Shon Cook Law

Shon Cook Law
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Muskegon Area District Library

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Learn About Some New Art in Muskegon Inspired By the YEP Program Through Community enCompass

We're seeing change going on in almost every corner of Muskegon.  Shops are popping up, houses are being built or improved.  We're seeing growth in tourism, some growth in jobs and honestly...and maybe it's just me, but I can feel an improved outlook internally about what we have and where we're heading.  It's a great feeling.

Some of the work is rapidly apparent.  You can see some of the murals up and down Western Avenue.  You can also see the clean up efforts that have gone on in areas of town to beautify and clean things up.  Other areas, you might not get to see as the way towns work anymore.  I'll be honest, I had never been as far down 5th Street in Muskegon as I was to do this story.  I had been up to where the new houses had been built, but this one took me up to the corner of 5th and Mason and honestly.. I felt a longing for the "good old days" of Muskegon.

There's the Masonic lodge, we'll get to that in a few...but there were also the classic corner stores.  A hardware... there was a tax place, which I assume was not always that, another empty corner shop... the true fiber of what made up a neighborhood.  I grew up out in "the burbs".  A neighborhood dime store or grocer was just a dream.  I would have loved that.
The YEP Program Through Community enCompass

Back to the Masonic Lodge.  It's been a while since it's had a face lift.  Well, that's being taken care of with a little inspiration from the young people of the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) through Community enCompass and a little perspiration by artist Elloy Villarreal who's bringing to life a  mural of African American leaders who have inspired these young future leaders here in Muskegon.  The YEP program is spearheaded by Charlotte Johnson and the goal is to give young people the tools needed to become leaders now, and forever change their future and help them become pillars of society.  It's an awful lot to shoot for, but while some kids are spending their days playing video games, and hanging out at the mall, the kids of the YEP program are gaining work experience, learning urban farming, getting ready for jobs, college learning the importance of volunteering and the arts.  The YEP program is building rock stars in Muskegon.

I met up with Charlotte as well as a couple of the awesome young people in the YEP program and Elloy to talk about the inspiration behind the mural and who's faces we'll see popping up in there.  Take a listen to our chat below.

There's a little talk about the endeavor,'s up to you to follow the progress!  Take a drive down 5th Street!  Watch Elloy work and see the progress!  The dedication is coming up August 5th and the support of the community would be outstanding.  Give the guy a honk when you go by.  Renewal is EVERYWHERE in Muskegon.  It's great to see on buildings, but to me, it's even better to see in the bright young faces of the YEP program.  Carmella and Kevon were only a couple of representatives of the 15 or so other kids behind the camera for this story.  They were all awesome and left me feeling with much to be proud of.  We have good kids in Muskegon and good kids lead to a great future.  If you'd like to learn more about Community enCompass, click on their logo below.

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