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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Festival of Trees Begins at the Muskegon Museum of Art November 22nd

It's getting to be that time of year again.  The Festival of Trees is set to open at the Muskegon Museum of Art and the celebration of Christmas from all over the world will be front and center again this year.  You can not only see how Christmas is celebrated in other countries but you can also benefit the museum in a number of ways.

Fist off, let's talk about opening night! Bring in some canned goods for the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry and you can get in for $5 on November 22nd.  What better way to see all the splendor of the season and give yourself the feeling of knowing you did something good for someone in needs.  You'll find plenty of other special days too during the run, which goes until December 3rd.  Music, food, Santa and more!  It's a great time for a holiday gathering and a great cause!  Why December 3rd though?

Well, the Festival of trees is also one of the largest annual fundraisers for the Muskegon Museum of Art.  The trees are bid on by local people and business and after the 3rd, they are off to their forever homes to adorn the season for years to come.

Marguerite Curran joined me to talk about the event, I should preface the video by telling you...we were going for the "warm backlit" feel of Christmas time and it played a little havoc with the auto focus on the camera, so it gets a little hazy from time to time, but the message is important and your chance to get down and be a part of the fun starts tomorrow.  Take a listen.

If you just need a little something to put you in the mood, or maybe you'd like to be a part of some of the great events surrounding the Festival of Trees...make sure you head down to the Muskegon Museum of Art.  As we discussed in the video, this last year has been such an eye opening experience for me at the museum.  I admit shouldn't have taken something as incredible as the North American Indian exhibit to get me in there, but I grew a serious appreciation for what we have in the Museum of Art and I am very thankful to be able to help share the story of this great holiday tradition in Muskegon.  To learn more, click on the image below to visit their website.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Follow Up With Alyssa Clark - She's Cleared For a Kidney Transplant

About 6 months ago, I got a message asking if I'd be willing to help spread the word about a benefit for a young woman who was in the fight of her life over a kidney disease.  Her friends and family were getting together to put on an evening of food and fun in the hopes that it would help defer the costs incurred while waiting for a life saving operation for Alyssa Clark, she needs a kidney transplant.

Like so many others around town, it's always a community effort.  An affordable hall is found to rent, people put on a pot luck or a spaghetti dinner, some raffle items are gathered up, there's usually a 50/50...simple things that all add up.  The root of it all is to raise a few bucks, sure, but the fellowship created is equally an important message.  All too often, I would imagine, people who struggle with long term problems like kidney failure probably feel like they are isolated.  That no one understands the trials they face, the pain they go through or the long term doubt in their mind wondering if they will ever find a way to be normal again.  It's really the power of people that make one of these benefits the success.  The faces that show up to lend some support and encouragement....those are the faces that make Muskegon what it truly is.  I don't know of any benefit that ended with enough money to fix what's going on, but every single one of them instilled enough hope in the beneficiary that they can continue in their fight.  That's community.

I heard back from Alyssa, it seems that her story has taken another turn.  Since we last visited with her, she's been upped in her quest to become a transplant recipient.  Yes, it's a process for anyone to be "on the list".  There are a multitude of factors, but to get there is an accomplishment and it's also hopefully a fist glance at a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the need for a transplant.  There have been a few bumps in the road up til now, but over all the spirits are high and the message is strong.  Alyssa is not only looking for a kidney for herself, but advocating that anyone becomes an organ and tissue donor.  It's a simple process and upon your grand finale here on earth, what you won't be using anymore can go on to save the lives of others.

I met up with Alyssa and her mom Marge Nichols.  We met at DaVita Dialysis on Apple Ave to get an update on Alyssa and let you know how you can help if you'd like.  Take a listen.

A great update and a brave young woman to share her story.  That number to see if you're a match is Andrea at 616-685-5187.  We all hope the best for Alyssa, and if you'd like to know more about being an organ and tissue donor, you can click on the link below.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Serenity 2 - Life Changing Skills and Dynamics in Muskegon

To be a part of the launch.  It's a place that you like to be when you do what we do at Positively Muskegon.  To see seeds planted and ideas grow into real change and effective building of community and people, it's amazing to say the very least.  We've been at this a while now, and in all honesty, it's getting a little easier to find these upstarts, because as you meet people, you find more who are out to do something good too.

I first met Priscilla Agnew back last Summer when I took off to the north to meet the women of the Reeths-Puffer Neighborhood Improvement Association.  I tell ya, out of the hundreds of stories we've done, never have I met a group with so much character and charm.  Character and charm aside, they also do a lot of good for their surrounding community, and they also share each other's passion for work outside that one group. Lending time and talent to what's important to their supporting members.

Priscilla's mission is to help women in crisis.  She's at the beginnings of launching Serenity II - Life Changing Skills and Dynamics.  The long term plan is to own a home where women in crisis can come with their kids for some respite and some help to get back on their feet and take with them some skills they may have not had which may have led to their situation.  There is a building that's targeted for purchase in Muskegon.  There is a staff of professional people who will be there to help.  Counselors, care givers, social workers, admins and more.  All in the mindset that taking the steps to better the lives of those in the community will better all of us in the long run.

