Shon Cook Law

Shon Cook Law
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Muskegon Area District Library

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pound Buddies of Muskegon Rewarded With a Mega Grant From the Petco Foundation

When you work so hard trying to do what's right for a community and the critters in it, it's really something to be noticed for your work and have that work recognized beyond all expectations.  It's also one of those moments when a job that's kind of an after thought for some, but others put everything they have into to because of their beliefs in life, better conditions for animals and better education for the public, well, it's one of those moments where you should stop and take notice.

Let's go back a few years first.  Located in the middle of an industrial park in Muskegon, Pound Buddies is Muskegon Counties largest animal shelter and has been serving the needs of homeless pats and pet loving people since 2002.  From their website - "At Pound Buddies, our core purpose is to care for homeless dogs and cats and find them new loving families. Our mission is to be a guiding force to ensure the well-being of every dog and cat in Muskegon County."  Pretty simple right?  At the core of their work, is essentially them trying to put themselves out of business if you will.  Spay and neuter.  Control the pet population so that the number of these strays goes down and the pets in Muskegon don't have to be in a shelter.  In a perfect world, that would be the case, but like anything it takes people and money so the idea of Pound Buddies putting themselves out of business...probably not happening soon.
Visit Petco Online

On to the money.  A short while ago, a grant application was sent in to the Petco Foundation explaining the work, the need and the mission of Pound Buddies in Muskegon.  Funding for animal shelters comes from grants like this as well as generous donors and supporters of the cause.  After the application was filed, things got quiet for a while and the staff at Pound Buddies thought that maybe the window had passed this time, so as they were rolling up their sleeves to keep doing what they do it was with the mindset that, it's just "gotta be done anyway"and they carried on.  Then, the phone rang.  It was the Petco Foundation calling to tell them that not only did they qualify for and get the grant, they got double the grant for 2 years!!  The work, dedication and perseverance to the pet population paid off and Pound Buddies was rewarded handsomely by a company who's stewardship of their customers is second to none.  It's a time for celebration!

Email To Reserve Your Tickets

The Petco Foundation is a big help, it provides a majority of the funding for the spay and neuter stuff, but the need is still there.  You can help with every day things like liquid laundry detergent, paper towels, fostering a pet, volunteerism etc.  You can also be a part of the solution by adopting a pet if your family is in the market for a forever friend.  If you really want to be a part of the fun, you can head to Hampton Green Farm on July 11th for a fundraising gala at Hampton Green Farm in Fruitport.  There will be a great dinner, a wonderful Dressage horse show and of course some lovable and adoptable pets you can meet on hand while a few more bucks are raised to help continue the work at Pound Buddies.

Lana Carson is the Executive Director of Pound Buddies.  We met up at the shelter while the big "Exec" was in the middle of her grounds keeping duties at the shelter.  We caught up on the last 4 years and learned a little more about the incredible grand from Petco, the work at the shelter and the shindig coming up at Hampton Green.  Take a listen.

Lana's great huh?  Incredible people doing what they can to save lives, find forever homes and keep the pet population in control in Muskegon.  It's a LOT of hard work and dedication.  So many pour their heart and soul into the work that it's really great to see their efforts noticed in such a grand fashion.  Petco sets an amazing example of stewardship and they put their money where their mouth is when it comes to their mission and the mission of Pound Buddies.  There are any number of ways you can pitch in too.  To learn more about Pound Buddies you can click on their logo below and visit their website!  Look forward to seeing you at Hampton Green Farm on July 11th!!  You can call 231-578-0850 for tickets or click on the event photo on the left above.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Be A Part of Disability Pride Day in Muskegon June 16th at Our Savior Lutheran Church

It's something not everyone takes the time to think about every day, but then again, not everyone has to face the challenges some do when it comes to the day to day aspects of life and how we go about our daily endeavors.  Those with disabilities struggle with things that able bodied people take for granted every day and it can lead to a frustrating set of circumstances and it can also lead to a feeling of isolation in what causes those struggles.

As I have long believed, there is power in groups.  Not only to get things done, but to help remove that isolation and let others know that they are not alone in what they face.  It can be any number of life's issues that bring people together, but when one voice becomes two and one person can see that there is someone else who shares their challenges that isolation we spoke of earlier becomes a little less intimidating and the work can begin.  This is the case with the Disability Justice League West Michigan.
Follow the Disability Justice League on Facebook

From their Facebook page - " The Disability Justice League West Michigan is a collective of people with disabilities and our allies committed to disability rights and disability justice in the West Michigan area. This group will be consumer controlled (disability-led), with emphasis on leadership by the most marginalized voices prioritized. The Disability Justice League is powered by individuals with significant disabilities and our allies and is supported by Peer Action Alliance, Disability Network West Michigan, and the HumUnity Center."  There is no doubt there is purpose and meaning behind their mission to advocate and stand up for those who feel that their voice isn't heard.

Saturday, June 16th there will be an event at Our Savior Lutheran Church on Southern Ave in Muskegon where you'll be able to hear first hand from those who have a disability and how some of the things others take for granted effect their lives.  You'll also be able to learn from groups in town who work to advocate for those with a disability and you'll be able to lean as well how you can best take an active role in being part of the solution.  The event goes from Noon till 3 at the church.  There will be refreshments provided, some music and community togetherness as well.  It will be a day of education, information and hopefully some will walk away with a new outlook on some of the struggles faced day to day by others in our community.

Amanda Rupert is part of this organization and she invited me down to Our Savior's Lutheran Church to meet with some more from her group.  Meet Elenor Canter, Chris Poniatowski and Frank Minor all from the Disability Justice league and hear from them about this great event and why you should make it a point to attend.

