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Shon Cook Law Offices in Whitehall

Shon Cook Law Offices in Whitehall
The Good Witch of the Law

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Lakes Community Garden - Extreme Generosity For Muskegon

As I drove off and the line was forming, I overheard "Is there anything someone needs today...anything specific that anyone needs?"  Been that way for years at the corner of Evanston and Mill Iron in Muskegon at the expansive and lush Community Garden that sits just outside the Connection Point Church.  It's not only filled with the bounty of all things Michigan in the Summer, it's all free to anyone who needs it.

The humble beginnings sprang from the idea that Terry Luce had one day.  It seemed there was a seldom used ball field on the church property and he'd tug at the pastor once in a while and say how good a garden would look there.  Well, Terry was in the same boat as many of us have been when it "took root".  He got downsized and went back to the pastor and said.... "Well, I have plenty of time now", and so it began.

Soil got tilled up, seeds were planted and a garden grew.  Not all together out of the ordinary, but the mission behind the garden...that's where things get good.  Those first few seeds were way more than plants.  They were the seeds of an amazing outreach that's been going on ever since.  11 years of providing fresh locally grown veggies for anyone who needs them.  It's simply an extension of their belief in taking care of community, friends and neighbors who might be in need and being able to provide for them in ways that take more time and love than just a cash donation.

Provide?  Do they ever.  Out of the garden hundreds of zucchini's, bushels of beans, peppers of all kinds, cucumbers, squash, broccoli, corn, tomatoes, cantaloupe, cabbage, kale, onions....what was once that desolate ball field is now the plot where anyone can come and find what they need, free of charge beginning at 11a every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday while the picking is good.  There's a magnificent stand where you won't find so much as a donation jar because they don't want anyone there to feel the pressure to match what someone else might have given.  The one thing you won't find?  Your way into the garden itself, unless of course you're one of the volunteers that helps tend it.  The preservation of the garden is best kept to them and their work is to be commended.

It was a second trip for me out to the garden to film the story.  As it turned out last week, I got there to film...and blew it.  Yep.  Plugged the mic into the wrong input on the camera but I found Terry Luce, Church Pastor Aaron Gregory and Rich Mitchell all very forgiving and we talked again about the passion for people and the desire to give grace with no expectation of return through their work.  Take a listen.

Can you imagine a world if we all just put in half of what happens here?   We're always so proud, an so humbled to show the good deeds that go on in Muskegon and our surrounding areas, but it really tugs at the heart strings when those good deeds are done of the sweat and labor of a few for the good of so many.  This is truly what makes Muskegon so incredible...these people represent the greatness that is our story in any time, and especially our times now.  Giant endowments are awesome and all the grants in the world are amazing, but quietly and humbly...the work of giants goes on too without much fanfare and it's truly a gift of the heart.  Our most sincere thanks to the crew at The Lakes Community Garden. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Local Mom Amber Horton Develops Sensory Kit for First Responders Handling Autism Calls

It's a fairly well known fact that when presented with a challenge for her kids, there's no greater force in the world than a mother.  That's amplified 10 fold when those kids have a bit more of a challenge in life like say Autism and if you mix in some real life experience on the mom's part and her ability to see that something is missing in essential services that could effect her job and her child....get out of the way and let the solution happen.

This is the story of Amber Horton who's an EMT at Pro Med here in town.  Amber is one of the front line workers we're all in awe of every time they have to come in to a desperate situation and somehow keep it all together in a moment of chaos in peoples lives and help them find a solution.  Her work has put her in about every unimaginable situation you can think of.  The life of an EMT is difficult and there's never much time for pleasantries and nice introductions when she meets most people.  It's more often than not a crisis situation and she's got one thing to do, stabilize things, assure people and get them in to the care of the hospital as quickly as possible.  In Amber's situation though, she's found a hole that needed to be filled when it came to helping someone.  What if the person they are responding to has Autism and is unable to communicate what's going on?

