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Monday, December 25, 2017

Positively Muskegon - What's in a Sign?

You know, it's been on my mind for a while, and before the rush hits today, I thought I'd point a little something out about one of the most visible signs in all of our community and I thought too that it might be time for a little more credit for this particular sign as more often than not, it's purpose is not one of self serving...but it lends itself to helping others get the word out about what's going on around town.

Positively Muskegon has even been the subject of this sign.  Of course, this was long before the recent upgrade of the sign that sits along one of the most traveled areas of town.  Shoreline Drive is where you'll find the sign for The Mart Dock.  The Mart Dock is home to The Sand Products Corporation.  They supply sand and gravel products.  They also have ample storage space available in their buildings, utilize their property for gatherings and memorials.  Their property is home to the LST 393 Museum and you'll find the Port City Princess tied up waiting to hit the waves again when things warm up.  But on the don't often see "get your sand here".

A Surprise for Positively Muskegon Once Upon a Time
No, Mart Dock uses their sign to promote all things Muskegon.  From what's happening at the Frauenthal Center to The Lakes Mall.  When Party in the Park is happening to the fairs and festivals around town.  If there is a blood drive, a food truck, a special occasion or a reason to reflect, quite often you'll see it on the marquee out in front of the Mart Dock.  Milestones are celebrated, retirements are honored, people are thanked and goodwill is spread all by a sign that got an upgrade in recent months!

The old fashioned hanging letter sign gave way to a bright new digital sign.  Not that the classic hanging letter sign was bad or anything, but with the evolution of all things Muskegon, the owners of the Mart Dock must have figured it was time for a new splash.  So where there was once a classic looking sign, we now have yet another bold and beautiful way to say "Watch Us Go".  Watch all of us go...near and far in an ever growing, and ever evolving Muskegon Michigan.

Mart Docks New Digital Sign All Lit Up

It's been a while since we were surprised by the shout out by the Mart Dock sign for the work we do here at Positively Muskegon and we figured that since there was the flashy new gadget out front, there wouldn't be a better time to return the favor by saying thank are noticed too.  Thanks for using your assets to spread the word about what makes Muskegon, Muskegon...and for keeping our commuters in the loop on what's going on around town.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Britta Cleveland Visits The First Congregational Church of Christ in Muskegon to Talk About Their Community Breakfast

I am constantly amazed by the people and organizations I find in my home town of Muskegon.  Recently a dear friend told me of her church located in the "Heart" of Downtown Muskegon....First Congregational Church United Church of Christ. 

For the past 15 years they have kindly invited the entire community to join them for an absolutely FREE Saturday morning breakfast!   Every Saturday morning... Rain or shine (on holidays too)...for the past 15 years!  No strings attached.... All are welcome for a FREE nourishing meal...and even more....for a real, true sense of family and community.

Located at 1201 Jefferson Street at Third Street in a beautiful, stately red-brick church's fellowship hall, community volunteers come together early every Saturday morning to prepare a mouth-watering breakfast for all....usually well-over 400 people.    I myself volunteer on a regular basis and find that it is one of my most enjoyable times of my entire week.   It is truly like attending a family reunion every Saturday.   A delicious nourishing meal, laughter, fellowship and a great way to make new friends while staying in touch with old friends.

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Elizabeth Major, the Administrative Director at the church, and we talked about the origins of the breakfast, how it's grown and what it means to the people who help put it on, and those who come to be a part of it.  Take a listen.

As you can imagine, hosting a FREE breakfast of this size requires a lot of work and supplies...if you are interested in volunteering or donating goods and services please contact the First Congregational Church office by calling 231-726-3254...... To find out more about the church and all of its wonderful programs click on the photo below for more information about the church.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Positively Muskegon and The Muskegon Channel Welcomes Britta Cleveland

It's an exciting day for us here at Positively Muskegon and the Muskegon Channel!!  Positively Muskegon came along in October of 2015 and The Muskegon Channel in March of 2017.

The idea behind both is that Muskegon is a pretty great place.  We don't claim perfection, but, you know...we're a lot better than we're portrayed in a lot of the news.

I will say, that I have noticed a shift in the amount of negative news that others report, it's been a step in the right direction but there are those too who continue to only point out the things in Muskegon that are bad and they never even try to offer a solution.  I'll say too that in a world where "cash is king" is the motto, we've never used either of the sites to get someone to pay to have their story shared.  We've been blessed with a handful of awesome sponsors, they have helped keep the lights on and given us some room to grow.  It all started with a GoPro camera and a free blog program.

Today, there are a bunch of HD cameras, a mobile live studio, daily news features, weekly programming and collectively between the 2 pages 662,735 page views.  We're spreading the news!
All that being said, it's been a group effort.  It's the people of these pages that make them happen.  We have regular folks who've never really done any reporting here working.  They all bring their passion and love for different things.  They write about what matters to them, they talk about who and what is part of their life and I am able to help guide them on the "vibe" of how we want to tell our story.  Well, in as much as helping an upstart staff is a great thing to help craft a vision, when a seasoned pro becomes available, and that seasoned pro happens to be one of your all time best friends, you jump at the chance.
Andy O with Wife Cindy Briggs and Britta

I am beyond proud today to tell you that Britta Cleveland is joining the fold!  After an amazing career in over 25 years of broadcasting, Britta took a little time off to decompress and all it took was a phone call and she jumped at the chance to be part of what we're doing.  Britta is all Muskegon.  A graduate of Puffer and mom of 2 beautiful girls, Britta has spent her entire career finding ways to help people in Muskegon spread the word about what they are doing.  Her radio audience was one of the most dedicated there was and to think that she's willing to bring her talents and passion to our platforms....simply amazing.