A willingness to see life from a different point of view.  To try to understand the struggles that some face while others just go about their day.  We all face challenges, but to understand them a little better and to be willing to learn more is a step in the right direction.  Saturday June 16th is the day for everyone to come together to learn a little more and hear what the Disability Justice League stands for.  You can link over to their Facebook event by clicking on the photo below!

The Lakeshore Art Festival July 6th and 7th Downtown Muskegon

Art.  How do you define it?  Is it visual?  Is it an experience?  Could it be a participation thing or just something you gaze upon and wonder what the inspiration for it is all about??  No matter how you look upon art, one thing is for sure.  It draws a crowd.  It draws conversation and it draws a community together when it's gathered and displayed with those who produce it and try and make a living at it.  This is the case with the Lakeshore Art Festival in Muskegon.

July 6th and 7th, the streets of Downtown Muskegon will be filled with all of the above.  Sights, sounds, interpretations.  "Highbrow" art and practical and fun stuff that makes any house feel like a home and'll probably find a sampling of some of the stuff that makes a garage feel like a man cave or the deck out back, feel more like a neighborhood pub so when your friends and family come by, they are comfortable and casual.  You'll find it all and you'll find it in a way that only Muskegon can package it.  The park and the streets will be filled with the sights, the sounds and the camaraderie and it will honestly be a little bigger than ever.  It's been going on for decades, but as things come and go in wonder what's to come of most anything.

Follow the Lakeshore Art Festival On Facebook
Well, for what's come and gone, the Lakeshore Art Festival faced some changes and became a stand alone event a few years ago.  I think more than one eyebrow was raised, but for those who questioned it was sincerely a great thing as the focus became the Art Festival itself and it provided some room for growth and an opportunity for what was great to become even greater!  In 2018, you'll find the crafters and fine artists, you'll find the artisan food and kids activities, live entertainment, craft beers, fine wines, interactive and community based art projects and of course...some of the good old fashioned "festival food" if you're just looking for "meat on a stick" or an elephant ear!  There's truly a little something for everyone at this flourishing festival all centered around togetherness.

Won't cost you a penny to stroll around and see the sights.  You are welcome to come from near or far and you're sure to bump into some friends and neighbors and catch up on everything going on.  If you or your group would like to pitch in and be a part of the festival, they could use a volunteer or two.  It's a great source of pride for all of Muskegon and if you have not been here in a while, a great chance to come see Downtown growing and some of the new additions that we've got open or opening soon!  Things are booming down there as well as in the rest of the county!  When you hear "Watch us Go" this is one of the better viewing opportunities.

Carla Flanders is with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and they are behind the organization of the Lakeshore Art Festival.  We sat down to talk about everything going on.  Take a listen.

Plan ahead.  Come on out for a great time and enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and atmosphere of the Lakeshore Art Festival in early July in Muskegon.  I hope that I am not the only one that feels like 2018 is a truly remarkable year when it comes to what's happening in Muskegon and how things are growing and people are engaging with what we have, instead of the "what was" mentality that we all seemed to carry for so long.  We truly are a community on the move and there is much to be proud of!  Thanks to Carla for the few minutes to talk and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber for their sponsorship of this blog and The Muskegon Channel.  To visit the Lakeshore Art Festival's website, click on the photo below.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Celebrate Family Reunification Day in Muskegon June 21st at the Muskegon Farmers Market With the Muskegon Family Court

The idea of a child going to live in foster care is the ultimate nightmare to most parents.  To be honest with you, it's a nightmare for anyone involved.  There are times however when for the good of everyone things have to happen that will lead a child into foster care as guided by a court and while it might feel like a punishment, it's more of a situation where steps are being taken for the protection of the child while the parents gain the skills necessary for them to regain their role in their lives.

It's played out on social media today.  It's a horrific situation and there is always a lot of grey area in the story, but sending a child into foster care is really the very last thing in a succession of steps to try and improve the family dynamic.  It's no one's favorite day by any stretch of the imagination to remove the child from their family and those who have to make those difficult choices are equally hurt by the process.  Then, the foster family steps in and has to love a child on a temporary basis with full knowledge that they will have to return the child to their family at some point.  A difficult issue in and of itself. The complexity continues to grow as I am sure you can imagine....until that moment when the parents have completed what it takes to regain their children and carry on as life was meant to be....and's time to celebrate.
Click Here to Visit the Muskegon Family Court on Facebook

As we said, it's not an easy process for anyone, so when all the pieces fall into place, there darn well outta be a reason to celebrate and you can do just that June 21st at the Muskegon Farmers Market.  Family Reunification Day will be celebrated and all hands will be on deck to talk about the accomplishments of the family who's reunited with their children, the fosters who help them in their time of need as well as some of the others who help make it all happen.  You will also have a chance to be a part of some area agencies that focus on family needs.  They are in the process now of adding some interesting and fun informational spots, you can follow the Muskegon Family Court linked on the right to learn more as the event draws near.

I was invited down by Jenny McNeill, Alicia Kaja and Holly Spoelman to talk about the Family Court and the work they do.  Take a listen and see the real human effect that this has on all parties involved in the foster process.  You can also learn more about the event coming up on June 21st and what you'll be able to see and learn there.

