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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

1st Assured Bail and Investigations Hosting a Run for Kids Food Basket August 5th

We've tried to highlight the people and business that do extraordinary things in the community to help where there is need and to be more than honest with ya, we're LONG overdue to get caught up with 1st Assured Bail and Investigations.  Tony Laskowicz is a local guy who got into the bail game a while back and has grown his business all over West Michigan.  As it's grown, he's also maintained the mindset of making sure he uses his platforms to help the communities he serves.

Muskegon's 1st Assured location opened a couple years ago down on Terrace street.  It was an area like many in Muskegon.  Kind of forgotten and unless you had business to do at the courthouse or the city offices, you probably were not heading down that way.  Tony also has a pretty keen eye for what's next so he put down his stakes and got the place opened up.  As Downtown Muskegon has continued to grow, his early vision has paid off.  He's now got a full staff in the place and the work goes on in Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Ottawa, Oceana....the list goes on an on.
KFB Run on Facebook

Early on, 1st Assured was in to help the Flint water crisis.  They have also been known to stock up some food pantries for pets when the need was there.  Some of the giving has been pretty loud, and I am willing to bet knowing them the little I do....more giving goes on quietly.  For our case here today's time to make some noise to raise a few bucks for the Kids Food Basket of Muskegon.

August 5th there will be an all vehicle poker run to benefit the Kids Food Basket of Muskegon.  The numbers of kids that need that essential third meal daily is staggering in Muskegon and the need continues to grow.  The run kicks off at the 46 Bar and will take you on a fun excursion up and down the lakeshore while raising a few bucks and some awareness.  It's a $10 donation to participate and the money goes to make sure that the recipients of the sack supper's in Muskegon don't have to worry about where dinner is coming from.  Games, prizes and fun of course but most importantly another step in the direction of making sure that the most vulnerable in Muskegon are taken care of.

I had a chance to catch up with Tony Laskowicz and Stephanie Kerr Cathey to talk about all of it, take a listen.

Making sure our kids are fed properly, I can't think of a more important cause.  I also cant applaud the work that Stephanie does to keep the Kids Food Basket Enough and Tony is always on the scene when the need arises for a good cause.  Enjoy the fun of the run.  If you'd like to know more, you can click on the image of the event above.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Lemonade Stand of Muskegon - Where Friends Help Friends

I try to keep it well hidden, because let's face it, the whole world knows that I am a big tough guy who doesn't fear much and kind of refuses to grow up, but...if you can keep a secret, I'll let you in on a little part of me not many get to see.

Believe it or not, I have a very soft spot for those among us who are very fragile.

I can't explain where it comes from, but instinctively, I can usually pick out those who don't share the jaded view on life so many do and through the different slip and falls of my own life, I identify with them pretty easily.  You have hopefully by now heard my story enough to know that there were a few dark days in the past and that life today wouldn't be the amazing endeavor it is had they not happened.  Part of making sure you don't return to those the willingness to give back freely what you have been given and I try to do just that, but in all of my efforts...none can come close to what Judie Pratt has done in 18 and a half years at The Lemonade Stand of Muskegon.

Some of the people at The Lemonade Stand
People struggle.  People have a hard time mentally and some fight things like bi polar disorder, depression, loneliness, schizophrenia,  PTSD and worse.  Some seem trapped in their own minds while others might have not gotten the ability to interact on a day to day level.  No matter the cause...sometimes life is too much to handle and there is nowhere to turn.  Nowhere except The Lemonade Stand.

Free of judgement, free of people talking behind your back, The Lemonade Stand of Muskegon is a 100% volunteer group of people who take care of each other and allow each other to heal naturally with assistance from the group.  The chores to run the home are divided up, the conversation is real and the feelings shared are sacred.  Today, there was a young woman who had just lost her brother to suicide who was sitting down to have lunch.  She began to tremble, and cry and in a matter of minutes, she was cared for, listened to and brought back to earth all by people around her.  She later shared in the group that she comes to The Lemonade Stand so she can feel like she has a family.  Some others shared that they come so they can have structure in their day,  others like the fellowship and others..they just like to have friends.   Talking with the people in the group, they were all gentle, welcoming and peaceful.  One guy was even a little surprised that "You are the guy on TV with Lauren Stanton once in a while aren't you" to which I said "Yep...I sure am".  It sure seemed like a big deal to him!

Judie wanted me to come see how everything worked before we sat down to talk, and even invited me to lunch.  Wednesday is the day for the "big lunch", with Sunday being the big traditional family dinner you'd expect put on by Curtis who takes great pride in the spread..  It was a ham dinner with all the fixins this Wednesday and after the short meeting, we headed upstairs to chat about her work and these remarkable people.  Take a listen to our chat below.