I sat down with Britta to catch up a little bit at her house, all dressed up for Christmas, take a listen to what she's been up to and what she hopes to bring to our sites.

 We're excited.  We're thankful and above all...we're honored to know that Britta is home!  She's right back where she belongs in Muskegon and ready to share the stories of our hometown like only she can.  If only there was a way we could do "The Way Back Lunch" on a website huh?  Please, take a minute and welcome Britta.  The motto of The Muskegon Channel is "We've Got a New Story to Tell" and we've just added one amazing story teller.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dear Santa - Muskegon Teens Help Answer The Timeless Letters - Maybe This Story is Best For Grown Up's

For years, there has been a "Letters to Santa" drop off box in Roosevelt Park.  Local youngsters put their Christmas list down and send it off in the hopes that St. Nick will hear their plea and bring them what they wish for at Christmas.  For the longest time, all the letters were answered by one woman. Ann Wisnewski. 
Today, it takes a group to to handle it and you'll get a chance to meet them here.

Now, let me say that we prefaced this story saying it's for grown up's because there's a magic about the whole subject of Santa.  We certainly don't want to spoil that for young-in's, but we wanted you to see too, that other young people are stepping up to preserve a tradition and some of that innocence in a world of ever increasing cynicism, accusations and polarization.  As much as us grown up's all know Santa, maybe it's time to remember what Santa really stands for.

Santa is the belief that there is good in the world.  Santa is the embodiment of what we hope and dream about.  We stay on the straight and narrow and we hope Santa notices.  Santa brings the unattainable.  If we long for hard to find toys in our youth or things that just can't be afforded any other day of the year...somehow that Christmas Miracle happens and Santa did it.  As grown up's we hope Santa brings things like a day of peace, a little time with friends and family, maybe a break from bills.  We hope for good tidings and joy and we strive to protect our little ones and we allow them to believe because once innocence is's gone for good.  We go the extra mile for the kids too because we desperately hope that even though they may never see Santa coming down the chimney, we want them to know that the good in the world he represents is there, albeit illusive most of the time.   Santa is safe to confide in, you can tell him a secret, you can ask for an indulgence or you can go to bat for your parents or siblings.  You can ask for a sack of toys, a pony, a puppy or maybe that your grandma up in heaven has a Merry Christmas.  It's really a shame that Santa only comes once a year.

Well, with all that in mind, Ms. Helmer at Mona Shores High School has a leadership class made up of students who strive to get into it.  They are young people who are determined to make a difference in their school and community for now, and who knows...maybe some day the world.  In the weeks leading up to Christmas, these young people volunteer their time to hand write all the letters and get them back to the kids who dropped them off.  I'd like you to meet Connor, Leanna, Erin and Chloe and hear their story about what they read in the letters to Santa and what they learn by answering....well, "help" answer.

I'd like to take a moment to congratulate these young people and thank them for their time and effort to jump in and take the initiative to keep that thought that there is good in the world.  You know...there really is good in the's in all of us.  It's up to every one of us to remember that it doesn't take a just takes a caring hand.  It takes a moment of compassion.  Follow the example of these distinguished young helpers of the miracle like they are!  This is what makes Muskegon so special.  This is why I love this community and all the people in it!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Giving Back Christmas Returns to the VFW on Apple Sunday December 17th

2015 was a year of firsts!!  We launched the Positively Muskegon blog in October of that year and Andrea Rosema was kicking off an event at the Apple Avenue VFW Hall for local kids to come and have a little holiday fun decorating cookies, making cards for veterans, first responders and more.  A visit with Santa, maybe get a present wrapped and a chance to just have some holiday fun and games with friends and neighbors.

As Andrea and her crew got things going, they invited me out to share their story and in as much as I had a pretty good idea of what the long term purpose of Positively Muskegon would be, I still had yet to focus it.  I knew what I wanted to get done, but would I be invited in to peoples homes and business to help share their story?  Would there be an audience for what we were doing?  I mean, it's easy to grab headlines when someone gets shot, or a store gets robbed....but would people actually respond if some guy went all over Muskegon and found local people who put their pride and passion into making sure that kids had fond memories of the holidays?  Keep in mind too, back then...I only had a Go Pro camera and a tiny little tripod to work with.  I didn't even have the money for that, I had to get it 6 months same as cash at Best Buy.  Well, it's going to be 3 years for Andrea and her group and it's 330,000 page views for I guess you can say the true inspiration to all of this goes to Andrea and a group of moms from Wolf Lake.
Handmade Raffle Entry Box for Kids

Well, here we are again talking about this years Giving Back Christmas.  We're back in the hallowed grounds of the "She Shed" out behind Andrea's house.  I am going to swipe the event description from their Facebook page - "Dedicated to the children of our community. We offer a Christmas card booth for kids to fill out Christmas cards for our veterans, fire fighters and police. We also choose a family or child to send cards to. We have an ornament/craft booth for children to make a gift for a loved one, we have a booth for the kids to wrap the gift they made, they can make it look super cute. We have a booth for Kids Food Basket, kids gets to decorate paper sacks for children in need. We have Christmas games they can play to earn prizes, we have a Christmas story area, for kiddos to sit and listen to some of the very best Christmas tales. We have a Christmas cookie decorating area, kids can design their own cookie and share or eat :) .....and we have SANTA!!We offer food and drinks and their are raffles for the kids and for adults. We have a bake sale and local crafters can sell items This event is free, donations of postage stamps are very appreciated."

