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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The 2016 Chef Prize at Hampton Green Farm - September 11th

Last year, a first time event popped up on the Lakeshore which tickled the fancy of foodies form all over the area called Chef Prize.  Hosted at the beautiful Hampton Green Farm in Fruitport, Chef Prize brought in chef's, restaurants and dishes from all over the area as well as people who can't get enough of unique recipes, fun items to try...some tasty wine and beer, all served in the setting of an amazing working farm.  Despite the cool temps and drizzle that day, it was enough fun to do it again.

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This year Chef Prize is hosted by the West Michigan Spartans and there are going to be plenty of things to see, so and eat!!  You'll see the beauty of the Hampton Green Farm and the magnificent PRE Horses they raise...there will be classic cars, ice sculptors, and since it's MSU, Sparty will be on hand for you to get that photo you've always wanted with the world famous Spartan mascot.

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Restaurants participating this year?  Honey Creek Inn, Trattoria Amore, Arboreal Inn, Vander Mills, Village Baker, Grand Haven Brew House, Patricia's Chocolates, Lemon Creek Winery, Arturro's Tacos, The Lake House, 4 Seasons Gastro Pub, Hearthstone, Curry Kitchen, Snug Harbor, Bella Maria's, The Fish Mongers Wife, Fricano's, Muskegon Holiday Inn, Old Boys Brew Pub, Blueberry Haven, Tabor Hill, Pigeon Hill, Always Sunny Cupcakes, The Hearthstone, and more to be added!!

It's a huge event and it's a great time to not only sample some of the best eats around but to take in some cooking seminars...stroll a silent auction, the classic car show and of course...enjoy some wonderfully crafted beers and wines!  I was able to catch up with Joan Mack from Hampton Green Farm to learn more about the event.  Take a listen to our chat below!

You got it right!!  If you're a foodie, craft beer lover....classic car fan, Spartan Alum, supporter of events in Muskegon....WHATEVER!  :)  Chef Prize is for you!!  Click on the logo below and get your tickets while you can and enjoy a day on the beautiful Hampton Green Farm.  We'll see you September 11th at Chef Prize!!

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Monday, August 29, 2016

The Truth - Honesty About Life - Coming October 13th to Muskegon's Frauenthal Theater

It's been a while since I had my last drink.  It's also been a complete 360 for me since I was given the gift of a second chance at life. With that second chance came the responsibility to give that gift away as often as possible and give it back to others freely.

I have never shied away from talking about my past.  Looking back, bout as far as I can remember, I think it was inevitable...I was going to be an addict.

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The entire story will be told on October 13th.  I have invited a couple friends to join me at the Frauenthal Center to talk about some of the pitfalls we encountered and how we were all able to recognize a second chance had been given and that it was incumbent of us to take our experiences and share them with others to help them avoid the pitfalls or....what steps they can take to begin to dig themselves out of their situations.

Andy O'Riley
Mine is the story of an alcoholic.   I was young when I couldn't sleep....I'd self medicate by sneaking out into the garage at night and drinking half a beer which would make me drowsy enough to doze off at 1-2 in the morning finally.  I drank till I was 33 and along the way, I left a path of self destruction and disappointment.  I failed myself and probably should have been fired 500 times for my work ethic.

Nate Johnson was at one point called "White Boy Nate".  He peddled crack, stole cars, caused mayhem and eventually did 12 years for his crime.  Today, Nate has an organization called 70x7 in Muskegon and he works to help others coming out of prison to re-acclimate themselves to society.

Imagine coming out of prison and not knowing anything about how society works after a long stay?  Chances are....you'd want to go back....well, with a hand, you wouldn't have to.

Nate Johnson
Anny Donewald was working her way through college as a topless dancer and she found herself in the human trafficking business before she knew it.  She worked as a high end escort and found that life in that line of work was really a trap...that she broke free from.  Now, her national organization Eve's Angels helps recuse women from the sex industry and gives them safe harbor and guidance.