This fills my heart.  I absolutely love the work that's going on at The Lemonade Stand of Muskegon and I also believe that what we need to heal lies within all of us.  We need to take better care of people in our society who are fragile souls and we also need to learn from them.  I got about an hour and a half today and left feeling better than I had felt in months, all because I knew that the safety net of humanity is still there.  We define ourselves by how we take care of each other...and to know that Judie has dedicated her life to making sure that those who struggle have a safe place to feel at home and cared for, this is truly what Positively Muskegon was started for.  She isn't here for the accolades but every award I've been given should probably have her name on it instead....there are truly angels among us...and you met one today.  My thanks to Judie who also wanted special mention made about Rodney and the rest of the gang who handle most of the day to day operations,  and the good people of The Lemonade Stand of Muskegon.  To follow them on Facebook, click on their logo below!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Heykoop Veteran Memorial Car Show and Benefit July 8th in Muskegon

I am a big supporter of anyone who can take a tragedy and turn it in to something amazing and when I heard from Natasha Heykoop about a car show she was putting on to help raise awareness and a few bucks to help veteran suicide awareness and prevention I thought there might be a little more to the story.

So, I agreed to meet up with her to hear a little more about it and her reason for putting it on and what I found was a touching story of someone wanting a better outcome for others than she had.

Natasha lost her brother to suicide after his time in the service.  It's something that we're all becoming painfully aware of as it's happening more and more every day.  They say, that there are 22 soldiers a day taking their own lives due to the repercussions of war and the PTSD that follows.  You may have seen the 22 push up challenge on your social media feeds.  You've seen how some have gone on long runs to raise awareness about the issue and there are those too who sit and silently suffer with the never ending replay in their own mind.  It's a hell I don't think I could even imagine.  For Natasha and her family, it's left a pretty empty spot in their lives.
Heykoop Car Show On Facebook

In the wake of the loss however, like many others, Natasha wants to do what she can to protect others from having to live through what she is.  Education, awareness and even just the knowledge out there that if there is a hand to reach out for to ask for help, our soldiers can do just that.  Men and women who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice should never have to come home to a life of suffering and anguish.  If they need help, it should be immediate and without question and of course that takes some help from all of us.

Turning a tragedy into a triumph doesn't have to be a downer.  In fact, with Natasha's brother's love of cars, they thought that there would be no better way to honor his memory than with a car show.  The car show will take place at 3500 S. Getty in Muskegon July 8th.  You'll find plenty of cars, food, music, raffles, a silent auction and more.  You'll also find the spirit of a family wanting to make sure that their loss isn't experienced by another family.  It's a first year event on a piece of property that was once celery fields, right out behind Babbit's Sports Center on the corner of Airline and Getty.  That's where I met up with Natasha to talk about the event.  Take a listen.

I can't imagine the pain, but..I also can't imagine sitting there and doing nothing.  I am so proud that Natasha trusted Positively Muskegon to tell this very personal and very touching story.  I hope from the very bottom of my heart that something like this never has to happen again, but I also am willing to bet we have not seen the last of the losses when it comes to our nations greatest hero's and their struggles post war.  The best we can do is be there for them and support grass roots efforts like Natasha's car show.  Please, find a few minutes in your Saturday to stop by and offer your support to this wonderful family.  This is exactly why Positively Muskegon was started and we're honored to have Natasha here sharing her desire to make our world a better place.

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Importance of Muskegon's Rockstock - Andy O Editorial

Muskegon has seen it's fair share of good times and bad.  We've also seen some things come and some things go as we've discussed here a multitude of times.  Ya, I am probably waving the flag again, but I happen to LOVE this community.  I love it for who we are, what we can do and through the good and the bad, we're still standing.  Muskegon is a lot of things, but one thing we are a community of quitters.

I know that there is a LOT of pride in Muskegon.  A LOT of it.  I know too, that for the last bunch of years, it's seemed like we've had more taken away than we've gained.  But follow along here for a few and hopefully, you'll see where I am going with this. I am going to use Rockstock as an example.

Rockstock got underway 10 years ago with some bar bands playing in Hackley Park.  A chance for people under 21 to get out and see some cool live music, parents and kids to get together to enjoy some noise and you know...what can it hurt to have another event in the park any way.  As a whole though, Muskegon was still contracting a little.  Brandon Baskin had a small event, with low prices and local people willing to pitch in to get something going.  Family and friends all pitched in, they still do, bands played..things were learned and step by step the event grew.  No one was biting off more than they could chew, slow and steady wins the race.

This is the second year that Rockstock was held at Heritage Landing.  Not to diminish what Summer Celebration was or what Coast West tried, they were both incredibly awesome events, but Rockstock has taken the same simple approach,  Keep prices low.  Make it affordable for families, offer things for kids to do as well as adults and find enough diversity in the music to please just about any palate.  If you saw Let There Be Rock and Crazy Babies on Monday there was plenty for the loud crowd.  If you were there for Echoes of Pink Floyd, the more cultured music palate was taken care of with one of the most incredible tribute acts I have ever seen and I don't mean maybe.

