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Friday, April 23, 2021

The Muskegon Ambucs Gift Mobility to All

Every now and again you see it.  Something that gives a kid a set of challenges that no little one should have to face.  Developmental disabilities that limit balance, motion, muscle strength, cognitive ability or more.  You sit there and wonder how in the world could someone be so hard pressed not only to grow up and try and fit in in a world where the competition is to be as perfect as you can with all the right clothes, cool words, ability to run, jump and play and all that but still you see that day after day it's a true challenge and the frustration around all of their circle is very real.  

This struggle isn't limited to just kids either.  If you've ever been in a mobility device you know first hand just how difficult it is to be 3 feet below the conversation that's going on and how very limiting a traditional chair can be.  Well, today, we were invited out to meet a group who gives the gift of mobility to people of all ages and have been going strong since 1919.  The Ambucs is a group founded by William L White and since the founding in 1919 the Ambucs have grown to over 50 chapters in 30 states, all run by grass roots volunteers whos goal is to give just a little something back to help those who need a hand with mobility. 

Muskegon has a chapter as does Walker and today they were fitting bikes for some of the littler ones, but there was a special occasion happening too and that's what we were invited out for.  Laurie Beltren Del Rio served in the Army reserve and a few years ago was horribly injured in an auto accident.  Since then Laurie has been through a myriad of different treatments including spinal stimulators which are very helpful, however some of the neck injuries she received make it impossible for her to ride a normal bike.  Well, as it so often goes a friend of a friend recommend she make some contact with the local Ambucs to see if they could help and today was the day.

Lee Kleinhekxel and Cathie Gagnon are with the Ambucs and they took a few minutes to explain the organization and what goes into making these dreams come true.  We'll get a little look at some of the kids and their bikes and we'll meet Laurie too who's new found mobility is a life changer.  Take a listen.


A pretty amazing group and they do this about twice a year.  They could use a hand with membership. follow the link below and learn more about the Ambucs locally and how you can be a part of such a tremendous organization that gives so much to so many.


 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Wilde and Free - Stacey Huth Sets Out to Help The American Heart Association

 

One of Muskegon's greatest attributes is our ability to take a tragedy and turn all of what's happened with it into something good for others to help prevent, console, remember or at very least, work toward the betterment of those who might endure the same in the future.  We've see these type of things happen over and over and some of them have lasted for decades, grown to raise millions of dollars for a cause and become staples on all of our lives.  They are miracles that happen right before our eyes.



Sooner of later, all of our lives are touched by some sort of illness.  We've seen that in an amazingly sharp focus over the last year as a pandemic has swept across the land.  Of course, the regular issues we face, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more are all still out there, and due to the goings on with all things viral, some are not being paid that close of attention to.  The medical world is telling everyone that coming in for regular check-up's is still essential and that all safety precautions are being met for routine visits to the Dr.  Make sure you're taking care of yourself, because while this is a tragedy to triumph story, no one really wants to start one up under your name. 

Wilde and Free on Facebook

Tragedy to triumph?  Yes, this story starts off on a sad note.  Stacey Huth lost her dad to heart disease.  He was awful young to have suffered this kind of fate, but his loss was a bit of an inspiration to Stacey who uses creativity as an outlet and in her loss, decided that it would not only help her to spend some time working to heal herself by getting lost in design, but if maybe she took that design to the world, and there was a purpose behind it...well, maybe she'd save someone else the pain of a parent, lost too early.  So, her mindset was to come up with a design which would blend her art and her dad's love of sailing and see what came of it.  This is when Wilde and Free was born.

A bold logo and colorful design are part of the offerings in her sticker line.  They can go anywhere as you'll see on her site.  On your car, on the back of your laptop, maybe on your water bottle.  Anywhere you'd like a splash of color with purpose and a message.  They are perfect.  Then, as the idea grew...along came a hand crafted pottery line. 

 Emboldened with the Wilde and Free logo just like the stickers.  A sticker?  Some pottery?  The idea here is awareness and advocacy.  Say someone comes along and sees that...that's your chance to remind them just how important heart health is and that they outta be making sure that they are getting checked up on....regularly.  So...for a couple bucks to the American Heart Association through Stacey's work...you have a very easy way to strike up a conversation about one of the tougher subjects.