Anny Donewald

Anny has a best selling book out called "Dancing for the Devil" out and speaks out about human trafficking and the serious problem that so many just like to pretend doesn't exist.  She's been on multiple talk shows, spoken to more than one governmental group trying to address the sex trafficking issues and is currently in the process of trying to secure funds to purchase a safe house, tucked away in the middle of no where to save women from a life of slavery in the sex industry.  She's a very powerful speaker and human being.

These are tough subjects to hear about.  There will be scary moments in the stories....but none of us plan on pulling any punches.  You'll hear what it took to get us backed into a corner and you'll hear how miracles got us into a position to be able to let go and let God guide us.  You'll hear how we apply the gifts and return the blessing of a new life.

This talk is good for people who wonder if they have a problem.  It's good for younger people to hear and know that there are those who are not afraid to talk about where they hit a bump in the road and how their lives are now spent trying to help others.  Mercy Health is the title sponsor and you'll find information on site at the Frauentahl on October 13th to help you connect with an agency here in town that can help you out if you're facing unexpected issues in life.  The presentation is free of charge, but...we'll be asking for some donations for both Eve's Angels as well as 70x7 the night of the talk.  There will be ticket locations coming soon as to where you can pick up what you need.

If you have a large group that would like to be accommodated CLICK HERE to e-mail Andy O'Riley and we will make arrangements to get you tickets in advance.

It's going to be a powerful night.  It's going to be very open and very honest discussion about subjects that are taboo to some....but to others.....they need to be heard so they too can find out just how wonderful life is past the problem.

We all look forward to seeing you Thursday October 13th in Muskegon at the Frauenthal Center for "The Truth" - Honesty about Life Presented By Mercy Health.  You can click on the image below for the Facebook event page.

The Truth - Event Page on Facebook

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Friday, August 26, 2016

New Faces- New Roles and a Renewed Look At The Frauenthal Center in Muskegon

The Frauenthal Center is stirring things up a little Downtown Muskegon.  There's going to be a great evening of free entertainment focusing on different areas of the incredible theater.  You'll have a chance to meet some of the new additions to the staff and see where some of your favorite people who work there now will be focusing on down the line.  They are all exciting changes and you can stroll through to see them on September 20th!

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What will you find?  Great question.  Well... In the Ballroom, the West Side Soul Surfers and a DJ from Modern Entertainment.  In the Reception Gallery you'll find an Art Exhibit "When Thoughts Become Things" and a string quartet and piano performance.  In the Frauenthal itself a Barton Organ Performance by Jim Fles.  Brandon Davis & Victory in Praise Gospel Choir, Flex and Fingers Dueling Pianos, and HDOE rounds out things with a hip hop show.  In the Beardsley Theater a spoken word performance from Diatribe and a stand up comedy show featuring Adam Degi, Nardos Eyoas and Stu McCallister.  Whew!  Can you really get all of that in the Frauenthal at once?  Yup.

Frauenthal Celebration on Facebook

There will also be complimentary light refreshments, appetizers and beverages, a cash bar, tours of the historic theater and complimentary trolley service from Downtown Muskegon Parking Lots from 5-9p.  There is a good size crowd expected so they want to make sure everyone can find a spot to park and see what there is to see!

I had a chance to catch up with one of the new faces we were talking about a little bit ago Ricki Levine is the new managing director of the Frauenthal Center.  It's a great way for you to get to meet Ricki and a chance to hear what her vision is for this historic landmark in Muskegon.  Take a listen to our chat below.

It's an essential part of Muskegon and it's your chance to come down and see what's new or maybe reflect on something you have done there or seen there in the past.  Personally, every single time I have been on the stage at the Frauenthal it's been the most incredible feeling.  Sure...I am there to say a few words before an event, but still....just off the stage...with the curtains hanging there, a quick peek out over the crowd and that moment you take the first step....it's amazing!  I'll be doing a little more than a few words in October at Mercy Health Presents "The Truth" on the 13th.  It's a story I've told before...but never in the amazing surroundings of the Frauenthal.  Hope to see you there.  You can click on the Frauenthal logo below for their complete website and upcoming schedule.