Rockstock Fans Enjoying Echoes of Pink Floyd
Tickets to get in were only $5, beers were $3 and like always, people came in droves both nights to enjoy the scene....but there was more.  People came out to be together.  People come out to be part of that Muskegon togetherness.  In or out of the festival site, Shoreline Drive was filled with people all coming together for the celebration.  We have proven once again that nothing stops Muskegon.   We might get knocked down....but you can bet we're getting back up and dusting off and going at it again.  This is an awesome community, and if you have not noticed, those "knock downs" are becoming further and further a part.  We're seeing in ourselves just how much we can just takes being together.  It takes willingness to be try new things and adjust to make them fit.  We are seeing a better side of all of ourselves and in return...we're being seen differently through the eyes of the rest of the area.  Watch Us Go they keep saying... one by one....and in groups....we're giving them all something to watch and we're growing closer and closer as the truly great city we are.

Rockstock filled the most important need.  Be it music of fireworks...Rockstock brought us all together.  Muskegon is unstoppable as one.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Lakeshore Art Festival Downtown Muskegon July 7th and 8th

In case you have not noticed, Muskegon is on a bit of a roll.  Events are picking up steam and the outlook of many has turned to an optimistic viewpoint.  It's taken a while, and there are those yet to be convinced...change never happens over night, but it's also a great thing to have some staples stick around and grow.  Staples like the Lakehsore Art Festival now in it's 55th year!

July 7th-8th Downtown Muskegon once again comes to life, wait...what am I talking about "once again", this summer seems to have been busy non stop with things to do Downtown.  Let's try that again.  July 7th-8th Downtown Muskegon continues to surge with the Lakeshore Art Festival.  Boasting 300+ booths with a very unique blend of arts, crafts, food, brews, wines, interactive elements, kids activities, family participation, street performers and more.  Hackley Park is the center point but the sprawl covers most of Downtown up to almost the Muskegon Farmers Market.  If you're looking for fine art, they will have plenty.  If you are in the market for something for the cottage that will make it feel a little more like the weekend get away spot, they have that too.  Maybe your kids want to get in and get involved and this time it doesn't involve finger paint and your carpet....hey....that's the time to get them in to art.  You can even take time to be part of "Chalk the Walk" where all you have to do is grab the chalk provided and leave your artistic impression right there for the world to see.
Lakeshore Art Festival on Facebook

This really is an event for everyone.  If the "artsy" stuff isn't your thing, there is plenty of music and food and if you're not in to music and artisan food...we've got plenty of establishments that would be happy to have you pop in and have a cold one while the rest of your party shops and walks around.  If you've not been Downtown Muskegon in a while, now's the time to come see what's going on and how the atmosphere has changed.  If you are a frequent "Downtowner" come on out and show the visitors a good time.  The more events like the Lakeshore Art Festival Succeed the more will come...and I don't know anyone who's not excited about seeing more happening in Muskegon.

Carla Flanders is with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce who organizes the event,  We had a really nice video done at Hackley Park, but some dummy ran out of room on his video we met up again at the Chamber office and had a chat about all things Lakeshore Art Festival.  Take a listen to the details below.

It's a great time to be in Muskegon!  Our idea to Watch Us Go is getting some legs under it and it's up to us to own it!  Be part of what's going on and be a part of the future.  Your presence is all that's really requested, but if in the meantime you find yourself in need of a beer, soft drink, elephant ear or maybe some new decor for the home, the Lakeshore Art Festival is for you.  You can link right over to their site by clicking on the photo below and we'll plan on seeing you Downtown Muskegon July 7th and 8th!

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Quintessential Vibe of Electric Forest

I have preached.  I have begged.  I have even gotten involved and decided the the only way that I'll ever really know what's really going on at Electric Forest is to be part of it.  So, I threw my hat in the ring last year, dusted off the bar-tending skills that sat idol for 20 plus years and got back to work.  It was a good time last year and I learned a lot, but year two, is showing me a little more.

There are many preconceived notions in Muskegon about what this festival is.  I am not sure where some of the ideas are coming from.  A lot of times, people are very quick to judge when something new or different comes along, but you know...the only things new or different going on here are really the mindsets of the attendees.

I have been going to concerts and festivals for decades.  The first major festival for me was Van Halen's Monsters of Rock at the Silverdome back in 1987.  Van Halen, Scorpions, Metallica, Dokken, Kingdom Come.  Huge show, went to both days of it.  I was 17 and it was a spectacle beyond compare.  There were mullets a plenty, lots of people drinking beer, picking fights and yelling "show us your boobs" and forgetting about life's worries for a day or two.

Today, I will be brutally honest...I don't know the first thing about any of the bands at Electric Forest.  But you know, the attendees, they have not changed.  Instead of Metallica shirts, they wear Pokemon or Star Wars shirts.  Instead of seeing who's the toughest and trying to pick a fight, they hug and as far as the boobs...well, some are happy with just some stickers over them. They are pretty free minded.

I saw a sign someone was walking around with that said "This is where I feel alive".  Electric Forest is where they are away from the never ending barrage of slanted news coverage, horrific world views, never ending pressure and the constant search for approval.  Electric Forest is where they can just be them.  No one I know looks down at 100k plus NASCAR fans all dressed up in their favorite drivers gear...why should we look differently at someone in a viking outfit or a fairy costume?  We really shouldn't.  We should realize that what's happening here is a global sigh of relief for a weekend or two.  Trust me when I tell you, they truly come from across the globe for this.

