Ladas Hoopes McNeill

Ladas Hoopes McNeill
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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bring Unused or Outdated Prescriptions For Safe Disposal April 29th

You know, I was sitting here trying to think of a way to slide in to this article.  So, I thought that I would start by saying that the first part of this here, it's opinion.  We'll get to the meat and potatoes momentarily.  If you'd care to just skip to the may.  :)

I am more and more finding myself looking at our society and the drugs in it.  I have to take a few, and I have nothing against prescribed medications.

That being said...I have a bum left foot and they tried me on one of the meds that they advertise on TV a lot.  I am not going to get into the name of it, because ya know...for someone else, it might work just fine.  But for was a nightmare.  You know how in commercial for pills, they have the "disclaimer" part where they tell you all the possible side effects of this drug, or that drug?  I got them. I thought that I was going to die from the physical side effects....unable to breathe...muscle pain...agitated....and if that's not bad enough for mental well being was terrible.  Can you imagine it's somehow OK to market a pill that has the "possible side effect of suicidal thoughts or actions". We sell that stuff, and all those warnings on TV are because they know that they can happen.  They are even selling a script now for people who are constipated due to opiates.  "You can't poop because you take too much Vicodin?  Here, here's another pill."  What in the actual hell is that all about?

So, back the story.  Have you been given a script you couldn't take?  Maybe it's sitting there in the kitchen cupboard.  You know, the skinny one.  Maybe it's time to do some Spring cleaning and you find a bottle or two of outdated aspirin.  Some cough syrup left over from the crud this past winter?  Don't know what to do with it?  Don't flush it...don't pour it down the drain...don't give it to your brother in law.....don't leave it sitting there.  You can dispose of it properly at the Norton Shores Fire Department on Pontaluna April 29th from 9a-1p.

No questions asked, no coast and no harm done to our environment.  You don't even have to get out of your car, you can drive right thru and drop it off and your done.  You'll be surprised as to just how much of this stuff is sitting around.  I had a chance to talk with Chief Jon Gale and Brian Harris of the Norton Shores PD and Rachel McCoy from the Health Project about the event. Take a listen to our chat below.

It's an easy way to rid yourself of some risk.  Don't let that kind of stuff sit around.  Take a look around the house, bag it up and bring it down. Hey, you at very least get to see some cool fire trucks, and some of the friendly Norton Shores boys in blue.  While you're there, take a moment to thank them for looking out for all of us in an ever increasingly crazy world.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Girls on The Run Lunafest - A Film Festival at the Beardsley Theater April 26th in Muskegon

It was about a year ago...I was asked to emcee an event at Heritage Landing called Girls on the Run.  Never heard of it...didn't know much more than I would get some notes...make a few comments, maybe draw a prize winner or two...ok, I can do that.  Been at it a while so a few words is a piece of cake.

After saying yes, I found out's the way it usually goes....and I was just hooked by the reason for Girls On The Run.

GOTR Kent and Muskegon Counties

Girls On The Run isn't really about running, it's just folded in.  GOTR is about building girls up to become strong women.  Strong women...I know a thing or two about.  My mom....let's suffice it to say that nothing or no one was going to stand in the way of her kids turning out to be "productive members of society" and nothing or no one includes me and my sister.  Yes, there were a few years of doubt when it came to me...but in the end....the strong mom won.  Now, the Mrs.  Never have I met a woman who's sole purpose in life is to give people wings...and then make them fly. I never imagined just how powerful it is to hear from your spouse that "You can do anything...and you do it better than anyone else."  She never so much as blinks when I tell her what I'd like to say start a blog....or an online "tv station."  She's never questioned a goal...never questioned what I needed to get the job done and never questioned my approach to doing things.  I have been surrounded by strong women for a very long time.  Now I have daughters and grand daughters...I want the same for them.