For every time we hear of some family being taken a part for whatever circumstance, maybe now is the time we stop and celebrate a family that is put back together.  The work that went into making sure that the most important part of a family, the kids will grow up in a safe and secure environment and be a part of a growing and thriving community.  As you heard in the video, this isn't a job that anyone wakes up one day and thinks "Man, I hope I get to dismantle some families today".  It's a job that sadly has to be done sometimes but when it's over...a stronger and healthier family unity is built and that leads to a better community for all of us.  Stop down and be a part of Family Reunification Day June 21st and be a part of a miracle happening right here in Muskegon.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Girls on The Run Muskegon Needs a Hand June 2nd

We're going to cut right to the chase.  We're using this Positively Muskegon post to ask for your help.  Girls on the Run is happening in Muskegon on June 2nd and they are in need of some extra help on the course of the 5k the girls compete in.  There isn't much to it.  Maybe some direction of runners, maybe some hooting and hollering to cheer them on and you might even get to stop a little traffic.  Sound fun?  Keep reading.

Girls on the Run is a remarkable program that is dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.  It's a truly remarkable program and beyond inspiring to be a part of.  We're proud to support Girls on the Run by sharing their mission.  We've helped with their events.  We've welcomed their founder Molly Barker and talked to her in the past about her inspiration to start this and we donate our time to be part of the event as well to see the overwhelming power of good that culminates the day of the 5k and the pride built in these young people.  Any step in the right direction is a good one. 
Click Here to Sign Up to Help

We are coming to you today asking for some help however.  There are going to be hundreds of runners on June 2nd.  There will be a 5k course set up in Downtown Muskegon and along the way, they need a hand with some folks to help man the course.  It won't take much of your time.  It's a remarkably rewarding and you'll walk away feeling pretty inspired yourself.  If you'd like to be a course marshal, please click on the link over to the right and sign yourself up for a shift. 

I was able to catch up with Sue Gifford to talk a little about the program and the need for a few more hands on deck the day of.  Take a listen to our chat below and be a part of this awesome day and see for yourself how Girls on the Run helps shape our young people into our future leaders. 

Many thanks to Sue and please.  Find a few hours to be a part of this awesome day in Muskegon.  Be there for the kids.  Be there for the inspiration.  Be there for the community.  Most of all, be there for yourself...and let that inner bubble swell as you see the achievement of these girls happen right before your eyes.  It's an amazing day.  You'll want more when you're done!  To visit the Girls on the Run page, click on the link below.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Take a Bike Ride and Be a Part of the Community Hunger Challenge May 29th and 30th

How about a new way to help stock a food pantry, grow some fresh offerings from a garden locally AND get out and get some peddle power going for yourself while you're at it?  Sounds like a win for everyone right?  Well you are right and the chance for you to participate is coming up May 29th and 30th!  It's all a part of Pedal for a Purpose Michigan and it's centered around Our Savior's Lutheran Church on Southern Avenue in Muskegon.

Pedal for a Purpose Michigan 2018 is a 4-day bicycling tour to deepen awareness of World Hunger, challenge giving to ELCA World Hunger, and enhance physical fitness. The ride will begin and end at First Lutheran Church in Muskegon and will visit 9 churches in the Stony Lake Conference.
The events shake out like this:
Find Our Savior's Lutheran Church on Facebook

May 29th - Pre Ride Events
May 30 - Evening Ride in Muskegon (10 miles)
May 31 - Muskegon area churches and Lake Michigan (40 miles)
June 1 - Muskegon to Ludington (60 miles)
June 2 - Ludington to Muskegon (60 miles)
June 3 - Muskegon to Whitehall and back (30 miles)

That's a lot of riding and a lot of opportunity to help raise some money and awareness for people who are food insecure.  It's a problem that is more common than you think.  In Michigan 1 in 8 people are food insecure and if we're talking kids, that number drops down to 1 in 5.  It's a subject that pops up a lot here, simply because so many of the people and places we visit offer food pantries for people.  Who you think are in need of a food pantry might surprise you too.  So many people are able to put on a good front, but behind the scenes, there's a real need for a food pantry of lunch assistance for their children or more.

The next consideration to put in the mix is the availability of food.  There really are no grocery stores in the City of Muskegon or in Muskegon Heights.  They are close in proximity, but if you rely on public transportation it's not quite as easy as it seems to get access to the quality and fresh foods that are as healthy and good for you.  Thus the addition of the garden ad Our Savoir's Lutheran Church.  They grow their own fresh vegetables and they also help support McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm just outside Hackley Hospital.

I met up with Pastor Jane Mountain of Our Savior's Lutheran Church and Amanda Rupert who's helping organize the pre-ride events on the 29th. Take a listen to our chat about everything going on here.

If you want to do a good turn for someone in need, awesome.  If you're looking for that great first ride in the Spring, that's great or if you just want to get in touch with some cool people the door is open.  Our Savior's Lutneran Church is an accepting and inviting community that likes community involvement and being stewards of their neighborhood.  If you'd like to know more about the church you can click on the image below to visit their website.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Armed Forces Salmon Assault May 19th on Lake Michigan With The Muskegon Charter Boat Association

It's 8 years running now and going strong.  It's a give back of incredible magnitude and it's a way to say thanks to those who have been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms we enjoy!  Not to mention, it's a great way to get out and enjoy a day on beautiful Lake Michigan while slaying a fish or two and coming back to a hero's welcome and a great party after.  The Armed Forces Salmon Assault is back May 19th!

Put together by the Muskegon Charter Boat Association, the Armed Forces Salmon Assault is a day when our charter fishing industry recognizes that those who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or the Coast Guard have really given a lot and giving a little back is the very least they can do.  They come from all over the state.  There are applicants from all over the state.  They come from as far away as over by Detroit for a day on Lake Michigan.  They might be coming from the Grand Rapids Home for Vets, they might be coming from their own residence, but they are coming and they leave Great Lakes Marina at 6am and hit the lake.