This years party will be at the VFW at 6285 Apple Avenue on Sunday December 17th from 2p-6p.

Take a listen to our chat about this years even and some of the people that help put this on!

We've run the numbers up on readers, we've also made some technology advances on how we record the people who make this channel happen.  Heck, we even got to the point where we were so busy that we had to add another whole website to accommodate the amount of stories that were coming in.  But I want to tell you something from the bottom of my heart.  Nothing we do is more important than finding people like Andrea and her friends who make a difference in their neighborhood.  Muskegon is FILLED with stories like her's where people see a need... and they fill it.  The leg work, the donation requests, the time treasure and talent that goes into making the lives of their fellow community members better....THAT IS EXACTLY what makes Muskegon the community it is.  That is exactly why we started this page and that is exactly why we'll continue to work to share the stories of those who choose to make a better world for those around the.   For more information on the Giving Back Christmas Event.... click on the image below to visit their Facebook page.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

2018 The Year of the Lighthouse in Muskegon

Muskegon's maritime history is something to be proud of.  From our glorious beaches to the industry that has made use of our waters to the historic relics we now house in Muskegon with the ships that are here, water is a part of just about every aspect of our community.  We sit on part of the worlds largest fresh water supply and like any waterfront area, part of the lore is the lighthouse. 

2018 will be a celebration of those lighthouses as the South Pier Lighthouse turns 115 years old.  WOW!

As you can imagine, at 115 it's time for a little face lift.  There's some work that needs to be done to repair and preserve this historic lighthouse.  Now, if you're wondering....this is the South light house.  It's in past the breakwater and might be a little difficult to get to.  It sits behind the Coast Guard Station and the NOAA Weather Office, but it is open for tours in the Summer and people do make their way out there to fish off the dock.  Might be a good time for a true confession moment, I didn't even know where to park to get out to our filming location when we shot this you've never made your way to the South lighthouse, don't feel bad.  Back to our story though.  The South lighthouse needs some work, but the one that's really far out there needs a LOT of work,  so 2018 will see some great activity and awareness centered around our historic landmarks.

A look at some of the floor that needs to be replaced
There are people who work tirelessly to preserve and protect these pillars of our community.  A staff of a non-profit as well as volunteers who assist in maintenance of the light houses, giving tours, telling the history of them and generally advocating for not only what they were, but what they still are.  Yes, lighthouses are still used as navigation tools by the shipping industry.  They also make an incredible backdrop for photographers and sunset gazers who come to town to admire the serenity that can only come from looking West out over Lake Michigan.

I was contacted by Cindy Beth Davis-Dykema who is the Executive Director of the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy.  She's been at it since 2010 and her mission is to preserve, promote and make accessible Michigan's lighthouses to the communities that they reside in.  She is a walking talking history book on Michigan lighthouses and I'll be honest...makes a VERY easy interview.  We met up in one of the most spectacular settings I ever found myself in for a chat.  Take a listen.

It was like a view from heaven.  What an incredible treat to be able to spend a few minutes on top of the world talking about something we in Muskegon might take a little for granted, but others come to see from miles and miles away.  I'd like to invite you to follow the Muskegon Lights website.  You'll find links to their Facebook page too, give it a like.  We have to preserve and protect what set's us a part from the rest of the area.  Our lighthouses are historically significant in so many ways, they are beacons that reach out and say there is safety here...we should make sure they are cherished.  You can find their link under the photo below!

A view back from the top - Photos by Derek Wong


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Brayden's Voyage Gets a Hand From Michigan Mortgage

One of the foundations of Positively Muskegon has been to find the places in town where people connect to make great things happen.  We been preaching for a couple of years that Muskegon is full of stories that celebrate the human spirit as well as community togetherness and how when there's a need, we step up as friends and neighbors to make sure we do all we can to make it happen.  Well, if that's the kind of story you're up for, you came to the right place today!

Like you to meet Baryden Janetzke and his mom Christina.  We're a little short on time for this one, and I'll explain why in a minute, but I am going to quote what Christina sent me in advance so we can get to work. -

"Brayden Janetzke was born with a genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA for short).

SMA is a neuromuscular disease that limits voluntary muscle movement. SMA has NO cure but there is currently ONE form of treatment that Brayden is receiving every two weeks at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Click for
Brayden is a happy 7 year old who enjoys simple things and loves Captain America!!! Brayden spends his days by attending Churchill Elementary in the Mona Shores School District, going to his Cub Scout meetings as a Wolf Scout, Attending Crew Jr. for Wednesday night Worship at Lakeshore Fellowship Church, and spending time with friends and family. Medically he attends Pediatric Clinics at University of Michigan Mott’s Children’s Hospital and Helen DeVos. He also attends weekly Aqua therapy at Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids.

We appreciate the opportunity to spread awareness and let Brayden’s story be heard."

So there is that part.  Now, here's where we come in.  Michigan Mortgage is offering to help the cause out.  They have made a cash donation already and are giving a $1 donation for every check in on their Facebook page between now and the end of the month...which is  Thursday November 30th.  Time to get clicking.  You can find the link to their Facebook page on the right.  Click on it, and click on that check in!!  Let's see if we can raise a few bucks for the little shaver.
Check in @MichiganMortgage and #mmgivesback

While you're clicking and checking in take a listen to our chat with Brayden, Christina and Tracey Kiel who was the employee of the month who nominated Brayden's Voyage!  Take a Listen!