The challenges faced by young women, well...they are a lot.  I was shocked doing this interview that a girls self esteem peaks at 9. NINE and they are going to feel the best about themselves they ever will?  Totally unacceptable.  Everyone has moments of doubt, but today's girls are tomorrows women.  They will be the head of the family in some cases, they will be the heads of a company in others...either way....they need to see the strength and value they possess early, and it needs to be nurtured along the way.  That's where GOTR comes in.

To quote their website - "We inspire girls to be joyful healthy and confident using a fun experience based curriculum which creatively integrates running.  We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams"  Powerful huh?

GOTR is hosting an event at the Beardsley Theater called the Lunafest.  A series of short films by, for and about women!  It's a fundraiser to help make sure their program can continue.  They even have an emcee for the event who just happened to stumble upon their organization a year or so ago... Susan Gifford and Lori Burgess  joined me on the stage at the Beardsley for the story.  Take a listen!!

I can't tell you how much I swelled with pride knowing that I had a small role in my first event with GOTR, once I knew the size and scope of what their work does.  I work to try and build up everyone around's part of my nature.  I know too, that the thought of a girl feeling like she's somehow "in the shadows" is unacceptable.  These girls...they are at bare minimum 50% of our future.  We owe it to the next generations coming to make sure they are all empowered and important!  If you'd like to be part of the on the picture below!

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Kids Belong of Muskegon Helping Foster and Adoptive Kids and Families - Learn More May 6th at Norton Pines

One of the things we've always worked toward on the blog is the well being of kids in our community.  We've all heard the line that "Children are the future", and we all know it's true...but sometimes kids are born into a situation that's not going to provide the simplest of needs.  It's not for me to decide what's right and wrong...but there are those who intervene and help assure that kids are safe and cared for.  The kids need a place to go however.

Kids Belong on Facebook

Kids Belong is a ministry set up in Muskegon and Northern Ottawa county for a couple different purposes.  One, it's a hub for anyone involved.  If families are fostering, or adopting a child..or children..Kids Belong is there to help with support.  The operate some different clothing closets for families who take the kids in.  The are also a very big support center for those who choose to foster or adopt.  I am a firm believer in support groups, in a situation like this...there have got to be a million different questions about the entire process.  Who better to learn from than those who have been down that road more than once.  Founded by Jeff Steele who is a pastor at Watermark church in Grand Haven Kids Belong has found it's roots and continues to grow...and with growth comes need for more.

Have you ever considered fostering?  Adopting?  It's a big commitment and one not be taken lightly.  However, the rewards are limitless.  Imagine the ability to help shape a young life by simply having them in your home.  Imagine the impact you can have for the long term of a life and a community.  If it's something you think you'd like to know a little more about, and what resources there are for you to help out..there is going to be a meeting May 6th at the Norton Pines Athletic Club.  There will be a nice dinner, some time for the kids to play on the equipment while parents get to hear exactly what being a foster is and how great the need is here in Muskegon.  I'll tell you are going to be surprised to hear just how many kids need a hand.

Jeff Steel and I caught up at the Lake Harbor United Methodist Church on Henry Street to talk about this event coming up and how parents can get involved.  Take a listen to our chat below!

I can think of no greater gift you can give.  It's a big endeavor...but the rewards....priceless.  If you think you've got a little more room in your heart and your home, I am simply asking you to go out and hear what Kids Belong has to say.  I have said it myself...and I try to apply it.  Be the change you wish to see.  If you'd like to know more about Kids Belong, click on the picture below!

Kids Belong Online

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Muskegon Area Students to Visit Ghana in Africa With 1037 The Beat and M106

Imagine the opportunity to take a trip like you've never imagined possible.  For some, travel is a daily part of life.  It can even get to be bothersome for those who do it all the time.  Once a year is plenty for's usually to a get away with me and the Mrs, and we're not often off on trips that have much more to do than get away.  Some local students are taking a little bigger trip however...and while they are there, they are going to get some learning done.