Visit the Frauenthal Website

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Walk to Remember September 3rd at Heritage Landing - Helping Those Who Have Lost a Baby in Muskegon

You know...hindsight is always 20/20.  I never had my own kids because I was afraid that my drinking problem would ruin their lives.  I am now surrounded by 6 grandkids and more than making up for it, but looking back...part of the whole experience for me that I missed is the anticipation.  The 9 months from conception that you wonder, hope, dream and pray.  I know that most just pray for 10 fingers, 10 toes...after all, a baby is a miracle waiting to happen right?

Well, to some the miracle never quite gets here...and for some others, their miracle is cut short due to the loss of a baby In Utero, at birth or shortly there after.  All those hopes....dreams and blessings that were counted ahead are gone and I can only imagine, the void left is beyond measure.  The grieving process becomes what I can only imagine is akin to sorrow,  rage, hopelessness, guilt and fear.  Something went horribly wrong and took away two people's dream and there can be little or no comfort in that.
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I have found, thru other channels in life that when you really hit bottom....when you really can't find answers or a place to turn.....that there is truly strength in numbers.  Support groups and functions are elemental for one reason.  You are able to find commonality with others who have shared or are sharing your experience.  I have become a pretty firm believer that the human species has a pretty common set of characteristics and when you open yourself up a little to hearing and seeing that you are not alone....it's a much lighter burden to bear.

Hope From a Healing Heart Online
I was sent a tip from Karen Gagnon about an event that is happening in Muskegon on September 3rd at 10:30 at Heritage Landing called "A Walk to Remember".  It's a chance for parents and families who have lost a baby to come together and remember....talk, listen and know that they are not alone.  There will be a speaker, some refreshments and some opportunities to share pictures, songs, poems...whatever is needed to help the healing process to begin.

The organizers of  "A Walk to Remember" are Chris and Melissa Near.  I had a chance to catch up with them and talk a little about the event as well as their organization and how they step in to help others in such a tragic time.  Take a listen to our chat below.

I know it's "Positively Muskegon" and that this story isn't exactly the bubbly fun stuff you are used to seeing, but....you know what?  Muskegon is FILLED with organizations like this who truly deserve the exposure.  If you can't find a hand to hold on to in Muskegon for any number of things, you really need to look a little harder.  People here are good.  People in Muskegon care about their friends and neighbors.  People in Muskegon understand loss and they are kind enough to take what they have been thru and shine a light for others to see that there is a path back to hope once again.  This is the reason I love Muskegon and it's people the way I do.  My thanks to Chris and Melissa Near for taking the time to share a little of their story and for them to lead the way for others!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bikers Bulls and BBQ at Laketon Bethel Reformed Church August 27th in Muskegon

The email came in and I quote - "The purpose of this event is to show our community what Laketon Bethel Reformed Church is all about - acceptance with a strong desire to connect and grow with Christ and to be all inclusive as we form relationships with others.  Our goal is to take the "stink" out of the bad reputations churches have by offering a fun and free event".

That bout sums it up if you ask me!

Laketon Bethel Reformed Church is putting on a festival!  The motivation has been outlined above...so, let's get down to the good stuff!  What's going to be at the festival!

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As you may have gathered, it's going to have a near carnival atmosphere and it's open to anyone to come out and enjoy!  You'll find a menu of pulled pork bbq, hot dogs, cheesy potatoes coleslaw and rolls!  You'll find a mechanical bull to test your riding ability, a motorcycle stunt show, photo booth, air brush tattoo's, a bounce house, basketball, a three lane bungee run, and a variety of fun games and if that still isn't enough... SUMO SUIT wrestling!  John VanWyk will be on hand providing the music.  Sounds like a good time right?  The event is from 3p-7pm on Saturday August 27th and it's a free family fun type event.

Lakteon Bethel on Facebook

Of course...with a free event, and as stated once again in the opening paragraph the hope is you'll find a place comfortable to take part in if you are a person of faith seeking a place to worship.  Maybe you've got a church now, but you need more from the message?  Maybe you grew up in church and have been away a while?  Maybe you just need a new place for fellowship and friends.  No matter your motivation, you're invited to come enjoy a show and meal and learn a little more.

Sherwin Brantsen is the Pastor at Laketon Bethel Reformed Church and I was able to catch up with him to find out a little more about their church and the great day planned!  Take a listen below!