Back to the ground level.  That's where we are at this point.  There will be an inaugural fundraiser to help get this building secured and some funding happening for this outreach.  The grand affair will be held at 1478 E. Ellis Road, close to Target in Muskegon on November 21st.  You'll find champagne, Hors d'oeuvres, live music with Mr. Robert Moore and live and silent auctions.  This is the beginning of something wonderful, so please...plan on attending.

I caught up with Priscilla and a few friends at the event location.  Joining us were Joann Betts, Jessie Pearson and Ratan Khatri who's helping the women with the building for the home.  Take a listen.

One more.  There's always room for one more hand to hold on to.  One more group who's willing to go the extra mile to help those in need and one more chance for someone to better their lives.  We wish Priscilla and company the best as they get this project going.  We'll also be right here to watch as they grow and impact the lives of those they serve and continue to make Muskegon the community of miracles we all know it is!  Please, take some time and head out to the fundraising party and offer your help to the launch of Serenity II.

The Salvation Army Kettle Campaign Kick Off for 2017

You know it's coming, and in all me at least, it's a comforting sound.  The familiar ringing of the bells as you approach the retail shops around town.  It's time to get the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign underway and it starts this Saturday night at the Muskegon Lumberjacks game!

The tradition of the Salvation Army bell ringers is synonymous with the holidays and in a time when we're all becoming a little more leery of just about everything, the opportunity to put your spare change to work to do some good, or give your kid a buck and explain to them the importance of charity well, that bell means a lot.

This season, the goal is high.  The Kettle Campaign is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Salvation Army, it's also the season of the highest visibility.  Volunteers spend thousands of hours collectively ringing bells, greeting customers and honestly...freezing in Winters chill while ringing the bell.  Pennies, nickles and dimes add up quick and the collection goes to work helping the Salvation Army provide the services they do all year long.

They provide food pantries, camps for kids, worship services, the Pathway of Hope and more.  They are an integral part of many things in Muskegon and they have done an incredible job of being a community leader in being out front when it comes to human services here for those in need.

Learn More About the Salvation Army Season Pass
There are a number of ways you can give.  There is passing by the Kettle.  You can also buy a "Season Pass Pin" at the Salvation Army's website for different denominations which will give you a "pass" as you go by the bell ringer, but of course...if you have 38 cents in your can certainly drop in in the bucket.

Is this your year to help ring?  CLICK HERE to see a list of available chances to get yourself, your group or your co-workers out on the streets and in the enviable role of ringing the bell to do the most good

I was able to catch up with Robin Henshaw and Lt. Chris Carlin of the Salvation Army of Muskegon to talk about the kick off this Saturday at the Muskegon Lumberjacks game, and the upcoming season.  Take a listen!

For me, it's the lesson.  As the holidays approach, it's the handful of change you can give a kid and the two minutes of talk it takes to tell them that not everyone has it as good as they do.  Even those who are not well off, believe it or not...someone, somewhere has it worse.  It's a matter of a million little things that add up to making life better for someone in need and it literally takes no more than a few coins in a kettle.  To learn more about the Salvation Army of Muskegon, click on the image below!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

WINC - For All Women Veterans

Humble, dutiful and dedicated.  Those are the first three words that come to mind upon meeting Zaneta Adams a local attorney, mom and veteran of the US Army here in Muskegon.  But like most any veteran, within Zaneta still lies a warrior and with her service in the military complete, she's gone on to take the lead on a project that will move on to national levels and benefit many.

As Zaneta was preparing for a tour of duty in Iraq, she had an accident and fell off a truck leaving her with an injury that led to an honorable medical discharge.  Like so many other wounded veterans she was part of retreats and sporting events that were set to challenge her mentally and physically,  but with a ratio of 250 men to 1 woman in her military unit, she was having a hard time with finding some common ground on the healing process and wished that there were more for females who had also been injured in combat.  A resource that would allow women to discuss things that seemed of little significance to the men...but were important to her and as she found in short order, were important to other women who served too.
Follow WINC on Facebook

A conversation turned into a 1st time retreat which in turn became more retreats, meet up's, discussion groups, support networks, scholarship programs, legal referral programs and more.  As group evolves, all from the starting point right here in Muskegon, the web of support and strength is growing and Zaneta continues to champion the cause.  There are over 2 million female veterans in the United States today.  There is a movement to have a day set aside for Women Veterans Day and there is also a push for more awareness of things like specialized treatment for military sexual trauma, proper health care and optimum treatment if being seen at a VA facility.

On November 9th, you'll have the opportunity to learn first hand what the WINC is doing.  They are having an open house at the Muskegon Veterans Center at 165 E Apple.  You can meet the group, learn a little more and if you are a woman vet, please...get involved!  I was able to catch up with Zaneta at her office for a couple minutes today to learn a little more.  Take a listen to this incredible leader and hear how her story got her here.

