Tanya Cabala For State Rep

Tanya Cabala For State Rep
Michigan's 91st District

Muskegon Central Dispatch 9-1-1 Ballot Proposal

Muskegon Central Dispatch 9-1-1 Ballot Proposal
Get the Facts and Vote November 6th

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Second Annual Fatherhood Summit October 27th at the Career Tech Center in Muskegon With Dads on Deck

It's the biggest step a guy can take, and for some it can be one of the scariest.  The idea of fatherhood is enormous.  So much so, that in my "child rearing" years, I was so afraid that I would do more harm than good due to my own life circumstances, I never even tried.  I could barely take care of myself and who was I to think that bringing in someone else would be a fair or good option.  I didn't want my mess at the time to go any further.

As daunting a task as it can be, it's an essential role in the lives of kids.  Even at the moment of birth some say that a baby can recognize a fathers voice.  A fathers role helps in the health of a pregnancy, fathers help keep kids from living a life in poverty and kids who live in a fatherless home are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school.  Fathers add so much to lives from parenting styles which are a little more spontaneous and physical giving kids the ability to be a little more rambunctious and adventurous and fathers also teach by example, showing kids by experience how things are done and why.  I think back to sitting in the garage with my dad changing the oil in the cars or maybe working on the lawnmower or something.  Not only were they lessons....but they were bonding times.  It seemed like an exclusive club out there, especially in the Winter when he'd turn the heater on and use the hot water to wash the cars.  Fathers tend too, to let their kids work through frustrations and figure out things for themselves a little bit and of course there's the discipline factor.  A mom tends to discipline behavior and emotional relationships while a father leans more toward what needs to be taught to be successful in society and in an every day world.  It's truly a role that is essential in the development of young people.
Dads on Deck Summit on Facebook

But wait...where's the instruction manual?   Bad news.  There isn't one.  BUT!  There is an opportunity to get some knowledge on the subject, free of charge and they will eve feed you for coming out!  On October 27th the MAISD will be hosting The Second Annual Fatherhood Summit from 10a-2p at the Career Tech Center.  It's an opportunity first and foremost to see that you're not alone in thinking being a dad is overwhelming.  It's also a great chance to hear from some top speakers in the field as to what being a father is all about and what it means to the development of the child.  Even if things were not able to work out with you and the Mrs., there are guys here who have walked the walk and can help you better understand the importance of your role in these young peoples lives.  We're all about rebuilding community, and all of the slogans, and billboards and social media groups are great....but the power...truly lies in you and how you help build the future with our children!  Advance registration is requested you can CLICK HERE to email your request.

I met up with Norman Young who's with the Muskegon ISD to talk a little about this event and how fathers can learn the importance of their roles and how they can join this summit to see that they are not alone in wondering and that there truly is strength in numbers when it comes to spreading knowledge when it comes to tough questions.  Take a listen.

Tell ya what.  I for see a future leader in Norman.  Keep your eye on this guy.  But, we're here to talk parenting and get you a few new tools for the trade!  Get out to the Second Annual Dads on Deck Fatherhood Summit if you think you need a hand, or better yet...if you think you can offer one.  If you've been down the path, remember what it was like and mentor a younger guy.  If you don't know where square one is, the summit is a great start!  The invite is there, it's up to you to take advantage of it.  4 hours on a Saturday can make a big impact on you, and more over, a big impact on the future.  To visit the Dads on Deck Facebook Page, please click on their logo below.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Talk Sooner - A Hand From The Health Project on How to Discuss Drugs With Your Kids

It's one of those awkward conversations that parents have to have.  How do you bring up the dangers of substance use and abuse to your kids?  How do you address topics that you yourself might have been guilty of at one point or another?  Don't the schools have programs for that kind of thing?  Aren't they learning all they need to know on the internet?  Um....it's not that easy....but...it's not as difficult as you think either.

First off, if you're a regular reader you know that I am a very thankfully recovering alcoholic.  What began for me at 12 because I couldn't sleep ran it's course until I was 33 and completely bottomed out.  In that time, I went from half a beer to get me drowsy enough to sleep to a couple gallons of whiskey a week.  Back then, they relied on the "scare tactics" to try and keep young people away from things, and as I sat and listened to talk after talk, it was always with the mindset "that will never be me."  Well, guess what, it didn't work.  Hindsight being 20/20 in my case, there probably wasn't much anyone could have done and that's a really hard part of addiction.  The helplessness that those who love the addict feel because there's literally nothing they can do or say to change things.

Learn More About The Health Project

It doesn't mean though that parents shouldn't try.  But how?  Do you just sit down one day and say "Look kid....this that or the other thing is bad and you shouldn't do it!"  or do you sit and spill your guts about all the stupid stuff you survived in your younger days?  Probably not a great idea to tell the young people your're trying to mold into someone that you barely avoided jail a couple hundred times.  Too bad no one wrote a book on this kind of thing.  Well, there might not be a book, (although I am sure there are plenty), but there is an app for that.

Talk Sooner is an app developed for parents to give them the essential tools they need as to how to communicate the dangers and pitfalls possible when it comes to substance use and abuse.  Research has show that young people and teens want this kind of information to come from their parents.  So as difficult as it might be to reveal some of yourself to them YOU are the most important person to communicate effectively what can happen both in the short and long term of substance use and abuse.  When is the time to start the talk?  How do you approach the subject?  What kind of drugs are kids exposed to today and what are their effects?  Trust me... a look at the app and you'll see some things we never even thought of back in our day that kids are facing today.  It's a free app and it's designed to empower you to begin to shape their young minds as early as birth to develop a relationship that can be more comfortable when it comes time to talk about the tough stuff.