Visit the Salmon Assault Online
After the half day of fishing, everyone comes back and the party begins.  It's accented by what they hope will be a hero's welcome along the Muskegon Channel.  You are invited to come down to the channel and greet the parade of boats escorted by the Coast Guard as they return.  There will be volunteers on hand handing out some flags to drum up a little patriotism and let's be honest, who wouldn't love to provide a hero's welcome to these folks?

Like so many other events here in town, a lot of people pitch in.  The Fish Mongers Wife cleans and process all the fish.  Harris Hospitality, Michigan Anglers Association has been a big part of everything going on.  The best part of the whole deal....doesn't cost the vet's a penny.  It's a day of fun and it's all free for those who served.

Ed Schroder is the Captain of "Job Site Sport Fishing" and one of the organizers of this great event.  We found a few minutes to talk about the day for our hero's.  Take a listen.

The big ask for the reader?  Line the walk at the Muskegon Channel wall May 19th.  Bring the family down and watch the parade of boats come in and honor those who have served.  As Ed mentioned in the video, some of these people come home to no greeting.  This is an amazing day that can only happen in a town like Muskegon with a robust industry like charter fishing.  Living here day to day, we often forget that what we have is pretty precious and to know that the Muskegon Charter Boat Association is sharing it with veterans is a remarkable statement about our people, and our community.  Thanks to Captain Ed and all the people putting this great event on.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Salvation Army Week May 14th-19th in Muskegon

We do a lot for the Salvation Army, because it's only fair to return the good they do in the community for so many folks that need their outreach.  It's so much more than the bell ringing campaign at Christmas or the summer camps they put on. The Salvation Army is a 24/7 active organization who's dedication to service sets the bar for all others.  Their deeds have not gone unnoticed in Muskegon and on a national level and May 14th-19th it's time to let them shine!

It's National Salvation Army week as first declared by President Eisenhower way back when TV was still black and white.  He saw the importance of what the Salvation Army did in both times of war and peace and how their compassion for people was the true mission of their organization and outreach.  Locally, the Salvation Army is on the ground with their worship services, the community center on Shonat Drive in Muskegon and of course the Pathway of Hope.  There is the rental and mortgage assistance program, help with utility bills and fuel and of course the emergency food pantry.  All covering crisis type life events that so many are one missed paycheck away from experiencing.
Visit The Salvation Army Muskegon Online

In Muskegon, to celebrate the occasion, business all over town are pitching in to do their part to help raise a few bucks to help support the work that goes on my the Salvation Army.  You'll find daily events happening between May 14th and 19th.  Anything from a celebratory dinner with long time board members Bob and Carol Carter to coffee competitions, dine and donates at delicious places like Ryke's and Mr. B's and so much more.  You'll also find plenty of time to just stop into the Salvation Army itself and see first hand that what goes on there is a pretty welcoming and inclusive atmosphere that's dedicated to helping those who need a hand to get by and get back up on their own feet.

Robin Henshaw is the development director at the Salvation Army of Muskegon and she generally does a pretty good job of avoiding the camera, but today, she's all mine.  She joins me to talk a little about the local events surrounding National Salvation Army week.  She shares some of the history of the occasion and gives you the low down about where to find your chance to be part of all of the great work the Salvation Army does while you enjoy some of the most tasty spots in town.  Take a listen.

It's always easy to remember the Salvation Army when you hear the bell and see the kettle, but when the sun is shining and the temps are up...we can't forget the great work done year round by the incredible people of the Salvation Army of Muskegon.  Make sure you stop into one or more of the events planned next week and be a part of the festivities!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Fish Mongers Wife of Muskegon Is Expanding!

We love growth!  We also love things unique to Muskegon and when the two come together, it’s time to grab the camera and go do the story.  It’s been 8 years now since The Fishmongers Wife opened up the shop.  On Sherman in Muskegon, you’ll find the artisan store front which grew from her spot at the Muskegon Farmers Market.  

You’ll find fresh caught fish, you’ll find delicious smoked fish, friendly service and an atmosphere like no other. It’s our own small town “big city” specialty shop and people come for miles to get in on the deliciousness and freshness of the products they find there. 

As time has gone on, notoriety has grown and that reputation has led to some growth and The Fishmongers Wife will now have products in stores around Michigan and parts of Ohio all from the humble beginnings here.  It’s a distribution deal that’s required a little faith on behalf of the Wife of the Fishmonger.  It’s a big step.  It’s a test to see how their products do in other areas and it’s also a growth opportunity which could lead to some bigger chances down the line, but very wisely, like every other step…it’s begin taken with care and caution.  Making sure the customers in Muskegon come first is and always will be Amber’s first priority. 
The Fishmonger's Wife on Facebook

As I stopped in to talk to her about the growth spurt, there are a couple of other things.  She needs a hand in the back.  Can you clean fish and hold a conversation?  They are looking for some help to process the daily catch and help the company grow.  They are also coming along on adding some mail order business in a much more efficient way through their website which will be coming along soon.  We had a chance to talk on Monday, which during the “slow season” the store is not open to the public, so you can enjoy a little of the atmosphere while we talk all things Fishmonger in Muskegon.

Positively Muskegon has always been about watching the “little guy” succeed.  To have watch Amber and The Fishmonger grow their business, and now get ready to take the next step into statewide distribution…we take a second to claim them as our own.  A product of Muskegon reflecting exactly what we are all about.  Building, growing and being better than we ever have been.  Our congratulations to The Fishmongers Wife on their success and best wishes for continued growth and showing off what we’ve all known all along, just how resilient Muskegon is.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Scholarship Breakfast for the Black Women's Political Caucus in Muskegon County April 28th at Central Assembly Church

I'd like you to meet Maryanne Darnell.  Maryanne is the Chair of the Black Women's Political Caucus in Muskegon County and I have gotten to know her through my step into running for a higher office.  I will say this, if nothing else in this candidacy, getting to know Maryanne has been an incredible blessing in the fact that she's an incredible force for accountability, honesty and making sure people are educated when it comes to voting and issues that we face here in Muskegon. 