Being there personally I know this now.  While the money is great, I know that there will be my "moment".  That there will be a surprise for me at some point in the day that will completely fill my heart.  Keep in mind too, I am a pretty fortunate guy in the life satisfaction department.  But every year so far it's happened.  This year, that moment came late Friday night.  I had been on my feet for 12+ hours for 2 days and I was tired.  I was cleaning off my little corner of the bar and there was an Easter Egg.   I grabbed it, and went to throw it out, but though "Well, what the hell....I'll look."  I found this...yes..I got a little misty eyed and I knew I was where I needed to be to have my faith in the human race restored.  It made for a very Happy Forest.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Bootsy's Beat Blog - Life in Muskegon From a Kids Point of View

When I was 10 I was riding around on my mini bike, building forts and hoping to be able to spend the night a couple times a week at any friends house that had Cinemax.  That was life in 1980 and good or bad, the average 10 year old today is kind of forced into a little more complicated life.  Computers, phones, tablets, social's all overwhelming enough for me let alone a pre-teen kid.  Do you ever wonder what life in Muskegon looks like through the eyes of a young person?

Well, you may remember Boots, who came on the blog a little over a year ago.  She came on to talk about the Muskegon Dog Park which she was very excited about and doing what she could do to help get the project up and running.  Now that that's underway, Boot's has taken it upon herself to stat her next project and that's to show the world a little more about Muskegon from her point of view.  The Blog is called Bootsy's Beat.
Boots at  yoga

The great opportunity I see here is two fold.  One, I don't ever see a bad time to develop a new talent.  Boots has shown some pretty keen interest in becoming a writer and has some pretty amazingly artful people around her.  The blog, was all her idea and she's being supported in it by her dad Chris Cordle and Sarah Sass who had a thing or two behind bringing us Veda Rooks...who's made a dent in the writing world too.  Secondly, starting as young as she is, 10....soon to be 11 mind you, we're all in for a ride.  This is the chance to watch a young person develop along with the town.  Watch her perspective change as life unfolds and as Muskegon begins to take shape once again.  She'll be on hand to chronicle what matters to her and what impacts her life.  She'll be able to hold the mirror up for us once in a while and show us what's right and wrong and for now...a reminder of what it's like to be a kid.

I took the chance to sit down with Boots now that I have a big boy camera, last time it was still the GoPro and talk about her blog and why she wants to do it.  Take a listen.

I am excited.  Not only to watch a kid take off, but to follow her and help where I can.  As we talked in the interview, the way we're getting our news and info is changing.  People are mobile...and they are adapting.  News isn't at 6 and 11 any more and it's certainly not thrown up on your front porch any more every morning.  You don't need a degree and a cheap suit to repot on things anymore and even if you're 10...soon to be 11 mind you...what you have to say matters and who you talk to can make a world of difference.  If you are so inclined...follow Bootsy's Beat, it's linked in the photo below!

Bootsy's Beat Blog

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Muskegon's Rockstock - Carrying on The Unstoppable Summer in Muskegon July 3rd and 4th

We've been evolving in Muskegon for a while, and evolving means change.  Change...well that means some things come and some things go and that means what was may have been great but what is....well what is gets to grow and carry on.   It's happening in more than one spot and it's being embraced a little more all the time.  It's on all of us to help those who keep digging to make things happen....

One of the events that's carrying the torch of a good time for everyone, is Rockstock in Muskegon.  I remember years ago, Brandon Baskin came into the radio station to tell me about his idea.  Some local bands playing in Hackley Park in an atmosphere that wasn't a bar, late at night and it was an open atmosphere where younger fans could come out and enjoy the show.  He was planting the seeds to get things going.  At the time, we still had Summer Celebration and everyone enjoyed that, but as time marched on and the cost of entertainment and infrastructure ran Summer Cel out, the first few baby steps of Rockstock led to an opportunity to grow a little and make the jump to the bigger stage.

Muskegon Rockstock on Facebook
A new location, Heritage Landing,  and new approach, tribute bands, to the 4th of July party seem to have worked.  Keep the ticket cost low, $5 bucks, keep the music familiar, keep the fireworks and slowly add things for a bigger crowd.  We've still got our community get together with plenty of suds..songs and bag chairs.  After all, it's a community event let's be a community.

Rockstock will be happening July 3rd and 4th this year.  You'll hear the musical tributes of Echoes of Pink Floyd,  Crazy Babies - Ozzy Rebourne, Let There Be Rock - AC/DC Tribute and more! They are adding Kidstock with the help of Kangaroo Palace, an area dedicated to kids fun and play with tons of energy burning activities.  It will all be capped off on July 4th with the beautiful fireworks out over Muskegon Lake.  We'll celebrate as one.  It will feel good.