I met up with Missy Gallegos and Rachel McCoy of The Health Project of Mercy Health in Muskegon to talk about this app and how it can benefit your family.  You can even catch the PSA that Muskegon's own "Isabelle" did to help spread the word.  Take a listen.

It's not an easy chat for anyone, but...let me tell you from experience.  21 years of addiction is no picnic either.  I look back and as I said at the beginning, the hardship and anguish I put myself and family through was probably unavoidable, but I am just one case.  Parents... I implore you to know the facts....know what your kids are facing and know how best to talk to them in a manner that isn't confrontational, demeaning or makes them feel like somehow they are the only kid who's ever faced this kind of thing.  There's a link to the website in the photo below.  Click on that and get the app and the know how.  They are our most precious commodity.  Know how to talk sooner to your kids.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Muskegon Lakeshore Figure Skating Club Presents a Free Halloween Ice Show October 28th

Brace yourself for a world of cute complimented by some athleticism and future stars of the figure skating world!  You'll have a chance to see some of our areas budding young figure skaters strut their stuff in a fun, Halloween themed event October 28th at the Lakeshore Sports Centre and best of all, it's free to attend so you can cheer on these young people and help build their pride for the sport they love.

Around here, we all know that ice time is a commodity as valuable as gold.  Most of that ice time is used by the hockey world....well, let's just say that when we say most...it's only about 99.99% of the available ice time in Michigan is used by hockey.  Youth hockey, developmental hockey, high school hockey, men's pick up leagues...we're over run by hockey.  Not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, after all, Muskegon has led the way in hockey in West Michigan forever but there are plenty of other sports that deserve attention too and I am not sure about what goes on at your house, but here....we watch figure skating quite often.
Follow the MLFSC on Facebook

It's a balance of beauty and athletics combined with art and motion and it's all gotta start somewhere.  For every "Hockey Mom" who's up at 5:30 to get to some of that invaluable ice time, there's another mom who's getting another kid up to go practice spins, jumps, axles and all of the other seemingly impossible moves that figure skaters make look so easy.  It takes commitment, drive and the willingness to try, try again to make up through the ranks in the figure skating world.  The hours are long and the stories are often not heard until the world stage is attained.

In our area, The Muskegon Lakeshore Figure Skating Club is there for the first steps of your skaters who'd like to get into the world of figure skating.  From "Learn to Skate" all the way up to video coaching, the coaches and staff of the MLFSC work to provide a "Fun and friendly atmosphere for our members in which to learn ice skating skills" according to their mission statement.  They are associated with US Figure Skating and Learn to Skate USA and have instructors who know multiple disciplines of the art.  If you've got a youngster interested in trying, or maybe you're looking for some fun people to hang with on the ice, this might be the group for you.

Well, the club decided that it might be a great idea to give their members a chance to show off their talents with a fun theme and let their members imagination dictate the theme.  You'll see "11" from "Stranger Things"....speaking of "Things"...."Thing 1 and Thing 2" will be making an appearance and more as the skaters dress up for Halloween and hit the ice!  Kids 10 and under in attendance will be given spooktacular treat bags courtesy of Fortino's in Grand Haven.  It's free for anyone to attend and a great way to show some support to some remarkable young athletes.

I was invited by September Yancone to learn a little more about the club.  We also met Lucci Nelson and some of the skaters, Isabella Bankard, Emma VanSlyke and MaryBess Yancone who just might steal the show in our chat.  Take a listen.

It's a great way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon and if you have kids, bring them out.  You might spark some interest in them to get up and try for themselves!  If nothing else, you have the chance to maybe say "I saw them when" someday when you're watching the World Championships or Olympics.  These are incredible and passionate young athletes and their drive and determination deserves and audience.  So, head out and cheer them on on October 28th at 3:45 at Lakeshore Sports Centre on Airline Road in Muskegon.  For more on the club, click on the photo below to visit their website.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Lakeshore Garden Masters Keeping Muskegon Beautiful at the Monet Gardens

We hunt high and low to find the people and groups who add a little something in their own way to make Muskegon what it is.  Everyone's contributions add up to making our home a pretty wonderful place.  We sure don't claim perfection or anything, but it's pretty darn good and every day, it seems to be getting better.  It's the collective effort of everyone that's making it happen....sometimes right before our eyes in ways we might not even know.

Take for instance, a stroll up Western Avenue.  Sure, there are amazing restaurants and breweries now.  Yes, there are plenty of new buildings going up with beautiful new homes in them and shiny fronts that glisten in the sun and give us all something to admire the work going into them.  We have stoic standby's like the post office and the LC Walker Arena as well as projects as new as the Chalet's and the Muskegon Farmers Market.  They are all adding up to some pretty exciting times in Downtown Muskegon and for those who have been here a while, a chance to exhale and see the progress that just seemed to come to a halt when the old mall came down and no one really knew what was next for the core of our area.
Follow the Lakeshore Garden Masters on Facebook

Well, for quite some time among-st all that "what's next" wondering, there has been a tiny little pocket park just up around the corner from Western Avenue on the corner of Clay and 5th streets which has been lovingly curated by the Lakeshore Garden Masters.  It was a bare lot at one point and like anything, Florence Bright Stahl took a glance and said "That can be better", so the work began.  A theme was chosen, and if you're going to do floral art, you might as well go with Monet right?  So became the Monet Gardens of Muskegon.