A view of Volta Lake in Ghana
The trip for these students is being organized and sponsored by Paul Billings who operates a couple of great local radio stations in Muskegon Heights.  103.7 The Beat is a community station that focuses on some pretty cool urban and hip hop music, and M106 is a Motown leaning station which shifts gears and plays some Electronic Dance Music on evenings and weekends.  Both very unique, and very local radio stations.  I have been a regular guest on both and I always feel great knowing I am going to the Mayes Wright Media Center on Peck Street.

I had seen a thing or two floating around social media about the upcoming trip.  The immense endeavor to get ready to go is enough to scare most off.  Vaccinations, passports, visa's, rooms,'s tough enough for just 2 people to travel internationally, imagine an entire crew.  All the work will pay off though.  At the heart of the matter, Paul is hoping to share an experience with these kids that will last them a life time.  A chance to visit where their origins began.  A chance to see a side of the world that not tainted by news channels, special interest organizations, charity's etc.  They are going to get a good look at what life in Africa is really like, and's much more than we get to see day in and day out.  How does their culture operate in an urban environment compared to the outskirts?  What's pop culture like in Africa?  How about the schools?  How about a perspective only attained by a visit to a magnificent land and the ability to return to see home in a different light?  Paul is making it all happen for the lucky kids who get to go.

Sat down with Paul for a few minutes to talk about this great undertaking.. take a listen to our chat below!

Remarkable!  As we talked in the's amazing to know a little more about your heritage.  I think that's true for just about anyone.  I have yet to take an adventure like this, but I can't say that Ireland isn't calling as loud as it possibly can,  Who knows, maybe someday.  The time for these kids is now though, and to stop and think that all of this is costing them nothing.  All they need to bring is an open mind, sense of adventure and the ability to come back and share their experience with makes Muskegon a better place.  If you'd like to contribute to the costs that are being entailed, please...follow the link below to help.  It's a PayPal link so you're not surprised.  You are contributing to a non profit.  Hats off to Paul for such a massive undertaking and his continued stewardship to his community and his listeners!

Click if You'd Like to Help Fund the Ghana Trip

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Darling Cetaceans Presents the 6th Earth Fair Expo at Montague High School April 22nd

Let me preface this article a moment.  When I first heard that there were some people trying to establish and ocean the middle of all the Great Lakes....I may have been a little quick to think "These folks are nuts."  There are some too who might think I am nuts doing what I am there's that.  I am also one to readily admit that if I failed to see the vision of Darling Cetaceans and now....I am on board to help spread the word!

Earth Fair Expo on Facebook
Darling Cetaceans is run by husband and wife Joel and Jennifer Darling.  Basically, they have been working in the field for the last few years.  The offer talks and seminars for schools, church groups, and they have been known to be a part of other expo's to help spread the word about their mission...and it's simply to protect the Earth and our water on it.  As Jennifer explains in the's all connected anyway...rivers, lakes, oceans and the planet.  Of those connections...I don't know of anything that swims, runs or fly's that's not totally dependent on all of it.  We have one planet...we have to protect it.

Not being a stranger to the expo business, Darling Cetaceans has held their own expo for a few years now.  In fact, their 6th Earth Fair Expo is coming up April 22nd at Montague High School and you're invited to check out this great FREE event on Earth Day itself!  Who doesn't love that idea?  Bring the kids, bring some friends bring an open mind and your ability to learn something new.  Darling Cetaceans is a very hands on group and they want people of all ages to interact, learn and grow some awareness for the delicacies we have to balance to maintain our home planet.  You'll find plenty of vendors at the event, you'll fins come giveaways including swag bags for the first 100 people who attend.

I was able to sit down with Jennifer Darling for a few minutes today to take a look at their brand new center on Mirriam Street in Muskegon Heights.  Beautiful office, amazing library and an amazing testament to sticking to what you believe in and making it happen.  Click on the video below to learn a little more from Jennifer.

