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Sunday, July 24, 2022

1M Project Unite Ignite Equip - Meet Jennifer Debrot


Faith.  Are you even sposed to talk about that in the media anymore?  Does a conversation about faith always have to be who's right, who's wrong and who's belief's should follow you to the ballot box?  The answer is simply no.  The idea that faith and all it encompasses puts us in camps that are meant to divide is the absolute opposite of what the root meaning is, in my opinion and there are those too who see faith as a bridge to helping others with an extended hand and open heart.

Jennifer Debrot is one of those in the faithful community who's doing just that.  Jennifer started the 1M Project when parts of her life had reached the bottom.  It's a story I understand fully even though our bottoms were most likely different.  For me, bottoming out was addiction and the belief that somehow I was able to fix myself with a bottle.  Jennifer explained briefly life had gotten to be more than she could handle when she had her moment to surrender.  For me, surrender meant admitting that alcohol won and that I couldn't do it alone.  For Jennifer, surrender meant that the gift she was given of a new day was to be kept by sharing it with others so they too could find the strength and inner peace that comes with knowing you're not alone.  

So was born the 1M Project.  The idea being that their organization would unite, ignite and equip those they met with the ability to believe and know that with a little faith and belief in God and fellow man...things would get better.  Even more exciting about Jennifer's approach?  The realization that a church and it's message are not confined to 4 walls.  Those who need the help....they are in the community.  They are in jails.  They are in rehab centers and some of them are nowhere.  Kinda harkens back to the memory of a man who once lived who washed feet, walked among lepers and said "that which you do to the least of my brothers, that you do onto me".  This is faith in action and it's a heck of a lot more influential than someone yelling from a pulpit.

In action means a little outreach and after a couple years when the outreach had to be a little less impactful because of a pandemic thing....Jennifer and team were ready to roll on July 23rd at Hackly Park.  Free food from Occidental Eats, motorcycle stunt shows, live music, blood donations, vendors and more all gathered for the beautiful sunshine filled day.  It was a busy one for everyone in Downtown Muskegon and to know that a gathering of good like this was happening and we were invited to meet the honor of the highest magnitude.  Let's have a chat with Jennifer Debrot, we're just on the other side of Hackley Park so the music is a little quieter and you can hear her remarkable story.   

Faith is not fear.  Faith is action, kindness, forgiveness and love.  Rewind that last sentence.  It begins with love.  To find the kind of faith comes first.  You need to love yourself.  Not in a self centered or arrogant way, but to see the value you possess and how much you mean to someone. Next, forgiveness.  You have to have the ability to forgive yourself and others that have you in the place you think there's no return from.  Life can change on a dime if you know that nothing is held against you forever.  It might not be easy, but that first step is admitting wrong and forgiving.  Kindness.  Once you start sowing comes back 10 fold.  Trust me on this's unbelievable the treasures life gives you and there's no dollar value in the world that can compare and finally action.  Once these things fall into place, action is easy.  You will be immersed in making a difference, no matter how big or small the path you take will give you the deepest satisfaction of life you could ever imagine.  No 4 walls hold that kind of power.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Life Align Recovery in Muskegon - Meet Nick Scharlow


Being an observer is part of what we do as a media company.  We try to keep an eye on what's happening around town and we try to keep an eye on people who are doing remarkable things to help others.  Some are able to do a little something to be a part of it all, and others can go all in.  It's in the collective contributions of us all that we build strength in community and to highlight people who are willing to make a difference, well....that's kind of what this blog is all about.

Meet Nick Scharlow.  Nick is a Muskegon local who had a "wild streak".  Well, some might define it as a wild streak, addiction usually starts off as a good time, this I am more than well aware of, but in the end, if addiction is truly the's slavery.  Addiction isn't so much about the substance as it is the necessity to self medicate for an underlying problem.  The soothing of the inner pain, or even physical pain leads to someone seeking relief.  Once found, that interruption in agony and the temporary "fix" offers the false reality that it's ok, and that if you just have more, you will be too.  It's a long and dark tunnel that some can never escape.  Others who do....well, that's where we pick up Nick's story.