Today, the Lakeshore Garden Masters spend hours and days a year maintaining this beautiful Downtown landmark.  They also meet regularly to discuss gardening, hot topics in the field, they take field trips to learn more about their passion and they share their love for all things plants and dirt.  They meet and share some fellowship, I do believe I heard the words "pot luck" brought up too so there's always a chance you'll walk away with something good to eat as well.

The Monet Garden Go Fund Me Page

The Monet Gardens are looking for a little help if you can.  As the years have gone by, like anything, some work needs to be done in the park.  They are upgrading the walkways to make it more accessible for everyone.  They are also of course in need of general improvements in their "20 for 20" campaign which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the park in just a couple short years!  It's a true destination for Muskegon and something we all should take some pride in.  It's a tourist destination, it's a wedding spot, it's an oasis that's stood the test of time and it's a spot of beauty where you can just pause and catch your breath in the every day hustle and bustle of life.

Speaking of pride, no one is more proud of the Monet Garden than Jean Baker.  She got a hold of me to ask if we'd help tell the story.  So, we met up and talked about the club, her passion for gardening and how you can help with the project.  Take a listen.

How's that for a little background on something you knew about and probably wondered how it happened?  The people of the Lakeshore Garden Masters are hard at work quietly contributing their part to make home, "home".  As the construction happens now at the end of the season and the Fall and Winter settle in, know that the work will be going on and the opportunity for you to be a part of it is there.  If you'd like to learn a little more about the Lakeshore Garden Masters, click on their logo below to visit their website!  Many thanks to Jean Baker for the chance to learn a little more.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Know Smoke Zombie Walk Coming Up at Heritage Landing October 6th

Anyone who's ever tried to quit smoking knows the struggle.  Quitting smoking is said to be harder than breaking a heroin habit.  The ease of access to cigarette's and the somewhat "acceptable" stance still on smoking combined with the addictive properties of nicotine and habitual developments that go along with smoking make it nearly impossible to quit for most.  What's the answer?  To get people to not start in the first place.

It's said that the average age of first use of cigarette's is about 15 and with the onset of vaping...it could be younger.  This is the time when the message needs to be the loudest to people to try and get them to not start in the first place.  Have you ever tried to convince a teenager that you might know better?  Ya, not the easiest task.  So...let's find a way to communicate to them that reaches past those "know it all grown up's" and speak to them on a level that's fun, interactive, purpose driven and provides them a social outlet while they learn a little about the dangers of what could become a life long, and life ending habit.
Follow the Know Smoke Zombie Walk on Facebook

The Muskegon County Tobacco Reduction Coalition works through the Muskegon County Health Project to put on the Know Smoke Zombie Walk every Fall.  It's a teen centered day focused on education and cessation.  They stress teens and the power of saying no if tempted to try smoking by their peers.  Selecting friends who also don't smoke, offering some thoughts to those who might try to tempt teens into smoking like "You don't mind smelling like that?"

This years walk will be held Saturday October 6th at Heritage Landing Downtown Muskegon.  There are currently over 100 students signed up and there will be plenty for them to see and do.  There will be a walk of course....a costume contest themed around the dangers of smoking, refreshments, a dance where you are welcome to do the "Monster Mash" or any other zombie type move you might know.  Registration gets underway at 12n and the entire event will wrap up at about 3:30.

I was joined by Cyndi Powers and Logan Jensen who are helping organize this event.  We tried for a nice shoot at Heritage Landing to show you how beautiful it is before a "Somking Zombie Apocalypse" but the wind got the better of us, so we were welcomed in by The Coffee Factory right around the corner to talk about this great event.  Take a listen.

Fun, informative and a chance to get a message across in a way that won't feel like a threat....a "condescending adult" talking down to a teen and put on by a group of people who truly care about the youth and bringing that next generation of non smokers about.  This event is free and registration in advance is encouraged.  You can visit the Eventbrite page by clicking on the photo below to get signed up.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Power of the Purse To Benefit Every Woman's Place October 11th at Fricano's in Muskegon

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  It's hard to believe that even a day is needed to talk about domestic violence, but the reality is that domestic abuse and violence comes in all shapes and sizes and happens more often than you think.  Quite often, it's a silent problem, one that no one dares talk about and it's always swept under the rug until it's too late.  In Muskegon, it's Every Woman's Place that offers the refuge and care when domestic violence occurs.

Since 1975 Every Woman's Place has served those women and children who have found themselves with nowhere else to turn when a relationship has become abusive.  It's often a long process, after all, who gets into a relationship with the thought that one day, it will become more about control than it will be a symbiotic partnership of mutual benefit and care?  It's the control factor that leads to the abuse and the abuse is often multi layered.  Physical, emotional and as I read this morning, even financial abuse happens when someone says "Hey, just give me the paycheck and I'll make sure everything is taken care of."  It's almost unthinkable how much plays in to the level of manipulation that can go on leading up to the physical end of an abusive relationship.

Every Woman's Place provides shelter, clothing, basic needs, counseling, crisis intervention, support groups, children's services and educational programs throughout the community to help prevent the abuse before it starts.  Their work is never ending.  Their mission statement reads - "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."  There are many ways you can help by volunteering, making a donation of needed items like personal care or financial gifts or, if you choose...you can be a part of a fun event designed to raise the money and awareness in style.
Click Here for Tickets to Power of the Purse

Power of the Purse is happening at Fricano's Event Center on October 11th from 5:30-8:30 and tickets are $35 in advance.  You'll have a chance to bid on designer purses modeled by some of Muskegon's most dashing men who tote their bags, and what's in them proudly to show their support.  Trips, great tickets to events, incredible items and more will be up for bid so come ready to buy!  There will also be a silent auction table with fun items and other way's to help support the work of Every Woman's Place.  So get your tickets while you can!