Back to the beginning....honestly, I love it when people prove me wrong.  I love the fact that what people see as important isn't always on the top of my mind...doesn't have to be.  But...they have dug in...continue to share their message and they have established a much needed reminder in Muskegon as to how much we are all responsible for Earth and all of it's creatures!   Joel and hat's off to ya.  Click on the Darling Cetaceans picture below for their complete website.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Muskegon Students Head to Grand Rapids For MiCareerQuest

It's been amazing to watch the educational system unfold over time.  When I was in was a daily beating over the head of "go to college and get a degree".  Not that that is bad advise in any way shape or form....but you know...I wasn't much of a traditional student.  I was the dreamer....I was the distracted one....I was the one who was looking for the spotlight not the way to do long division.  Which, by the way....I have yet to use long division in daily life.

Learn More About MICareer Quest
Today, and maybe it's no fluke...society is faced with some pretty big holes that need to be filled.  Mike Rowe of "Dirty Work" fame has made a life out of the crusade for people to get involved with skilled trades.  The kind of jobs that don't necessarily come with all the glory, but they do come with steady pay checks...they offer a lifetime of work if people are willing to make it happen and the jobs they do, well....let's be honest about it...imagine life without properly working electricity....working plumbing...a roof over your head....see the big picture?  Skilled trades are essential.

1341 9th graders form Muskegon took the drive over to Grand Rapids April 13th to participate in the MiCareer Quest.  An event designed to expose young people to those skilled trade jobs and jobs that to require a degree.  The idea being to show young people just how many options are out there for them to consider as they work their way through high school and then on to college or the working world if they so choose.  I was invited by the Muskegon Career Tech Center to come and see the event first hands and talk to a couple students about their experience at the expo.  Take a listen to our chat from DeVos Place below!

9th graders still have some time to think about it.  When I was in the 9th grade....I was pretty sure I was going to be the next big thing in professional wrestling, that didn't really work out so good.  What I do love is the fact that kids get to see such a broad spectrum of opportunity for them.  It's high time we work toward aptitude compared to expectations.  Great jobs are out there and the future holds great rewards for those who are willing to do them!

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring Clean Up at the Muskegon State Park! Get a Free Night For a Little Help Cleaning Up the Place

It's getting to be that time.  Spring is Springing and Muskegon is getting ready for the deluge of tourists, bike riders, campers, adventurers, outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers!  People who like lakes...I think we have one or two of those don't we?  We're getting ready for the Summer and the Muskegon State Park can sure use a quick hand!

MI DNR on Facebook

Matt Schwemin is with the DNR of Michgan and he invited me out to talk a little about some of the same stuff we did last year.  Here's the thing.  You book a couple nights out at the Muskegon State Park.  You camp with your friends and family and make the best use out of it before the rest of the crowd gets here...and for a short amount of time during your stay, you pitch in and help the DNR get the campground cleaned up.  Maybe a little raking, picking up some rocks and sticks...easy stuff as a rule...and BOOM you'll get refunded for one of your nights!  Not only that, you'll get the personal satisfaction of knowing that your effort helped make Muskegon a more beautiful place for our visitors.

We didn't just leave it at that.  You may or may not have heard about the exciting happenings at the Winter Sports Complex.  Yes, the wheels are in motion to add in some pretty spectacular attractions that will make the Muskegon Luge park more than just a seasonal destination.  You'll soon see zip lines, rock climbing walls, some added areas that will serve dual purposes and a keen eye kept on making sure all of the new additions fit in the current footprint of the park and the natural beauty around it remains undisturbed.

Click on the video below to learn a little more.  We not only talk all things Muskegon State Park, you'll find some interesting info about just how much the State Park does for the Muskegon Area.