After a run in with the law, Nick was sent to treatment in Ann Arbor.  It worked, for a while, but like many others, there was a slip.  A return to treatment was necessary where in the stay a little more clarity came about and some of the comfort of the recovery community in Ann Arbor was missing when Nick came back to Muskegon, so....the old saying comes in to be.  "If it's going to be, it's up to me."  Nick decided that Muskegon could use a much more active and engaged recovery community, so he started one.

This isn't to say that the traditional AA stuff and 12 step programs are not paramount.  There are simple basic elements there that are undeniable.  However, the idea Nick is bringing is along with the support and stability, how about some activity?  Maybe some sober outings?  How about community based work projects to keep people occupied?  A drop in center on Merriam Street, centrally located between Muskegon Heights, Norton Shores and close enough to Muskegon to bring people in.  Holistic healing approaches.  It's a peer to peer non profit working all pathways to recovery.  It's a chance for those who are struggling to find a new way away from the chains that hold them.

There is a Grand Opening event coming up.  It will be on June 24th at their location.  The address is 3375 Merriam.  Some free food on hand and a chance to meet those who are working to make it all a reality.  Nick Scharlow and I did get a chance to share stories of recovery as well as his new organization.  Take a listen. 

The story of any addict. While all unique, none are all that different.  It's the idea that somehow, we're 6 feet tall and bullet proof and that life on life's terms can be handled by grit, booze (or a drug) and denial of a problem.  When I sobered up, my counselor told me that "We're all bozo's on the same bus".  Yes, it was a lighter moment in our work, but it's the reality.  We're all more the same than we are different and it takes more than one to make it on the other side of an addiction.  Learn more about Life Align of Muskegon by stopping by their open house on June 24th or visit them online.  You can click on the photo below to follow Life Align on Facebook too!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Citi Boi Picnic Moved to Memorial Day Weekend


Through it all over the last couple of years, Muskegon has done far better than most communities when it comes to keeping it together through the most unimaginable situations we could be faced with.  A planet has been engulfed with fear, questions, no where near enough answers and a level of mistrust injected into all of us that has shaken some to the core.  It's been exhausting to say the very least, but even though we as a community are tired, we did better than most, and we can start to learn from it.

Everything that went right and everything that went wrong.  One of the things that went incredibly right in and around Muskegon was the reality that we had to take care of each other.  We are pretty polished in the fact that wealth and opulence don't just swoop in to make it better, we have to slug it out and do more with less than many others.  Under that reality however, is where we truly set ourselves a part as a community and when it's time to circle the wagons, most often the differences get put aside and we stand together while things blow over.  

People took to the streets to help at food drives, clinics, testing sites and more.  When other communities took to the streets to protest, instead of burning and riots, we went arm in arm and those who may have had a chaos based idea in mind thought better of it.  The resilience of us was a massive lesson and  the resilience of individuals was ignited to see that they could do more, and that in serving, the greatest reward is found.

Rob and Reyna Mathis are a couple of those individuals who found a little more inside themselves.  Before the schools got it all together to start the mobile delivery of meals to kids who depend on school lunches daily they began finding ways to feed people.  As that grew, so did their seeing the needs for people with clothing, help on some financial thigs and maybe a hand in employment skills.  As a couple of parents of a large family and an ever growing number of grandkids, like so many others they mobilized to help other families who faced the same things they did, and in it they found a new purpose.  

Citi Boi was born and in the hopes of growth and inclusion, they work now to provide ways to fill in the gaps that come along for people.  A collective of people who are friends and partners with Rob and Reyna help with some of the costs of getting going and they work too to help spread the message of the work.  Part of that work is inviting people to be familiar with them and while a big free community picnic was planned for May 21st, the weather wasn't really having it, so it's been moved to Memorial Day Weekend at Hackley Park beginning at 11a. 

Hamburgers, hot dogs, sides music and fin for the kids are to be found.  The City of Muskegon is sponsor of this fun event and the goal is simple.  Carry on with what we've done.  The pressure is down.  We've seen ourselves through the worst....let's open a new era of more "us" and less "us and them" no matter if we are talking neighborhoods, economic status, beliefs, backgrounds or whatever.  We is so much stronger than me.  It's the effort of all of us that makes this a community and people like Rob and Renya who take that first step.  Take a listen.

