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Educational Opportunities

Friday, March 31, 2017

The West Michigan Ironmen and Peak Training Academy - Two Welcome Additions to Muskegon

Not to say that life is busy, but it only took 2 years for Terrance Williams and I to find the time to sit down and talk.  From his days playing football in Muskegon till now...it's been an amazing journey for the owner of the West Michigan Ironmen.  The Ironmen debuted at the LC Walker Arena in 2016 and bring the intensity of arena football back to front and center for the ravenous football town that is Muskegon.

Peak Training Academy Online
Along with the establishment of the team came the revamping of the old Walker Arena Annex....which honestly, was a teeny tiny bit past it's time for a new purpose.  Well, it's new life at the Peak Training Academy with a partnership with Mercy Health is a stepping stone for area athletes to be able to ascend to the next level.  If they are making their way up into high school sports, there's a program... if they are going to try for college sports...they have the work out....it's an incredible offering of everything that goes in to making athletes better.

Back to the Ironmen.  Tough, fast paced, high scoring, exciting and affordable are some of the benchmarks of the team.  You have a mix of players from all over the country....that's right...the entire country coming to Muskegon for an opportunity to play.  Best part is, with Muskegon being such a great football town, you'll also find plenty of local players mixed in.  They play a tough schedule which gets underway in March and wraps up at the end of May.  So just when you think football is over after the "big game" here come the Ironmen.

The two year chase finally paid off and Terrance and I had a chance to sit down and talk about his younger days here in town, what inspired him to come back, and give back and we even get to talk about TV Stars!  Take a listen to our chat below!



Local guy, heads out...get's himself where he wants to be in life and then....comes home to establish 2 incredible things for Muskegon.  This is the kind of story we love, and it's the kind of thing that makes Muskegon the community it is!  Get out and see an Ironmen game!  Learn more about the Peak Training Academy!  Be a part of all of the great things happening in Muskegon!  Now is out time!  To visit the Ironmen's Page, click below!





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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Habitat For Humanity of Muskegon County Helping People Own Homes

You may see the few stores around town that are Habitat For Humanity ReStore.  Have you ever stopped in to one?  Well, you'll find lot's of things for your home that have been reclaimed, re-purposed and you'll find that the price of all of the stuff is at a fraction of the cost of what you might pay retail.  I mean honestly, all of the aforementioned is the proper way of saying they have cool stuff that won't cost much!  But, did you know, there's a much higher purpose?

Muskegon County Habitat For Humanity
The Muskegon County Habitat for Humanity is a global organization with it's boots on the ground right here in Muskegon county.  Their work not only includes the ReStore, they also work to build or restore homes for people who might otherwise never know the feeling of pride that comes with owning your own home!  Moderate to low income people sometimes struggle, believe me when I tell you....it's a feeling I understand.

In Muskegon County, Habitat for Humanity works to provide 2-5 homes a year for their program participants.  It's by no means a chance to "get a free house".  There are a list of commitments that have to be made, there's an element of sweat equity that comes along with the chance to own a home and there is also an extensive screening process.  Back the the "free house" thing..there is a tailored mortgage when it's all said and done.  In as much as it would be nice to be able to give a home to anyone, but to be able to give them the tools and skills to know how to own and manage a home is a very big part of the entire process.  This is a program of building people...building homes and building communities.

Habitat for Humanity is also a great platform to volunteer for.  You can volunteer as an individual, group or organization.  Some companies go as far as to put a days work on hold so their employees can take a chance to have a hand in such a dramatic impact in their community.  If you have some construction skills, can help run one of the stores, even chances to cut grass.  More hands are always needed and you will truly have a feeling of doing something great deep inside you.

I was invited down to learn a little more about Habitat for Humanity in Muskegon by Claire Root-Benson. We met up in their office on Ottawa Street in Muskegon to hear about Habitat as well as some very special fundraising events coming up.  Take a listen to our chat below.



Growing up, I never imagined I'd be able to buy a home.  It happened.  I happened to find my perfect home right where I belong here in town.  I have put down my roots, I have watched them spread and I have taken the active roles in my community to do what I can to help out.  I think that everyone should have the same opportunity.  I think that the pride in owning your own home is a starting block to making your own life amazing beyond belief and the work of Habitat For Humanity is giving others that very same chance.  To learn more about Habitat For Humanity in Muskegon County, click on their logo below.