I had a chance to catch up with Brandon, we used Heritage Landing as the back drop, take a litsen below.

The moral of this story is....we don't give up.  Muskegon is filled with great people like Brandon and his staff who keep swinging.  If there is a will there is a way.  Find a new canvass and start painting on it and in time, your vision will grow.  The idea of "Muskegon just lost another" whatever is the old way of, it's "How can we find the next amazing thing".  What I saw in Brandon way back when was a kid showing off some bands...what he became is a visionary leader ready to learn, adapt and grow and continue to find ways to provide for Muskegon.  Make sure you head out to Rockstock and enjoy some fun Downtown Muskegon over the 4th holiday.  We'll see you there!  For more info, click on the Rockstock logo below.

Muskegon Rockstock Online

Monday, June 19, 2017

Padnos Shoreline Recycling Center Helping Clean Up Muskegon

I heard from Padnos Shoreline Recycling Center a couple of weeks ago and it was a good thing.  The wondered if I had any ideas of how they could become more involved in what they were seeing going on around Muskegon, specifically Downtown Muskegon and how could they become more involved in a very active community.  So, I figured I'd stop in and see what they had in mind, I know a few people around town, I could probably make a connection or two happen.

I didn't really plan on what came of the conversation, but as we talked... I was all in.  From their shop on Ottawa Street, they are seeing exactly what everyone is seeing.  Things in Muskegon are moving.  Clean up is happening, attitudes are changing and as all of this is going on, Padnos Shoreline Recycling wants to be a leader in helping spotlight those who are making a difference in Muskegon.
Shoreline Recycling on Facebook

Did you know that Shoreline Recycling takes care of our planet by recycling just about everything?  From paper to cardboard and and magazines, appliances, cars, batteries, steel, copper, name it.  They assure that our precious resources don't end up in a landfill but they are recycled and reused.  They are also very generous stewards in Muskegon, they help sponsor Kids Food Basket, The Greater Muskegon Jaycees, Special Olympics and The United Way.

Shoreline Recycling also takes amazing care of their customers.  If you are there every other day, or once or twice a year, you'll find great customer service, top dollar paid for your items and some really fun incentives from time to time.  Right now, they have a Summer Celebration raffle going on where you can win a Kindle Fire.  They are having a pizza appreciation day coming up in July and they will close out the summer with a party providing lunch too.

The added touches are nice, but the meat and potatoes are this.  They want to highlight YOU.  are you getting the job done in Muskegon?  Are you spearheading a clean up or organizing a neighborhood recycling event?  Are you an individual scrapper who makes a few extra bucks helping get things taken care of for folks?  We want to hear from you!  From July-September we'll be spotlighting some efforts to make Muskegon more beautiful by recycling through Shoreline Recycling.  It's not necessarily a weight contest, but rather a way to highlight some great work going on that might not otherwise get seen.  The all hands on deck effort in Muskegon should be seen from every angle and Shoreline Recycling wants to spotlight the hands that are "getting dirty".

I met with Kurt Alderink who's the Center Manger of Shoreline Recycling in Muskegon to talk a little about the business and their active role in so many things in Muskegon take a listen to our talk below and start thinking about how we can highlight your clean up project.

Let's go!  Who's cleaning up and who's going to be thrown into the spotlight?  What I thought was just going to be helping a few connections along has turned into a magnificent opportunity to help Muskegon continue with the beautification projects and spotlight some pretty amazing people who are doing it.  Are you in a clean up project?  Let us hear from you!  You can send a Facebook message to Positively Muskegon.  Include a few pictures of your project as well as a few details about what you're doing and you might be hearing from us and Shoreline Recycling!  If you'd like to know more about Shoreline Recycling click on their logo below!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Corey Davis Visits With Jeffery VanDyke About the Michigan Victory Games and His Art Work

A couple weeks ago we did a story about The Victory Games, which is an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to compete in athletic competitions, win medals, and gather with fellow athletes at social events. Muskegon’s own, Jeffrey VanDyke took the time to sit down with Positively Muskegon and discuss his experience at the games, his achievements, and the positive energy and unique experience he had.

Besides being an awesome athlete, Jeff is also an incredible artist! He talked about his path to becoming a graphic artist, what inspires him, and his techniques. Watch the story, check out some of his impressive portfolio, and if you’re interested in having some custom artwork by a local artist, get a hold of Jeff via his Facebook page, you'll find that linked under the pictures to the right.
Find Jeffery VanDyke on Facebook

We caught up at McGraft Park to talk about the Victory Games, how he's adapted his work in art with disability over time and how he'd like to be seen for his talents and personality instead of his chair.   Take a listen to our chat below.

A giant thank you to Jeff for being our guest and highlighting what Positively Muskegon is all about; unique individuals in our community making a difference!

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

West Michigan Business and Craft Fair at Hackley Park June 24th

We're "Watching Us Go".   More and more, the idea is seeming to catch on and inspiring people are taking action.  Action is a big part of the next phase... I mean, standing around and watching is one thing, but unless someone is getting their hands dirty, we're going nowhere.