Last year, a little unexpected event took place when Norton Shores Mayor Gary Nelund and myself squared off in a bidding war over football tickets to see a Michigan State of Michigan game....I won.  But, being the wonderful sport I am, I gave Nelund the chance to redeem himself and we sweetened the bet a little....this year...the loser has to sport the winners face on their Facebook profile for a week.  We met up in front of Gary Nelund's State Farm insurance agency to talk about how it feels to be second place and what fun this year will be, Lori Rasmussen of Every Woman's Place joined us.  Take a listen.

Have a great time at a really cool event and be a part of the solution to help end domestic abuse.  Power of the Purse is open to all and it's an educational and fun way to do your part.  If you'd like to know more about Every Woman's Place, click on the photo of those stunning male models below to visit their website.  We'll see you October 11th at Fricano's.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Taste and See Tour With Community enCompass in Muskegon September 24th

We've worked for a while to show you the work that goes on at Community enCompass.  They are Downtown Muskegon and as they define themselves, "Community enCompass partners with neighbors in Muskegon's core city to build community together.  As we walk along side neighbors we seek justice and a better quality of life for all through long term sustainable changes." 

To say they are an organization of action is certainly an understatement and their work was showcased Monday night.

Over the years, we've told you about Community enCompass, The YEP Program, McLaughlin Grows Community Garden, Sacred Suds and some of the home rehabs that Community enCompass has done along with neighborhood beatifications, art murals and more but we've never really had the chance to jump on the "big one" and take you on the tour where all their work is showcased in one night to hundreds who board buses to learn just what happens when Community enCompass extends their arms into the city.
Follow Community enCompass on Facebook

Part of the entire tour is not only to show the people on the ride the amount of work that's been done, but it's a plan to reconnect people to neighborhoods they might not frequent anymore.  Today's world isn't like it was not so very long ago.  We tend to travel to designated commerce areas instead of that one little corner store that had that specialty product.  If something breaks, we just go get a new one as opposed to heading to the repair shop that was nestled down that street in the unsuspecting location.  Easy and convenient?  Maybe, but it's also brought a disconnect to a degree because instead of heading into those neighborhoods, we now go to Harvey, Henry or Sherman and don't get a look at where and how people live.  It's an un-thought of consequence.

On the Taste and See tour, we were treated to great food at all the stops donated by some of Muskegon's finest eateries, but in between them the size and scope of the revitalization was very apparent.  Pride is coming back to neighborhoods through the efforts of young and old.  Those who have lived there for decades and the next generation are coming together to say "This is my home".  We got to visit locations where those with nothing have a chance to get a moment of respite, and we got to see first hand the restoration of beautiful homes ready for new owners and better futures.  We got to see urban farming which is growing tons of healthy food in the middle of what's considered a "food desert" and meet young people who are being taught skills that will last a life time.

We let the cameras roll on the tour which kicked off at the 18th Amendment.  It's a longer presentation, but well worth watching.  Take a look.

It's an awesome organization and their reach is really making a difference.  As the tour went, one of the thoughts that crossed my mind popped up when I saw the folks in the neighborhoods we visited looking out their windows, or maybe out in their yard watching the buses go by and curiously waving or smiling.  When I was younger, it wasn't an anomaly to see people in your neighborhood, a bus load at 7:30 maybe a little but have we grown to the point where we're all in our own little worlds so much that seeing someone other than who's right next door is an event?  Man....it's time for all of us to follow the lead of Community enCompass and get to know our neighbors better.  Across the street, across town or where ever.  Our strength lies within all of us, and Community enComapss helps facilitate that.  To learn more, click on their logo below.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Meet "Walter the Waver" on Pontaluna Road - Walter Strickler

Once in a while, from time to time and then and again, a character pops up in town that makes an impact on lives every day without much effort at all.  We all do what we can for the betterment of our community.  Some write, some buy buildings, others help feed the hungry while others rescue animals.  It's our collective efforts that add up to make Muskegon the remarkable place it is.  Sometimes it might just be a friendly wave, or in the case of Walter Strickler, maybe a couple hundred a day.

Walter takes his place out on Pontaluna Road in Norton Shores next to the Little Black Creek Baptist Church from about 3:30 till 6 or so every day to do nothing more than wave to passers by.  He's built up quite a good amount of goodwill too!  People honk, people wave...people stop in with things like cupcakes and goodies.  Certainly wasn't Walter's idea to drum up a bunch of attention to himself, but rather to add a little joy back in the world.  Walter is a devout Christian and when I first pulled up, I asked "What drives you to be out here every day?"  I got a one word answer... "Jesus."

Visit the Little Black Creek Baptist Church Online

Walter was in the armed forces and spent his time as an airplane mechanic.  He then came back here to work and in his retirement life, he's known to take care of the grass at the Little Black Creek Baptist Church next door to his house.  He's also very quick to invite you back to visit the church if you're looking for a place to profess your faith.

We could go on and on, but as I explained to Walter when I pulled up....there's a world of people who'd like to get to know the guy behind the wave, so...without further fanfare ladies and gentlemen...meet Walter Strickler.  I will say in advance, he's a little soft spoken, so you may need to turn the volume up a touch.