If you've been part of this blog long enough you know there is nothing that gives me a greater sense of pride than to meet someone who's taken what should have been a tragedy and turned it in to a monumental triumph.  What's begun here is nothing short of amazing and where some would have thrown in the towel in defeat, Zaneta took the time to look at everything from a different angle and find new purpose...and a higher purpose to continue serving those she swore to protect and defend.  I was blessed to meet a true champion today.

If you'd like to now more about WINC For All Women Veterans, please, click on the photo below to visit their website.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Equine Safety Training For Muskegon's First Responders November 4th

Ever wonder what happens to horses when there is an accident or barn emergency? I have. So I was super excited when I heard about an upcoming Equine Safety Seminar. It is a joint venture between Farview Acres Clydesdales and the Norton Shores Fire Department.

Jennifer and Tom Luttrull, owners of Farview Acres, invited me out to their picturesque farm to discuss the event. Jennifer is facilitating the training on Saturday, November 4th from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The Equine Safety Seminar is open to emergency personnel only and will teach basic horse handling skills and offer valuable hands on experience. Farview Acres has a Clydesdale breeding program, and with three yearling foals on site in addition to the broodmares, there will be no shortage of horses for first responders to interact with.
Check out the video for all the information and while there are no appearances from her beautiful horses, a cat named Tigger and a sassy duck named Kelvin grace us with their presence.

To learn more about Fairview Acres Clydesdale's Farms Click on the photo below.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Positively Muskegon Kids Beat - The Western Market Downtown With Trevor Hilson

The Western Market in Downtown Muskegon is a new tourist attraction that is getting a lot of support. Morat’s Bakery and Pub, one of the shops, is making Muskegon their new permanent home. The owners are very nice, and they are adding mores shops in the future. There are currently twelve of the pop-up stores.

The shops opened in late May and were planning on staying open until October 31st, but they are doing a huge Christmas festival and will be open till December 23rd.

Santa will be there, and there will be much more to do. Trees are being sold, and there is gingerbread house making for the kids.

The shops have gotten a lot of attention from tourists, and they are another attraction that is being used to try and get people to come downtown. I invite you to go down to the shops, and if you would like to learn more on what they are all about, check out this video below.

The twelve stores are Abeshi Fotos and Crafts, Baby Bears Children’s Boutique, Bodhi Tree Market, Donna Jeanne’s Sweet Treats, Love Bites Treatery, Morat’s Bakery and Pub, Muskegon Inspired, Silipint, Skee’s Tees, Tatterweave Designs, and Vinta Stalgia.

If you would like to learn more about the shops, click on the photo below!!  If you would like to apply to open a shop, you can find the application on the website. If you have any questions, contact Ann Meisch at 231-724-6705.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Howlers and Growlers October 26th at the Folkert Community Hub To Benefit Animal Charities

With the near apocalyptic devastation we've seen in recent months from the hurricanes down south, it's created a huge problem for the residents of the areas.  Homes have been lost, numbering in the millions and with the displacement of so many people, unfortunately, their pets have found nowhere to turn either. 

West Michigan has done all it can to help with the crisis, but the need continues to rise for the time.

People in Muskegon have been leading the charge to rescue and place these pets that have had to be surrendered by families who have lost everything, and while our shelters are at close to maximum capacity, we've gotten all hands on deck across the state to help relieve some of the stress and help find these pets a new place to call home.  Pet's that have had to be willingly given up because people have lost everything and no longer have a place to keep their dog or cat. 
Find Howlers and Growlers on Facebook

The have been flying in.  There has been flight after flight of rescue animals coming in to Muskegon filled with pet containers and upon landing, they are met by volunteers from The Noah Project and The Pay if Forward Animal Outreach.  Two places that are no stranger to our writings here on Positively Muskegon for the great work they do taking care of animals here in town.  Upon landing, Pay it Forward is there to make sure the animals are ok, free of disease or stress from the flight.  They get a quick check up and then The Noah Project takes over to help get them to a place where they will hopefully in short order find their new forever home.

There are a lot of volunteer hours going into this, but of course, there are some financial needs so..on top of all the flying around the country and the work to find the displaced animals a new home...there's a great way to raise a few bucks coming up at the Folkert Community Hub October 26th, it's called Howlers and Growlers.  You'll find great food from Fatty Lumpkins, live music, a dog costume show, silent auction, cash bar and more.  The proceeds will go to both The Noah Project and Pay it Forward Animal Outreach. 

I met up with Jane Mcgregor and Heather Rake to talk about the event, take a listen. 

You'll find all the information you need in the link above, see the flyer.  You can get tickets at the door or in advance by calling Liz at 231-799-1028.  It's a great way to show some appreciation for all the work that's gone in to making sure these 4 legged furry's and those who are taking them in know we're grateful as a community for the work The Noah Project and the Pay it Forward Animal Outreach are putting in! 

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Return Visit to Third Coast Vinyl to Celebrate the One Year Anniversary!