There you have it!  Enjoy the great times and the chance at some fun at little or no expense and a great meal provided by great people.  If you'd like to know more about the Laketon Bethel Church or the Bikers Bulls and BBQ event, click on their logo below!

Laketon Bethel Online

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Roll Out the Barrels - Muskegon Welcomes Back The Burning Foot Beer Festival!

"The Beer Tent Capital of the World"  I know the guy who came up with that slogan....it was one of his first tasks when he came to town for a job years ago.  Handed a list of all the beer tents that needed radio banners hung....and seeing just how many of there were...the statement was made, the production department put a spin on it and it became a radio stations ID at the top of the hour....every hour!  Quite a way to celebrate a fun loving community.

To say the the "beer tent" is a thing of the past....well, we're not quite ready for that....but like anything, there is one constant...and that is change!

Today, the idea of solo cups stacked up 10 deep to prove your party prowess has given way to a cultured palate knowing the difference between an IPA, Double Bock, lagers, ales....honestly....I can't even keep up with what's all out there.  It's been a while since I have had a beer....let alone all of the new flavors, styles and accouterments....I'll leave that kind of thing to the experts!  Luckily....we've got some of those experts right here in town and we're getting ready to see them and some of their friends from around the Midwest at The Burning Foot Beer Festival August 27th at Pere Marquette Beach!

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54 breweries will be on hand with their fine craft beers.  They are coming from Michigan, Illinios and Wisconsin to share the fun of our pure beach and beautiful views.  They are going to have rustic comping this year along with some spots reserved for RV's if you'd like to take that route!   Live music?  Plenty of it from the likes of "Badfish - A Tribute to Sublime", Mustard Plug, Flexidecible and more!  If the beach, sand views, brews and music isn't enough....they are promising a "big ass bonfire" to boot!  Imagine the sunset over the lake surrounded by friends and some really tasty beer!

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Allen Serio was the guy I was told to talk to about more details on the event!  We were able to catch up down at Unruly Brewing and he gave me the 411 on what to expect at this great event!  Take a listen to our interview below!

There you have it.  The beer tents are still here, just on a bigger stage with a bit more of an artisan twist when it comes to the beverage offerings!  It's important to support events like Burning Foot Beer Festival.  They bring in new faces as well as flavors to Muskegon.  They are helping to restore our image and show people from outside of town what we already know....Muskegon is awesome, and always up for a good time.  Click on the Burning Foot logo below for info, tickets and more!

Burning Foot Beer Festival Online

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

In The Works - A Downtown Muskegon Dog Park!

Sarah Sass is not one to sit still all that often.  When she does...it's usually to plan something and 99.9% of the planning of something awesome, it's for Muskegon's generations to come.

Sarah is the manager of the Watermark Center Downtown Muskegon.  They have recently expanded their complex by opening The Coffee Factory adding another great offering in a small corner of downtown.  Artisan coffee, pastry and more.

Next on Sarah's list of things to do?  The Downtown Muskegon Dog Park!

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People love their dogs!  We've got the dog beach already, but what about a wide open space where dog's can get a run in, sniff a few butts and burn off some of the amazing energy they never seem to run out of?  What better place for people to connect while the dogs are doing what they do?

Yes, a dog park is a fun playground for canines....but it's also a place for friends and neighbors to meet up, talk to each other and basically...be a part of the community.  Might be an old friend from school, maybe a co worker, possibly a perfectly good stranger....your social options are limitless depending on you.

Downtown Dog Park on Facebook
If you take a look at another recent addition to Downtown Muskegon, The Muskegon Farmers Market, you can see that simple things that focus on connecting people are really a big deal.  In an honest opinion..I think it reflects a change in society to some degree.  People are seeking out places that they can see some familiar faces, shake a hand or two and get away from the computer screen for a few minutes....all the mayhem on social media...and just be friends and neighbors.  Even Pokemon GO focuses on getting people out of the house and wandering around places they may have never considered.  Evolution happening right before our eyes.