Visit Pro Med Online 
Inspired by her 5 year old son, who's on the Autism Spectrum and working on his vocabulary still,  Amber thought of the entire process of her work coming into the life of someone like her son.  Autism quite often sees things like noise, confusion, lights and more as "sensory overload".  Too much of what's not normal can trigger things like shutting down or running away to find a safe space.  So too can be the immediate influx of people that are new to someone with Autism.  Firefighters, EMT's, Police all might be on the scene along with parents and neighbors, maybe onlookers if it's an accident...a chaotic scene to some can become an absolutely unmanageable situation to others and without the ability to communicate what the problem is...things can go from bad to worse quick. 

Amber has created a kit that can be carried with all First Responders.  It's got things in it to help someone who's overwhelmed at the moment be able to communicate what they are feeling through simple picture language.  Imagine a picture of a person pointing to their stomach to express stomach pain, or maybe a person holding their head to indicate head pain.  It's all in a small book that can be easily shown and communicated with.  How about the loud sounds?  Sirens, people talking, machines making beeping noises and on and on.  There are some noise cancelling headphones included.  Too bright, how about some super cool shades?  They are in there.  Calming gadgets to take the mind off what's happening and most importantly, with the kit, will come the training for all of out first responder community, which might ask them to set aside most of what they have learned in a crisis response situation and adapt to help the Autistic person.  Amber also stresses the importance of Smart 9-1-1 when if a call is placed to 9-1-1, they will know in advance of a situation at a home and be able to respond accordingly. 

Leave it to a mom to get things right for her child and watch the ripple effect.  I met up with Amber at Pro Med in Muskegon.  Nice shady spot under a pavilion with 6 foot picnic tables to keep out distance and she told me how it all came about.  Take a listen.

A mothers love is set to go to the moon and back on this one my friends.  Amber's ability to see a necessity and develop a way to help others like her son, as well as other like her colleagues in the first responder field is going to have a deep and lasting impact for a lot of people.  This is an idea born of necessity and will grow out of purpose and love and it's starting right here in Muskegon.  As Amber mentioned....stay tuned for one of the events her husband puts on where kids can get up close and personal with the trucks and tools needed in the first responder world.  We've found some local hero's folks.  It's what we love best. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Taking Back Muskegon - Meet Michelle Tyson Who's Got The Future of Our Kids in Mind

It's always one of the greatest things we do to come across those who make the decision that it's time to do "something" no matter what that "something" might be.  If you're wondering if we have any experience in the field, take a trip back to 2015 when Andrea Rosema told us about "Giving Back Christmas".  Not only did her idea to do "something" take hold and grow, it set the pace for everything this blog and ideal would become.   Well, Michelle Tyson is making it happen again.

Michelle sent in a post request to the Facebook group promoting a "Royal Family Photo Contest" and like any other post, it goes into hold until someone can take a look at make sure it's not some ad for free sunglasses or the latest junk post from some clown trying to steal your data.  We curate the group pretty heavily to protect what gets on and make sure that it's relevant and free of the typical internet trash you see everywhere else.  We often too will ask who posts a little more if it's an intriguing post and seek to learn a little more and if it fits, good...if not...we explain the group rules.
Follow Taking Back Muskegon on FB and Enter the Photo Contest!!

In talking to Michelle briefly, I asked about the contest and a little more abut her purpose.  She explained that before the COVID stuff, she and a circle of friends began a grass roots effort to help support the kids in her area by hosting some events, offering a safe space fight crime and give kids at an early age the thought that street life might look glamorous on TV, but the reality of it is, it's not.  It's a game of smoke and mirrors and the end result for those who get pulled into it, is a cycle that needs to stop.  So, like any other small group of folks who start off with a dream, it's been elbow grease, grit, drive and determination to get things going, maybe raise a few bucks to find a place to call home and then expand their centers over time.  In comes the COVID shut down and everything gets put on hold.

As things begin to open up again, however, that desire to make change happen continues to grow and a couple months of staying home and staying safe are not going to stop Michelle and crew.  While we were not aware of when things would begin to open up, to keep some awareness happening, they came up with the "Royal Family Photo Contest" which you can enter through their Facebook page to the right.  Why not get the family gussied up and looking good for a picture?  Probably better than the stretchy pants and robe everyone's been wearing around the house, right?  A fun thing to do as a family and a great way to draw a little attention to the cause.  Offer up a prize?  Who wouldn't love a cash prize?  Then start to tell your story.  Open that channel of communication with others and let the good word spread and let them see that when you're pushing to make something happen, there's bound to be someone else who's gonna come along and push too.