It's our home...but we're so lucky to be able to share it with those who come in to town to enjoy all that is Muskegon.  Like we talked in the video, it's here every day for all of us, and for those who seek out our greatest assets....we welcome them with open arms as well as making sure we all look the best we can.  If you'd like more information about the Michigan DNR click on the picture below.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

The Muskegon Chamber Choir - American Voices Concert April 29th

Are you like me?  You pretend to understand what a Chamber Choir is if someone mentions it, and then go on about your day.  Are you like me too when it comes to knowing that Muskegon has it's very own Chamber Choir and it's been going strong for 52 years....and you didn't even know they were there?  Well, we're both getting our learn on today and it will culminate with an invitation for you.  Here we go!

Muskegon Chamber Choir on Facebook

A Chamber Choir is made up of 8-40 members.  They sing classical or religious music in a concert setting.  It's really no more complicated than that.  In Muskegon, we've been very fortunate to have had our very own Chamber Choir for 52 years.  David Wikman founded the choir to perform at a festival in Northern Michigan.  Practice began and the festival fizzled.  Those who were brought together by Mr. Wikman did a little convincing that even though the festival didn't make it... the Muskegon Chamber Choir was born.  Their first performance was given in 1964.  Hmmm.....wasn't 1964 another pinnacle year for some other band too?

Today, the Muskegon Chamber choir is being co-led by Brad Taylor and Jim Hylen.  It's been a transition for the new guys in charge.  You get the immediate feeling that while capable..Brad and Jim have some pretty big shoes to fill from David Wikman.  They are rising to the challenge and planning this season and next.   Their Spring concert is coming up April 29th at the Central United Methodist Church and it's a focus on the American Voices.  It's an opportunity for you to bring the family out and experience the show for a donation.  Yes, they are not charging a ticket price, so as generous as you can to help the group out.

Brad and Jim spent a few minutes today telling me a little about the history, current events and future coming up for the Muskegon Chamber Choir.  Take a listen to our chat below!

I'm going to re-emphasize one point.  The importance of The Arts.  This is a golden opportunity to get the kids away from the X-Box and let them see and hear real humans, with incredible talents combine their collective gifts to make something amazing.  So often today, young people are bombarded with run of the mill, cookie cutter "entertainment" and they lack true appreciation for fine arts and subsequently, as generations pass...that art stands the risk of being forgotten.  Take some time on the 29th of April for yourself and your kids and check out the Muskegon Chamber Choir.  You'll be glad you did!  When you get done at the show...tell some friends about the Muskegon Chamber Choir!  Click on the picture below for their website!

Muskegon Chamber Choir

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dynasty Painting - Offering a House Painting in Muskegon

Positively Muskegon!  We go out of our way to find great people doing great things in Muskegon and we shine a little light on them to help spread the word!  Spreading the word is one of our favorite things!  Spreading paint.....not so much!  That's beside the point.  There are those who LOVE to paint!  There are those that take that love of painting and make a living at it!  That's the story with Dynasty Painting and Power Washing!

Enrique Gutierrez
Enrique Gutierrez is the owner and operator of Dynasty Painting of Muskegon.  He reached out to me to tell me of a pretty spectacular offer he's making for someone who could use a hand in Muskegon getting the exterior of their house painted!  Enrique has Sherwin Williams Paint of Muskegon on board to help with the cost.  He's going to throw in the labor and someone will have a brand spankin' new looking exterior!  This is a pretty incredible promotion to say the very least.

Part of the fun will be his taping of the entire project fro start to finish to show what they have done for Muskegon.  A mini reality show maybe?  Hey, at very least your house will be a star!  Now, there are some stipulations....let's face it, there has to be a need here.  Dynasty Painting is looking for an individual or family that might not be able to swing a project of this size into their budget.  Maybe it's a physical limitation, financial's one of those need things, not a freebie form someone too lazy to do it themselves.  This is meant to be a gift to the community.

