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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Our Parks Initiative in Muskegon

 

Going back to our very beginnings of this blog which has grown to become so much to so many is always the most satisfying experience.  If you remember, we began with only a GoPro camera and and this free Blogger program from Google because it was all we could afford.  We really didn't even have a proper direction at first until we realized through Andrea Rosema and her gang of merry makers that we could build and grow people by simply giving them a platform.  It seems to have worked.



It's still an honor beyond imagination when we find groups that are taking the bull by the horns to meet challenges that their neighborhoods are faced with.  We have found challenges in every corner of the county.  While they might be unique to a neighborhood depending on the location, they are common in the fact that we all share issues and concerns and it's in the knowledge of what's happening here or there that we can build and grow as a community.  So where you might not think that what's happening in Norton Shores has no effect on what's going on in Egelston, it's simply the furthest thing from the truth.  We are all unique to our neighborhoods, but we are one when it comes to Muskegon.  We have a lot to be proud of as one.  So, with that reflection let's move on to todays' story.  


Join Our Parks on Facebook

The Our Parks Initiative in Muskegon is a group coming together to improve the grounds and the experiences of our kids in what's offered in the parks with both equipment and programming.  It's a project that's been in the works for a couple years on the East side of town and of course, like everything everywhere when the pandemic hit, it got slowed way down but never went away because of the beliefs of the people organizing it and the purpose in which they are working to improve the quality of life for younger people and families who want to utilize the parks.  It's not only their purpose to beautify and improve the parks, but to help bring back some of the togetherness that they remember as a kid when everything seemed to circle around the park, the ball game and the friends and neighbors all keeping up with one another. As we've grown into an age where anyone can be face to face digitally, it's truly needed for people to come together and talk minus the ability to communicate through a keyboard and harkening back to a simpler time once in a while...well, there's an awful lot of good that can come of that for kids along with all the modern conveniences.

There's been some fundraising going on.  Real boots on the ground stuff.  Can drives, some business have contributed to the beginnings of things.  A group of volunteers are handling the work as it comes and trying to recruit others.  One area where the modern things meet the traditional sense of neighborhood togetherness is working in tandem well is the use of social media.  The Our Parks Initiative has been very good at recruiting through Facebook and as awareness grows, so too will the efforts.  While focused on the East side of things in town now, they hope one day too to be able to extend that into other areas that need help and where they find people who don't mind getting a little dirty in the renovation of a park that adds so much to their neighborhood.

I met up with the group organizer Pete Mosher and one of his committee members Darcie Pace at the Dog House Saloon on their patio to learn a little more about the work and purpose, take a listen.   


This is how we grow as a community and how we work together to find a solution.  All it takes is the spark of an idea to get the ball rolling and a little elbow grease to find others who are looking for a chance to get in on it.  In the process, a lot of things happen.  We find new community organizers.  Those who pitch in find a purpose.  Those who benefit might not notice right off the bat at how something has changed for the better, but in time, they will see by example what a group like the Our Parks Initiative has begun and maybe they too will find a mission and repeat the steps taken here.  The is the fabric of Muskegon and this is why we love highlighting the amazing work of others!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Meet James Coffee - A Man With a Strong Message From Within

 

Life for any of us brings change.  For some of us change happens when least expected and for others, change comes with age, experience and some trial and error.  It's the one constant for everyone this thing called change....and there's no avoiding it.  It's how we make use of that change and where we take it when it happens that matters and in the case of James Coffee of Muskegon, that change is being spoken loudly to hopefully help others on their path.





James is a Muskegon guy, born and bred, his life has taken him all over though.  Places like Flint, Detroit. Cleveland and more.  He's gone to his fair share of "tough city's" and he's gone through some "dark times" like most any of us.  While elusive on the "dark times" to a degree, which is perfectly ok, the message today is pretty clear that no matter the circumstance that got James where he is today, a remarkable transformation has taken place within him and he's taken to a unique way of sharing what's happened by using his internal thoughts as a message to other young men and hopefully, his message of being broken and retuning to hope resonates. 

Mirror Talk Vission on Facebook

Mirror Talk Vission is what James shares with the world.  He finds places that others "don't dare to go" and he speaks to himself on camera about the real world situations that are being faced.  Guns, drugs, gangs, killings....they are very real not only here in Muskegon but anywhere.  Through James discussions with himself as if he's looking in a mirror, he's discussing consequences, reality and the overly frightening thought of the loss of young people who have really not even been given a chance to let life begin yet.  It's done in the hopes that if just one young person hears the message and walks away from the choices they face when it comes to their involvement with gangs and greed....it's a life saved and that's a step in the right direction.  James' talks on social media are very candid, they are very honest and to the point and they are a resonating cry to youth to stop the senselessness of violence that plagues parts of any community.


We met up in Rowan Park in Muskegon Heights to hear a little more about James story and why he's out there crusading to help others and dig themselves out of a situation before they can no longer.  Take a listen to this passionate young man and his desire to being change.  