I caught up with Sarah and Boots and we talked about the initiative to get the Downtown Muskegon Dog Park up and running and a community a place to enjoy, together.  Take a listen to our interview below!

There you have it!  The ball is rolling and more great things are coming for Muskegon and Muskegon's furry friends.  If you'd like to know more, click on the event link below.  They are having a kick off party August 30th at The Coffee Factory.  Click on the invite below for the official event invitation.

Yappy Hour to Kick Off the Campaign

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dave Alexander Column - Pure Muskegon and Windward Pointe

MUSKEGON, MI – Too many times big announcements like the Sappi property redevelopment revealed by the local investment group Pure Muskegon LLC are called “game-changers.”

I am so glad that the Windward Pointe development team came up with a more fitting portrayal with what was unveiled last week at the Muskegon County Club: 

See the Vision of Windward Pointe
Windward Pointe will be a “transformational redevelopment” of a former 120-acre paper mill once occupied than one mile of Muskegon Lake shoreline.

And boy, do transformations take a long time.

I have been in Muskegon for 35 years and seen how Muskegon Lake has moved from the heavy industry shoreline of our fathers and grandfathers to a burgeoning destination area that offers unbelievable recreation, residential, commercial, transportation and port development potential.
I was not in Muskegon in 1975, but during my three decades of reporting on Muskegon Lake issues for The Muskegon Chronicle I told the North Star Steel story many times. In the depths of closing factories and sky-high unemployment, Muskegon was offered the opportunity for the investment and jobs of a mini-steel mill.

Ironically it was proposed in 1975 for the Muskegon Lake property now home to Great Lakes Marina in the Lakeside Business District. But the community said no to additional industry on Muskegon Lake and sent the steel mill elsewhere. It was a controversial, bold decision that set the foundation of an improving Muskegon Lake shoreline and made the Windward Pointe announcement possible.
I doubt the Pure Muskegon partners led by local industrialist and philanthropist Larry Hines would have invested their time and treasure into the Sappi paper mill property if just next door to the east was a steel mill. Muskegon Lake is being transformed to what we all want – multiple, clean, exciting and fun uses that make Muskegon Lake a growing Midwest destination.

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In the afterglow of last week’s Windward Pointe announcement, here is what I am thinking about:
·      Don’t underestimate what was announced. I think we will look back on early August 2016 as a turning point in Muskegon’s march to something other than being an old, dirty, foundry town. They talk about tipping points…this is one.


We all need to express our gratitude to the Pure Muskegon investment group, which also owns and operates the adjacent Muskegon Country Club. The dozen investors and one foundation are motivated to create a “transformational” development in their hometown. These are our neighbors who have built wealth mainly in the industrial sector and are now reinvesting in the quality of life of their community. Thank them.

Visit Downtown Muskegon Now Online

·    I have driven by the paper mill property to and from work since the day Sappi closed in 2009. I understand the frustration, anger and cynicism generated by the ugliness of more than a million square feet of industrial buildings being taken down so slowly. But in the big scheme of things, this “transformation” is happening quickly compared to other communities left with vacant paper mills. Just be patient Muskegon, we are on a journey. Windward Pointe will not be created overnight. It will take months for the cleanup and years for the ultimate redevelopment with houses, condos, hotels, apartments, retail shops, offices, restaurants, marinas and more. But I believe it will happen.
·      Behind the scenes over the past three years, several of the members of Pure Muskegon allowed me to understand their vision, plans and efforts to wrest control of the site and deal with deed restrictions and environmental issues. These are good neighbors who want to engage the community as they go about deciding eventual developments and developers. They will reach out to get your ideas. Prepare to be constructive and creative. 

Dave Alexander 

      But dream big. Just look at a Google map of the area and you see the three pearls that need to be strung together: Windward Pointe, the Muskegon Country Club and the Nugent Sand property. They sit immediately adjacent to each other, combining a quarter mile of Lake Michigan, two sand-minded lakes for residential and commercial redevelopment, an historic golf course with residential development potential and a property with a deep-water port that will drive the rebirth of Muskegon Lake.  Now as head of Downtown Muskegon Now, I think there has never been a more exciting time to be in Muskegon. The Windward Pointe tide is going to raise all Muskegon boats.