Just spreading a little joy, one wave at a time.  If you're out on Pontaluna some afternoon, get in in the fun with a honk and a wave yourself!  Make the world a little better place.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Help Fill the Boot for MDA At G&L With the Muskegon Twp and Norton Shores FD on 9/14 and 9/21

I love telling stories about fire fighters.  Why?  Well, who didn't want to be a fire fighter when they were a kid right?  There's that, and there's also the fact that there is a very unique and very special bond among fire fighters no matter where they work there is an unbreakable bond among all of them and once they latch on to someone who needs a hand....you have an entire brotherhood behind you ready to do what it takes to make sure needs are met. 
Follow the Mkg Twp FD on Facebook

Another thing about fire fighters...they are all pretty competitive.  Sure, when the time comes and they have to get to work, all that gets put aside, but they compete.  They train physically, they try to out prank each other, they practice their craft and see who can top who's time on things....hey, when you deal with the kind of situations they do, there has to be a way to blow off some steam right?  It gets especially competitive when one department takes on another, and that...that can be a great thing.  Especially when it comes to the time honored tradition of "Fill the Boot".   In the past, you'd find the fire fighters right in the middle of an intersection, boot in hand looking for the spare change at a light, but like most anything, when lawyers get involved...sometimes what was has to be refined a little for safety and liability sake.  Nothing against lawyers or anything, they are doing their job too, but...reshaping things to accomplish a task requires getting the word out a little. 

Follow the NSFD on Facebook

Back to the "competition" between departments.  This year, in an effort to raise a few bucks for the Muscular Dystrophy Association  The Muskegon Township FD and the Norton Shores FD have a couple of special Friday's planned at area G&L Restaurants!  You'll get to enjoy some delicious food that is ALL Muskegon and, you'll get a chance to meet some of the fire fighters who are out there day in and day out as our first responders doing all they can to keep us safe.  You will find them at the locations in Muskegon Township on Apple  and Holton Road on Sternberg and Sherman in Norton Shores on September 14th and September 21st.  It's not only a great chance to do your part to help the effort, but you can also get a chance to meet and thank the men and women of these departments in a setting that's not the normal situation you may meet them in. 

It's TBD as to what the "wager" is between the two departments, BUT.... Brad Walters of the Muskegon Township FD got a hold of me to talk about the "friendly" competition and how it's going to make an impact locally.  Let's just say, the competition might be "friendly" and all, but we're naming names and it's game on to help the MDA!  Take a listen! 

A lot of fun and some tremendous people involved in doing what they can to help out.  Hey, I know it's not too much to ask to get you to stop into G&L for one of their famous Greek chili dogs or maybe you'd like one of their awesome burgers...and of course....there's the fries.  While you're there, take a minute to help the Muskegon Township or Norton Shores FD out with their quest to do a good turn for the MDA!  A fun fall event for sure and a great way to connect with some community hero's who truly give back in every way they can.  Click on the image below to visit the MDA website.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

SLOS Syndrome - The Zatalokin Family Introduces Us To Their Son RIddick

We use Positively Muskegon to share the stories of those in our community who make an impact.  Sometimes they are big things, and sometimes, they are small differences.  Collectively, it's all of our efforts no matter the circumstances that make us a community and as our travels from place to place continue, we find those who are willing to share their story so others too can learn and grow, and that's the case today with the Zatalokin Family.

I fist met Corrie Zatalokin and her son Riddick a few weeks ago as I was invited out to speak to a group of your people about some of the choices in life we all make, some of the choices I made in the past which were not all that great.  Hey, part of being a recovering alcoholic is being willing to reach out and talk about it, so when I am invited I do.  Not that Corrie or Riddick were there for the message necessarily, but as we were getting ready to go, a mutual friend introduced us and said, "You know Andy, Corrie here has a story..."  So....we set it up. 

Follow Riddick's Story on Facebook
It seems Riddick was born with a genetic condition called SLOS.  It's an acronym for Smith-Lemil-Opitz Syndrome and it effects only 1 in 60,000 new born children.  In a nutshell, Riddick's body does not naturally produce cholesterol.  You might think, "Great, aren't we all fighting high cholesterol?"  Well, not exactly.  Cholesterol is our body's natural lipid that effects almost every function of the body in some way or another.  So much so, that in a condition like Riddick's the first sympton that was noticed was his inability to suck and swallow at about 2 days old.  Patients also show signs of being on the Autism Spectrum.  Some have a cleft palate, fingers and toes that are not shaped properly, sensitivity to stimulus, eye problems, pulmonary problems and more.  There isn't a lot known about this syndrome and since there are so few who live with it, awareness and treatment are difficult.  So are some of the hoops the Zatalokin family has to jump through with insurance issues for Riddick.  Like any little known condition, a family can often feel pretty isolated and that there isn't much for them to turn to.

Locally, we don't have the SLOS Clinic on every corner, so they have to travel to Maryland for a yearly visit and Riddick will be a lifelong participant in research on the syndrome so that others don't have to face the question he and his family do.  It's been a trying process for the young family as you'll hear in our talk, but it's also been one that has brought the family, their friends and relatives and hopefully our community together a little closer when we know a little more about "that which we don't know".  I can tell you, from meeting Riddick a couple of times briefly, he's all little boy.  There's a sparkle in his eye....there's a little mischief in there and he's curious and slowly opens up to new faces around him.  Take a listen to our talk and meet Riddick for yourself!

