Shon Cook Law

Shon Cook Law
The Good Witch of the Law!

Noffsinger Insurance Agencies

Noffsinger Insurance Agencies
Hiring Bonus of $1000

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Welcome to Sponsor Shon Cook and a Free Community Consultation Coming Up

We welcomed a new sponsor to Positively Muskegon and The Muskegon Channel a month of so ago, in fact, we welcomed a new title sponsor for both in the Shon Cook Law Firm in Whitehall.  Shon calls herself "The Good Witch of the Law".  She understands that when people are in need of a lawyer, they are usually at a spot in their lives where things are a little sticky...that's where Shon and her team comes in.

Follow Shon Cook Law on Facebook
The legal world is tough.  There are a lot of hoops to jump through and a lot of things that the average person just doesn't know, and is intimidated by.  Add in the idea that if you're with a lawyer, you've probably already got enough on your plate.  Who needs to add more to what you're dealing with already?  You need a practical and committed people who care about you.  That's Shon Cook and the people of her firm.

Shon is also very committed to community.  She offers Community Consultations around the area.  They are free of charge and she and her team bring their knowledge out of the office and into the community to help with a variety of issues, particularly family law.  The Community Consultations are not to take the place of legal advice, but you'll find family law issues...possible outcomes things that people need to think about should they find the need for an attorney.  They will be hosting their next Community Consultation at Bridge Bible Church at 5035 Henry Street.  The event is on March 21st Beginning at 7pm. 

I had a chance to sit and officially welcome Shon and learn a little more about the Community Consultation....take a listen.

We are thankful for the support of the work, and we're thnakful for Shon's commitment to our area.  Be it White Lake where her practice is or here in town, her commitment is to the people of the Muskegon Area.  She calls herself the "Good Witch of the Law" and having her on your side is really a great idea if you are ever in need of legal help.  Make sure you join her March 21st at Bridge Bible Church for the free event and don't be afraid to let her know you appreciate her support of Positively Muskegon.  To visit her site, click on the logo below.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Help Habitat For Humanity Raise the Roof in Muskegon March 16th at the Frauenthal Center

We've spent about a year following the work of Habitat for Humanity in Muskegon.  We followed Adam Bayne and Stephanie Anderson as they broke ground on their new Habitat Home last spring and just a week of so ago, we were there for the dedication of the new place and gave you a tour of their beautiful new three bedroom home in a nice neighborhood in Muskegon where their daughter can grow and be safe.  It was an incredible journey.

Tickets for Raise the Roof

Habitat for Humanity will break ground on home number 106 soon, and it will begin again for another family.  A new home, new hope and renewal of a community.  We'll fight blight, we'll fight the hopelessness some feel and we'll fight the notion that somehow, Muskegon is not a thriving, growing and revitalized community with opportunity for everyone.  Habitat for Humanity works this way in communities all over the country and the world.  Truly, an organization that means so much more than the structures they build.  They build lives...they build hope....they build community and they build stability.  We're proud to support their work anyway we can.

On March 16th, all of Muskegon has their chance to help in the work as well as Habitat for Humanity is presenting a first of it's kind fundraiser here in town.  Raise the Roof for Habitat for Humanity will be happening at the Frauenthal Center Ballroom from 6p-10p.  You'll find delicious food from The Hearthstone, a cash bar, a raffle, and some great entertainment from River City Improv who will be performing the next night at Laughfest over in Grand Rapids.  Hey, Habitat is even saving you the drive to G.R. for a nice night out.

I was joined by Haley Knight of Habitat for Humanity earlier today for a quick chat about what to expect and tickets for this awesome night of fun with a purpose, take a listen.

For everyone who sits on the sidelines and says "Nothing ever happens in Muskegon", here's your proof.  This is community in action and these are real changes being made by people who believe in better for everyone.  Our story with Adam and Stephanie was a great up close examination of how it all works, and if you like that kind of thing, supporting Habitat for Humanity is a great way to give back.  Time, treasure or matter how you choose...this is how change happens and this is how we make it happen.  To learn more about Habitat for Humanity, click on their logo below.

Friday, March 2, 2018

A New Home for Adam and Stephanie - Habitat for Humanity Finishes Up

It was June of last year when we first introduced you to Adam Bayne and Stephanie Anderson.  They are a young couple who had been living up in Whitehall in a manufactured home that was getting to the point of needing some repairs that made it pretty questionable and with their growing family, it was time to begin to think about finding a way to put down some roots and build a forever home.