I had a chance to visit with Stacey to learn a little more.  Take a listen.


Like we've seen so many times before out of little old Muskegon, all it takes is the idea that no one should have to endure the same tragedy that someone else did and if we take just a little bit of what we can do and push toward a common goal, we can move mountains.  Will the Wilde and Free idea put an end to heart disease?  Probably not, however, it's Stacey's way of doing something for the greater good and to that, we are happy to help spread the word.  You can visit her website by clicking below. 



Friday, January 15, 2021

3rd Generation of Smiles in Muskegon - Meet Zeb Garvey Garvey Dental Labs

 

The family business.  Some of us are cut out to jump right in to it and others, well, we have to carve our own path.  Personally, I would have been much wiser to have carved out a career in some of my family's work.  I come from a line of welders and truckers.  Both union jobs and remarkably valuable skills to have even as a back up gig.  The welding especially.  Some of my uncles over seas jobs...wow!  But, I was destined to break from tradition, and be me.  






Others though, they learn a craft from family and they must be pretty good because even the name carries over the generations.  This is the case with Zeb Garvey.  As a kid, his grandfather spent time teaching Zeb and the other grand kids the family trade.  They make dental appliances for people.  Dental appliances?  Yes, they make dentures, partials, implants over dentures and offer a wide range of services that are essential to people for a couple of reasons.  One, let's face it....you're not eating much without teeth and two, there's so much more to the work that Garvey Dental does for folks.  The ability to smile with confidence, to not have to hide because your teeth have gone bad and the overall health and well being it gives you to be you.  First impressions are important, and a healthy and bright smile is part of that and that is where you find the real passion in Zeb Garvey and his staff.  But there's a twist to this story too. 

Garvey Dental Lab on Facebook

Zeb started out being taught by his grandfather, this we know.  He'd often give up hang out's or partying when his friends were out doing their thing, it's called paying your dues and sooner or later, we all do it.  Zeb stuck to the mission worked and learned and as time moved on and it was time for him to start off on his own...well everything came full circle.  Zeb needed a space to get things going and as it worked out, the space he found is the exact same space his grandfather started off in 40 years ago or so.  

It's in the lower level of the dentist office of Dr. Gaston on Apple Ave, right near Getty Street.  A narrow staircase brings you down to a clean and modern work area with a small space for book keeping and shipping and receiving.  You see all the tools you need to mold things with, some tools to grind and shape, plenty of things to heat stuff up and make things malleable...it's a production line for dentures, but there's one gigantic...."throwback"...ya, we'll call it that....the paint!  It's super fun and a reminder of the times when Zeb was little and, paint...well, was a little "brighter" and not quite the eggshell beige that everything is today.  Now, I am not going to tell you what color the paint is, but I am going to say you'll get a pretty good look at it in today's video and it's genuinely a warm reminder of a simpler time, when family taught family that the value and meaning behind a life's work was so much more than a dental appliance.  Take a listen.   


The skills of a lifetime handed down through three generations and the pride involved...it's immense and understandably so.  At 32 Zeb is getting his feet planted and he's pretty excited to hit the ground running.  At 32....I was still about a year away from REALLY "getting it" even though I had had a pretty remarkable career going in radio for a while.  I wish I would have figured it out a little sooner, but I can't complain.  Much like Zeb, I get to do what I love and do it with purpose.  After all, we're both in the business of smiles....Zeb's is with teeth and mine...well, all I ever set out to do was make one person happy once a day.  So, with Zeb, maybe I met my match.  



Tuesday, December 22, 2020

2020 Continues to Give - Free Mental Health Help from Services of Hope in Muskegon

 

I'm willing to bet that at some point in the last 10 months, there has been a moment or two where you've felt the need to drop to your knees and give in.  "I can't take it anymore" has been heard far and wide and as we look back over all we've been through, there's really no escaping it.  For some, that's the kind of mental state they live in day after day.  Life is hard, life gets harder and in a year when there really are no answers, life can be unbearable.  Mental health, there is still a stigma.