We all come to crossroads in life.  We all take dramatic turns and we too all can pick and choose what to do with those changes as they come.  With James, it's a quest to share his life experiences to younger people and help them avoid some mistakes that can be made along the way, and there's not only his past experience that leads into this, he's got others very close being effected directly.  Change is seemingly difficult.  Change for some is impossible and to others it's an insurmountable task...such a hill to climb, most don't even try.  James, is trying.  It's the efforts on one that can lead to change and if that work leads to the safe harbor for one other individual, it's a mission that was on task.  I invite you to follow James and learn more about his message.  Click on James photo above to follow him on Facebook. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Muskegon Area Nurse Honor Guard - A New Way to Remember Those Who Have Served

 

We've been through a lot and we've seen things that we'd never imagined both in real life and on the news.  What were here talking about today transcends any of the current struggles we have seen and is coming to Muskegon County through a group of volunteers who saw the need individually and then as they made inquires, found out they were not alone in what they were trying to get started.  A way to remember those who took the nursing oath, that lasts a lifetime.  





It stems back to the Nightingale Pledge that nurses take and it reads like this - " I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug."  This is a lifetime commitment and coming from a household where my mom and aunt were nurses as were most of their friends, they don't take this lightly.  Dr's take the Hippocratic Oath, this is the nurses equivalent.  It's a life dedicated to hard work, in difficult circumstances and quite often working with people at their most vulnerable moment.  We've all seen the optics over the last year one way or another, and if you've never had the good fortune of being in the care of a nurse, 1) count your blessings and 2) trust me when I tell you, it's no job for the faint hearted.

Well, from that lifelong commitment, when a nurse comes to the end of their life, there's an Honor Guard who attend the services to remember and revere them for their work and care given to others.  There are groups all over the country and the Grand Rapids chapter tried to get to Muskegon when called upon in the past, but as it's working out, those few who had it in the back of their mind here in town have come together to form their own Muskegon chapter and we're all about that.  It's proof once again that in Muskegon, we ALWAYS find a way.  This group is not affiliated with any one health system or Dr's practice, this is all on their own time much like an Honor Guard for Military or Police and their time and dedication is given out of love and respect to their fallen brothers and sisters at the end of their watch. 


Kimberlee Mason is a nurse here in the area.  She's also a teacher at MCC for their nursing program and she brought this new group to my attention so we could help spread the word for her on both their seeking new nurse members as well as maybe some that could help cover some of the minimal costs for the items of honor and remembrance that are given to the family of the nurse they are there to honor.  I am going to tell you up front, that I got a pretty substantial lump in my throat while we talked, and you might too.  Take a listen. 





It's a life not cut out for most and those who do go into nursing, there is so much needed by way of giving them thanks for all they do under the pressure and conditions they work in.  The day to day of life comes and goes for most of us, and that's the way it's sposed to be, but think of the immediate action, compassion and care you find the minute you need a nurse in their full capacity.  They really are front line protectors and we are incredibly lucky to have them there for our care when we need them.  To learn more about the Muskegon Area Nurse Honor Guard please click on the image below to visit their Facebook page to join them or help if you can.



Friday, May 21, 2021

Relay for Life 2021 June 5th - Kasey Rose

 

As the restrictions start to come up a little and we start to feel a little sense of "normal" those that have turned everything in to "virtual" events compared to what was known in the past over the course of the pandemic are really filled with excitement that their missions can get back under way.  It's not just because the too felt stuck and out of control like most everyone else did, their involvement with these causes is deeply seeded and they do them for purpose, not profit.



Such is the case with Kasey Rose who's been a part of the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society for quite some time now. Cancer has effected Kasey like it has so many of us over the years going back to when she was young and lost a grandparent to a form of cancer that today, when caught early enough is fairly easy to treat.  From there, a continuation of loss up to recently when her friend Stephanie lost her fight at a really young age.  Kasey has been motivated by wanting to do something, anything so that no one has to endure what she did and spearheading the Muskegon Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society has been an big part of just that.   

Click Here for
Relay for Life Muskegon

Last year, like almost anything, Relay had to work on adaptation to help with the cause.  It was a virtual event where people participated on their own to do their part and as far as virtual events go, some help was there.  This year, like anything else, plans change quick and things are on the move to opening up again so as events and festivals try to figure out what's to come, Relay had to do just that and even though the big 24 hour walk couldn't come together due to the lack of ability to plan ahead, a couple of really awesome events are happening on June 5th that will be safe, beautiful and a great way to remember and pay tribute to those who have fought and those who survive cancer.

Early on in the day, Mona Shores HS will hold a Survivor Parade from 1-3 where survivors can come through to be acknowledged and receive a little gift.  Then, in the evening things move down to the beautiful Hackley Park where a luminaria display will be held from 9:30-11:30 and the park will be lit up in remembrance.  It should be a beautiful night of remembering, maybe a few tears and hopefully a little hope and laughter too as we do what we do best in Muskegon and that's come together.

Speaking of coming together, Kasey and I did just that at Hackley Park today to talk about this years event which is a step back toward 100% normal, and she assures me that by next Summer, it will be, so take a listen to out chat and learn more about how you can participate.   


Kasey is an amazing organizer and strong advocate for those who fight and those who have gone on.  Her passion is in awareness, advocacy and prevention through the American Cancer Society and while the 24 hour marathon isn't quite ready for 2021, you can bet they will squeeze all they can out of it and in 2022....we'll be right back at Kasey's side again to help spread the word.

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.