Well, they are...and Muskegon is a community on the move.

There is an issue however though...being an upstart is tough.  How do you get the exposure you need for your business?  Where do you invest wisely to have the impact you need to see a return on investment?  Where to connect with others who are upstart entrepreneurs like yourself to share thoughts, experiences, concerns and hopefully some success stories?  Well you can join club after club or organization after organization.  Trade networks, Craig's List ad's, Facebook Groups , the list goes on and on, or you could stop into the West Michigan Business and Craft Fair June 24th at Hackley Park.
WMBCF on Facebook

Vanessa Davis got a hold of me to let me know about the event.  Vanessa is a jewelry maker. She loves to create things that help women feel beautiful, and a quick scroll across her Facebook page you'll see in a hurry, she's good at what she does.  Like many others, she relies on her creative side for an income and in as much as craft shows around the holidays are great, the goal of a year round business is always at the top of her mind.  Her husband Tony, left a union job to follow his dream of owning a business and opened Pampered Auto Hand Car Wash and Detail Shop on Apple Ave.  Their combined desire to build and grow their own business drove them to want to help others get the word out about theirs.

From their event page - "  Our Community Business and Craft Fair is intended to bring recognition to 150 small businesses, artists and crafters. Our event will help those in our community who have not been able to advertise or exhibit their skills and talents due to the costs involved. Our intent is to underwrite some of the costs for them with a much smaller participation fee. Our hope is that our community will see and experience the great products & services we have right here in West Michigan. Increasing commerce is our goal."

Vanessa and Tony were to meet up with me at Hackley Park, but when we were scheduled to tape, the sky was a little threatening so we went to Drip Drop Drink as plan b.  Take a listen to out chat below.

It takes all of us.  It takes those who are established and those who are just getting started.  Together, we build toward a solid community and solid local economy.  No idea is too crazy and no opportunity is far fetched.  Let's be honest, there's a guy going around town with a video camera and a couple websites spreading a message or two....if he can make can anyone.  Vanessa and Tony are chasing their dreams and so should you.  If you're not out for the chase just yet, stop by the event and see who is.  

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dancing Into the Sunset in Fruitport's Pomona Park Every Wednesday All Summer

Get up and bust a move!  Shake a leg, do the funky chicken, the cha cha slide, the cool jerk, the twist, the hop...whatever it takes...get up, get moving and get out!  There's an opportunity for you to do just that every Wednesday in Fruitport thanks to Susie Halter and the Fruitport Lions Club.  Dancing Into the Sunset is free fun designed to get you out and get you back in touch with friends and neighbors.

It kinda started like this.  Susie has a bit of a history with dancing.  Originally from the Chicago area, she was a dances with the USFL Chicago team back in the day.  While the football league didn't make it Susie retained her love for dancing and eventually brought it with her to Muskegon when she and her family came her years ago.  Recently, she's gone through a resurgence of happy feet as she participated in Dancing With the Local Stars put on by the Women's Division Chamber of Commerce, and from that...she saw a need for more people to get up and get funky.

A little leg work and a little searching to find just the right spot turned up the band shell in Pomona Park in Fruitport.  There's some history there too.  At one time, there was a giant pavilion out over the water where people would gather and dance the night away, there are just pilings left now.  The history remains though and as more and more events like Dancing into the Sunset pop up all over the area, history is repeating itself just a few yards from where those legendary dances of yesteryear took place.
Dancing Into The Sunset on Facebook

Susie has added a little something too, each week she hopes to have some of her dancing friends on hand to help those coming to the event learn a little something.  I mean, let's be honest, dancing is an art, and to's a little intimidating.  If you've got a little instruction and a couple ideas of how to move that body of yours it makes it a little bit easier to stop being a wall flower.

Susie found a few minutes to chat up the event.  We met up at the park with a warm breeze and beautiful backdrop to talk about it.  Take a listen below.

I am never without amazement when it comes to people seeing a need and jumping in with both feet to get it done.  Everything here is free.  The time is donated...the cost is zero and the individual and community benefits are without end.  Pack up a picnic basket.  Drive, boat or bike to Pomona Park on a Wednesday night and enjoy the beautiful sunset while spending an evening with your family making some new friends and memories.  This is a community building event and if you see Susie...give her a pat on the back and say thanks.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Muskegon Heights Optimist Club 5k Color Walk/ Run June 17th at Rowan Park

As the saying goes, when the sun is shining, it's time to make hay.  As the 2000 Man Unity March was setting up in Rowan Park in Muskegon Heights, the Muskegon Heights Optimist Club was on hand to talk about next weekends big event coming up in the once closed park...a 5k color walk/ run to bring the community together a little more and to raise a few bucks to help kids battling cancer.  Let's be honest, cancer doesn't care what your zip code is.