Now is the time.  Our season of fear is passing and while a "victory" is not exactly the best descriptor, we're smarter.  We're better.  We have learned that hero's lie within all of us and that fragile isn't necessarily vulnerable.  Fragile is a balance and to make it stronger, we need to be better as one, and the Mathis Family is reaching out to make that happen with their efforts that have just been planted.  Being in on the ground floor of the good is what we specialize at.  Stay right here with Positively Muskegon.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Victor Gouveia Benefit Run May 21st


There are some people that come along who's drive is to make the world a better place and that sometimes means taking a role in lives of people that may or may not ever be able to pay them back.  We all know someone like this.  That friend or neighbor that always has the right tool.  Maybe it's the wisdom they possess and manage to share at the most opportune times or, it might be one of those situations where whatever they have going on gets put on pause to get something ironed out for you?  This is the kind of person that friends had in Victor Gouveia.

Victor is described as "that guy".  Always there to lend a hand.  Obsessed with how things work and making them work and helping people get their gadgets running right.  An incredibly talented auto body mechanic and fan of all things Harley and outdoors, Victor's passions were contagious and to those around him that were lucky enough to have him on their side, the friendship was more valuable than the abilities.  There was a deeper side to Victor too. 

Go Fund Me for Victor

Victor took on a role in a young guys life that changed the course of forever.  Not having much of a father figure in his life, Jerrod found a friendship with Victor.  He also took interest in the toys, gadgets and trade that Victor had going on.  Hey, what teen wouldn't be impressed with that kind of knowledge and excitement?  As the relationship grew, Victor saw the kid's excitement to learn autobody and started mentoring him in how it's done.  Only thing is, Jerrod's grades starts to slip a little.  Grades?  Well, do we keep doing what we're doing learning a trade or what?  Victor saw the teachable moment and did some dealing.  If Jerrod wanted to keep learning autobody, getting the grades up to speed was going to have to come first and if that meant working on that was part of it, so be it.  This is the kind of dedication and mentorship the world lacks, and the kind of investment in a young life rarely found.

Victor's time here was cut far too short as you'll hear, his memory, family and friends are establishing a fund to help provide scholarships to area young people for scholarships to learn the skilled trades.  Since Victor was a Harley guy, let's fire up some bikes and get it done!  The ride kicks off in Grand Haven on May 21st and it's gonna be a stellar ride!  As the return back to Grand Haven comes back later in the day, Hiway Bar is the final stop as that was Victor's spot!  It's going to be an awesome day remembering an example set and lives effected.  It will also be a lasting reminder to others of the example set and a way to let the legacy of service, kindness and community carry on. 

Catrina Chambers and Everett Hawkins are two of the organizers of the upcoming event.  We grabbed a few minutes to learn a little more about Victor and the impact he's had, along with the details on his legacy.  Take a listen. 

Takeaway's from this?  It doesn't take much to be "that guy" to someone.  It's a matter of sharing some time and talent.  Who you can have an impact on and the amount of change you can make might not be seen immediately but in the long term, planting a seed doesn't always turn into a tree overnight.  One other thought, being kind goes a long long way for all of us.  While Victor probably never thought twice about what he was doing or why, in his absence those who's lives he touched knew that his legacy should carry on and amplified.  Please be a part of this great event anyway you can.  The bike run event is linked below.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Police and Fire Picnic for the Family May 14th at Wolf Lake Community Church - Meet Rosemary O'Rourke


We beat the drum a lot about Muskegon and it’s always about what’s good coming out of the community as opposed to the “easy stuff” of finding the quick and easy way to get you to click on something. Well? This kind of approach isn’t just haphazard, it’s pretty reflective of everyone in this community and the trick is to get them to share their story about what they do and why…and to give them the spotlight for a couple minutes so that what they do is seen, heard and hopefully the example they set is followed and repeated. Seems easy right? Well, the work comes in the fact that sometimes the folks that do these deeds, well, they do them because it’s the right thing to do and not necessarily to be seen doing it. This gets a little more difficult when we start talking about older generations especially when the idea of “camera shy” is secondary to self sacrifice as taught all those years ago.