It snuck up on ya didn't it?  Michelle is building community.  She's a modern day hero and she's said that any difference, is a big difference....and it's up to her to make it, even if it's just in the life of one other person.

I dropped by to see Michelle in the City of Friendly People and learn a little more.  Take a listen to our chat on the corner!

Imagine if we all took that one moment to follow that divine spark?  That little voice in your head that says - "Do something about it!".  Michelle did that and in time, her following that voice will lead to a life changed forever.  It might be one....but that's a legacy and much like Andrea starting a Christmas event for kids, Michelle is starting her own journey and to be here to watch it grow...and help her with that....that's what it's all about at Positively Muskegon.  Michelle, we're here for you!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Lighthouse for Veterans Heykoop Car Show Becomes a Cruise in 2020 on the 4th of July at Mart Dock

It's a year of adaptation and improvisation.  Lot's of things have a different spin on them and some things have had to pull the plug because the whole idea of social distancing and safety is kind of impossible for some events.  While the Stay Home order is a thing of the past, the message of proceed with caution holds true and when we first heard "The New Normal" we didn't really know what that meant, but it's becoming more clear, it means some adjustments for everyone.

That's not to say that the world has come to a screeching halt.  Not in the least.  Some events have had to make some modifications and to continue on for the purpose they do, those modifications are so very important because the work that goes on....it's really important too.  Such is the case with Lighthouse for Veterans.  Started by Natasha Heykoop and her family after the tragic loss of her brother to suicide, Lighthouse for Veterans is an organization that provides retreats for Veterans so they can work through some of the issues they face among peers who may experience some of the same problems they do.  It's a unique situation to them as they often feel isolated and that no one understands other than those who have served as well.  Lighthouse also provides community education.  Helping others understand what to look for when it comes to signs that someone may be giving that they are suicidal and how to help them seek the help they need.  Sadly, funeral expenses.  If a Veteran falls victim to suicide, often the family has to deal with the cost of the funeral as well as the immense cost of the loss of a loved one.  Finally, awareness.  Lighthouse works to share the message that we lose Veterans daily and the Veteran suicide won't just magically go away someday.

Click Here for Details on the Heykoop Memorial Cruise
4 years ago, we began to tell the story of Natasha and her desire to do a little something.  We were in a freshly cut field off Getty and Airline which was the spot they found to get things started.  It was a launch with a few friends and family members, some car owners that caught wind of what was happening and even a little picnic table with some pot luck food on it and a handful of raffle prizes.  Now, just 3 short years later, the even has grown to need a little bigger space.  You'll find this years even once again at the Mart Dock in Downtown Muskegon for the kick off on Saturday July 4th.  Yes, a car cruise on the 4th of July to help Veterans is exactly as patriotic as it sounds and yes, you really outta be there.

While in years past, it's been a car show, this year...it's going to be a cruise with the line up starting in the morning and the cruise hitting a few destinations with a return back to Mart Dock in early to mid afternoon.  Logistics are going to be a little different and patience will be greatly appreciated, however there will be time for the public to see some of the great items up for raffle or get some event merch to help support the cause once the cruise takes off.  There will be refreshments and fun for those cruising and when they come back to Mart Dock, prizes will be given out.

As always, I got my annual visit with Natasha Heykoop to hear about the event, the modifications and of course the purpose.  And, as always it's just amazing to me to watch something so incredible take hold in place of such a tragedy.  Take a listen to our chat and start polishing up the car for the 4th of July!!  It's going to be epic!

Hope the Turtle Wax in the garage isn't all hardened and dried out.  The cruise will be awesome of course, but the purpose is so much more.  What Natasha and her group have built out of the ashes is amazing and they are to be commended and supported for what they have accomplished and continue to do even when the times throw them a serious curve ball.  Take a few minutes and visit their website and help support the work they do to prevent Veteran suicide and advocate that we all know more about the signs and what we can do to help.  It's our great pleasure to watch such things grow right here in Muskegon.  July 4th...enjoy the cruise!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Mom On a Mission - Meet Jessie Wilde Emerging Media in Muskegon

Wasn't so long ago, there was this guy who had the idea that maybe starting a blog in Muskegon talking about good people, who do something that has a beneficial impact for our community got his start and, from there, things kind of grew.  It was a pretty simple idea really, backed up by a GoPro camera and a free blog program, and it all kind of grew from there.  The important thing though, is though that while you grow, you don't forget where you started or that others might follow.