As we talked in our story.  Our family had a bit of an anomaly come along with our granddaughter.  Life on life's terms.  Like Riddick though, what's come of it has been an never ending string of miracles.  To see a kid who at one point had so many shaking their heads and wondering "what's next" break through and beat the odds....it's amazing.  Not only that, to take the hurdles they face and use them for the betterment of others...this is what true champions are made of.....and they are right here among us.  They are the mom who quits her job to make sure her son has everything he can get.  The dad who works for himself because "he can fix anything" to help make ends meet and they are the family that won't take no for an answer and fight to find the answers for their own, and others like them.  Miracles are the Zatalokin Family....and they are right here in Muskegon.  If you'd like to know more about SLOS, click on the website link below to visit.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Save the Date - Roosevelt Park Day September 8th - Taste of the Trucks 2

Last year, it was all a new endeavor.  What stood for years has slowly kind of dwindled and what was had become what could have been another memory when it came to Roosevelt Park Day.  Traditionally, it was celebrated on the 3rd Saturday in August, but as time marched on and new events popped up and the dynamics of so many things changed, it came down to evolve or come to an end, so the committee behind Roosevelt Park Day took a risk and changed course.

For a first year event, it seemed that it was a smart turn too.  The small festival had lost money the last couple of years where it was traditionally held on Broadway Avenue.  The "good old days" where there was a Las Vegas Tent and a street filled with things to do had seen so many changes that it had become just another beer tent.  Combine that with some miserable weather and the recipe didn't make for sustainability.  Pack it up, let's move it.
Roosevelt Park Day Event on Facebook

Breaking some traditions and changing the date, well, it wasn't exactly an easy decision, but we have this beautiful community center, a stunning park, plenty of green grass and endless ideas of how to bring people together and celebrate the small community.  We started the search for things you couldn't find in Roosevelt Park....mostly food!  Food trucks to be specific.  Great tastes, unique flavors and cuisine you might have to travel all the way to Detroit for otherwise.  Let's add in some free kids activities.  Kangaroo Palace brought out inflatable fun, the local 4-H club brought out a petting zoo with cool animals kids could interact with.  Plenty of face painting, police and fire trucks to see.  All of those will be back this year and Lewis' Farm Market will be bringing down their nearly world famous candy cannon for a blast off at 5 pm.  There will be also be plenty of live entertainment.  The Mona Shores Fiddlers will get things started, Natchez Trace will provide some enjoyable acoustic classic rock in the afternoon and then Yard Sale Underwear will cap off the evening with people enjoy the beer garden.  Pigeon Hill will be doing a special Roosevelt Park brew for the occasion.  The day begins with a delicious pancake breakfast put on by Trinity Lutheran Church, it will be held at the Community Center for a donation.  Then comes the parade which will lead to the opening of the food and arts and crafts vendors and a day filled with for for everyone!  You are cordially invited and please, tell some friends to come join us for this great day in Roosevelt Park.

I sat down with City Manager Jared Olson to talk about how last years event went, how we're working to improve this years and what you can expect from Roosevelt Park Day Taste of the Trucks 2 on September 8th right in the heart of Roosevelt Park.  Take a listen.

It's going to be a great time and if you are interested in being a food vendor or maybe having a display of your arts, crafts or small home business....we still have room for ya!  Click on the link below to visit the Roosevelt Park page to get signed up for a spot.  If you are just looking for a way to spend an enjoyable afternoon with great food, plenty of things for kids do do and see, a couple of cold ones and outstanding entertainment, come to Roosevelt Park Day Taste of the Trucks 2!  We'll look forward to welcoming everyone in on September 8th for an awesome day filled with community and family fun!


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Classic Car Show at Arts and Drafts August 18th at Ross Park in Norton Shores

As Summer dwindles we all look for those final few events to gather up at and be a part of.  There are still a few neighborhood festivals.  We've got the Michigan Irish Music Festival yet to come, we've got Roosevelt Park Day coming up and August 18th you can check out Arts and Drafts in Norton Shores at Ross Park with a lot of fun activities going on including a classic car show.  Jon Cox is the guy behind the car show at Arts and Drafts!

I've known Jon a while.  He's a classic car enthusiast and likes to travel to different shows in his ride.  He's a fan of the camaraderie, he's a fan of the sparkle and shine.  He likes the setting and even the friendly competition among fellow car mavens.  For Ross Park though, he gets to be the show boss.  He promotes the show, organizes the event the day of and arranges all the trophies, dash plaques, gift bags etc.  He also helps spread the word about the event and lucky for us, he got a hold of me to help get the word out. 
Arts and Wheels Car Show on Facebook

Of course, you can have a car show any old place, but why not add a little purpose to it?  That's being done too.  If you come out to the car show to participate, it's a $10 spot to enter.  If you're coming out to just stroll, you can make a donation to Kids Food Basket which serves 1200 kids a night in Muskegon that would otherwise go home to no dinner.  It's so hard to believe that in 2018 kids and families go home to food insecurity like they do, but it happens...and it happens in homes you would least expect it.  Parents are often working a couple of jobs, kids are home sometimes to fend for themselves and a meal is often hard to come by.  Kids Food Basket makes sure that they have a protein, like a sandwich, a fresh fruit and a healthy snack. 

There are plenty of other events at Arts and Drafts.  There is a 5k going on.  Plenty of kids activities.  Live music featuring the likes of Refurbished, Yard Sale Underwear, West Side Soul Surfers, The Ericka Scherry Band and Onager.  Drafts....yes, you guessed it.  A beverage tent and as the title infers, there is plenty of artisan shopping opportunities with crafters and vendors coming from all over. 