There's the scoop!  Click on the Michigan Mortgage Facebook Link above and check in!  Given them the #mmgivesback and $1 goes to help Brayden and his family along in the journey.  We are always on the hunt for great people, and great companies who are out to make a difference in our community.  It was a pleasure and honor to meet Brayden and his family today and the folks at Michigan Mortgage were first class from the minute we walked in the door until we left.  What a great place to do so much for the Janetzke's.  Our best wishes to all.   To visit Michigan Mortgage online, click on the image below.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Festival of Trees Begins at the Muskegon Museum of Art November 22nd

It's getting to be that time of year again.  The Festival of Trees is set to open at the Muskegon Museum of Art and the celebration of Christmas from all over the world will be front and center again this year.  You can not only see how Christmas is celebrated in other countries but you can also benefit the museum in a number of ways.

Fist off, let's talk about opening night! Bring in some canned goods for the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry and you can get in for $5 on November 22nd.  What better way to see all the splendor of the season and give yourself the feeling of knowing you did something good for someone in needs.  You'll find plenty of other special days too during the run, which goes until December 3rd.  Music, food, Santa and more!  It's a great time for a holiday gathering and a great cause!  Why December 3rd though?

Well, the Festival of trees is also one of the largest annual fundraisers for the Muskegon Museum of Art.  The trees are bid on by local people and business and after the 3rd, they are off to their forever homes to adorn the season for years to come.

Marguerite Curran joined me to talk about the event, I should preface the video by telling you...we were going for the "warm backlit" feel of Christmas time and it played a little havoc with the auto focus on the camera, so it gets a little hazy from time to time, but the message is important and your chance to get down and be a part of the fun starts tomorrow.  Take a listen.

If you just need a little something to put you in the mood, or maybe you'd like to be a part of some of the great events surrounding the Festival of Trees...make sure you head down to the Muskegon Museum of Art.  As we discussed in the video, this last year has been such an eye opening experience for me at the museum.  I admit shouldn't have taken something as incredible as the North American Indian exhibit to get me in there, but I grew a serious appreciation for what we have in the Museum of Art and I am very thankful to be able to help share the story of this great holiday tradition in Muskegon.  To learn more, click on the image below to visit their website.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Follow Up With Alyssa Clark - She's Cleared For a Kidney Transplant

About 6 months ago, I got a message asking if I'd be willing to help spread the word about a benefit for a young woman who was in the fight of her life over a kidney disease.  Her friends and family were getting together to put on an evening of food and fun in the hopes that it would help defer the costs incurred while waiting for a life saving operation for Alyssa Clark, she needs a kidney transplant.

Like so many others around town, it's always a community effort.  An affordable hall is found to rent, people put on a pot luck or a spaghetti dinner, some raffle items are gathered up, there's usually a 50/50...simple things that all add up.  The root of it all is to raise a few bucks, sure, but the fellowship created is equally an important message.  All too often, I would imagine, people who struggle with long term problems like kidney failure probably feel like they are isolated.  That no one understands the trials they face, the pain they go through or the long term doubt in their mind wondering if they will ever find a way to be normal again.  It's really the power of people that make one of these benefits the success.  The faces that show up to lend some support and encouragement....those are the faces that make Muskegon what it truly is.  I don't know of any benefit that ended with enough money to fix what's going on, but every single one of them instilled enough hope in the beneficiary that they can continue in their fight.  That's community.

I heard back from Alyssa, it seems that her story has taken another turn.  Since we last visited with her, she's been upped in her quest to become a transplant recipient.  Yes, it's a process for anyone to be "on the list".  There are a multitude of factors, but to get there is an accomplishment and it's also hopefully a fist glance at a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the need for a transplant.  There have been a few bumps in the road up til now, but over all the spirits are high and the message is strong.  Alyssa is not only looking for a kidney for herself, but advocating that anyone becomes an organ and tissue donor.  It's a simple process and upon your grand finale here on earth, what you won't be using anymore can go on to save the lives of others.

I met up with Alyssa and her mom Marge Nichols.  We met at DaVita Dialysis on Apple Ave to get an update on Alyssa and let you know how you can help if you'd like.  Take a listen.

A great update and a brave young woman to share her story.  That number to see if you're a match is Andrea at 616-685-5187.  We all hope the best for Alyssa, and if you'd like to know more about being an organ and tissue donor, you can click on the link below.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Serenity 2 - Life Changing Skills and Dynamics in Muskegon

To be a part of the launch.  It's a place that you like to be when you do what we do at Positively Muskegon.  To see seeds planted and ideas grow into real change and effective building of community and people, it's amazing to say the very least.  We've been at this a while now, and in all honesty, it's getting a little easier to find these upstarts, because as you meet people, you find more who are out to do something good too.

I first met Priscilla Agnew back last Summer when I took off to the north to meet the women of the Reeths-Puffer Neighborhood Improvement Association.  I tell ya, out of the hundreds of stories we've done, never have I met a group with so much character and charm.  Character and charm aside, they also do a lot of good for their surrounding community, and they also share each other's passion for work outside that one group. Lending time and talent to what's important to their supporting members.

Priscilla's mission is to help women in crisis.  She's at the beginnings of launching Serenity II - Life Changing Skills and Dynamics.  The long term plan is to own a home where women in crisis can come with their kids for some respite and some help to get back on their feet and take with them some skills they may have not had which may have led to their situation.  There is a building that's targeted for purchase in Muskegon.  There is a staff of professional people who will be there to help.  Counselors, care givers, social workers, admins and more.  All in the mindset that taking the steps to better the lives of those in the community will better all of us in the long run.