She's tenacious, wise, and committed to people knowing what's going on...who's saying what and who's making promises and not keeping them.  She also takes what she knows and who she knows and shares that knowledge with others so they too can have a better understanding of what's important, how things can improve and she even goes as far as to organize transportation to help people who otherwise might not be able to get out and vote.  She's an activist at every level and her passion for people and our community is really hard to beat.  In a world of "fake news", time schedules and distractions, Maryanne watches, listens and stays active in what she's passionate about and it comes through in our chat.

Along with their work to keep an eye on all things politics and politicians, The Black Women's Political Caucus does it's fair share of work for other causes in town.  One of which is a scholarship for young women students here in Muskegon County.  Past recipients have been from Orchard View, Muskegon, Muskegon Heights and Ravenna.  The applicants are chosen by a committee on their GPA, SAT and financial needs.  They have also done great things in the community from sponsoring community clean up's, senior citizen needs, shoes for kids the list goes on and on.  It's a ton of great work and of course, if we all pitch in a little, the work is much easier.  How do you help?  Glad you asked!

April 28th there will be an all you can eat breakfast at Central Assembly Church at 896 Home Street.  The event runs from 9a-12n and it's going to have all the fixin's.  The cost is $15 and the proceeds will go to benefit this scholarship program to help a young woman out as she heads off to school.  Maryanne and I had a chance to sit down and talk a little about the event as well as some of the work her group does, and why.  I'd really like you to take the time to give this one a listen.  What Maryanne has to say is important, and I think you'll take away a lot from this interview just like I did.

It's a great cause and as we work to help support so many other causes in town, our thanks to Maryanne for her time in sharing the story of her group and what the Black Women's Political Caucus does and why. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Parental Alienation - It's More Important to Love Your Kids Than Hate Your Ex

I have a theory.  We as people, can never really fall completely out of love with someone.  We can not live with them, we can grow to REALLY not like them and at times, we can also even know that some people are just toxic and best avoided....they can even become a distant afterthought.  But way deep down...if there was a spark there once upon a time, there is no getting over it...and that's what makes break up so awful.  When kids are's even harder.

So often, kids become the pawns in a break up.  It's one of my earliest memories actually, my cousins parents called it quits and the bickering, and fighting and the pettiness that went on.  The stress it caused on the entire family and the kids.  I can think of only one thing that was good about it, if I was around on a Sunday afternoon when my uncle had the kids, we got to go to the party store and get all the candy we wanted.  We called it the "Sunday Stockpile". Great when you're a kid, but hindsight being 20/20 and see it a little deeper.  Send the kids back home all sugared up and spoiled rotten?  It's a game.
Learn More About Papalienation Online

Well, it should be a problem no more.  We've worked to address all kinds of issues here and we learned of another resource here in Muskegon that's working to refocus parents on what's really important when it comes to life after the relationship when it comes to kids.  Papalineation is here to help show that you have to love your kids, more than you hate your ex.  April 25th is actually National Parental Alienation Day where the day is marked to emphasize the importance of not making kids decide between their parents.  The long term effects of parental influences on their kids against the other parent and the cycle of repeating events that seem to keep repeating because mom said this about dad, or vice versa.

Do ex's have to get along?  No, not really.  But, as parents, there is a higher purpose you know.  There is a new person running around that you created and it's really on you know to let the differences go and work to find a way to be a stable and steady as you can be for the child while you go on with your lives.  That's a hard thing?  That's why there's a group!  We've got you covered!

Meet Jerry and Lashawn Matthews.  We met up at the Upper Room Church just off Apple Avenue to talk about their group and their mission. Take a listen.

Good people working hard to stop a cycle.  I know it's hard to face an ex.  There stands all the hopes and dreams you once had.  There is a feeling of loss.  A feeling of failure.  A feeling or regret, mistrust, maybe disgust a broken heart and more....but don't pickle the kids in it.  If you don't know where to turn for help, get in touch with Jerry and Lashawn and be a part of something a little bigger than yourself.  Take the higher road and put the kids first.  After all, it really is about them.  My many thanks to Jerry and Lashawn for a few minutes today.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Girls on the Run Presents Lunafest May 3rd at The GVSU Innovation Hub in Muskegon

Last year, it was a first for me.  A first on a few different levels.  I had been aware of Girls on the Run and knew a little about what they did, but I found myself being pulled in a little more and as I learned, met the people behind it and found out what they really did for was one of those times where you just have to realize that "Whatever I can do" has to be what you offer.  So I did, and I was thankful.

Girls on the Run is a program dedicated to showing girls some life lessons through running.  Pretty simple right?  They inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a curriculum which creatively integrates running, according to their website.  The site goes on to share their vision of a world where every girl activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.  As an outside observer of most of it, I think too that there is a layer of the program that is strength in numbers.  If people of any age know that others are sharing the same things they are, and they can rely on each other in the process, great things happen.

Get Tickets to Muskegon's Lunafest
The actual run is coming up a little later in the season, but leading up to it, there is a wonderful event called the "Lunafest" which is happening at The GVSU Innovation Hub on Muskegon Lake on May 3rd.  "Lunafest" is a film festival about giving women a chance to tell their stories and giving film makers a chance to show their art in a setting they might not otherwise get.  It sticks pretty well with the mission of GOTR and it's also used to raise a few bucks for the GOTR scholarships that are provided for the girls who want to be in the program.  Last year, I was invited down to emcee the "Lunafest" event and I thoroughly enjoyed the films.  There were some funny ones, some very poignant films, some about the day to day life and some that really showed struggles women face.  It was an enlightening evening and well worth the time to spend viewing.