Like you to meet Rosemary O’Rourke. Rosemary is putting on a picnic lunch to honor our police and fire departments on May 14th at Wolf Lake Community Church from 11-1to show some appreciation for our area first responders as they have all been working under some pretty strenuous circumstances. The level of pressure we’ve all been under has been immense and to be in the role of working to help people who are in an emergency situation on top of what the are facing from day to day life as it goes. 

Rosemary is no stranger to pitching in. She’s been organizing events and fundraising events for years to help out in and around Muskegon. If you go back a while around here, you may remember the Andrea Bosse case. Rosemary was instrumental in helping them finish off the house that was eventually built by not only swinging a hammer herself, but organizing others to help and when there were enough hands on deck, or in this case on the roof, she shifted gears and got to work feeding everyone who showed up to make sure their work was appreciated and that they had the fuel to get it done quickly. Rosemary has also worked on behalf of veterans and their causes and the idea of any attention back toward her….it’s pretty foreign.

After a little convincing the camera rolled however. The hope is for what Rosemary remembers. Families coming out together to enjoy a free picnic honoring police and fire.  Rosemary is asking for an RSVP to try and plan ahead for the food, so if you can call 231-773-4087 it would be appreciated.  E&A Grocery is helping out with the food as is Town and Country Market on Apple are pitching in too.  Kids getting a chance to see the cruisers and trucks up close and personal and being able to speak to these local hero’s one on one to see the side of our first responders that we all know are here to help us in Muskegon. Friends and neighbors who’s main focus is the safety and welfare of all of us. Take a listen 

The example we all follow today has been set by people like Rosemary.  We work to show you the every day folks who make events like this possible in our community, but the reality is that we've been being shown by example for years just how a community comes together to help a purpose.  In Rosemary's case the purpose is to show some gratitude to the police and fire while give kids and young families a chance to engage and see that they are community protectors, not a threat.  It's also a chance to feed some people, enjoy some time outside now that Spring is trying to get here and just exhale.  We all need the pressure off some.  We all need to look back to and appreciate the groundwork that's been laid as well as the example set by Rosemary and carry it on.  It's her example that makes our community the stand out it is. 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Benefit for Colin Kerstein June 4th - Meet Traci Schuitema Who's Organizing The Event


In 2015 along came this blog called Positively Muskegon.  It was born of the idea that maybe a new idea in how Muskegon was talked about was a fairly good idea and in that idea of our image, how do we best share that message with a much broader audience than what traditional media in the area reaches.  We also had a lot of light shining to do on the people who see a need and fill it, no matter how large or small and if they had any prior experience in such a role.

In Muskegon, we've seen so many absolutely incredible things grow from one person's idea.  Some of the events have gone on to become the things that we can't live without like concerts, motorcycle rallies and more.  Some, have come and gone and in their wake left millions of dollars behind the help those who are stricken with some illness or something and others, it might just be a one time shot to help a friend or family member get over a bump in the road.  No mater the cause, we are remarkably fortunate to live in a community that understands the fabric of all of us in in caring for those who may never be able to pay us back.  Hero's all begin somewhere, and by definition, a hero is is someone who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.  Anyone willing to grab the reigns when a 14 year old boy has cancer and says "I can do something about that" is a hero in our book.

Meet Traci Schuitema.  By day, Traci is a big rig driver!  That's right a tried and true trucker!  In her spare time....well, a glance at her FB shows a pretty cool motorcycle, a little sass and close friendships with a lot of remarkable people.  About every 4th or 5th entry however is a flyer for Colin Kerstein who at 14 found out that he had a little more of a challenge to face than most when he fall and broke a leg.  Colin found out on that day that he had a very rare form of cancer called adamantinoma.

Adamantinoma are rare tumors, which most often affect teenage boys and young men, usually occur after bones stop growing and require aggressive treatment. While there is no known cause, patients with adamantinoma have usually sustained trauma to the affected area.  Colin and his family are facing a lot of hospital time, time away from schools and home and surgeries to eradicate this problem.  It's an issue not foreign to any of us, and when it comes to kids in Muskegon, we know better than anyone how to circle the wagons and all do a little something to help, even if it's just showing up.  Which is what this story serves to do...invite you!