Back to the ground level.  That's where we are at this point.  There will be an inaugural fundraiser to help get this building secured and some funding happening for this outreach.  The grand affair will be held at 1478 E. Ellis Road, close to Target in Muskegon on November 21st.  You'll find champagne, Hors d'oeuvres, live music with Mr. Robert Moore and live and silent auctions.  This is the beginning of something wonderful, so please...plan on attending.

I caught up with Priscilla and a few friends at the event location.  Joining us were Joann Betts, Jessie Pearson and Ratan Khatri who's helping the women with the building for the home.  Take a listen.

One more.  There's always room for one more hand to hold on to.  One more group who's willing to go the extra mile to help those in need and one more chance for someone to better their lives.  We wish Priscilla and company the best as they get this project going.  We'll also be right here to watch as they grow and impact the lives of those they serve and continue to make Muskegon the community of miracles we all know it is!  Please, take some time and head out to the fundraising party and offer your help to the launch of Serenity II.

The Salvation Army Kettle Campaign Kick Off for 2017

You know it's coming, and in all me at least, it's a comforting sound.  The familiar ringing of the bells as you approach the retail shops around town.  It's time to get the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign underway and it starts this Saturday night at the Muskegon Lumberjacks game!

The tradition of the Salvation Army bell ringers is synonymous with the holidays and in a time when we're all becoming a little more leery of just about everything, the opportunity to put your spare change to work to do some good, or give your kid a buck and explain to them the importance of charity well, that bell means a lot.

This season, the goal is high.  The Kettle Campaign is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Salvation Army, it's also the season of the highest visibility.  Volunteers spend thousands of hours collectively ringing bells, greeting customers and honestly...freezing in Winters chill while ringing the bell.  Pennies, nickles and dimes add up quick and the collection goes to work helping the Salvation Army provide the services they do all year long.

They provide food pantries, camps for kids, worship services, the Pathway of Hope and more.  They are an integral part of many things in Muskegon and they have done an incredible job of being a community leader in being out front when it comes to human services here for those in need.

Learn More About the Salvation Army Season Pass
There are a number of ways you can give.  There is passing by the Kettle.  You can also buy a "Season Pass Pin" at the Salvation Army's website for different denominations which will give you a "pass" as you go by the bell ringer, but of course...if you have 38 cents in your can certainly drop in in the bucket.

Is this your year to help ring?  CLICK HERE to see a list of available chances to get yourself, your group or your co-workers out on the streets and in the enviable role of ringing the bell to do the most good

I was able to catch up with Robin Henshaw and Lt. Chris Carlin of the Salvation Army of Muskegon to talk about the kick off this Saturday at the Muskegon Lumberjacks game, and the upcoming season.  Take a listen!

For me, it's the lesson.  As the holidays approach, it's the handful of change you can give a kid and the two minutes of talk it takes to tell them that not everyone has it as good as they do.  Even those who are not well off, believe it or not...someone, somewhere has it worse.  It's a matter of a million little things that add up to making life better for someone in need and it literally takes no more than a few coins in a kettle.  To learn more about the Salvation Army of Muskegon, click on the image below!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

WINC - For All Women Veterans

Humble, dutiful and dedicated.  Those are the first three words that come to mind upon meeting Zaneta Adams a local attorney, mom and veteran of the US Army here in Muskegon.  But like most any veteran, within Zaneta still lies a warrior and with her service in the military complete, she's gone on to take the lead on a project that will move on to national levels and benefit many.

As Zaneta was preparing for a tour of duty in Iraq, she had an accident and fell off a truck leaving her with an injury that led to an honorable medical discharge.  Like so many other wounded veterans she was part of retreats and sporting events that were set to challenge her mentally and physically,  but with a ratio of 250 men to 1 woman in her military unit, she was having a hard time with finding some common ground on the healing process and wished that there were more for females who had also been injured in combat.  A resource that would allow women to discuss things that seemed of little significance to the men...but were important to her and as she found in short order, were important to other women who served too.
Follow WINC on Facebook

A conversation turned into a 1st time retreat which in turn became more retreats, meet up's, discussion groups, support networks, scholarship programs, legal referral programs and more.  As group evolves, all from the starting point right here in Muskegon, the web of support and strength is growing and Zaneta continues to champion the cause.  There are over 2 million female veterans in the United States today.  There is a movement to have a day set aside for Women Veterans Day and there is also a push for more awareness of things like specialized treatment for military sexual trauma, proper health care and optimum treatment if being seen at a VA facility.

On November 9th, you'll have the opportunity to learn first hand what the WINC is doing.  They are having an open house at the Muskegon Veterans Center at 165 E Apple.  You can meet the group, learn a little more and if you are a woman vet, please...get involved!  I was able to catch up with Zaneta at her office for a couple minutes today to learn a little more.  Take a listen to this incredible leader and hear how her story got her here.

If you've been part of this blog long enough you know there is nothing that gives me a greater sense of pride than to meet someone who's taken what should have been a tragedy and turned it in to a monumental triumph.  What's begun here is nothing short of amazing and where some would have thrown in the towel in defeat, Zaneta took the time to look at everything from a different angle and find new purpose...and a higher purpose to continue serving those she swore to protect and defend.  I was blessed to meet a true champion today.