It's a little more top of mind for everyone this year, mental health.  What we've seen and been put through could be equated to trying to get a sip of water out of a fire hose.  We've seen friends and family split over politics.  We've seen people struggle over finances and work.  We've worried about friends and neighbors, we've worried about health and procedure.  We've worried about who's right and wrong and we've worried at the end of the day about ourselves.  There's no shame in needing to take care of you...because without you...none of those mentioned before that you care so deeply for, well, without you...they are really all lost.  You are needed.  You are the key to your world and all those in it and we're thankful you're here! 

We all know the holiday's can be stressful too.  This time of year evokes a lot of emotion to begin with and 2020 presents a series of challenges unique to itself.  Do you stay home and stay safe?  Do you celebrate traditionally?  Do you Zoom your get together?  Add all of that to what some already go through during the holidays, like too many houses to visit, which relatives will feel disappointed if you don't make it, work, life, money....it's adding up again isn't it?  Stop.  There's help. 

To begin with, let's be open.  I am 17 years sober.  I wouldn't be 17 years sober without an absolutely incredible counsellor who helped me navigate the first 3 years after I quit drinking.  She helped me heal everything within that's made me who I am today, which is perfectly flawed and able to understand what's broke, what's fixed and where I can find ways to keep things working properly.  Jane was sent to me as a final gift for living through the hell of addiction and her loving guidance made me into the son, husband, step parent, "geepa" and human I am today.  Why the story?  Well, it's to let you know that no one can go this alone and there is no shame whatsoever in asking for help.  I consider this life a miracle now, and it took work to get here, and it takes work and willingness to give it all away to keep it.  I want that for you too. 

Services of Hope Online

Now, that first step.  Ask.  Don't know who to ask?  That's why we're here today.  Services of Hope is a counselling center in Muskegon and they have been given a grant to help out a great number of people who are willing to ask.  They have funding to get you started with some free visits with telehealth or any kind of digital platform for the moment.  Yes, it's a matter of safety to begin.  You doo need to register soon and do a little orientation before the 30th though, it's a grant that came in quick and has to be used quick, so act on it.

Jax Bliss is part of the staff at Services of Hope and she sent a message today wondering if we could help spread the word, and what better gift could we possibly give than helping someone past their darkest hour in a year filled with them.  Take a listen.




Let's go over it again. No one can do it alone and there's no shame in asking.  Mental health is real, it's important to maintain and the first step for you is being offered right here and now.  Reach out and ask is all you have to do and the first three visits won't cost you a penny.  231-722-7980 is the number.  We wish you happiness, health and a much better 2021 for all.  

Thursday, December 17, 2020

500 Toys for Christmas - A "Wrap Up"

A little over a month ago, in fact it was November 4th, we introduced you to Keysha Mcclanahan who was gathering up a few friends to combine some efforts after a successful "trunk or treat" event at Halloween for kids to try and catch a little lightning in a bottle twice.  It's not a job easily done any time and if there's a global pandemic going on as well as a lot of people wondering "what if" over a multitude of life's problems, catching lightning can be seemingly impossible.



Well, Keysha and company were not going to let any odds against them stand in the way of at least trying.  After all, Christmas is on the way and kids....ya, they know things are different his year and they too have had to endure a lot of upheaval.  Working remotely for school in a lot of cases.  Parents doing their best to shield them from worry and fear.  Some of their favorite activities might be shut down, or the budget might be a little tight in some cases.  Way back in March, they started saying "we're in this together" and that meant everyone, kids included, but what about Christmas? 

The 2020 Toy Team

Well Keysha and her crew consisting of Tina Grissom, Willie Wilson and Shawanna Evans jumped in head first.  They set a goal to collect 500 toys for area kids this year.  Way back in November, it seemed like a huge goal.  They had a drop off spot or two and the ball was just rolling.  Then, as it always seems to do, Muskegon and all it's people made lightning strike.  One or two drop off locations became many.  Restaurants who can only do take out still found a corner.  Churches pitched in.  Human service companies dug a little deeper and even hair care places said "Sure, we're in".  