What's old is new again and that includes much more than the offerings at Third Coast Vinyl.  Just about a year ago, Andy O stopped in to the newly opened record store on Third Street in Muskegon to visit Paul Pretzer who was taking the plunge and going into business for himself and opening a store dedicated to selling actual vinyl records and the ancient machines that played them.   It seems to be an idea that stuck.

Not only has Paul found some success dealing in the retro, the entire Third street area continues to percolate with the now nearly world famous Hamburger Mikey right near by, the delicious Curry Kitchen, Nan Pizza and more.  The entire area even has a snappy new name called mid town.  It's a growing area and it's an exciting thing to see the fledgling neighborhood experiencing the same re-birth that the records we once all knew and loved are.

This time, Corey Davis stopped in to see Paul and talk about his one year in business mark.  It seems most appropriate as she is a self confessed "major supporter" of the place.  Who better to send than an admirer of the product right?  Corey grabbed the camera and got the scoop on what it's been like to be part of the new normal on Third Street in Muskegon, take a listen.

The party gets underway at 11am on Saturday October 14th.  Head on down to the record story, enjoy some pizza, a burger or maybe some delicious curry dish....celebrate not only the reemerging business district, but an entire area of small business owners who all believe in Muskegon and are right there slugging it out together.    Congrats to Paul!  Get yourself to Midtown!

Find Third Coast Vinyl on Facebook

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Children's Author Sherri Winston To Hold Workshops This Saturday For Young Readers in Muskegon and Muskegon Heights

It's an honor today to welcome home Muskegon Heights Tiger and children's author Sherri Winston who will be putting on writers workshops for kids in Muskegon and Muskegon Heights this Saturday.  Sherri now calls Orlando home, but truly understands the importance of igniting young minds and has returned to Muskegon to share her love of story telling and her inspiration with the next generation this weekend!

A little history.  When Sherri was young she was the one in the family who was in charge of the shopping, and if she was able to cut the corners enough and squeeze enough out of the grocery budget to save a few dollars, her reward for fiscal responsibility...was the left over money to be able to buy a Nancy Drew book, and if it was a hard cover book...all the better.  What a reward for being able to provide.  In the back of her mind though, reading the stories was just the kindling of the fire because as she grew, she knew that it was her calling to be writing the stories that would engage the "middle aged" young people, those in the pre teen to early teen years and give them the same opportunity to be a million miles away while they were safely in their room and lost in a world of imagination and wonder through reading. 
See Sherri's Collection on

To her credit today, you'll find a number of books.  They include "The Kayla Chronicles", "Acting - A Novel", ""The Sweetest Sound", and her "President" series which currently has "President of the Whole 5th Grade" and "President of the Whole 6th Grade".   Her books are available on your favorite websites including Barnes and Noble and you'll find a link to the page with her books on it to the right. 

Sherri is home for more than just a visit however.  This Saturday, she will be doing seminars for young people at both the Hackely Public Library and the Muskegon Heights Public Library.  They are free to attend for kids and the idea will be for Sherri to help them build a story through interaction and her hands on approach to sparking interest in the process.  How does a story get built?  How are characters developed?  Where can twists and turns happen?  It's an amazing give back to students who are already interested in creative writing or might need a little push to help get started. 

Barb Klingenmaier is the President of the Friends of the Hackley Library and she contacted me to talk about Ms. Winston's return home to share her experience and expertise in the field of creative writing, she joined Sherri and I at the Torrent House to talk about the events this Saturday and how your kids can be a part at either location, Hackley or Muskegon Heights.  Take a listen to our chat below!

And now for the obligatory part where I tell you how important this is.  I am not an avid reader for enjoyment...never have been, BUT look at what I do for a living.  I read constantly, I write thousands of things daily.  I write for informational and amusing purposes and I can't stress enough how essential it is for young minds to develop communications skills.  Reading, writing, imagination and the ability to express feelings are paramount to the development of a person.  So often today, narratives are completely laid out for young people and little is left to their imagination...when that happens, so does the development of future's your invitation to get your kids in the game.  Sherri will be at the Hackley Library at 10:30 Saturday morning and the Muskegon Heights Library at 1:30.  FREE events for young people.  Give them the chance to be part of the creativity and give Sherri a thank you for coming home to share her passion with today's youth!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Power of the Purse to Benefit Every Woman's Place October 12th

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and in as much as it's a crying shame that we need an entire month dedicated to the subject...the reality is, we do and it's a problem that's not going away anytime soon.  What's the cause?  Poverty?  Stress?  To talk to Lori Rasmussen of Every Woman's Place, simply's control.  The need to be dominant is root of the issue and leads to violence against women.

From my perspective, the need to be in control is one of the biggest signs of weakness and insecurity when it comes to seeing other men, but this isn't an opinion piece, so I'll just leave it at that.  What this is, is an awareness article with an invitation to see if we can get you out to support the work of the people who are there to pick up the pieces when domestic violence occurs and how the staff and volunteers of Every Woman's Place are there to help the victims and the children of this abuse.