Our First Visit With Adam and Stephanie
Like so many others, they needed a hand when it came to things like establishing credit, knowing where to turn for advice, how to get this that or the other thing done...hey...there is a lot that goes into home ownership.  It can be a very difficult and intimidating process.  But, Adam and Stephanie were determined that no hill was too big to climb so they began their journey with Habitat for Humanity in Muskegon to see if they were qualified to work in their program and work toward home ownership.  They were.

Through the process, there were plenty of classes on things like proper money management and home ownership.  There's also the sweat equity that goes into every Habitat home by those who will live there. 400 hours of sweat equity to be exact. There is some time dedicated to helping Habitat at their locations in town as well and it's all centered around building a home, but more so...building a community.

Adam and Stephanie's New Home
Well, March 1st of 2018 was a banner day for Adam and Stephanie.  A banner day for all of us actually because what was a bare patch of land in Muskegon, well,'s a brand new three bedroom home and we were invited back to visit with Adam and Stephanie to talk about the experience, take a tour of the place and show you first hand just what happens when great people, who truly deserve a good thing happening in their lives get one.  Like any party, they all seem to gravitate to the kitchen and that's where we ended up to take you on a tour of their brand new home.  Take a look.

I did ok...up until I left.  I got there early to do what I had to do, but as the friends and family poured in I drove off and to be all caught up with me.  Ya, big old tough Andy was reaching for the tissues.  I was a little misty eyed at watching this miracle unfold.  All in all, over 50 people came to celebrate the dedication of this beautiful new home and a great new start for Adam and Stephanie.  I have known these guys for a long time and I am so proud of all they have done to get here.  It's not been easy but they did it with the help of Habitat for Humanity of Muskegon.  Good things happen to good people.  Our humble thanks to Adam and Stephanie for sharing their experience with all of us.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Muskegon, click on the logo below.

Here's a video time line of our stories too, in case you missed our first stories.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Grenell Family of Twin Lake Dealing With SDS - Learn More About Life for Their Son Nathan

You pull up, and tucked in back off the road is a quiet and humble home where you'd find everything a young family would enjoy.  Plenty of room for the kids to play, nice garage off to the side for dad to get some stuff done...nice hammock hanging near the woods out front...just what some people want when it comes to country life in Twin Lake.  Peaceful and serene, even a few cats running around keeping an eye on everything.

Visit Nathan's Page on Be The Match and Order
a Swab Kit

So, as you pull up you're a few minutes early so you're just kind of waiting till your time to arrive is there, and all of the sudden....the door fly's open and out comes this miniature fireball of a kid in a pair of shorts and some rain boots....he runs up to the car and immediately tries to open the back door....because "his friends are here".   This is how we met Nathan Grenell.  But, let's take you back to how we met his mom quick first.

Michelle Grenell got a hold of me to tell me about Nathan and a rare battle he faces in his life called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome.  (SDS).  SDS is a rare congenital disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic deficiency, bone marrow dysfunction, skeletal abnormalities and short stature.  It's a lot for any family to deal with, and in talking to Michelle and her husband Justin you realize that there are probably times due to the rarity of this disorder that they feel pretty alone in the fight.  There are no big named celebrities pushing for action, there isn't really any big government programs, there are just friends, family and neighbors who pitch in when they can and doctors and researchers who do what they can to try and help.  Like many genetic disorders there are not a ton of answers and talking to those immersed in the fight...well, they speak another language because they are forced into a world they never imagined and have to learn all the terminology that accompanies what they are dealing with.  With the magic of communication...I am going to boil it right down for ya.  Watch this.

Want to Help Nathan at the Jacks Games?
Click here to Contact Michelle Thru FB for
Nathan needs our help and he needs it pretty bad.  What's being asked of you?  The willingness to learn a little something and have your mouth swabbed out to see if you might be a match for the bone marrow transplant he needs.  There's no cost to you to be "swabbed" and to know that your simple act of willingness to be kind can help this kid, or maybe someone else who could use a hand well, that should bring some satisfaction to you too.

We stopped out the Grenell house on Wednesday which just happened to be "Rare Disease Day" and talked to Justin and Michelle about this complicated and scary disorder and invite you to learn a little more about what's going on and see if you can help.  We talk about some of the upcoming events where you can get "swabbed" to see if you're a match for Nathan or anyone else that's in need of a bone marrow transplant.  We get jumped on by cats...we have a tiny face pop up...we were truly invited in to the Grenell home...and that's what were in business for!  Take a listen.