It's this kind of togetherness that sets this community a part.  I want to take you back a little here a minute on a side track.  Way back when in 2001, I really got my first look at how Muskegon does it.  It was just after 9-11.  We at the radio station decided to go collect spare change to help the recovery efforts and I was at the corner of Henry and Sherman.  I was out there for a few hours and literally had so much money come in, I had to start dumping it in my car.  This very same thing came through when I helped the Old Newises out for a few years, I saw it happen again and again with cancer benefits, help for women's shelters, reading programs, benefits to help special needs kids.  I have a very deep and very personal connection with the grass roots charitable work that goes on here in Muskegon and it's truly one of the things that fills me with pride and truly, sets us a part from all of the other communities.  We never let a need slip and more over, if that need is for kids, come hell or high water, we make it happen.  It's in this togetherness that we are able to set aside what the rest of the world is doing, circle the wagons and stand in unison with pride and say "Watch us Go".  It's a great slogan to see on billboards, but it's really people like Keysha, Tina, Willie and Shawnna who make it happen.  We are blessed to have them here.

Now, on to the results!  At the time we recorded, well, the goal had been well beaten.  In fact, not only was it beaten, there were still more toys coming in and at first glance this morning...500 toys had gone over the 800 mark and the level of gratuity was coming through in every picture shared on Keysha's Facebook page.  So without further adieu, let's meet the team that made a Christmas Miracle happen for so many kids this year.  


There's nothing better. Seeing first hand how a few people come together despite all odds and most everyone throwing their hands up in the air over things and saying "we can do this".  Watching people build community, share their passion, build up one another and make sure that some of the rights of childhood are not lost in the whirlwind of a temporary crisis.  Simply put, we're standing here in awe of the accomplishment and we're again standing in awe of the way the people of Muskegon never ever fail each other.  We are truly blessed to be who we are, where we are and in a time that we all share.  Our many thanks to Keysha, Tina, Willie and Shawanna for keeping that Christmas Spirit alive for all of us. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

500 Toys for Christmas - Keysha McClanahan and Friends Are Out to Make the Holidays Brighter

 

What a year.  No matter how we look back on 2020 in the future "remarkable" will have to be one of the words that gets kicked around.  From the problems we've had with the pandemic to how we've struggled with dealing with it, our political differences, our unsure futures, who we've lost, what we've lost and why....this will be etched in our minds.  It's been over 100 years since such times and let's hope that in the next 100 we remember better.  



Of course too, there have been those who've left another memory.  There are those who have risen above.  There are those who have carried on.  There are those who did more with less and gave all they had because that's what was needed.  We have seen champions on every level.  We have seen amazing acts of selflessness and we all know those who have quietly done things for friends and neighbors who will never get any credit, recognition or praise.  They did what is right, because it's the right thing to do and that was all they needed.  Big or small, humanity has certainly risen to the occasion and in our world, it's finding those who preserver and continue to offer the assurance that no matter what comes along, in the end, we will indeed be ok.

This is the story of Keysha McClanahan and her group of friends who have decided that with the holidays so rapidly approaching, that they'd set a goal of gathering up 500 toys to be distributed to kids who have equally been through the ringer in 2020.  Those who's parents may have to focus more on food and rent rather than toys and games.  It's kind of the story every year for some, we all know that.  The world isn't perfect after all, but this year it's these acts of kindness that really need a spotlight.  

Keysha is a preschool teacher at  Glenside she's also part of The Deborah Project supporting single mothers, self described she's a "pastors wife, mother, granny author and educator and the organizations she's with see the need in real time, day after day and it's so very real.  Recently, there was a "Trunk or Treat" event that they held with much success and it inspired Keysha and friends to give it another shot to see if it can be built upon as Christmas approaches.  The goal?  500 new, unwrapped toys to provide to some of the moms and families that they reach to help them out in a time when it's needed most.  They are frontline helpers with those in need.  They are not a giant agency.  They are friends and neighbors who have come together to bless who they can and they represent exactly how community is built.