Founded in 1975 Every Woman's Place has served women ranging in age from 18-73 years old, from every walk of life imaginable.  Domestic violence knows no color, income level, nationality, religion or boundary.  Their mission statement is simple - " The Mission of Every Woman’s Place is to improve and enhance the lives of women, youth, children and families in crisis in our community by providing and advocating for services which lead to their safety, their emotional and economic self-sufficiency, their productivity, and their ability to participate fully in our society."  They offer shelter, intervention, counseling, support children's services and education and prevention.  

Get Tickets for Power of the Purse

Over the course of the year, they ask for a hand from the community, which is always very giving, one, because their events are first class, and second....the mission is so incredibly important.  One of the events is coming up October 12th at Fricano's Event Center and it's called Power of the Purse!  You'll have a great night out and the opportunity to bid on some pretty incredible items in donated purses modeled by some of the men of the area willing to have a little fun and walk the runway to strut their stuff and sell the purse.  Yes, last year I participated in the photo shoot and missed the event....this year.....I am in it to win it and hope that which ever purse I am modeling sells for a pretty penny.

I sat down with Lori Rasmussen of Every Woman's Place to talk about the event as well as some of the numbers they deal with at the agency every year, take a listen.  

If there was one thing I could end tomorrow, domestic violence would be right up at the top of the list.  The thought of a woman being abused physically, emotionally or otherwise makes me ill.  I was raised by a very strong mother and even the hint of disrespect was met with dire consequences by both of my parents and with very good reason.  Now, I know why.  I certainly can't answer the problems the way I'd like to, but I can be a voice and an advocate to help.  I am asking please, if you can make it out to the event do so.  If you can't, do what you can to send a few bucks toward Every Woman's Place.  If you are living in a domestic abuse situation....ask for help.  Every Woman's Place is there for you anytime you need them.  To learn more about Every Woman's Place click on the photo below.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Shattering the Myths About Drugs Impacting Muskegon County - A Web Program

We are in an epidemic in Muskegon County and in the nation.  The opioid crisis is real and it's ripping through our community and this nation like wild fire.  We are also in a time of great change when it comes to marijuana and what it is and how it effects people.  I think we can all agree that the opiate problem is one of the most fearsome things we have ever seen.

I honestly hope that we can agree no matter the stance on marijuana medical use or recreational, keeping it out of the hands of kids and teens is in all of our best interest.  Young minds need to develop minus the effects of intoxicating substances.
Face The Book Muskegon

In an effort to help shine a light on the reality of today's impact of drugs on Muskegon County, DJ Hilson along with The Health Project of Mercy Health are presenting a program online Tuesday October 3rd from 13:30-1:15 called "Shattering the Myths".  It's going to be a straightforward discussion about the use and abuse of substances that are in front of our young people every day.  We all like to think that "not my kid" is applicable, but it doesn't take much to begin to slide.  Participants will hear from a young man who found a leftover Norco in his grandmothers medicine cabinet and used it to treat a pulled muscle, which in turn led him to a heroin addiction.  They will also hear from a young woman who was abusing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the effective ingredient in marijuana and can be manipulated to be much stronger than what's traditionally accepted as "pot".  Both speakers are in their 20's and the hope is that their stories are more relate-able to the high school audience by the shorter age gap.  

In years past, this talk has been presented by going school to school but with advancements in technology, the hope is that all schools can come together for the time to hear the message at once and with the impact of the group, some more discussion can come about about the dangers faced, the reality's of what our kids are up against and how quickly what seems harmless at first can spiral into a serious problem.  I have told my story about alcohol at a young age time and time again, and in our interview today, I guess maybe even I come to grips with the fact that I might be getting a little too "old" to connect with younger people.  I will honestly say, that I am very glad there are folks in their 20's who can pick up the message, although I don't plan on quitting anytime soon.

DJ Hilson and Richa Phoulsen joined me for a little more on the subject at DJ's office, take a listen.

The discussion is this Tuesday once again, and as mentioned in the interview, you can see it on Facebook Live.  You'll find it linked below, just click on the image to go to the page at 12:30 Tuesday to join in on the discussion.  It's important information and protecting our kids is why it's being presented.  Our thanks to The Health Project for their sponsorship of the Positively Muskegon blog and a special thanks to DJ Hilson for his work in protecting young people from the dangers of addiction.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Annie Jr. At the Frauenthal Theater October 14th and 15th With the Muskegon Civic Theater's Penguin Project

We all want to see everyone excel, we all hope to live in a world where barriers are gone and everyone can participate, but some things are pretty complicated and require years of training and devotion, like acting...and some might stop and say, well, that might not be for everyone.  Well, stop right there.  There are a group of young people that are going to prove that wrong quick fast and in a hurry right here in Muskegon!

The idea came about a year or two ago locally.  It sprang from an idea back in 2004 kids with disabilities, be they developmental or physical, are cast in a modified version of a Broadway musical and paired with a peer mentor and they work side by side for 4 months in preparation and rehearsals all the way through the performance.  To quote the Penguin Project's website - "The program provides a supportive environment for children with disabilities to explore their creative talents.  It has also demonstrated that participation in the performing arts has therapeutic value by enhancing social interaction, communication skills, self confidence and self esteem. 