But back to Jon and the car show.    It's in a beautiful setting and it will be a great day to enjoy some classic cars and good company.  I met up with Jon at Ross Park to talk about his replica Gazelle.  Take a listen to our chat!

Great time, great place and a great cause!  Head out to Shores and give them some love at Arts and Drafts.  Bring out the classic car or just bring the kids for some fun.  We like to celebrate all of our neighborhoods around Muskegon and if a cold one is involved....all the better.   For the complete schedule of events, click on the Arts and Drafts logo below to visit the official website.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Ginka Memorial Softball Tournament August 8th at Ross Park with the Norton Shores PD

As a community, we were devastated at the news that we'd lost Officer John Ginka to a car accident a year and a half ago.  It was something that gripped the entire area that such a beloved member of the law enforcement community and family guy could be gone so quickly leaving so many wondering why and how they would go on.  But from all accounts, John was the kind of guy who would have wanted something good to come of it, and, it did.

The law enforcement community as well as friends and neighbors all rallied together to put on a softball tournament at Ross Park to help raise a few bucks for the family John left behind.  It also gave the community a chance to heal a little and come together to do what we all do best in Muskegon, pitch in to help a great cause and...yes, even have a little fin doing it.  There was plenty to do outside of watching the softball games.  There were kids activities, a dunk tank..which I found out was plenty cold, lots of great food and camaraderie and it was all based on an at will donation basis.  No set costs, just give what you can and be a part of helping to lift up a family who needed all of us to look after them.
Visit the NSPD Facebook Page

It was a big enough hit, and did enough good that everyone saw fit to make it happen again this year and to extend that helping hand to another fallen hero's family.  This year, it's to help the family of Army Sgt. Mathew Tallman who was lost to a helicopter crash in Iraq in August of 2007.  Sgt. Tallman left behind a wife and 2 kids, both who attend Mona Shores.  One will be in 8th grade this year and one in 12th.  This years event will go to help their college funds.  There will be LOTS of things for kids to do.  See police cars and fire trucks up close...face painting, bounce houses, helicopters.  The dunk tank is back and there will be plenty of food for the at will donation once again.  The softball action will be hot and the competition will be lively as it can be all with the purpose of helping someone out in the wake of a terrible loss.  It's really what community is built on.

I met up with Sarah Trombly and Scott VanWylen at the Norton Shores Police Department to talk about last years event.  How John is being remembered and what to expect this year as we once again come together to be a part of a miracle in the making for a local family.  Take a listen.

This is an incredible endeavor going on, put on by so many dedicated friends who want to see something good come out of a tragedy.  Year one was tough, everyone was numb due to the circumstances.  Time heals all wounds however and as the precedent was set, in the wake of a tragedy...something real began and now extends to help more.  We see it time and time again here in the Muskegon area.  It's just how we work.  Norton Shores is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year.  There is lots more to come so stay tuned to Positively Muskegon and The Muskegon Channel for more details on their celebration!  To visit the Norton Shores Arts and Drafts events page, click on the logo below!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Groups Coming Together For The World Games at No More Sidelines July 27th

Everyone looks for the ideal fit.  How do you seem to manage to accomplish more than one thing when quite often, it seems that everyone is getting pulled in so many different directions and so many different agendas are "the most important"?  Well, believe it or not, it happens and when the puzzle pieces all come together just the right way, really great things happen on more than one level, and change happens for good. 
Click Here for west MI Works

Let's start off with the place.  The Folkert Community Hub.  The Home of No More Sidelines.  They have an expansive area in the back of the building which used to be a fabrication area for prototype machines when the building was owned by General Dynamics.  When No More Sidelines took ownership, however, that gigantic area became the gym.  It's also used as an expansive expo center from time to time and during the day, any time of the year, kids who frequent the building know it as a playground where they can shoot hoops, ride bikes, play games and burn off energy.  To hold the "World Games" at the gym at the Folkert Community Hub makes perfect sense!  Trophy's were all out, competition stations were all centered and the work force at each game was ready in their "Live United" shirts to assist and keep track of how each participant did. 
Visit the DTE Energy Foundation Online
Did he say United Way? Yes, he did.  This came about with collaboration of the United Way of the Lakeshore, Michigan Works and The DTE Energy Foundation.  Remember how we talked about the pieces all coming together?  It goes like this.  In the summer, area students ages 15-18 go to work helping out at local non profits after they apply and go through the hiring process at Michigan Works.  The DTE Energy Foundation funds the program so the students can get the much needs real life work experience as well as getting some more hands on deck in the busy months for our area non profits.  The students earn a paycheck while learning real life, and essential soft skills that will benefit them as they move on out of school and into the work force.  Their week consists of working Monday through Thursday and Friday's they meet up to discuss and debrief as to how the week went and what they learned.  This particular Friday, instead of the recap, up to 50 of the students volunteered to put on the games for the kids of No More Sidelines.  A remarkable, multi-leveled approach to getting many things accomplished by incredible agencies dedicated to making the future of Muskegon, better for all.

Just as the games were getting underway, I was joined by Jana Routt and Kathy Rohlman.  Jana is with the United Way and Kathy is with Michigan Works and we talked about how all of this comes together to benefit so many people!  Take a listen!