How can you help?  Well, it's pretty easy.  There are a couple of drop off locations.  Emmanuel Tabernacle at 1885 S. Getty is a drop off location as well as Soul Filled Eatery located at 3232 S. Glade Street.  It just so happens that Keysha's husband is the Pastor at Emmanuel Tabernacle so that made it pretty easy for a drop off point.  Just added drop off locations are MOCAP, Genesis Salon and DVG Beauty Boutique.  You can also find some contact info in the photo below if you'd like to make arrangements for maybe a pick up from a work collection.  How about that for an office or shop project this year?  A great way to help.

Keysha was able to spare a few minutes to talk with us about all she's got going on and share her and her friends desire to make a difference, take a listen. 


This is what builds Muskegon.  Piece by piece and little by little we set ourselves a part by making sure that needs are met.  It doesn't often come with a lot of fanfare or pomp and circumstance.  It's also not the kind of thing that rips your attention for headlines but this is the memory we should all take away from the year that was.  No matter the strife, no matter the fear, no matter the stare downs we had or the times we walked away not on speaking terms....there were those who still assured that the needs were met.  They did it humbly.  They did it for others.  They did it because it was the right thing to do and it's our greatest honor to once again, be able to shine a little light on those who step it up and make it happen.  We live in a town of miracles, and you're watching one unfold now. 



Monday, November 9, 2020

Overcoming Barriers Inc - Meet Kaja Thornton-Hunter

 

Our travels have taken us to so many incredible places and we've had the opportunity to meet some awesome people.  It seems a little crazy to look back to when all of this started with a GoPro Camera and this very free blog program, but when you stick to what you believe in and let those beliefs guide you, at least we've found, the stories that need to be told come to find you.  Well, that happened today while we were out filming for the Muskegon Channel.



Our amazing guest chef LaKisha Harris invited a friend along for a segment to add a little creole zip to a dish, Kaja Thornton-Hunter who's line of seasonings is catching on and quite often featured in L'Soul Filled recipes, and while we were in between a couple of takes and something was cooking, I asked Kaja if she worked elsewhere to go along with the start up and this is where our story begins today.

At 18 Kaja started he working life in a group home.  Working with special needs people who may have a mental or developmental disability and learned at a very young age just what a rewarding and valuable path she was heading down.  After all, she was heading in to the family business so it wasn't a completely new experience, but like any upstart there are ropes to be learned and the finesse of the day to day to warp your arms around.  Off to college she went where she also learned a little about what you'll see coming up on The Muskegon Channel.  

Overcoming Barriers Inc On FB

Spending some of her time working for HGA Support Services and Health West after school, when the opportunity came for her to take over the family business, she was ready.  Today, Kaja is the Founder and CEO of Overcoming Barriers Inc. in Muskegon Heights.  It's a non profit organization that helps those with disabilities find happiness in their home, their personal relationships, and be contributing members of the community.  They have 5 residential homes for adult foster care where they can help with some things as much as possible while encouraging as much independence as possible.  They have an independent living program which is tailor fit to every individual to access vocational, educational and recreational opportunities and they also have a skill building program where the match up mentors with those they serve to help share knowledge and a little understanding which not only helps with soft skills, it enriches the lives of both the mentor and mentee as we all work toward more ways of "together".  

As the smells of the recipes coming together swirled in the air, and we had another quick few minutes to visit, I figured it best everyone gets to know this incredible woman and hear more about her passion, those she and her staff serve and see first hand that there truly are miracles in action right here, and right now in Muskegon Heights and all of our surrounding communities.  Take a few minutes and learn about Overcoming Barriers with Kaja Thornton-Hunter.   


Amazing how life leads you where you need to be next.  We are always just amazed by the kind of work Kaja and her staff at Overcoming Barriers Inc does.  Helping those who are looking for no more than what we all have is truly the highest form of work that can be done and as we spoke in the video, the rewards are beyond measure.  Lucky for us, we've found yet another amazing organization to brag up here in town.  We've got another incredible cause to help champion and we've been given the ability yet again to show you the beauty of humanity when it comes to what's really important and that's our ability to show love, compassion and care.  Tune in tomorrow on the Muskegon Channel for the food...you will NOT be sorry there either.  :)  Our many thanks to Kaja for spending a few more minutes with us today to talk about her passion.  To learn more, click below.