,  but needs are met...families are kept together and as I left the first visit...the resounding thought in my mind was "Please let me find more miracles like this here in Muskegon"

You'll enjoy some punch and cookies and you'll enjoy seeing first hand what happens as they work tirelessly to make sure that a bump in the road is not an event that ruins an entire family and that with a little help and guidance....those families can get past the bumps...and carry on stronger than before.  Take a listen to our chat below for more information.

We've done some great stories since we started 364 days ago.  Met amazing people who go out of their way to help others while putting their needs second.  Marian made a huge impact on me... HUGE.  These are the kind of people who make Muskegon such a truly rich and wonderful community.  This is the kind of thing that Positively Muskegon was built on and to be come and tell you about their new home, and their continued work is... exactly how the day before a one year anniversary is celebrated.  We live in a community of miracles folks!  We're proud to introduce you to them.  Tune in tomorrow for the big one year anniversary story!

Family Promise of the Lakeshore

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Got the Goods? Get Them Appraised at the Muskegon Museum of Art and You Might Strike It Rich

It's almost everyone's dream.  You stumble on some old relic in your house...maybe an old toy, antique or vintage item.  You think "Maybe I'll keep it...maybe the garage sale next year".  Well, let's make sure your "garage sale" item isn't one of those long lost fortunes.  If you think the American Pickers should be coming by your place....well, it's time to come to the Appraisal event at the Muskegon Museum of Art.

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The appraisals are a way for the Muskegon Museum of Art to raise a few bucks, so that's a cool way to support the arts.  But think of this too... your jewelry, your antiques, history, value and importance of that one of a kind item, well, what if you had to come up with a price and value to give the insurance company?  Visiting an appraiser on your own...that can cost $100-$300 bucks and you don't get the added benefit of being able to say you support the Art Museum.

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The event is being held on October 15th from 10a-4p and there are no reservations needed.  If you're a member of the Muskegon Museum of Art the fee is $12 bucks and if's only $15...and that includes your admission to stroll the museum and enjoy the fine art on display.

If you've never me, it's hard to believe that something as cool as the Muskegon Museum of Art is actually here in town.

Marguerite Curran invited me down to talk a little about the event and the Muskegon Museum of Art.  Some of the current attractions as well as up coming events that you'll not wan to miss!  Take a listen to our chat below.

Bring in the goodies!  You will at bare minimum know if that old bayonet your dad had in the closet all those years is worth anything....or the violin you've got stashed away on the know the one your old pappy used to play?  Might be a priceless relic!  Stop out Saturday and find out at the Muskegon Museum of Art.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Service 1 Federal Credit Union Helping Kids Food Basket of Muskegon

We've featured Kids Food Basket know, the organization that makes sure 900 kids in Muskegon go home every day with a sack supper who would otherwise go home to a house with not enough to eat.  It's a hard reality that poverty has gotten to that point...and that parents have to work different shifts...different hours....2 or three jobs and barley enough to get by with that.  It's hard...but it's real...and we're a community not to let our kids go without.

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Kids Food Basket serves 900 sack meals every day in Muskegon.  Kids are provided with a protein , fresh fruit, fresh vegetable and a healthy snack and in every meal.  Scores of volunteers meet daily and assemble the meals and then drivers head out all over in time to make sure as kids get on the bus...they have dinner in hand and won't have to go to bed hungry....and starving a developing mind.

It's a huge task and it takes a community to make a program like Kids Food Basket work.  Donations are always accepted.   Items like smooth peanut butter, juice boxes and more are in high demand. Of course...the logistics of getting all of these meals into the hands of those who need them take some effort too....and some money.

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Service 1 Federal Credit Union is using their position in the "Love My Credit Union" campaign to showcase the work done at Kids Food Basket and hopefully....with your help, they will be the top vote getter in a competition of some very worthy causes among different credit unions.

I was able to stop into Kids Food Basket and catch up with Steph Kerr-Cathey who's the Fund Development Specialist for KFB as well as Natalie Parsons from Service 1 FCU to talk about the program and the incredible outreach that Service 1 Federal Credit Union has in Muskegon.  Take a listen to our interview below.

It's essential that we make sure that future generations get their basic needs met.  Believe it or not, there are kids who go home hungry every night and won't get to eat until they get to breakfast at school the next morning.  It's a heartbreaking reality...but there is strength in numbers so together, we can work to put an end to childhood hunger and show our kids a better way of taking care of friends, neighbors and those in need.  Click on the photo below and vote.  Share this story...get involved...heck, buy one extra box of baggies at the store a week or an extra jar of smooth peanut butter and share it.  We have a responsibility to leave our community better than we found it....and a generation to show that they are cared for.  Do your part.

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