I'm a firm believer in not only watching others blossom and grow, but helping them along if the opportunity is there.  One of the things I disliked the most about the end of the "traditional media" days, was the lack of anyone coming looking for a job.  In fact, the last two years I was on the FM radio, there wasn't a single applicant trying to get in the business.  Between market consolidation and the slow decay of a once vibrant medium and economic driver, no one wanted to come learn what I was doing.  It was pretty sad, because I had incredible mentors that made sure I knew more than any college could ever teach me.  I am no "shove it down your throat" teacher, but to pass along some advice and nuance once in a while....it's how wisdom moves.  I keep my eyes open and will introduce myself when I think I see some promise, and you know what?  I think I see a LOT of it.

Follow WildeJessie on Facebook for Her Live Events
Meet Jessie Wilde.  Jessie is a "Mom On a Mission".  Jessie is multi-faceted in her life and work.  She helps run My Space Office and Storage on Getty Street in Muskegon.  She's the Founder of WildeJessie Business Consulting and in her newly emerging endeavor, she's taken to the digital world to speak to young women about challenges they face and how they can share some knowledge and experience among themselves to not only show that they are not alone in the day to day of life, but...that the situations they face are probably not unique and that there are others too who deal with the same and resources for answers.

Jessie works on the Facebook Live platform at the moment.  The humblest of beginnings like we all have.  She's right out of her house on Thursday evenings and features a guest who's got some real world experience on any number of topics and with the use of the comment section of the Facebook platform, she's able to take question in real time and see if there can be an answer right there.  She also features some giveaway's on the discussion.  A way to not only help get the name of some smaller local business out there, but to give those mom's a chance to win a little something and add a little fun to the show.  She got all this going with just an idea of "How can I add to our community, and what does it take from me?"  It's that kind of innovation we love to applaud and help support.

Had a chance to talk to this incredibly energetic mother of 5, take a listen!! 

Get the feeling you're watching a star launching? Ya. Here too!  Join Jessie for the fun of one of her live chats on a Thursday if you are a mom on a mission too, or maybe you're a mom that can add to the conversation.  One thing is for sure, Jessie has the right attitude and drive and sure seems to grasp the idea that using media, talent and drive to benefit everyone, including herself a little is what it's all about in a town like Muskegon.  Very thankful to Jessie for her time and very excited to watch her grow.  There will come a day when we say.... "Ya, we had her on Positively Muskegon once." and that is what building people and community is all about.  To visit her website, click on the photo below.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Fillets for Families - Help The Fish Monger's Wife Help Area Food Pantries

Muskegon finds a way.  No matter the circumstance, Muskegon always finds a way to take care of our own as well as some of the surrounding communities when it comes to times of need.  It might be a benefit for an individual or group, it might be a benefit for a cause, it might be a benefit for a large amount of people you'll never see or meet.  If the need is there somehow, we manage.  In our lifetime, we've never seen need on such a scale, but little by little, we're all still finding our way.

Enter a small business.  Smallest you could possibly get as seen by some.  The Fishmonger's Wife located on Sherman on Norton Shores.  Most of the year, it's just a husband and wife team running the place.  They ramp up in the Summer of course to meet demand adding some help to take care of the customers at the counter as well as the growing online business they added a couple years ago.  None the less, it's a micro enterprise and like any other small business, faced with everything we're facing now, an uncertain future when things were put on hold for a while.  They were very fortunate in the fact that they do operate an essential business, providing food, and that they were able to stay open and that's something that the Peterson family is not taking for granted and not forgetting others with through all this.
The Fish Monger's Wife on Facebook

The Fish Monger's Wife actually saw somewhat of a spike in business.  Adaptation was essential of course.  They had to shutter the friendly store front and find a way to deliver their freshly caught food in a contact free way.  The removal of a screen from the fresh fish processing area seemed to cover that necessity pretty quickly.  Kids home from school?  There's the lobby of the store.  This is what we have to do for now kids.  Taking card payments with the Ipad while customers read the number to them from the car, utilizing that web store a little more, temporary adjustments to keep people fed and keep things moving until they can once again open up to full service.