I met up with Enrique at Gracie's Bookstore in Lakeside in Muskegon to learn a little more about Enrique, his business and this idea to share some of his time, talent and treasure to help make Muskegon a better place aesthetically, and why he thinks it's important to give something back to the people who make our town so great!  Take a listen to our chat below!

Amazing people, doing amazing things.  You heard from Enrique, he'd like to know why you, or someone you know need this work done!  I can tell you this, he's going to have a hard decision to make...some of the stories that come in about things like this can break your heart...BUT....people who reach out to help others with an act of kindness...those are the kind of people who make Muskegon what it is.  If you'd like to submit your request for consideration, the link to the Dynasty Painting Facebook page is right below!  If nothing else, click on it and give him a like.  A little attention in return for a gift to someone else... the least you can do!

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Friday, March 31, 2017

The West Michigan Ironmen and Peak Training Academy - Two Welcome Additions to Muskegon

Not to say that life is busy, but it only took 2 years for Terrance Williams and I to find the time to sit down and talk.  From his days playing football in Muskegon till's been an amazing journey for the owner of the West Michigan Ironmen.  The Ironmen debuted at the LC Walker Arena in 2016 and bring the intensity of arena football back to front and center for the ravenous football town that is Muskegon.

Peak Training Academy Online
Along with the establishment of the team came the revamping of the old Walker Arena Annex....which honestly, was a teeny tiny bit past it's time for a new purpose.  Well, it's new life at the Peak Training Academy with a partnership with Mercy Health is a stepping stone for area athletes to be able to ascend to the next level.  If they are making their way up into high school sports, there's a program... if they are going to try for college sports...they have the work's an incredible offering of everything that goes in to making athletes better.

Back to the Ironmen.  Tough, fast paced, high scoring, exciting and affordable are some of the benchmarks of the team.  You have a mix of players from all over the country....that's right...the entire country coming to Muskegon for an opportunity to play.  Best part is, with Muskegon being such a great football town, you'll also find plenty of local players mixed in.  They play a tough schedule which gets underway in March and wraps up at the end of May.  So just when you think football is over after the "big game" here come the Ironmen.

The two year chase finally paid off and Terrance and I had a chance to sit down and talk about his younger days here in town, what inspired him to come back, and give back and we even get to talk about TV Stars!  Take a listen to our chat below!

Local guy, heads out...get's himself where he wants to be in life and then....comes home to establish 2 incredible things for Muskegon.  This is the kind of story we love, and it's the kind of thing that makes Muskegon the community it is!  Get out and see an Ironmen game!  Learn more about the Peak Training Academy!  Be a part of all of the great things happening in Muskegon!  Now is out time!  To visit the Ironmen's Page, click below!

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Habitat For Humanity of Muskegon County Helping People Own Homes

You may see the few stores around town that are Habitat For Humanity ReStore.  Have you ever stopped in to one?  Well, you'll find lot's of things for your home that have been reclaimed, re-purposed and you'll find that the price of all of the stuff is at a fraction of the cost of what you might pay retail.  I mean honestly, all of the aforementioned is the proper way of saying they have cool stuff that won't cost much!  But, did you know, there's a much higher purpose?

Muskegon County Habitat For Humanity
The Muskegon County Habitat for Humanity is a global organization with it's boots on the ground right here in Muskegon county.  Their work not only includes the ReStore, they also work to build or restore homes for people who might otherwise never know the feeling of pride that comes with owning your own home!  Moderate to low income people sometimes struggle, believe me when I tell's a feeling I understand.

In Muskegon County, Habitat for Humanity works to provide 2-5 homes a year for their program participants.  It's by no means a chance to "get a free house".  There are a list of commitments that have to be made, there's an element of sweat equity that comes along with the chance to own a home and there is also an extensive screening process.  Back the the "free house" thing..there is a tailored mortgage when it's all said and done.  In as much as it would be nice to be able to give a home to anyone, but to be able to give them the tools and skills to know how to own and manage a home is a very big part of the entire process.  This is a program of building people...building homes and building communities.