If you could grab a kid from in front of oncoming traffic, you would.  If you could stop a kid from choking on something, you wouldn't bat an eye.  If you could protect a little person from danger in any way, my gut tells me you would in a second because that is how life works.  We look out for the more vulnerable among us.  At least we should.  If you'd like to know more about SDS you can click on the image below.  If you'd like to help the family out a little and come to the Lumberjacks games they are selling tickets to, click on Nathans picture above to contact Michelle.  If you can help Nathan by something as having a cotton swab in your mouth for a few minutes...chances would.  That's why you are here and why we work the way we do at Positively Muskegon.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

10 Years of Dancing With the Local Stars - My Thoughts

It's not often I use Positively Muskegon to editorialize, but as we've completed 10 years of Dancing With the Local Stars, I've kind of been thinking it was time to say a little something from someone who's never been a part of it, never actually been able to go to a show or really had anything more to do with it than lend a little hand helping promote the event and the reason it happens. 

From an observers stand point, I have to tell you what an amazing source of pride I get knowing that this event has flourished the way it has in Muskegon.  More often than not, Muskegon is seen as "that city" in West Michigan.  We who live here know the real story, and we've all worked very hard to change that image and mindset.  Here at Positively Muskegon, we've worked to not only change that image outside of our own area, we've worked pretty hard to change the minds of the people right here in Muskegon.  Our projects, big and small all equal up to what makes our community thrive.  We've got grand affairs like Dancing With the Local Stars and we've got those who do things like put on bake sales, church parties.  We've got amazing community organizers who face adversity and work for unity in the community and we've got people who refuse to see lines on maps as to where one neighborhood begins and one ends.  We are a hands on community and when the time comes...everyone finds a way to pitch in.  It never fails.

As for celebrity., that's a stretch.  I bet if you took a camera out on a street corner and asked 50 people who Muskegon's "celebrities" are, there would be a lot of head scratching.  I bet, if you asked even some of those who are thought of as the celebrities...who the celebrities are...they too would have a puzzled look on their face.  That to me is one of the greatest things about Muskegon.  We might be a little short on "celebrity" but....we have Judges like Brenda Sprader and Annette Smedly....we've got Sheriff Michael Poulin.....we've got fitness expert Becky Biesiada....we've got Dale Nesbary of Muskegon Community College...John Felske....Fire Chief Bob Gagnon, Mayor Gary Nuelund..... Karen Buie....Matt Schmitt...Mary Switzer...DJ Hilson.....Frank Peterson...Tim Lopez...Christina Fetcher.....the list goes on and on.  I don't think any of them would wake up in the morning and say "Well, another day in the life of a celebrity" but every one of them know that there are people here in Muskegon who would go hungry without their effforts, so for half the year...they spend their free time preparing for the modern day version of our "Town Follies" and they do it because they know it's their give back to our great community.  Of the "Town Follies" comment...I say it with nothing but love and years of lasting proof that in any town....there is enough talent and drive to accomplish amazing things among those who just do a tiny bit more than the day in and day out of their daily life.

As I write this, the final two performances of Dancing With the Local Stars are only a few hours off.  Months of preparation and practice will be complete.  Food pantries will be the recipient of the abundance, Muskegon will have been entertained and we will have proven once again that nothing or no one stands in the way of us accomplishing what needs to be done to take care of our most vulnerable in Muskegon.  Those who know food insecurity and those who have seen first hand the effects that hunger levies on the people of this or any area. 

My sincere respect to the Women's Division Chamber of Commerce, the cast of Dancing With the Local Stars and all who have been involved in making this event larger than life while maintaining a small town feel and making Muskegon a place I am so proud to call home.  Truly...a blessing in our community.  Time to take a bow.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Lebanon Lutheran Church of Whitehall's Outreach to White Lake

We report a lot on the work that gets done to help those in need in and around Muskegon.  We have also said from Day 1 that Muskegon is pretty much Fruitport to Montague as far as we're concerned, but quite often the stories about things like hunger, food insecurity, clothing needs and household items seem to come from in the city limits and from neighborhoods that are considered "blighted".  Well, the need for human service is everywhere.