If you'd like to now more about WINC For All Women Veterans, please, click on the photo below to visit their website.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Equine Safety Training For Muskegon's First Responders November 4th

Ever wonder what happens to horses when there is an accident or barn emergency? I have. So I was super excited when I heard about an upcoming Equine Safety Seminar. It is a joint venture between Farview Acres Clydesdales and the Norton Shores Fire Department.

Jennifer and Tom Luttrull, owners of Farview Acres, invited me out to their picturesque farm to discuss the event. Jennifer is facilitating the training on Saturday, November 4th from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The Equine Safety Seminar is open to emergency personnel only and will teach basic horse handling skills and offer valuable hands on experience. Farview Acres has a Clydesdale breeding program, and with three yearling foals on site in addition to the broodmares, there will be no shortage of horses for first responders to interact with.
Check out the video for all the information and while there are no appearances from her beautiful horses, a cat named Tigger and a sassy duck named Kelvin grace us with their presence.

To learn more about Fairview Acres Clydesdale's Farms Click on the photo below.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Positively Muskegon Kids Beat - The Western Market Downtown With Trevor Hilson

The Western Market in Downtown Muskegon is a new tourist attraction that is getting a lot of support. Morat’s Bakery and Pub, one of the shops, is making Muskegon their new permanent home. The owners are very nice, and they are adding mores shops in the future. There are currently twelve of the pop-up stores.

The shops opened in late May and were planning on staying open until October 31st, but they are doing a huge Christmas festival and will be open till December 23rd.

Santa will be there, and there will be much more to do. Trees are being sold, and there is gingerbread house making for the kids.

The shops have gotten a lot of attention from tourists, and they are another attraction that is being used to try and get people to come downtown. I invite you to go down to the shops, and if you would like to learn more on what they are all about, check out this video below.

The twelve stores are Abeshi Fotos and Crafts, Baby Bears Children’s Boutique, Bodhi Tree Market, Donna Jeanne’s Sweet Treats, Love Bites Treatery, Morat’s Bakery and Pub, Muskegon Inspired, Silipint, Skee’s Tees, Tatterweave Designs, and Vinta Stalgia.

If you would like to learn more about the shops, click on the photo below!!  If you would like to apply to open a shop, you can find the application on the website. If you have any questions, contact Ann Meisch at 231-724-6705.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Howlers and Growlers October 26th at the Folkert Community Hub To Benefit Animal Charities

With the near apocalyptic devastation we've seen in recent months from the hurricanes down south, it's created a huge problem for the residents of the areas.  Homes have been lost, numbering in the millions and with the displacement of so many people, unfortunately, their pets have found nowhere to turn either. 

West Michigan has done all it can to help with the crisis, but the need continues to rise for the time.

People in Muskegon have been leading the charge to rescue and place these pets that have had to be surrendered by families who have lost everything, and while our shelters are at close to maximum capacity, we've gotten all hands on deck across the state to help relieve some of the stress and help find these pets a new place to call home.  Pet's that have had to be willingly given up because people have lost everything and no longer have a place to keep their dog or cat. 
Find Howlers and Growlers on Facebook

The have been flying in.  There has been flight after flight of rescue animals coming in to Muskegon filled with pet containers and upon landing, they are met by volunteers from The Noah Project and The Pay if Forward Animal Outreach.  Two places that are no stranger to our writings here on Positively Muskegon for the great work they do taking care of animals here in town.  Upon landing, Pay it Forward is there to make sure the animals are ok, free of disease or stress from the flight.  They get a quick check up and then The Noah Project takes over to help get them to a place where they will hopefully in short order find their new forever home.

There are a lot of volunteer hours going into this, but of course, there are some financial needs so..on top of all the flying around the country and the work to find the displaced animals a new home...there's a great way to raise a few bucks coming up at the Folkert Community Hub October 26th, it's called Howlers and Growlers.  You'll find great food from Fatty Lumpkins, live music, a dog costume show, silent auction, cash bar and more.  The proceeds will go to both The Noah Project and Pay it Forward Animal Outreach. 

I met up with Jane Mcgregor and Heather Rake to talk about the event, take a listen. 

You'll find all the information you need in the link above, see the flyer.  You can get tickets at the door or in advance by calling Liz at 231-799-1028.  It's a great way to show some appreciation for all the work that's gone in to making sure these 4 legged furry's and those who are taking them in know we're grateful as a community for the work The Noah Project and the Pay it Forward Animal Outreach are putting in! 

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Return Visit to Third Coast Vinyl to Celebrate the One Year Anniversary!

What's old is new again and that includes much more than the offerings at Third Coast Vinyl.  Just about a year ago, Andy O stopped in to the newly opened record store on Third Street in Muskegon to visit Paul Pretzer who was taking the plunge and going into business for himself and opening a store dedicated to selling actual vinyl records and the ancient machines that played them.   It seems to be an idea that stuck.

Not only has Paul found some success dealing in the retro, the entire Third street area continues to percolate with the now nearly world famous Hamburger Mikey right near by, the delicious Curry Kitchen, Nan Pizza and more.  The entire area even has a snappy new name called mid town.  It's a growing area and it's an exciting thing to see the fledgling neighborhood experiencing the same re-birth that the records we once all knew and loved are.

This time, Corey Davis stopped in to see Paul and talk about his one year in business mark.  It seems most appropriate as she is a self confessed "major supporter" of the place.  Who better to send than an admirer of the product right?  Corey grabbed the camera and got the scoop on what it's been like to be part of the new normal on Third Street in Muskegon, take a listen.