Habitat for Humanity is also a great platform to volunteer for.  You can volunteer as an individual, group or organization.  Some companies go as far as to put a days work on hold so their employees can take a chance to have a hand in such a dramatic impact in their community.  If you have some construction skills, can help run one of the stores, even chances to cut grass.  More hands are always needed and you will truly have a feeling of doing something great deep inside you.

I was invited down to learn a little more about Habitat for Humanity in Muskegon by Claire Root-Benson. We met up in their office on Ottawa Street in Muskegon to hear about Habitat as well as some very special fundraising events coming up.  Take a listen to our chat below.

Growing up, I never imagined I'd be able to buy a home.  It happened.  I happened to find my perfect home right where I belong here in town.  I have put down my roots, I have watched them spread and I have taken the active roles in my community to do what I can to help out.  I think that everyone should have the same opportunity.  I think that the pride in owning your own home is a starting block to making your own life amazing beyond belief and the work of Habitat For Humanity is giving others that very same chance.  To learn more about Habitat For Humanity in Muskegon County, click on their logo below.

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How 2 Local Photographers Are Setting Out to Help With Senior Pictures in Muskegon

Do you remember back when you had your senior pictures taken?  It was a BIG deal for me and I was insistent that they were done by a certain studio.....I agreed to the coat and tie thing for one pic option, but the rest were going to be in comfortable clothes and reflect who I thought I was.  Yes...that means most of the pictures had me in a beer t-shirt.  :)
Today, the sky is the limit on senior photos...but sometimes, the finances are a little higher than the sky.

Rustic Enchantment on Facebook

People have to choose what they can spend on things.  It's tough when a family has to decide what's going to get spent on the "extras".  To some the idea of a portrait session is the only way to commemorate a life milestone.  To others, it might mean that they have to settle for some pictures taken out in the back yard by a friend or neighbor, and there's nothing wrong with that either.

Well, I was asked by a couple local professional photographers if I would be interested in hearing their idea.  Sure...always good to hear ideas.  I met Gabrielle Butterfield and Heather Parker to find out what they had in mind.  It's a pretty cool idea!  Gabrielle and Heather are looking for 4 students who need senior pics done!

Parker Photography on Facebook

It's not just free pictures though.  What they are looking for are exceptional students who go above and beyond for their own education, their school, community family and friends.  They are looking to help them out by offering free portrait sessions to the lucky 4 with clothing changes, locations and the whole thing.

This is meant to give a hand to someone who might otherwise go without, and while a nice set of senior pictures isn't exactly a necessity in life, it's a remarkable moment when kids become young adults and begin to start to spread their wings and get ready to fly on their own.

After hearing their idea, we met up again, this time at the Shoreline Inn to talk a little about what they hope to do and why they are doing it!  Take a listen to out chat below.

Amazing what people can do to not only share their talent, but to help those who might not be afforded the chance to have an occasion like their senior pictures done.  If you'd like to submit your story to them CLICK HERE and it will take you to an email link to share your story!  Many thanks to these gals for a handful of their time and talent.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mona Shores Wavelength FIRST Robotics Team Gives Hands On Technology Experience

Looking back a few years, to watch how school "clubs" have changed, I am often reminded just how old I am.  We had offerings of macrame, model building, maybe a karate class...I'll be honest, I wasn't much of a joiner, but...I'd try it long enough to get my mom disgusted when I would quit 3 weeks into it.
Today, the school "clubs" are more about pure awesomeness and serious experience.  From business competitions to robotics, it's hands on and forward motion!

Wavelength FIRST Robotics Team Facebook Page
Our story today is about the Mona Shores Wavelength FIRST Robotics Team.  This is a fairly small team according to Susan Davis who sent me the idea for this article.  Consisting of 20 students and mentors, the team competes against other schools all over the state.  Andrew Basse is the coach of the team from Mona Shores.  To quote Susan "The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting Mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership" That's a far cry from snap together models and basket weaving.