Let the transformation begin.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Special Report - HELP WANTED! Lighthouse Property Management Needs Workers

Here's a special report for Positively Muskegon!!  (Extra! Extra!  Read all about it!!)  (Snappy effects huh?)

Hey...it's like this.  Workers are needed immediately in Muskegon to help Lighthouse Property Management revamp, revitalize and remodel the homes they are buying in Muskegon to provide affordable and well maintained homes for people who rent from them.

Visit Lighthouse PM Online
It all began early last Winter, Kathy Dennison Adrainse got a hold of me and wanted to hear a little more about Muskegon.  The view point from someone here every day minus the sensationalism in the news about the issues we face here.  We met up at the Cherokee Restaurant and talked for an hour, maybe an hour and a half and when things concluded, they got to work establishing a Muskegon office and buying properties that need a little TLC,  Once fixed up...market rate housing for residents and a management company that puts their tenants first and the communities they work in....back on the right track!

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Here's the thing though....they need help!  Lighthouse Property Management needs workers!  Are you a handy man?  Are you a laborer?  Can your skills get to work to help clean up a house in short order, restore the beauty, mechanical's, amenities and hope that a home offers?  It's all hands on deck for Lighthouse Property Management and the need is immediate!

I had a chance to catch up with Kathy at the new Lighthouse Property Management office on Peck Street in Muskegon to find out exactly what kind of work they are looking for and the need for honest people to work on helping turn these houses and buildings around to help further Muskegon's ground swell of revitalization.  Take a listen to our chat below!

It's real!  These are quality jobs from a company that has made a commitment to seeing that when they come to town to operate....they do things the right way....for the right reasons and the long term goal of helping their tenants become home owners.  They are helping build community....they are helping improve property value and they are helping people realize the American Dream of one day owning their home.     Thanks to Kathy for her belief in Muskegon and her belief in reaching Muskegon through Positively Muskegon!

Click Here For The Contractor Open House FB Page

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Muskegon's Sport Fishermen Helping Feed Those in Need

Muskegon is all about the water!  You can find anything here to do with it!  Lakes and streams....for recreation or sport, our water is one of our greatest resources and to think of just how many come and see us just for the water....amazing!  Muskegon sees plenty of swimmers....boaters, kite boards....surf boards sometimes and of course fisherman!

Nothing better than seeing a bunch of boats heading out to catch "The Big One".....but where do the fish go once caught?  Pretty sure you'll love the story from here on out.

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The lakes we have here offer a bounty of fish...and when they are caught, the hope is that they end up cleaned and either frozen for late use or cooked up on the spot...let's be honest......is there anything better than a mess of fresh caught pan fist or maybe some delicious salmon?  With that bounty of the catch comes the responsibility to make sure the fish gets eaten...and yes...we have a program for that!

The Fishmongers Wife
The Fish Mongers Wife, Amber, got a hold of me and wanted to share the story of just where the catch goes after a tournament and how that incredible amount of food doesn't even come close to going to waste thanks to her and her team who make sure the catch of the day becomes a delicious meal for those who struggle to make ends meet when it comes to food.  Yes, you guess it...the fish are cleaned and prepped and then served up at The Supper House...a community outreach of Mission for Area People here in Muskegon.  Mission for Area People is no stranger to Positively Muskegon.  They do amazing things for our community and we're always happy to peel back another layer of their work and show you more of what goes on.

I was able to meet up with Amber Petersen and Shari Hughes at The Supper House for some more details on this incredible way to support a sport industry and how they in turn, support those who need the help the most.  Have a listen to out chat below!

As you can see...Muskegon never let's it's people down.  For all the flashy boats that come to town..all the trophies handed out and cash prizes won...at the end of the day, the real winners are those who would go hungry otherwise.  There is much to be proud of with the care taken of the people of Muskegon and those who are willing to sacrifice their time and talent to make sure nothing goes to waste!  Many thanks to Amber for the invite!  Many thanks to the fishermen who help feed the people of a grateful community in Muskegon.  If you'd like to know more about Mission for Area People please, click on their image below!

Mission for Area People Online