Lori Burgess is the Executive Director of GOTR of Kent and Muskegon Counties and we sat down to talk about the film festival as well as the GOTR program and the events around it this year here in Muskegon.  Take a listen to our talk and learn a little more for yourself.

This past weekend, I was told a story about the Masai Tribe in Africa.  They were considered intelligent and fearsome warriors and they had a common greeting among each other.  "Casserian Engari", which translated means - "And how are the children" and the response should be "All the children are well".  I don't know of a better outlook for any society.  It's up to us folks...we need to make sure that our kids have what they need and from what I have seen, Girls on the Run is a leader in providing a base for our girls to plant their feet.   I hope to see you at Lunafest this year to help support the cause and our kids.  To learn more about Girls on the Run, click on the image below.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

WINC - For All Women Veterans Presents the HER2 Awards April 26th

We search for great things that happen in Muskegon, and sometimes those great things not only happen in Muskegon, the extend well past our little neck of the woods. They grow well past what anyone imagined because the need is truly there.  One of those ideas born here is WINC - For All Women Veterans founded by Zaneta Adams.  It's an organization dedicated to women who've served in the military and now need the support of others in their post military life.

When we fist met Zaneta, it was to talk about the organization she founded.  As a wounded veteran, she had found that in her experience with the different retreats and ways to cope were kind of outweighed when it came to the men to women ratio.  Some of the struggles she felt...well, they didn't exactly match what the guys were dealing with when it came to healing and resolution both mentally and physically and like anyone who's sparked a dynamic change, if something isn't being done it yourself, and she did just that.  Zaneta along with some friends founded the organization and began to get the word out about the importance of giving women the opportunity to share, rely on each other, find resources and build that safety net of humanity to sustain and heal.

Get Tickets for the HER2 Awards Ceremony
The organization has grown, the message is spreading and it's time to add a layer of recognition to things.  Thursday April 26th at the Folkert Community Hub at 6:30p there will be a great new ceremony called the "HER2" Military Women of Excellence awards.  The awards are centered around the acronym, HER - "Honor, Encourage, Empower and Revive and Restore" (HER2)  women in the military.  Awards will be presented to both veterans and women in the community who go above and beyond for veterans.  Honorees will be coming in from all over the country, there will be celebrity guests, and a Key Note Speaker Michelle Jones who is the very first female Command Sargent Major of the US Army Reserves.  This event also serves as a fund raiser to help the organization with the services they provide for our female veterans and they hope too to add a military sexual trauma retreat this year.  A staggering statistic is that 75% of the women who attended the retreats in the past are survivors of military sexual trauma and the need was seen to focus an event centered around just that.

Zaneta and I had a chance to sit down and catch up on WINC and learn a little more about the HER2 event coming up.  Take a listen.

It's an amazing outreach and innovative approach.  It's also so great to see something that can change the world take off right here in Muskegon.  For as much as we're all kind of the same, some of the coping mechanisms we use are different and Zaneta's vision to change the way that women veterans can use the power of each other to recuperate and recover from what they's truly remarkable.  As we spoke in the interview, her injury while serving was a hint to her that there was a higher purpose for her after her time was up and she's really gone on to take that gift to the next level in the care of others.  If you'd like to know more about WINC For All Women Veterans, click on the image below to visit their website. 


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Camp Shout Out in Muskegon - Building Communicators for Life

It's been alleged that once I figured out how to talk, I have not shut up for a second since.  Of course, that's the opinion of some and has not been proven by any scientific means in any way.  All kidding aside, communicating is the heart of everything I have ever done.  All the way back to my younger days, if I wasn't talking to someone, I was passing notes in school and working on keeping communication channels open to anyone.  For both my sanity and theirs.  To be able to talk is vital.

There are some however who struggle to communicate.  Maybe they are just the quiet type, possibly they are the "strong silent type" or maybe they are the type that just sit and watch our world in amazement and have nothing to say.  There are those too who want to talk, but for some reason, when they do, their words fail them.  They come out broken....they come out staggered...they come out with hesitation and confusion and for both parties, it seems very difficult to manage.  I am talking about stuttering and if you've ever been around a person who struggles with it, you know that it seems like an almost insurmountable barrier for them to try and be a part of any conversation.

Visit the Chmela Fluency Center Online
Stuttering seems to come from a multitude of factors and has layers upon layers of contributing factors according to Kristin Chmela who runs the Chmela Fluency Center in Bufflao Grove Illinois, she is also one of the key members of Camp Shout Out.  Coming from a background in stuttering herself, she dedicated her life to providing services to those with fluency disorders.  With her specialty, she is often sought out by people from around the country to help with their kids who are struggling to speak.

Which brings us to our local tie in....Julie Raynor.  Julie is a local speech pathologist who put her daughter down for a nap one day, and when she woke up from it, there was a severe stuttering disorder.  Imagine that?  Your job is to help other kids and parents with their issues and all of the sudden it's your's to address too.  A daunting task, but as we've seen time and time again, there is no greater force to fix something than a mother who is looking out for her child.  Thus, the meeting of Julie and Kristin.

As the relationship grew so did the desire to help others.  A conference in Cincinnati, a visit to Reeths-Puffer Schools and some discussions about a camping experience led to the "what if" moment of "what if" there was a camp dedicated to people who share this disorder and "what if" top notch speech pathologists, support staff, therapists, consultants, apprentices and seminars could all happen in one spot where the campers could see they are not alone in their struggle and the families too could see that there is strength in numbers.  Thus was born Camp Shout Out.