The party gets underway at 11am on Saturday October 14th.  Head on down to the record story, enjoy some pizza, a burger or maybe some delicious curry dish....celebrate not only the reemerging business district, but an entire area of small business owners who all believe in Muskegon and are right there slugging it out together.    Congrats to Paul!  Get yourself to Midtown!

Find Third Coast Vinyl on Facebook

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Children's Author Sherri Winston To Hold Workshops This Saturday For Young Readers in Muskegon and Muskegon Heights

It's an honor today to welcome home Muskegon Heights Tiger and children's author Sherri Winston who will be putting on writers workshops for kids in Muskegon and Muskegon Heights this Saturday.  Sherri now calls Orlando home, but truly understands the importance of igniting young minds and has returned to Muskegon to share her love of story telling and her inspiration with the next generation this weekend!

A little history.  When Sherri was young she was the one in the family who was in charge of the shopping, and if she was able to cut the corners enough and squeeze enough out of the grocery budget to save a few dollars, her reward for fiscal responsibility...was the left over money to be able to buy a Nancy Drew book, and if it was a hard cover book...all the better.  What a reward for being able to provide.  In the back of her mind though, reading the stories was just the kindling of the fire because as she grew, she knew that it was her calling to be writing the stories that would engage the "middle aged" young people, those in the pre teen to early teen years and give them the same opportunity to be a million miles away while they were safely in their room and lost in a world of imagination and wonder through reading. 
See Sherri's Collection on

To her credit today, you'll find a number of books.  They include "The Kayla Chronicles", "Acting - A Novel", ""The Sweetest Sound", and her "President" series which currently has "President of the Whole 5th Grade" and "President of the Whole 6th Grade".   Her books are available on your favorite websites including Barnes and Noble and you'll find a link to the page with her books on it to the right. 

Sherri is home for more than just a visit however.  This Saturday, she will be doing seminars for young people at both the Hackely Public Library and the Muskegon Heights Public Library.  They are free to attend for kids and the idea will be for Sherri to help them build a story through interaction and her hands on approach to sparking interest in the process.  How does a story get built?  How are characters developed?  Where can twists and turns happen?  It's an amazing give back to students who are already interested in creative writing or might need a little push to help get started. 

Barb Klingenmaier is the President of the Friends of the Hackley Library and she contacted me to talk about Ms. Winston's return home to share her experience and expertise in the field of creative writing, she joined Sherri and I at the Torrent House to talk about the events this Saturday and how your kids can be a part at either location, Hackley or Muskegon Heights.  Take a listen to our chat below!

And now for the obligatory part where I tell you how important this is.  I am not an avid reader for enjoyment...never have been, BUT look at what I do for a living.  I read constantly, I write thousands of things daily.  I write for informational and amusing purposes and I can't stress enough how essential it is for young minds to develop communications skills.  Reading, writing, imagination and the ability to express feelings are paramount to the development of a person.  So often today, narratives are completely laid out for young people and little is left to their imagination...when that happens, so does the development of future's your invitation to get your kids in the game.  Sherri will be at the Hackley Library at 10:30 Saturday morning and the Muskegon Heights Library at 1:30.  FREE events for young people.  Give them the chance to be part of the creativity and give Sherri a thank you for coming home to share her passion with today's youth!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Power of the Purse to Benefit Every Woman's Place October 12th

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and in as much as it's a crying shame that we need an entire month dedicated to the subject...the reality is, we do and it's a problem that's not going away anytime soon.  What's the cause?  Poverty?  Stress?  To talk to Lori Rasmussen of Every Woman's Place, simply's control.  The need to be dominant is root of the issue and leads to violence against women.

From my perspective, the need to be in control is one of the biggest signs of weakness and insecurity when it comes to seeing other men, but this isn't an opinion piece, so I'll just leave it at that.  What this is, is an awareness article with an invitation to see if we can get you out to support the work of the people who are there to pick up the pieces when domestic violence occurs and how the staff and volunteers of Every Woman's Place are there to help the victims and the children of this abuse.

Founded in 1975 Every Woman's Place has served women ranging in age from 18-73 years old, from every walk of life imaginable.  Domestic violence knows no color, income level, nationality, religion or boundary.  Their mission statement is simple - " The Mission of Every Woman’s Place is to improve and enhance the lives of women, youth, children and families in crisis in our community by providing and advocating for services which lead to their safety, their emotional and economic self-sufficiency, their productivity, and their ability to participate fully in our society."  They offer shelter, intervention, counseling, support children's services and education and prevention.  

Get Tickets for Power of the Purse

Over the course of the year, they ask for a hand from the community, which is always very giving, one, because their events are first class, and second....the mission is so incredibly important.  One of the events is coming up October 12th at Fricano's Event Center and it's called Power of the Purse!  You'll have a great night out and the opportunity to bid on some pretty incredible items in donated purses modeled by some of the men of the area willing to have a little fun and walk the runway to strut their stuff and sell the purse.  Yes, last year I participated in the photo shoot and missed the event....this year.....I am in it to win it and hope that which ever purse I am modeling sells for a pretty penny.

I sat down with Lori Rasmussen of Every Woman's Place to talk about the event as well as some of the numbers they deal with at the agency every year, take a listen.  