Collaborative efforts.  Amazing how much can get done, and what an impact they can have when people genuinely work to make things happen.  Students learned and earned.  Kids had a fun day of competition and our community was strengthened by connections being made in both the working world and the service sector.  This is the kind of thing at Positively Muskegon we LOVE to be a part of telling you about.  Thanks to Jana for the invite out to cover the story and to West Michigan Works, The DTE Energy Foundation and of course, The Folkert Community Hub and kids and families of No More Sidelines.  This is how the foundation for a next generation is laid.  If you'd like to know more about the United Way, click on their logo below!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Muskegon Pregnancy Services Welcomes Dr. Alveda King October 4th

It's a ways out, but getting the word out about an event that's as big as this, well, it might take a little advance planning. So...here we are.  Muskegon Pregnancy Services is welcoming in the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and is the Pastoral Associate and Director of Civil Rights for the Unborn.  She will be speaking at the Frauenthal Center on October 14th.  The topic will be "Redeeming the Dream - Defending the Unborn"

Muskegon Pregnancy Services has been around for 34 years now.  From their website, - "Muskegon Pregnancy Services is a relational organization that leads with love, grace, and compassion.  As a client of MPS, you are precious and valued and we are here for you first.  We want you to know, you are not alone. This is a safe place and confidential environment for you to share your feelings, fears, and dreams.  Our compassionate, non-judgmental care and support will help you in your time of need and will give you hope for the future. We know, when all is said and done, ultimately it is Your Choice, Your Body, Your Future but we would like to empower you with accurate information so that you do not look back on this time of need and wished you knew more information. You will not receive any pressure-just caring advice.  We will mentor to the well-being of the whole person emotionally, physically, and spiritually."

Follow Dr. King on Facebook
As part of their work, they are bringing in Dr. King to talk about how she sees the Pro Life movement as a continuation of the Civil Rights movement her uncle started so many years ago.  She will discuss her experiences with the subject and as an opening to the evening local students will have a chance to deliver their essay that they write sponsored by Youth for Truth and Life.  Not too much up on essay's?  Well, good news!  Youth for Truth and Life will be holding a workshop Friday July 6th at Fricano's on Muskegon Lake.  Doors will open at 1:30 and the workshops will get underway at 2.  The first will be "The Art of Persuasive Writing" followed by "The Art of Public Speaking".  After the seminars, you can enjoy delicious Fricano's pizza for $5 bucks!  The seminars will be hosted by Dr. Paul Jehle.  There will be some cash prizes involved for the essay contest so why not get a little head start on the competition by enjoying the seminars and learning a little about how to do something better?

Learn about Youth for Truth and Life Online
I was able to sit down with Debbie LaNore and Arline Helms to talk all about this weeks events and a lead up to Dr. King's arrival in Muskegon in October.  Take a listen to our chat from the deck at Fricano's and learn about this two part event.

It's an important message and an important event.  If you'd like to know more about Dr. King's appearance in Muskegon you can click on the photo below to visit the event page and get your tickets or maybe you'd like to be a part of the private dinner before the event?  The details for that are there too!  Many thanks to Debbie and Arlene for taking a few minutes to talk and save the date for October 4th at the Frauenthal!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Muskegon Rockstock Celebrates it's 10th Anniversary July 3rd and 4th at Heritage Landing

It's been a decade of supporting local music and spreading some good cheer around town.  Yes, believe it or not, the little Hackley Park band jam that was set up all those years ago to give local bands, and local music fans a chance to enjoy some music out in the open and free of the "must be 21" to enter sign. 

Click Here to Follow Rockstock on Facebook

It also gave local bands a chance to bring their music to a larger crowd than just those who shun the light and head to the clubs and as Rockstock grew, a new location and a little bigger attitude came along.  Not too big..but healthy growth.

July 3rd and 4th 2018 will be the Return of this local grass roots festival.  Great music, plenty of food and beverage and of course, Muskegon's biggest and best fireworks display.  Rockstock will be turning 10 with style while keeping true to it's roots of giving the local bands a chance at the spot light and bringing in some of the best regional entertainment as well.  Kidstock will be back with a hand from Kangaroo Palace in Muskegon with lots to do for the kids.  Giant inflatable bounce houses and activities a magician will be on hand there will be face painting, a "build a buddy" station where kids can pick out and build their own plush toy.  Last year a separate wristband was required for the Kidstock area, this year, it's included in the price of the $5 admission for kids.

Wait....did you just read $5 admission for kids?  Yes, you did.  It's $5 for everyone.  It's an affordable way to come out and have some fun and it won't break the bank.  Plus, it's a community based event and the proceeds to to benefit organizations like No More Sidelines and Special Olympics.  You know your buck will be going to a greater good if you come down for the fun.  There will be ice cold Budweiser products on hand, there will be plenty of things to eat and of course, on the 4th you'll want to be there early so you can plant your blanket and chairs down for what will rival any fireworks show in Michigan.  Nearly 25 minutes of explosive and brilliant fireworks out over Muskegon Lake from the beautiful surroundings of Heritage landing.

I was able to catch up with Brandon Baskin, the organizer of the event for the last 10 years.  He talk about how he and his very small team of folks all come together to put this on and how it's grown from the small day in the park to the way we celebrate the 4th here in Muskegon.  Take a listen to out chat below.

A labor of love and a give back to the people of Muskegon.  It's a big endeavor to put these kinds of things on and as we talked in the video, as things have come and gone over the years in Muskegon, it seems to me that some one always finds a way to pick up the pieces and keep something going.  We are a roll up your sleeves kind of town and we get to work to make things happen.  Make sure you support this great event and head down to Heritage Landing July 3rd and 4th for Rockstock year 10!  We'll see you there!!  To visit the event's official website, click on the image below.