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How 2 Local Photographers Are Setting Out to Help With Senior Pictures in Muskegon

Do you remember back when you had your senior pictures taken?  It was a BIG deal for me and I was insistent that they were done by a certain studio.....I agreed to the coat and tie thing for one pic option, but the rest were going to be in comfortable clothes and reflect who I thought I was.  Yes...that means most of the pictures had me in a beer t-shirt.  :)
Today, the sky is the limit on senior photos...but sometimes, the finances are a little higher than the sky.

Rustic Enchantment on Facebook

People have to choose what they can spend on things.  It's tough when a family has to decide what's going to get spent on the "extras".  To some the idea of a portrait session is the only way to commemorate a life milestone.  To others, it might mean that they have to settle for some pictures taken out in the back yard by a friend or neighbor, and there's nothing wrong with that either.

Well, I was asked by a couple local professional photographers if I would be interested in hearing their idea.  Sure...always good to hear ideas.  I met Gabrielle Butterfield and Heather Parker to find out what they had in mind.  It's a pretty cool idea!  Gabrielle and Heather are looking for 4 students who need senior pics done!





Parker Photography on Facebook


It's not just free pictures though.  What they are looking for are exceptional students who go above and beyond for their own education, their school, community family and friends.  They are looking to help them out by offering free portrait sessions to the lucky 4 with clothing changes, locations and the whole thing.




This is meant to give a hand to someone who might otherwise go without, and while a nice set of senior pictures isn't exactly a necessity in life, it's a remarkable moment when kids become young adults and begin to start to spread their wings and get ready to fly on their own.

After hearing their idea, we met up again, this time at the Shoreline Inn to talk a little about what they hope to do and why they are doing it!  Take a listen to out chat below.


Amazing what people can do to not only share their talent, but to help those who might not be afforded the chance to have an occasion like their senior pictures done.  If you'd like to submit your story to them CLICK HERE and it will take you to an email link to share your story!  Many thanks to these gals for a handful of their time and talent.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mona Shores Wavelength FIRST Robotics Team Gives Hands On Technology Experience

Looking back a few years, to watch how school "clubs" have changed, I am often reminded just how old I am.  We had offerings of macrame, model building, maybe a karate class...I'll be honest, I wasn't much of a joiner, but...I'd try it long enough to get my mom disgusted when I would quit 3 weeks into it.
Today, the school "clubs" are more about pure awesomeness and serious experience.  From business competitions to robotics, it's hands on and forward motion!



Wavelength FIRST Robotics Team Facebook Page
Our story today is about the Mona Shores Wavelength FIRST Robotics Team.  This is a fairly small team according to Susan Davis who sent me the idea for this article.  Consisting of 20 students and mentors, the team competes against other schools all over the state.  Andrew Basse is the coach of the team from Mona Shores.  To quote Susan "The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting Mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership" That's a far cry from snap together models and basket weaving.



Mona Shores Schools
In talking with Susan, she explains a little more. "During our FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Michigan District qualifying event March 23-25 at Grand Valley State University, we successfully made it to the semifinals. At this event, we also were honored with The Chairman’s Award. The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. As a recipient of this award, we are automatically qualified for the FRC at the state level. This event takes place April 12-15 at the Ryder Center at Saginaw Valley Community College." Susan has much to be proud of.




I made the "long" trip from Roosevelt Park over to Mona Shores High School to meet the team and the mentors that make this happen for their students! Take a listen to our chat below.