Located on Big Blue Lake in Holton Michigan.  Camp Shout Out brings in campers from all over the world to enjoy a week away from the judgement that so many have to deal with.  It offers a little respite from the real world and gives people a little access to some services in a setting that's not so clinical.  Let's be honest, where do you feel more a campfire or in a clinic?  It not only gives the campers and families a unique experience, it gives those in the field a chance to learn and grow and those wishing to join the profession a chance to be around some of the top professionals who practice day after day. 

I had a chance to catch up with Kristin and Julie.  We met up at a very picturesque spot Downtown Muskegon to learn more about Camp Shout Out.  Take a listen to our chat below.

A great conversation and an amazing thing happening right in our back yard!  Did you ever imagine that such incredible things were happening right here...and from here...they carry all over the world.  Everything about this story is amazing.  From the woman who wanted to learn more to help herself, to the mom who wanted more for her daughter and how it grew to be an outreach to so many...for so many different purposes, Camp Shout Out is an inspiration to all and an incredible asset to our area and to know too, we made another fan out of Kristin....from Chicago....shows me we're winning.  :)  

If you'd like to know more about Camp Shout Out or, you'd like to maybe help the cause out a little, you can click on the photo below and link over to the camp website.  Also, there was a film crew there in 2017....could we have a world class documentary on the way?  

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Meet Pastor Bill Uetricht of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church of North Muskegon

If you drive on Whitehall road on a regular basis, you can't miss it.  It's a hulking building right across from the Goodwill and Northshore Dental.  It's the First Evangelical Lutheran Church of North Muskegon.  The sprawling complex consists of the church itself of course and the large space for meetings, activities, luncheons, study and more, but what's in the walls is only part of the story, it's what comes out of the walls that helps set the church and it's congregation a part.

I got a note from Pastor Bill Uetricht of the church a while ago, he mentioned a new outreach that they were getting started with Community enCompass here in town and wondered if I could find the time to come up and learn a little more.  Well, it's a good thing he's a Pastor and knows forgiveness, because the message kind of got buried until I ran in to him at one of those luncheons a week or so ago and I remembered I owed the guy a visit.  We don't need any unwarranted lighting strikes due to forgetfulness ya know.  :) 

Follow the FELC on Facebook
Like many other churches, the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Muskegon sees the big picture when it comes to worship in today's day and age.  There is still plenty of good old fashion messaging, compassion and caring that goes on, but more and more it's become outreach, community work and becoming a community center for gathering, respite and a place that offers security and comfort in times of need.  The are also very active in music, arts and sports for the congregation and community and various organizations use their space for everything from an AA meeting to the Lions Club and even retired teachers who like to gather to talk about issues or just reminisce about their days in school.  The work closely with Family Promise of the Lakeshore to help house those who find themselves homeless and they reach right into Downtown Muskegon with their work with Community enCompass which Bill sits on the board for.

This summer in conjunction with Community enCompass, the YEP! Program and the First Evangelical Lutheran Church  you are going to see a new micro enterprise for young people around Muskegon.  Yes, there will be a good old fashioned hot dog cart out on the streets along with an ice cream cart.  The fun of being able to walk up to a street vendor for a quick dog or maybe a sweet treat will be happening and in the process, young people will be learning how to manage and run a business.  A valuable skill in any line of work. 

Bill and I had a chance to sit down and talk about his church, the congregation, the outreach and community work they do.  We also talk about their refreshing approach to services and he even brings up a long lost church practice called "Holy Hilarity" which you have got to hear about.  Take a listen.

It's a lost art form, a family and faith story.  But this is why Positively Muskegon is here.  Bill and his congregation have broken the mold when it comes to what's expected from a church.  They actively engage all of Muskegon and work to make life better for anyone.  My thanks to Bill for his time to talk about their work and for being such a vital part of the betterment for all.  If you'd like to know more about the First Evangelical Lutheran Church of North Muskegon you can click on the photo below of the congregation to visit the churches website. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Celebrate The Kentucky Derby With Hats and Horses to Benefit Pioneer Resources May 5th

 I am going to start off the story with a history lesson.  Class, pay attention.  Pioneer Resources was founded all the way back in the late 1940's by a group of parents and teachers providing special education and therapy.  In 1955 then became a 501c3 charity and have grown ever since.  How did I know all that?  Well, I was reading it on the other tab, plus, I did do a story on it and everything, BUT I did want you to know, they are a lot more than cool buses you see all over town.

What's awesome about Pioneer Resources is not only the rich history of truly being caring and great people, they have grown and evolved with the times.  People with special needs really want to be like anyone else.  They want independence.  They want dignity.  They want to learn, live grow and play...some may need a hand here or there, some may need a different educational approach, some might need some special accommodations around the house, but at the end of the day, we all want the same things.  Pioneer Resources works to help proved just all of those things and more every day in Muskegon.  They are a true asset to the community.

There are a wide variety of services offered.  Pioneer Resources has a pretty deep reach into helping better the lives of the clients they serve.  Autism programs, community living support, transportation, Pioneer Trails's a lot of things they do.  One of the latest is in the process of happening right now, and I was pretty excited to be invited down to come and tell you about it.  On Mill Iron Road, a brand new residence is going up.  It's a 6 bedroom home that they plan to open for 6 new residents this Summer.  It's part of the "Make a House a Home" project going on.  A grant took care of the house for the most part, now, it's time to finish it off.   That's where the fun begins.
Get Tickets to Hats and Horses

May 5th there's going to be a Hat's and Horses party at The Lake House Downtown Muskegon.  It's all centered around the Kentucky Derby and you are encouraged to do it up with a little pomp and circumstance.  Get out the fancy hats, dress it up and enjoy a julep.  Enjoy some games and a fun ways to get a square on the race and enjoy a delicious dinner done up by one of the best kitchen staff's in town.  Tickets are available if you click on the image over to the right.  I was joined by Jill Bonthuis of Pioneer resources and her husband Alan who's been helping on the fundraising for this new house to talk a little more about this great event.  Take a listen to our talk below!