A little about the Muskegon Heights Optimist Club?  "Muskegon Heights Optimist Club works each day to make the future brighter by bringing the best out of children, in their communities, and in themselves."  That from the Optimist Club Facebook page.  Reading programs, mentor programs, financial literacy, library support youth recognition and development of pride and community.  Our kids..all of our kids are our future, and the Optimist Club works tirelessly to make sure that they know that as they grow, they are surrounded by a caring community who wants the best for them.
Muskegon Heights Optimist Club on Facebook

The Color Run/ Walk will be all you expect, fun for the whole family.  Activities for the kids, you can enjoy the run at your own pace and the money raised will go to support the Childhood Cancer Campaign.  According to the Optimist Club International website each year more than 12,000 children and teenagers and that one in every 330 Americans develops cancer before the age of 20.  Awful.

Wendee Dells sent me a note about the event, and she brought Thomas Smith with her.  As the 2000 Man March got ready to roll, we talked about next Muskegon Heights....and I gotta tell ya...this whole "New Normal" thing... it's awesome!  Take a listen!

Want a nice run?  Great!  Want to help the childhood cancer cause?  Even better!  Want to be part of the renewal of Muskegon Heights?  You're in the right place.  The City of Friendly People welcomes you to Rowan Park for the 5k Color Run/ Walk and all the details are to be found on their Facebook page in the event link below!

5K Walk Run Fb Event

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Habitat For Humanity at Work in Muskegon for Adam and Stephanie

We've told you about Habitat for Humanity before.  You may have seen the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store locations around town.  They sell re-purposed and recovered items for your home.  Habitat is an international organization with a local connection and their work is the stuff miracles are made of.  Well, one of those miracles is happening in Muskegon right now.

Meet Adam and Stephanie.  I have known them for quite a few years.  They are a kind couple they have a two year old daughter. Jaimi and they have been doing what they can to find a better place to call home for her.  They work hard, but like many, they find it hard to get ahead and the idea of improving their living situation seemed like it was slipping away more and more every day.  They applied to Habitat a couple of years ago and had to continue to wait.  But in 2017, their time has come and they will be getting a new home in the Nims Neighborhood in Muskegon.

Habitat for Humanity of Muskegon
Keep in mind, Habitat homes are not free.  There is a lot of work that goes into even getting qualified for a Habitat home.  There are classes on financial literacy, income requirements, willingness to partner with Habitat working for 275 hours of  "sweat equity".  There is also a need to prove that you need better housing.  It's not a hand out through Habitat.  Adam even grabbed himself the Goodwill Achiever of the Month award for his involvement.

This past week, they had the ground breaking, which they deem the ground blessing for Adam and Stephanie.  Family and friends gathered, dignitaries were there, golden shovels and everything.  There was a buzz in the air, there was barely a parking spot to be found up and down the street and much to my surprise, the address I was sent to was an empty lot.  I kind of expected to find a home to be restored, but's a home to be built from the ground up and a new beginning for some really good hearted and deserving people.

Also among those there was some guy with a camera and Clare Root-Benson fro Habitat for Humanity of Muskegon.  Adam and Stephanie have agreed to let us follow their journey into their new home and their new neighborhood as the construction continues.  Our first visit captures their thoughts on this truly amazing day.  Take a listen.

I did pretty good while I was there, but as I drove away...heck, as I write this....I have some tears welling up.  To me, this is proof of exactly how amazing humans can be when they wish to.  Sure, the requirements are difficult, but this is truly a life changing moment for a family and a way for a community to look at the rest of the world and show that we care.  We're watching a miracle unfold right in front of us.  One miracle leads to another which leads to another...and another.  I am a firm believer we live in a town filled with miracles and if you have not noticed....they are happening more and more all the time.  Take a moment to congratulate Adam and Stephanie and then take a moment to get involved if you have the time.  If you want a miracle, be the miracle.
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Friday, June 9, 2017

Farewell to Major Dan Sawka and Stephanie Sawka From The Salvation Army of Muskegon

It seems hard to believe that it was 7 years ago that Dan and Stephanie Sawka came to town.  A lot of things have changed since then to say the very least.  As I sat down to talk with them, it dawned on me that it seemed like yesterday that they popped into the radio studio to say hi and introduce themselves to the Muskegon area.  I remember telling them something to the effect of "Take some time to really get to know Muskegon, and you'll love it".

Dan and Stephanie came to the Salvation Army of Muskegon from Ludington, it was a welcomed assignment for them.  They liked the idea of a bigger town, bigger mission and the fact that for a city the size of Muskegon, you can enjoy just about anything but still preserve the small town feel where friends and neighbors make a difference.

Salvation Army Muskegon
The Salvation Army of Muskegon at the time could have used a little more TLC.  Like so many other organizations, staying top pf mind is difficult.  You're always ready for the Red Kettle at the Holidays, but the work of the Salvation Army is 24/7-365.  Keeping the organization engaged is paramount to any leadership.  Dan and Stephanie did wonders.  From Summer time bells, to golf outings, media outreach, community engagement and more, the Salvation Army grew under their leadership and as I advised them...Muskegon grabbed ahold of them in return.

They are on to their next assignment in Indianapolis, but if you take a listen to the chat below, you'll see.  They came to Muskegon to handle a job, but they found home.  It's a story so many share....