The Cast and Crew of Annie Jr.
Muskegon is the first spot in the state to put on a Penguin Project production, and Annie Jr. is the musical of choice.  Rehearsals have been going on at the home of No More Sidelines, the Folkert Community Hub for the last few months.  I am not stranger to the kids at the Hub or the families there, so I dropped in to watch a rehearsal before we taped the segment you're about to see and I have to level with ya, I was immediately taken back with everything I saw.  On the faces of the parents, ear to ear smiles....radiant pride and genuine appreciation for what they have seen come out of their kids.  On the faces of the mentors, a new appreciation for teamwork, art and their craft...the director, the choreographer, the people watching from across the room... every one of them...amazed and astounded by this group of young people and what this project has brought out of all of them.  I grabbed a little footage of the practice and will overlay it in the video you'll see here in a few.

Here's the thing, this production need the support of the community.  Tickets for the 2 performances are $10 bucks each and there is yet to be one single word anywhere about how awesome these productions are to see.  Not only that, but, you'll get to witness first hand how truly remarkable it is when people come together despite some "differences" to work toward a common goal and find out along the way, that the similarities are greater than what they thought the differences were.

I was joined by Heidi Sunderhaft-Christiansen, Kim Harsch, Seth Witham and Kyle Sweetwood to talk about this entire project, take a listen.

If ever there was a reason to get out and support the arts, this is is.  The play is compacted down to about an hour and the tickets are only $10 bucks.  As mentioned in the interview too, there is still room for some sponsorship for this great event and you can learn more by calling 231-722-3852.  Please show these kids your support for their hard work and bringing our community together a little closer.  If you'd like tickets, order them in advance by clicking on the show poster below.

Tickets for Saturday October 14th

Tickets for Sunday October 15th

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Meet A YAC in Muskegon - Wait What is a YAC? Find Out On Positively Muskegon

You hear YAC and the first thing that might come to mind if a hairy beast of burden that may emanate an odor or two and the thought of one being in and around Muskegon...well, might cause a call of complaint to a city council or two.  But fear our case, a YAC is something to be proud of and you get to meet one today.

Yes, YAC is an acronym.  It's The Youth Advisory Council and it's an extension of the Community Foundation of Muskegon County.  There is an appointed member from every school district in Muskegon County and they meet monthly as a team to discuss how they can help grant $60,000 in funds to help youth serving organizations and projects and causes.  These are a group of young people who are very active in their schools as well as their communities and their work goes past just trying to decide where the funding goes.  The plan and pull off community service projects, they visit the organizations that are applying for funding and they get to know the nuts and bolts of how they work.  They are working at a young age at leadership skills and team building.

Community Foundation of Muskegon County
This all started back in 1989, the WK Kellogg Foundation challenged Michigan community foundations to find a way to help youth give...offering to match funds if the community foundation could raise enough money to create an unrestricted youth fund and Muskgon's Community Foundation jumped at the chance.

Since then, over $1,000,000.00 has been distributed to Muskegon area youth organizations and over $33 million across the state!  Not bad for a bunch of kids huh?

I was able to sit down with Nirel Patel, who's a junior at Mona Shores High School to learn about his role within the group and how they work together to get the job done.  He's got high hopes of one day being a physician here in Muskegon and taking what he's learned here and giving back... take a listen to our chat below

Amazing to thing that for every kid we hear that's fallen off the rails, or joined some gang that there are those young people out there that are community minded...want to better their surroundings and make a difference at a young age so that we can all continue to flourish.  My many thanks to Nirel for taking a few minutes to "YAC" it up with me about the Community Foundation's YAC program.   

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Habitat for Humanity Home Follow Up - Progress on Adam and Stephanie Home in Muskegon

We started back in the Spring.  We introduced you to Adam Bayne and Stephanie Anderson who were looking to make their situation a little better and through the work of Habitat for Humanity, their dream is coming true.  Well, since our last visit, a lot of work has gone on so we figured we'd pop in again to catch you up on where the progress is...and it's pretty exciting.

As you may recall, Habitat for Humanity is a program that is here in Muskegon but also operates nationally and globally to help people establish themselves as home owners and while they do that, they are given the tools it takes to make home ownership a success.  It's not a "free house" by any stretch of the imagination.  There are hours of sweat equity that go in to every single home.  Work, financial literacy classes, home ownership counselling, and some income requirements all factor in to the project.  The end goal is simple.  Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.  It's a pretty remarkable mission.

Find Muskegon Habitat for Humanity on Facebook

Adam and Stephanie have put the time in, they continue to do so as the work goes on at their house on Grand Street in Muskegon.  Their current residence is a little outdated and their growing family is in need of a little bigger space and new start.  I will say that I have known them for a while, and to have watched their journey has been a remarkable thing.  To see the joy continue to build and the anticipation grow...well, this Spring can't get here soon enough to see the completed home and the joy of them moving in.