It's like this, hindsight is always 20/20. Back in school, the offerings might not have been as staggering as they are today, but there were there...the might just not have grabbed enough interest for me. Today, kids are put into real world situations and given challenges that any adult team would have to work to complete. Organizations like Wavelength FIRST are seeing to it that the future for our kids is bright, they are ready for the workforce, and they have probably formed a lifelong bond with each other, their mentors and assured themselves that they will never run out of work. I'd like you to stop and think for a moment too, for every report you hear about some kid who's lost his way...there are 10 more kids right behind them who are getting it right. We feel it's immensly important to let you know that there are kids out there who soar....and that those kids are right here in Muskegon.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

All Of Our Work - On One T-Shirt - Positively Muskegon Thoughts By Andy O

Way back when, like a year and a few months ago, I come to the conclusion that Muskegon needed something available to it's residents that would give them a platform to show what they are doing.   Large and small, we've worked to show you the people who make Muskegon what it is and keep us moving.  I think we've done a pretty good job of that with what we have.  We have invested in people and technology to make the presentation a little more diverse and presentable.



It's been awesome!

This past weekend, the Mrs. and I ran down to Detroit for an event.  It was a large scale vendor and food truck event called All Things Detroit and Food Truck Rally.  Let's be honest, Detroit has taken some of the same lumps we have, but on a much bigger scale.  It's not stopped us from going to spots events and concerts there, but as Detroit is carving a new path at the same time we are, I wanted to go catch the vibe and see if I could pick anything up from it.  As we were strolling the marketplace, I stumbled on a guy selling shirts....and my jaw hit the floor.  He managed to say in one t-shirt what I have been preaching here for over a year.  Here's a look at that shirt.

Now, since he was able to sum it all up like that doesn't mean that we're going to change the way we do things here.  Nope, in fact...we've got every intention of continuing on with Positively Muskegon and in a short time, you will even see an expansion of what we do while we'll be sure to protect what we have here.  We need to see the good things people do.  Period.

What got me is the undertone of the whole message.  I'd like too to ask you to start seeing that around here.  Reflect it in your daily life.  When you see someone who's giving more than they should, appreciate them.  Believe in a better community and it will happen!  Do what you can to ignore what you hear and see about the "bad" image that gets projected so often.  Honestly, if you are here on the streets on a day in and day out basis....is it really that bad?  I personally don't feel threatened or out of place anywhere here in Muskegon.  I feel I am among friends and neighbors and I also feel that if I am able to lend a hand.....I am going to do it!

Belief is the first step.  If you have on ounce of belief in you....nurture it.  Grow it!  Not everything is going to be perfect, but believe more in the positive and good and less in what we hear and see about problems.  Of the problems....think of what you can do, even in the smallest of the sense and do it.  Believe that what you can do... can and will make a difference.   Believe in the people around you and their passions.  We've worked hard on your beliefs and will keep right on doing that.

The second step.  It's all highlighted in red.  BE THE GOOD.  If you have a smile to give, give it.  If you have tools or treasure...share what you can.  Be kind, be friendly be above "what you hear" and be part of the reality.  That reality is that we've got a new era unfolding in Muskegon, just like in Detroit....and who would have thought it could all be summed up in something you read on a t-shirt!

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Best Financial Credit Union 2017 Giveback in Muskegon

It started off like anything else.  I am sitting there on Facebook one afternoon and I see someone shared a link for one of my favorite non profits in the area, so I was right there to share it immediately and tell everyone to vote for it!  Then....I looked at the entire program...and as it turns out....I know pretty much all of the non profits in the running....and now I look like I am playing favorites!

What to do?!?



Using my keen intellect and "razor sharp" reporting skills, I thought "Hey...let's get a hold of the folks at Best Financial Credit Union".  Brilliant right?
Visit Best Financial CU on Facebook

This is the 6 year that Best Financial Credit Union has done the Community Giveback for its members and the 1st year it's been open to include the community.  It's a chance for you to have an active role in helping decide who the winners are.  Best Financial Credit Union is give away 3 $5000 prizes this year!  Remaining engaged in the community is paramount to Best Financial Credit Union and what better way to do that than highlight some pretty remarkable local organizations and ask them in return to help spread the word about Best Financial Credit Union through their social media channels?

This year, No More Sidelines, The People Center, The Disability Network, Sacred Suds, The Central Park Players, Wings Of Mercy, Muskegon Pathfinders, Meals on Wheels/ Agewell Services, Boys and Girls Club and Heaven Can Wait/ Puppy's Breath animal shelters are the contenders.  All with huge roles in our community and all deserving of the award.  I am glad I don't have to do more than vote once a day for my favorites!