Hard to believe, but they have dedicated their lives to service and duty calls.  Dan and Stephanie have done amazing things with the Salvation Army in Muskegon and I know that Indianapolis will be better off with them there.  We'll stick with the new leadership coming in, we'll meet them once they are settled in a little, but take a moment to say thanks to the Sawka's for their time here and join us in wishing them the very best in the future!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wings of Mercy Care Affaire at Executive Air in Muskegon June 10th

Imagine the news that you, or a loved one has a problem that can't be fixed locally.  We have awesome medical care here, but sometimes a trip to a place like the Mayo Clinic or Duke University is needed to see a specialist.

Not only are you dealing with the diagnosis, you're dealing with all the expense of it as well as travel  It's overwhelming to say the very least.

There is an organization that helps.  Wings of Mercy transports patients and families to medical centers free of charge so that they can help people in their time of need and save them the time and cost of getting where they need to be.   Yes, the pilots get a little benefit out of it, their time in the air is valuable to them to keep their license and you know...they get the personal satisfaction of being there in someone's time of need.  But there are some costs involved.  Fuel, runways, hangar all adds up and Wings of Mercy steps in.
Learn More About the Muskegon Host Lions

All of the pilots who fly for Wings of Mercy volunteer their time and the added expense is picked up by Wings.  They are a national organization, but they have a very active chapter here in West Michigan and your chance to help them continue to provide  their service is Saturday June 10th at Executive Air right next to the Muskegon County Airport.

You'll start the day with the Muskegon Host Lions Club pancake breakfast.  There's a car show happening, The Chris Boes Memorial Bike Run, a 5k walk or run you can compete in, airplane rides, helicopter rides...the list goes on and on and the best part is, the forecast looks amazing for this weekend.

I caught up with Grace Spelde of Wings of Mercy and Ernie Stacy and Roger Smith of the Muskegon Host Lions in a hangar at Executive Air to talk about all the details.  Take a listen.

Very personally, I got involved with Wings of Mercy as I watched a friends son battle cancer.  The Chris Boes Memorial Ride is named after him and it's a great part of a great day.  Enjoy the site, have a hearty breakfast, take a spin in a plane...just be a part of this.  In my mind, this is actually watching a miracle happen.  Amazing how awesome humans can be.  Click on the image below to learn more about the event and Wings of Mercy.

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The Bill Saylor Memorial Golf Outing to Benefit Human Trafficking June 16th at Chase Hammond

It's kind of a sad reality that something called Positively Muskegon even has to acknowledge human trafficking, but by the end of the story today, you will see that like anything else we face in Muskegon, it's a challenge being met head on by many good people from every angle they can find.  We'll get to the positives in a few, but let's take a second to learn a little more about the issue.

Follow the Lakeshore Human Trafficking Task Force on Facebook

Human trafficking is simply a polite way of saying slavery.  In most cases, it starts off with a friend or family member and someone who might be looking for something missing in their lives, and sadly...that missing element is often love.  At first, it's like any other entrapment.  "I'll be there for you" "You know I want to help" etc.  They are empty promises designed to gain trust and in time that trust turns into a servants role where the manipulator is often using their victim to make a profit from sex.  Sure, there are the extremes like you seen in the movies where someone is kidnapped or drugged, but more often than not it's a gradual process and it's brought on by someone who is close to the victim.  It makes me sick to be honest with you.

Yep, we have it going on right here in Muskegon.  It's a problem being taken on by area law enforcement as well as the Lakeshore Human Trafficking Task Force.  The Lakshore Human Trafficking Task Force is out to provide a comprehensive community based response to human trafficking along the lakeshore.  The goals?  To educate, prevent, respond, intervene connect restore and support the survivors of human trafficking.  They are also tied into a statewide network connecting like agencies all across Michigan.

Muskegon County Sheriff on Facebook
The Muskegon County Sheriff's office is taking a very active and very supportive role with the Lakeshore Human Trafficking Task Force.  They are training their officers in how to recognize this issue when they encounter it.  They are getting very tough on those who perpetuate it and they have designated their annual Bill Salyor Memorial Golf outing June 16th to help fund the work going on to put an end to this awful blight on society.

I met up with Sheriff Michael Poulin and Sara Johnson at Mike's office to talk a little more about this growing problem and how you can help by getting a team together for the golf outing coming up June 16th.  Take a listen to our talk below.

There are so many involved with the all hands on deck approach to making Muskegon a better place to be.  It's an awful truth to have to admit that problems do exist, but it's also a great thing to see that so many have taken up arms in the fight against human trafficking.  I'd like to make a personal plea.  If this is happening to you, get out of it.  Report the abuse, find a safe place and let the law deal with these modern day slave traders.  Ask for help, don't be ashamed and realize that you are precious and you'll find the resources you need to save yourself.

If you'd like to go directly to the registration page for the golf outing, click on the logo below.  My many things to the Sheriff and Sara for addressing a problem and letting people know that there's help.

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