For now, we met up to take a glance at the construction progress and give you a quick update, take a listen...over the generator and'll hear too... great things are happening in Muskegon for Adam and Stephanie.

I am so happy for this couple.  As you've seen, the house is going up so are the lives of Adam, Stephanie and their daughter Jaimi who just happened to be busy with pre-school at the time we recorded.  Amazing things are happening in Muskegon, amazing things happening for good people and that makes me feel very good about our future.  If you'd like to know more about Habitat for Humanity in Muskegon, click on the photo below for more information.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ignite Your Passion For God Saturday September 23rd at the Frauenthal Center - Eddie Sanders Jr Reports

We'd like to introduce you to a group called the Muskegon Methodist Men's Ministry.  It's comprised of members from 18 Methodist churches in the Muskegon area and was founded in 2013.  They gather monthly for some fellowship as well as a spiritual message and on average, they have about 50 men come for the hour and a half service.   A couple of years ago, they decided that community outreach should be a key part of their focus and so it began.

In the first year, they took on "The Angel Tree Project" which was a prison outreach ministry to provide Christmas gifts to kids who have an incarcerated parent.  The program has continued to grow since.  In the summer months, they help the youth from their churches out with great activities like Muskegon Risers soccer games and who can pass up the fun of some Whitecaps baseball?  It's a great thing to see guys committed to making a difference where they can and being part of lives like those in prison or just showing young people that there is more to faith and community than just a Sunday morning service.
Learn More About the Muskegon Methodist Men's Minisrty on Facebook

The current focus is the question of "How do we build more excitement and community among Christian men?"  Well, the steering committee decided to establish a special "Men's Day" program and it's happening Saturday September 23rd at the Frauenthal Center in Muskegon from 8a-12:30p.  The theme for the day is "Ignite Your Passion for God" and there will be some awe inspiring speakers on hand to help lend their stories to the day.

Reverend Jeff Bowman of the Temple United Methodist Church will speak on diversity, Reverend Dr. H Michael Lemmon of the AME Church 4th Episcopal District will speak on passion and retired Major Brian Shul USAF who piloted the SR-71 Blackbird will share his life, and near death story.  If you're not familiar with just what an SR-71 Blackbird is, it's a mach 3+ recon aircraft was flown from 1964-1998.  Among's a legend.

Eddie Sanders Jr. sat down with Brad Hilleray who's a member of the Muskegon Methodist Men's Ministry to learn a little more about the event, it's free to attend and all are welcome so take a listen.

A day of inspiration and motivation!  If you're in the market for a little of either, the doors are open.  If you would like to hear the message of three great speakers or maybe just the tale of a guy who took one of the worlds fastest planes to the brink and almost lost it all, only to find a new purpose after that's here too.  You can click on the link below to learn more about the event, you can click on the photo of Major Shul below to go to the event page.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mission For Area People Celebrates it's 50th Anniversary in Muskegon October 5th

50 years is a milestone in any endeavor.  It's half a century and in human terms, it's generally more than half a life time.  In the world of community service however, 50 years is really something to be proud of and in as much as Mission for Area People keeps it's surroundings humble, opting to put the resources back into the people they serve before they add luxuries to the's time to celebrate 5 decades of making Muskegon a better place for all those in need.

Get tickets to the MAP 50th Anniversary Celebration
From humble beginnings, Mission for Area People has grown into a widely encompassing organization helping those in need in a multitude of ways.  It might be the healthy choice food pantry for people who might need a bridge to get by, or maybe it's the supper house where hungry people can come and enjoy a meal and some fellowship...back to school programs, clothing pantries, emergency medical or dental funds, assistance with rental payment emergencies....the list goes on an on and quite sadly, the need continues to grow.

Mission for Area People relies on it's board of directors of course, but the heart and soul of this organization lies in those who help make the day to day operations happen.  The might be called the "boots on the ground" in today's terms.  Those who donate time, clothing, pantry items and help cook the nightly meal.  Those who work in the office and go out into the community to fund raise and most of all, those who have at one time or another received a hand from Mission for Area People and now, they work to return the favor as they understand what it's like to live in the fear of uncertainty.  It's a scary thing.

Dianna Wright-Stubbs is the Executive Director of MAP and we were able to sit down and catch up for a few minutes to talk about the first 50 years, the next 50 years and what's entailed in the 50 year anniversary celebration coming up October 5th at the Muskegon Country Club.  Take a listen to our talk below!

It's one of those most special places we have in Muskegon.  One of the places that will not quit and won't let anyone slip through the cracks.  The needs are great but the fight within all of the people in and around Mission for Area People is stronger.  As the first 50 years comes to a close, we look forward to the next 50 and hop that if you attend the celebration or maybe you just learned a little more about MAP by this article, you'll see the work being done is real and the people taking care of people is what makes Muskegon such an incredible place.  To visit the Mission for Area People Website, click on their logo below.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Full Fall of Activities at the Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon

In Muskegon, we're fortunate in the fact that the Lakeshore Museum Center is spread out into several different and very interesting locations.  There is the Lakeshore Museum Center on Clay, The Hackley and Hume Homes Downtown, The Fire barn, The Scolnik House and of course the Michigan's Heritage Park up in Whitehall.  The thing is, with so many locations keeping track of all the goings on might be a little difficult.