Follow Lebanon Lutheran Church on Facebook
Recently, I got a tip about some serious outreach going on in the White Lake Area at a church called the Lebanon Lutheran Church in Whitehall.  Founded all the way back in 1872 by Swedish lumber workers the Lebanon Lutheran Church was built to help foster the deep feeling the immigrants had for faith as well as using catechism to help their children learn how to read.  If you think back to 1872 as well, a congregation was an important part of life too.  We didn't have the immediate connections we do now, people could gather to praise, catch up on what's happening, find out who needed a hand and use the collective's mind power to help solve issues. 

Well, in as much as times change and the way we connect is a little more rapid, some things stay the same and when it comes to the Lebanon Lutheran Church that community mindset is still first and foremost.  As we talked earlier, those in need are everywhere.  Zip codes don't define who's hungry, who's lonely or who might be struggling to make life happen.  Yes, even in the White Lake Area there are those who need food pantries, a hot meal, a safe spot to gather and a place to rely on when times are tough.  The Lebanon Lutheran Church operates numerous community outreach programs to serve so many people.  In the summer, they work to provide backpacks for kids to head back to school.  Year round, they provide breakfast on Wednesday mornings.  The food pantry is there for those who need to come and make sure the shelves are not bare.  Meeting space for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, quilters, support my mind...they are doing exactly what a church should be doing in a community.  The Sunday service is great, but the real mission is 24/7 in my mind and from meeting Pastor Doug Ogden, it's clear to see that he and his congregation feel the same way.

Doug and I had a chance to sit down and talk about his church and the work they do for the White Lake area.  Take a listen to what goes on to help those in need a little to the North.

After we talked, Doug gave me a nice tour of this beautiful and traditional church.  Plenty of room for everyone was the theme.  They sure go above and beyond for those in the White Lake area.  We had a nice discussion too about faith.  I always appreciate a hearty dialogue on the subject with my 12 years of parochial schools, but what I always appreciate more is when people put faith into practice.  Walk the walk....and from everything I have heard and seen, that's exactly what's going on at Lebanon Lutheran Church in Whitehall.  My many thanks to Pastor Doug Ogden for the visit and for taking such good care of his community.  If you'd like to know more about the Lebanon Lutheran Church, please, click on their photo below.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Return to The Lemonade Stand of Muskegon - Friends are Still Helping Friends

Back in July of 2017 we introduced you to Judie Pratt who's been running an outreach for people in Muskegon for 19 years now called The Lemonade Stand.  It's a group for people who suffer from mental issues and they come in all forms of disorders.  It might be PTSD, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder...any of the mental conditions we hear about day after day in today's world.  Scary, and real problems.

19th Anniversary Celebration
The world can be a tough place.  It's even tougher if you don't really acclimate to society's "norms".  Everyone needs some support, and everyone needs to feel included, but what if the typical environments those things are found in are unmanageable due to the limitations of your mind?  Where do you turn?  A world of isolation?  I don't think anyone wants that.  At The Lemonade Stand of Muskegon those who need a place to belong can find some respite despite their challenges and it's all based on a group effort to maintain the house, keep order among the members and to sustain the group.  Judie is at the forefront of it, but is always quick to point's really about the members.

Well, back around Christmas time, Judie lost her husband, sadly,  and the group Christmas party had to be delayed a while.  When they finally got around to putting it on, I shared the picture of the gathering and showed the group off on the Positively Muskegon Facebook page.  I have to tell you, out of all the stories we've done for Positively Muskegon and The Muskegon Channel, there are some that really touch your heart and Judie, and the people of The Lemonade Stand certainly did mine.  At first, I was asked if I could just come help cook the food for the party, so...sure...I can bake a ham, but when it had to be delayed...I retracted and waited to see if they needed a hand when it was rescheduled, but they got by.

Anyway, back to the picture share, thousands saw the picture and were intrigued enough to want to know, instead of trying to answer every question, I figured it was time to pack the camera back up and head back to The Lemonade Stand for another visit to have Judie herself explain just what everything is about and how people can help or get involved if they want to.  Take a listen.

Simply put....this is why Positively Muskegon is.  I am a firm believer that as a society, our worth is shown by how we take care of our most vulnerable people.  It's been Judie's crusade along with her family to make sure that those who live in a scary world in their mind have a safe and welcoming place free of fear and judgement for almost 20 years now.  She's done it in a fashion that has given those she serves a sense of purpose to go along with that security as well as a full belly when it's needed.  If ever you wonder if miracles are happening in Muskegon, look no further than The Lemonade Stand.  They are happening every day.  To find The Lemonade Stand of Muskegon on Facebook, click on the photo below.