June 4th at Pats Roadhouse on Getty Street, it's gonna be a day!  12n-8p it's time to get it on!  Back to that motorcycle we mentioned...there may be a big bad biker or two on hand.  You know those gruff big hearted types that ALWAYS give more than they get?  There's going to be a pig roast, great music from Witchcraft Lemonade, live and silent auctions as well as plenty of the normal accompaniments at a fundraising gathering.  Traci and friends are currently gathering up the goods for the auctions and if you care to help, you may contact Traci by EMAILING HER HERE and of course, if you really want to go all in, you are welcome to get a hold of Traci and volunteer for the day or part of it. 

We met up at Pat's Roadhouse to get the 4-1-1 on the day, take a listen as we show you yet again, another person in Muskegon that's decided that "if it's to be, it's up to me".  

So, she might have been a little nervous when we began, but let's go back to hero. Coming on camera is the easy part. Investing the time, energy and dedication to organizing an 8 hour event to help the child of a friend and going out door to door to find others who may be willing to help too? We're warming up.  Seeing the impact that can be had by sacrificing a little time and rallying up some friends to pitch in?  Hero stuff.  Once the understanding of what it takes to help and how learning with one can multiply and help others down the you're seeing lasting change in one life or all of our lives and it's that one remarkable individual who just figured they could do more who started it all in motion.  See you June 4th at Pat's.  You'll find the line to the GOFUNDME linked under the flyer for the event.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Muskegon Railroad Historical Society Train Show April 30th 2022


We go back a minute with the Muskegon Railroad Historical Society.  From the first time we met the organization when they were located above the Muskegon Heritage Museum on Western Avenue to today, this small volunteer based organization has not only been a story itself with their move and reimagining of their displays and purpose, but their story of getting it done in the midst of the most unthinkable circumstances speaks volumes of us as a community and how we all take what's important to us and make it happen, one way or another.

We began working with the Muskegon Railroad Historical Society when it was first announced they were moving to their new location in East Muskegon on Marquette where they are today.  It was one of those instances that I almost missed what was there, but got there to see what was and to help share the story a little as the move began.  As the building was found and the work to get it up to speed began, a pandemic hit and slowed things way down.  Everywhere was slowed way down.  It wasn't much of a thrill for anyone.  It wasn't going to be an overnight transformation to begin with but a slowdown of a couple years like this could mean the end for an organization in such transition.  It didn't however.  The people dedicated to the preservation of this essential piece of living history stuck it out, worked when they could and kept it moving ahead ever so slightly. 

MRHS on Facebook

Their annual train show took a hit however.  Congregate events being shut down not only hurt the collectors and enthusiasts of Muskegon's only train show, it's a bit of a fundraiser for the Historical Society too, so that had to be factored in when it comes to funding for the new project.  They stuck it out.  Some very generous help came through the Community Foundation and as the building they will be hosting a grand opening in soon is in the final stages, across the street on April 30th will be the return of their model railroad and hobby expo at Cardinal Elementary!  From 10a-2p those who love the train hobby can enjoy the different vendors and collectors coming in for the show.  There should also be a chance to get a first glance at the MRHS building across the street as the finishing touches are put on.  It's a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the hobby or just see some sights.  It's also a fantastic way to share some history with younger people who might only occasionally see a train up around by us, when if they lived a little further south they'd see just how essential they are to our economy still today.

Michael Wood invited me out to talk about the last couple years for the MRHS and to share some of the thoughts of getting back to business on the expo and finishing off the new home of the MRHS, take a listen. 


A day to share some memories or a day to set into motion some new ones.  Maybe train collecting and building is the hobby that's missing from your family?  Stop out and see the Muskegon Railroad Historical Society and attend their expo on April 30th.  The strength and tenacity of this group to ride out all they have is a direct reflection of all of us in Muskegon.  We find a way.  Thanks to Woody for sparing a few minutes to talk about the work still going on.