If there was one thing I could end tomorrow, domestic violence would be right up at the top of the list.  The thought of a woman being abused physically, emotionally or otherwise makes me ill.  I was raised by a very strong mother and even the hint of disrespect was met with dire consequences by both of my parents and with very good reason.  Now, I know why.  I certainly can't answer the problems the way I'd like to, but I can be a voice and an advocate to help.  I am asking please, if you can make it out to the event do so.  If you can't, do what you can to send a few bucks toward Every Woman's Place.  If you are living in a domestic abuse situation....ask for help.  Every Woman's Place is there for you anytime you need them.  To learn more about Every Woman's Place click on the photo below.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Shattering the Myths About Drugs Impacting Muskegon County - A Web Program

We are in an epidemic in Muskegon County and in the nation.  The opioid crisis is real and it's ripping through our community and this nation like wild fire.  We are also in a time of great change when it comes to marijuana and what it is and how it effects people.  I think we can all agree that the opiate problem is one of the most fearsome things we have ever seen.

I honestly hope that we can agree no matter the stance on marijuana medical use or recreational, keeping it out of the hands of kids and teens is in all of our best interest.  Young minds need to develop minus the effects of intoxicating substances.
Face The Book Muskegon

In an effort to help shine a light on the reality of today's impact of drugs on Muskegon County, DJ Hilson along with The Health Project of Mercy Health are presenting a program online Tuesday October 3rd from 13:30-1:15 called "Shattering the Myths".  It's going to be a straightforward discussion about the use and abuse of substances that are in front of our young people every day.  We all like to think that "not my kid" is applicable, but it doesn't take much to begin to slide.  Participants will hear from a young man who found a leftover Norco in his grandmothers medicine cabinet and used it to treat a pulled muscle, which in turn led him to a heroin addiction.  They will also hear from a young woman who was abusing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the effective ingredient in marijuana and can be manipulated to be much stronger than what's traditionally accepted as "pot".  Both speakers are in their 20's and the hope is that their stories are more relate-able to the high school audience by the shorter age gap.  

In years past, this talk has been presented by going school to school but with advancements in technology, the hope is that all schools can come together for the time to hear the message at once and with the impact of the group, some more discussion can come about about the dangers faced, the reality's of what our kids are up against and how quickly what seems harmless at first can spiral into a serious problem.  I have told my story about alcohol at a young age time and time again, and in our interview today, I guess maybe even I come to grips with the fact that I might be getting a little too "old" to connect with younger people.  I will honestly say, that I am very glad there are folks in their 20's who can pick up the message, although I don't plan on quitting anytime soon.

DJ Hilson and Richa Phoulsen joined me for a little more on the subject at DJ's office, take a listen.

The discussion is this Tuesday once again, and as mentioned in the interview, you can see it on Facebook Live.  You'll find it linked below, just click on the image to go to the page at 12:30 Tuesday to join in on the discussion.  It's important information and protecting our kids is why it's being presented.  Our thanks to The Health Project for their sponsorship of the Positively Muskegon blog and a special thanks to DJ Hilson for his work in protecting young people from the dangers of addiction.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Annie Jr. At the Frauenthal Theater October 14th and 15th With the Muskegon Civic Theater's Penguin Project

We all want to see everyone excel, we all hope to live in a world where barriers are gone and everyone can participate, but some things are pretty complicated and require years of training and devotion, like acting...and some might stop and say, well, that might not be for everyone.  Well, stop right there.  There are a group of young people that are going to prove that wrong quick fast and in a hurry right here in Muskegon!

The idea came about a year or two ago locally.  It sprang from an idea back in 2004 kids with disabilities, be they developmental or physical, are cast in a modified version of a Broadway musical and paired with a peer mentor and they work side by side for 4 months in preparation and rehearsals all the way through the performance.  To quote the Penguin Project's website - "The program provides a supportive environment for children with disabilities to explore their creative talents.  It has also demonstrated that participation in the performing arts has therapeutic value by enhancing social interaction, communication skills, self confidence and self esteem. 

The Cast and Crew of Annie Jr.
Muskegon is the first spot in the state to put on a Penguin Project production, and Annie Jr. is the musical of choice.  Rehearsals have been going on at the home of No More Sidelines, the Folkert Community Hub for the last few months.  I am not stranger to the kids at the Hub or the families there, so I dropped in to watch a rehearsal before we taped the segment you're about to see and I have to level with ya, I was immediately taken back with everything I saw.  On the faces of the parents, ear to ear smiles....radiant pride and genuine appreciation for what they have seen come out of their kids.  On the faces of the mentors, a new appreciation for teamwork, art and their craft...the director, the choreographer, the people watching from across the room... every one of them...amazed and astounded by this group of young people and what this project has brought out of all of them.  I grabbed a little footage of the practice and will overlay it in the video you'll see here in a few.

Here's the thing, this production need the support of the community.  Tickets for the 2 performances are $10 bucks each and there is yet to be one single word anywhere about how awesome these productions are to see.  Not only that, but, you'll get to witness first hand how truly remarkable it is when people come together despite some "differences" to work toward a common goal and find out along the way, that the similarities are greater than what they thought the differences were.

I was joined by Heidi Sunderhaft-Christiansen, Kim Harsch, Seth Witham and Kyle Sweetwood to talk about this entire project, take a listen.

If ever there was a reason to get out and support the arts, this is is.  The play is compacted down to about an hour and the tickets are only $10 bucks.  As mentioned in the interview too, there is still room for some sponsorship for this great event and you can learn more by calling 231-722-3852.  Please show these kids your support for their hard work and bringing our community together a little closer.  If you'd like tickets, order them in advance by clicking on the show poster below.

Tickets for Saturday October 14th

Tickets for Sunday October 15th