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Thursday, November 30, 2017

2018 The Year of the Lighthouse in Muskegon

Muskegon's maritime history is something to be proud of.  From our glorious beaches to the industry that has made use of our waters to the historic relics we now house in Muskegon with the ships that are here, water is a part of just about every aspect of our community.  We sit on part of the worlds largest fresh water supply and like any waterfront area, part of the lore is the lighthouse. 

2018 will be a celebration of those lighthouses as the South Pier Lighthouse turns 115 years old.  WOW!

As you can imagine, at 115 it's time for a little face lift.  There's some work that needs to be done to repair and preserve this historic lighthouse.  Now, if you're wondering....this is the South light house.  It's in past the breakwater and might be a little difficult to get to.  It sits behind the Coast Guard Station and the NOAA Weather Office, but it is open for tours in the Summer and people do make their way out there to fish off the dock.  Might be a good time for a true confession moment, I didn't even know where to park to get out to our filming location when we shot this video...so.....if you've never made your way to the South lighthouse, don't feel bad.  Back to our story though.  The South lighthouse needs some work, but the one that's really far out there needs a LOT of work,  so 2018 will see some great activity and awareness centered around our historic landmarks.

A look at some of the floor that needs to be replaced
There are people who work tirelessly to preserve and protect these pillars of our community.  A staff of a non-profit as well as volunteers who assist in maintenance of the light houses, giving tours, telling the history of them and generally advocating for not only what they were, but what they still are.  Yes, lighthouses are still used as navigation tools by the shipping industry.  They also make an incredible backdrop for photographers and sunset gazers who come to town to admire the serenity that can only come from looking West out over Lake Michigan.

I was contacted by Cindy Beth Davis-Dykema who is the Executive Director of the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy.  She's been at it since 2010 and her mission is to preserve, promote and make accessible Michigan's lighthouses to the communities that they reside in.  She is a walking talking history book on Michigan lighthouses and I'll be honest...makes a VERY easy interview.  We met up in one of the most spectacular settings I ever found myself in for a chat.  Take a listen.

It was like a view from heaven.  What an incredible treat to be able to spend a few minutes on top of the world talking about something we in Muskegon might take a little for granted, but others come to see from miles and miles away.  I'd like to invite you to follow the Muskegon Lights website.  You'll find links to their Facebook page too, give it a like.  We have to preserve and protect what set's us a part from the rest of the area.  Our lighthouses are historically significant in so many ways, they are beacons that reach out and say there is safety here...we should make sure they are cherished.  You can find their link under the photo below!

A view back from the top - Photos by Derek Wong


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Brayden's Voyage Gets a Hand From Michigan Mortgage

One of the foundations of Positively Muskegon has been to find the places in town where people connect to make great things happen.  We been preaching for a couple of years that Muskegon is full of stories that celebrate the human spirit as well as community togetherness and how when there's a need, we step up as friends and neighbors to make sure we do all we can to make it happen.  Well, if that's the kind of story you're up for, you came to the right place today!

Like you to meet Baryden Janetzke and his mom Christina.  We're a little short on time for this one, and I'll explain why in a minute, but I am going to quote what Christina sent me in advance so we can get to work. -

"Brayden Janetzke was born with a genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA for short).

SMA is a neuromuscular disease that limits voluntary muscle movement. SMA has NO cure but there is currently ONE form of treatment that Brayden is receiving every two weeks at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Click for Braydensvoyage.com
Brayden is a happy 7 year old who enjoys simple things and loves Captain America!!! Brayden spends his days by attending Churchill Elementary in the Mona Shores School District, going to his Cub Scout meetings as a Wolf Scout, Attending Crew Jr. for Wednesday night Worship at Lakeshore Fellowship Church, and spending time with friends and family. Medically he attends Pediatric Clinics at University of Michigan Mott’s Children’s Hospital and Helen DeVos. He also attends weekly Aqua therapy at Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids.

We appreciate the opportunity to spread awareness and let Brayden’s story be heard."

So there is that part.  Now, here's where we come in.  Michigan Mortgage is offering to help the cause out.  They have made a cash donation already and are giving a $1 donation for every check in on their Facebook page between now and the end of the month...which is  Thursday November 30th.  Time to get clicking.  You can find the link to their Facebook page on the right.  Click on it, and click on that check in!!  Let's see if we can raise a few bucks for the little shaver.
Check in @MichiganMortgage and #mmgivesback

While you're clicking and checking in take a listen to our chat with Brayden, Christina and Tracey Kiel who was the employee of the month who nominated Brayden's Voyage!  Take a Listen!

There's the scoop!  Click on the Michigan Mortgage Facebook Link above and check in!  Given them the #mmgivesback and $1 goes to help Brayden and his family along in the journey.  We are always on the hunt for great people, and great companies who are out to make a difference in our community.  It was a pleasure and honor to meet Brayden and his family today and the folks at Michigan Mortgage were first class from the minute we walked in the door until we left.  What a great place to do so much for the Janetzke's.  Our best wishes to all.   To visit Michigan Mortgage online, click on the image below.

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 it...it 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 honesty...to 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 pocket...you 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.