This Fall is full of things to do and we've got them all lined up here for you today!

September 15th is Family Fun Night at the Lakeshore Museum Center on Clay Avenue.  From 5:30-7:30 bring everyone out for a special visit from the Blanford Nature Center who will be bringing some live animals for a meet and greet.  Also, outside the museum there will be the Safari Club International's Michigan Chapter setting up their Sensory Safari.  You'll find wildlife themed stations throughout the museum, a chance to get hands on with skulls and furs..animal track art and more!  It's fun for everyone.  September 21st The Hackley and Hume Homes All Access Tour!  Want to see the basement and attic?  Wonder what's in the closet?  Wanna know what the view from the balcony is like or maybe look under the bed?  These homes are 120 year old and not everyone gets to see all of the in's and out's on the regular visit.  This is a pretty special tour and getting tickets in advance is probably a good idea for the event.
Lumber Barons' Ball 2017

September 23rd.... it's the big one.  The Lakeshore Museum Center hosts one big fund raiser yearly and it's the Lumber Barons' Ball!  Held at the Hackley Administration Building this gala affair is the must attend event for the community to support our wonderful museum.  This year along with the gala, you'll find lots of experiential opportunities to bid on.

I got together with Joni Dorsett at the Lakeshore Museum Center to talk about all of it, take a listen to our chat below.

We're very lucky to have such a multifaceted and diverse museum here in town.  The programming is appealing to all ages and the settings are fabulous.  If you're out for a tour or maybe a Halloween haunt, or maybe you'd just like to support a vital part of the community.  Plan a day to spend at the Lakeshore Museum Center soon.  Their Website is linked below!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Chase Boucher Needs a Hand - and 4 Paws

This one is going directly at your heart strings.  No if's and's or but's about it.  :)

We've been very proud to help further the cause of Muskegon Guns and Hoses over the years, a group of area police and fire fighters who have formed a non profit that usually centers around an annual benefit hockey game where some needs are met and families are taken care of, but this year they have decided that the work can be extended.

Chase and Bella
One of the beneficiaries of the game last year was a little feller named Chase Boucher.  Chase has a genetic disorder called Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy.   The short and quick of the disease is this.  In boys, it stunts growth, and it also attacks muscles.  As Chase grows, his muscles won't and right now, he's at the stage where all the common stuff to a 7 year old boy is pretty hard for him to do.  Run, play, kid's all getting harder.  The long term prognosis isn't favorable and hopefully before too long, they'll find a cure.  For now though, Chase couldn't have found a better group of people to take him in and be his advocates.  He's been crowned a fire fighter and I have found out that there isn't a much tighter wound brotherhood/sisterhood than fire fighters.

Here's where they need a hand.  Chase is just seeing the early signs of what this disease will be.  He's going to need the help of a service dog and she's already in the "get to know you" phase with Chase.  Her name is Bella and she's coming from Lowell.  She will not only be a part of Chase's life as things become more difficult for him physically, she's going to be there as emotional support for him as some of the "normals" in life pass him by.  This is truly an needed support dog, and truly a little boy who needs a community to surround him.

Bow donated by Matthews
There have been a variety of fundraisers already.  There have been spaghetti dinners, Go Fund Me pages.  Fire department people gave up some days off to fence in the back yard of Chase's family so Bella can get out when she comes home in October.  Of course too, there was the money raised by the Guns and Hoses game last year, but... a little more is needed and they have a chance for you to win a pretty cool prize if you so choose to enter for it.  Mathews Archery has donated a Creed Bow valued at $1000 and raffle tickets for it are available for it.

You can even get them online or, if you'd just like to donate, we'll link the PayPal address below.
If you'd like to be entered for the bow just make sure you put raffle tickets and your phone number in the comments of your PayPal form.  Simple as that.

I was joined by Lacey Koens and the rock star himself, Chase Boucher to talk a little more about what's all going on here and give you a little more information about the disease and how you can help, take a listen.

As a grandparent, the thought of a scraped knee scares me to death.  I can't imagine the thought of a kid like this who's got a progressive disease and how it's going to limit him in his life and the challenges he and his family will face.  I do know this though..  He's in the best town on earth to be looked after.  Something I have never done on this blog is share a message I got from a guest, but I want you to read something from Lacey and I think it's pretty reflective of the fire fighters she serves with - "For us, Chase is more than charity - he's family our little brother, and we are with him until the wheels fall off"  Imagine what kind of world we would have if we all looked out for someone like that.

If you'd like to get in on the raffle for the bow, or make a donation, you'll find the email linked below.  Ask around work, take up a collection, cash in the change jar....Muskegon.... I am asking please.... let's do this for this kid and these amazing first responders that have taken him in as one of them.

Click here for the Email to Paypal Your Donation