You know what I love?  I love the fact Pioneer Resources was built by the community.  Is sustained by the community and has grown in our community.  This group is everything Positively Muskegon is about and they were here long before we came along!  Pioneer Resources is doing amazing things, for amazing people and hey, if you're looking for a way to enjoy a night at the races in style, look no further than The Lake House May 5th for Hats and Horses.  To learn more about Pioneer Resources, click on the photo below.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Cowboy Without a Coat - Meet Muskegon Author Wes O'Donnell

One of the things we take for granted around here is our town.  All too often, we forget just where we live and how incredible of a spot we call home on this big blue marble really is.  Sure, like any community we get tied up in the day to day...we buy in to the minutia and we get caught up in the drama of what seems to be the "important stuff", and sometimes it's with very good reason.  But once in a while it's important to find a fresh set of eyes to take a look at things.

A week or so ago, I heard from Wes O'Donnell who told me about a new book he's just published.  It's called "A Cowboy Without a Coat" - How a Texas Exile Learned to Love Michigan.  Not only Michigan, but in particular Muskegon Michigan as he found himself moving here to be closer to his family after his career in the Army and Air Force came to an end.  Wes seems to be a go getter too.  Not only is this ha second book, he's in the process of opening a new sporting goods store in the heart of Downtown Muskegon called Sunset Kingdom in the near future.  Stay tuned for details on that!  Another exciting new addition to Muskegon from a young and eager person who's ready to be the change!
Pick up a Copy of A Cowboy Without a Coat

Back the to book.  I have yet to read "A Cowboy Without a Coat" however, Wes tells me that it's a comedic look at life from a Texan's point of view on a move to Michigan.  Geographically there are a few differences, but if you've ever been to the South West you know too that it's a night and day difference.  We talk different, we have different name it.  We're a big country and in as much as we are one, the cultural differences of our "pockets" are really what make us so unique and incredible.  Being a Texan...imagine that first winter?  How about tying to figure out what the hell "pop" is?  A Pasty?  You can see, it might be a bit confusing but Wes lays it all out in a humorous but inspirational outlook in his book which is available locally at Barnes and Noble on Harvey Street or you can find it on Amazon too, you'll find the link for it under the photo to the right.

Not being one to shy away from a fresh viewpoint on Muskegon, I was happy to meet up with Wes down at Drip Drop Drink in the Unruly Brewing and Rebel Pies Building Downtown Muskegon to hear a little more about the book and to hear his thoughts on Muskegon and where we are today.  Take a listen.

Refreshing to hear that belief is there.  Of course, we have all believe all along, it's just been a matter of working on getting past the "what was" and finding a way to reignite "what will be".  So many people have worked so very hard to get things moving in the right direction and to see that it's being noticed by young people who are willing to put their time, talent and treasure up to say "we're in" is really a sigh of relief.  I have some reading to do.  If you'd like to pick up a copy of Wes' book, click on the photo above and order one up!  Let's help the local guy get going and let's continue to help push the best for Muskegon!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Cheers and Chocolate to Benefit Every Woman's Place April 14th at the CIM

Where else in West Michigan can you spend an evening in a world class culinary institute enjoying some of the most delicious treats and tempting tastes you'll ever stumble upon while surrounded by the students who prepared them, excited to tell you about their craft all while raising a few bucks to help protect some of the more vulnerable people in the area?  It only happens in Muskegon and you only get the chance once a year!

Cheers and Chocolate returns to the Culinary Institute of Michigan on April 14th to benefit Every Woman's Place of Muskegon and it's your one chance a year to help one of our towns most important agencies in a setting second to none.  You'll get to stroll the multiple floors of the CIM and see first hand what the students there learn on as they prepare for their career in the culinary industry.  You'll get to sample some of the delicious food they make, from indulgent desserts to tasty hours d' oeuvres.  You'll be able to bid on a wide variety of silent auction items donated by local folks who want to help and you'll get to rub elbows with a lot of people who enjoy great times for a great cause.

Click Here for Tickets to Cheers and Chocolate
Every Woman's Place is a shelter for women and children who have faced or are currently facing a domestic crisis.  It would be great if we didn't need them at all,'s simply not the case.  Not only does Every Woman's Place provide shelter for women in crisis, they provide counseling, support groups,  children's services, education and prevention measures and more.  They have also just introduced a sober living element to what they offer.  A domestic abuse situation often runs deep and the need for comprehensive help post trauma is key to making sure it doesn't repeat.  Every Woman's Place has been in operation since 1975 and in as much as you'd hope they wouldn't be needed after 43 years, the need for their services continues to grow and community support is key for their future.

Lori Rasmussen is the Executive Director of Every Woman's Place and Susan Prell is a brand new face at the agency.  She came on a couple days ago as the development director.  We sat down to talk about the Cheers and Chocolate event as well as the work at the agency.  Take a listen.

I'd love for them to be out of business.  I'd love for domestic abuse to be a thing of the past, Lori stated it comes down to control and it comes down to better educating our young men.  No woman should ever have to face abuse or the aftermath in her life that comes with that abusiveness.  Please help support Every Woman's Place by attending Cheers and Chocolate or you can click on the link below to visit their website to make a donation online.  Thanks to Lori and Susan for joining me to talk about the event and agency today.