Mona Shores Schools
In talking with Susan, she explains a little more. "During our FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Michigan District qualifying event March 23-25 at Grand Valley State University, we successfully made it to the semifinals. At this event, we also were honored with The Chairman’s Award. The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. As a recipient of this award, we are automatically qualified for the FRC at the state level. This event takes place April 12-15 at the Ryder Center at Saginaw Valley Community College." Susan has much to be proud of.

I made the "long" trip from Roosevelt Park over to Mona Shores High School to meet the team and the mentors that make this happen for their students! Take a listen to our chat below.

It's like this, hindsight is always 20/20. Back in school, the offerings might not have been as staggering as they are today, but there were there...the might just not have grabbed enough interest for me. Today, kids are put into real world situations and given challenges that any adult team would have to work to complete. Organizations like Wavelength FIRST are seeing to it that the future for our kids is bright, they are ready for the workforce, and they have probably formed a lifelong bond with each other, their mentors and assured themselves that they will never run out of work. I'd like you to stop and think for a moment too, for every report you hear about some kid who's lost his way...there are 10 more kids right behind them who are getting it right. We feel it's immensly important to let you know that there are kids out there who soar....and that those kids are right here in Muskegon.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

All Of Our Work - On One T-Shirt - Positively Muskegon Thoughts By Andy O

Way back when, like a year and a few months ago, I come to the conclusion that Muskegon needed something available to it's residents that would give them a platform to show what they are doing.   Large and small, we've worked to show you the people who make Muskegon what it is and keep us moving.  I think we've done a pretty good job of that with what we have.  We have invested in people and technology to make the presentation a little more diverse and presentable.

It's been awesome!

This past weekend, the Mrs. and I ran down to Detroit for an event.  It was a large scale vendor and food truck event called All Things Detroit and Food Truck Rally.  Let's be honest, Detroit has taken some of the same lumps we have, but on a much bigger scale.  It's not stopped us from going to spots events and concerts there, but as Detroit is carving a new path at the same time we are, I wanted to go catch the vibe and see if I could pick anything up from it.  As we were strolling the marketplace, I stumbled on a guy selling shirts....and my jaw hit the floor.  He managed to say in one t-shirt what I have been preaching here for over a year.  Here's a look at that shirt.

Now, since he was able to sum it all up like that doesn't mean that we're going to change the way we do things here.  Nope, in fact...we've got every intention of continuing on with Positively Muskegon and in a short time, you will even see an expansion of what we do while we'll be sure to protect what we have here.  We need to see the good things people do.  Period.

What got me is the undertone of the whole message.  I'd like too to ask you to start seeing that around here.  Reflect it in your daily life.  When you see someone who's giving more than they should, appreciate them.  Believe in a better community and it will happen!  Do what you can to ignore what you hear and see about the "bad" image that gets projected so often.  Honestly, if you are here on the streets on a day in and day out it really that bad?  I personally don't feel threatened or out of place anywhere here in Muskegon.  I feel I am among friends and neighbors and I also feel that if I am able to lend a hand.....I am going to do it!

Belief is the first step.  If you have on ounce of belief in you....nurture it.  Grow it!  Not everything is going to be perfect, but believe more in the positive and good and less in what we hear and see about problems.  Of the problems....think of what you can do, even in the smallest of the sense and do it.  Believe that what you can do... can and will make a difference.   Believe in the people around you and their passions.  We've worked hard on your beliefs and will keep right on doing that.

The second step.  It's all highlighted in red.  BE THE GOOD.  If you have a smile to give, give it.  If you have tools or treasure...share what you can.  Be kind, be friendly be above "what you hear" and be part of the reality.  That reality is that we've got a new era unfolding in Muskegon, just like in Detroit....and who would have thought it could all be summed up in something you read on a t-shirt!

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