I headed out to Best Financial Credit Union at the invitation of Emily Dykstra who's the Marketing Coordinator and we were joined by Business Services Manager Jason Sells and CEO Morgan Rescorla to learn a little more about the online event and the credit union itself.  Take a listen to our chat below.



It's a powerful thing this social media.  I applaud Best Financial Credit Union for the amazing use of their assets to not only make social media work for them and their chosen organizations, but to expose them on a much broader spectrum.  An event like this is very high visibility for non profits that often can't afford the exposure.  If you add in the possibility of a $5000 pay day for 3 of the chosen organizations....it's a picture perfect promotion.  Something we all need more of!  Click on the image below to visit the Best Financial Credit Union website and vote!!

Vote for Your Favorite Nonprofit 



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Monday, March 20, 2017

I Scream You Scream! It's Ice Cream Season in Muskegon - Popped in to Coney Land

It wasn't much of a Winter really.  At least I didn't think it was.  BUT!  It certainly enough of a winter to get the local ice cream shops closed down and the sweets lovers of Muskegon have had to resort to tubs of Moose Tracks that you eat secretly after the spouse goes to bed.  Are you seeing the line here?  Where the author reveals a little something about his daily life?  :)




Personal ice cream experiences aside, since today is the first day of Spring, I thought it fitting to pop in on a local ice cream shop and learn a little more.  Since I have not been to the North side of town lately, I asked Ron Morin of Coney Land if I could drop by.  He was kind enough to find a few minutes for me.

Follow Coney Land on Facebook
Why ice cream?  Well, here's my thoughts.  Ice cream is still a very premium treat.  There are those who love soft serve, those that want all the bells and whistles....some want a single scoop of vanilla and others want a Popsicle.  The thought of a trip to an ice cream store to a kid is like Valentines Day and Easter all wrapped up in one!  Ice cream is a great first date, it's a great stop to make for older people who'd just like to watch kids play for a bit, catch up with neighbors, unwind a little and support a local business.

Speaking of a local business, have you ever stopped to think of the impact an ice cream place has?  People in from out of town....ice cream crews are ambassadors!  A great smile and attitude leaves an impression.  An ice cream crew is a great place for young workers to get their first experience in the working world and out of all the local ice cream shops I know...they are all small, family run business.  Small business is the backbone of the local economy, you've heard it time and time again.

Take a few minutes to listen to Ron Morin in the video below!  See what goes in to the day to day of an ice cream shop!



Ice cream, quick serve foods.  A great atmosphere and a timeless family friendly destination for a little sugar rush.  Coney Land is one of many ice cream shops that are taking down the boards over the windows in Muskegon and getting ready for the Summer season!  Ron was kind enough to spare a minute on this first day of Spring, stop in and see him at Coney Land or pick an ice cream shop near you and get out and celebrate!  Think too, just how much goes into the ice cream shop.  What a way to treat yourself and move the local economy.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Muskecon - A Look Back at the Day That Was

It came and went, this thing called Muskecon.  The idea was to make Muskegon "Nerd" again.

I was happy to be invited to do a story ahead of the event, and I went right down there and paid my $5 to get in and see the show.   Now, keep in mind, I was there for maybe an hour.  We did a FB live thing to help promote the show a little but by then...it didn't really matter.  Pete McCarthy had this event in the bag and it was rockin!


I asked Jeremy Dewitt who had a booth there if I could swipe his photo's of the day to share, and he said without a doubt.  Why share some photos?  Well, I want you to take a good look at them.  What a day.  We had happy people walking around with other happy people in a BRAND NEW event in Muskegon.  We had active participants, we had passive people just strolling thru.  We had comics, artists, toys, crafters, kids, parents.  We had people in from all over the state and we had locals with a first chance to share their great talents with everyone else!

What some see as a comic event, I saw a remarkable gathering of people from all cross sections of life.  I saw Muskegon out having fun without worrying about what anyone else thinks.  I saw imaginations running wild, I saw people who like to play.  I saw families together and I saw the seedlings of an event I personally hope grows and grows and grows!

Comic books....costumes....pictures and toys.  Mighty fine way to get the town together if you ask me!  Congrats to Pete and all who helped launch Muskecon!






























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