Through that, how do we pitch in?  Well, there's a pretty loyal customer base of their store.  There is also an abundance of fish coming from not only their fleet, but others out fishing too, so...the idea come up to sell some of that fish to their regulars, but...it would go to area food pantries to help make sure that in a time when others have not...especially those who are finding themselves in need for the first time..there's a supply waiting for them. Beneficial not only for those in need, but a couple other small business as well.  Keeping product moving, pantries full and hopefully, the worry and fear about where the next meal is coming from to a minimum for some.

We linked up with The Fish Monger's Wife herself to find out more.  We also talked a little about her small business, supporting other local small agricultural business and how you can help if you are so inclined to be a part of "Fillets for Families".  Take a listen.

Refreshing to hear some success in a business that's translated into a willingness to help others.  If you are a regular customer of The Fish Monger's Wife, you know the quality and service they put in to everything they do.  If you're not, might be a good time to try.  If you just want to help in a couple of ways, here's your chance.  You can click on the photo below to visit the site where the drive is happening!!  Cheers to the Peterson's for a great story, and a great cause when we need it most.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Volunteer Week in the USA - Brian Harris Talks About Volunteering in Muskegon

If you've been around town a while, you might know the face you'll see in today's video.  If you don't recognize the face, you'll certainly know some of the work he's been a part of over the years.  Brain Harris retired from the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department a few years ago, and in his "retirement" has gone on to work part time for the Norton Shores Police Department as well as Emergency Services here in town.

When he's not at one of those jobs, chances are you'll find Brian volunteering in some capacity.  Brian has his hands in a LOT of projects here in town that help a variety of needs.  He's passionate about organizations that help first responders as you can imagine.  He's also like a lot of other police officers, a pretty tender heart under it all and makes sure that a lot of organizations that help human need and especially kids out with their causes.  They range from the Fraternal Order of Police, to Kids Food Basket, Sportsmen for Youth and more.  Brian and his wife Tracy spend a lot of time investing in making life better for all of us through volunteering.

In Muskegon, we're kind of all used to volunteering.  We are resilient in the fact that we have to stick together at things to get stuff done.  There are organizations big and small who simply couldn't make it without the help of volunteers.  It might be a role out front helping at a festival or an expo, or it could be a role behind the scenes where your work goes on without much fanfare and you do your part without a whole lot of recognition.  Either way, it shouldn't be about the recognition or who's seeing you doing what you're doing, it should be about what matters to you and while you might not be able to contribute in ways that will get your name on a building or a street named after you, you take away the personal satisfaction that you did your part for what matters.

National Volunteer Week first came on the scene in the USA in 1974.  American's were asked to seek an opportunity to volunteer and in turn for communities to recognize the incredible amount of work that gets done by those who believe in the causes they help and reasons they do.   Today, even in the times we're experiencing now, there are plenty opportunities to do your part.  Food banks, human need organizations, churches, organizations like The United Way, Senior Resources and more need a hand now more than ever and it could be a great way for you to find some inspiration in the middle of a lot of desperation.  Certainly a great way to see the hope that comes from giving a little of yourself to help those in need.

Brian and I sat down for a chat to learn a little more about the volunteer experience.  Take a listen to his thoughts on what he's done over the years.  How he's grown from all he's learned and who he thinks are some organizations that would really benefit from you lending a hand when it matters most....right now.

Take the first step. No matter what your passion is, there's a need to be filled.  If it's people.  Some are going hungry.  If it's education, there are folks who can't read.  Is it pets?  There's an animal shelter that's filled with furries looking for forever homes.  How about the environment?  What better time to see what you can to to protect Earth?  It only takes that first step, it's a step for the greater good and it's a step that if taken, can benefit all.  There are some links below to follow for volunteer opportunities in Muskegon.  Follow your heart, and follow them.