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Wings Over Muskegon

Wings Over Muskegon
August 9th-11th

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Santa's Helpers of Muskegon Helping Those Who Struggle to Make Christmas Magic Happen

  The holidays are fast approaching and for some, it's a dreaded time of year.  So much pressure to live up to the hype and excitement of the glitz and glamour of all the gift giving and huge surprises under the tree.  So much pressure from the advertising world, peers and social media in today's world for the biggest, best and most.  However, there are families who struggle to get by.  Some work more than one job to sustain the basics, and all the extras are hard to come by.

  One of the things that makes Muskegon so awesome is that in Muskegon, we always find a way to band together and help.  We're a very hard working town and getting our hands dirty and making sure that those in need don't go without seems to be a "thing".  It's one of the best parts of this community.  There are plenty of the "big organizations" that handle this kind of thing, but we always seem to see the grass roots things pop up too and when they take root and grow, it's because there are people behind them who understand what it is to have to go the extra mile to make ends meet and they genuinely want to see others not have to struggle the way they did.  More hands make light work right?
Find Santa's Helpers Muskegon on Facebook

  Santa's Helpers of Muskegon got started 4 years ago.  The loss of some family members sparked the idea...how can they take a personal tragedy and spark something good for others.  Year one, they served 35 kids.  They paired kids with sponsor families and organizations to help make a little magic happen.  They have grown.  Now, the number of kids is over 100 and the people willing to sponsor a kid has grown right along with them.  The need for good in the world is proven time and time again, when sometimes perfect strangers learn what a child needs by way of clothes or essentials and maybe a few toys and they make it happen.  The best part of it too, is that it happens right here in Muskegon.  Neighbors taking care of neighbors and that's what we are and have always been all about.

  I caught up with Karen Gagnon, Brie Shotwell and and Kathy Strait who founded and have grown this group of good.  We also had a surprise guest join us toward the tail end of the visit.  Take a listen to hear how this group has done it and continues to grow.

  It's not rocket science to take care of your community.  Good people who want to make a difference can do so much with an idea and some initiative.  Another amazing part of the story, turning a tragedy into a triumph.  The loss of a couple of kids meant that their memory will go on in the light of the joy of others when those kids who were at risk of going without, don't have to because someone cared enough to take a little action and make a difference.  You can connect with Santa's Helpers of Muskegon by finding them on Facebook.  Their page is linked in the picture above.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Storytime and Free Books for Kids Every Month at The United Way of Muskegon November 27th

  We're going to hit you with a couple of facts right off the bat.  1) It's a proven fact that kids that can read before they enter school will have a much better academic career than those who can't.  2) There are already over 4000 kids in the Muskegon Area who participate in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program where a brand new book is sent directly to them every month from birth till they are 5.  The excitement of getting something in the mail alone for your kid should keep ya reading.

Learn More About the Dolly Parton Imagination Library
  On November 27th you and your youngsters are invited to the United Way of the Lakeshore for a fun event highlighting the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program that happens through the United Way.  There will be plenty of stories read to kids from some of the best readers in town all of which are on hand to show kids just how much fun reading can be,  Unlock the imagination a little and get those young eyes and minds on something other than video screens for a while.  Not only will they be able to hear some incredible stories read, parents and community members can get those kids signed up to be part of the magic monthly when the new books start showing up in the mailbox.  It's also a great way to learn a little more about the essential needs of developing reading early.

  The event goes from 10:30a-1:30p at the United Way in Muskegon on November 27th and if you're north of town, they will be in Pentwater at the Storybook Village from 4p-6p.  Expert readers will be on hand to add the sizzle to the story with their narration and all the stops have been pulled out to welcome in one of the busiest people on the planet this time of the year.  Yes, Santa himself will be the last story reader in Muskegon and then there will be some candy canes handed out for the kids who came to enjoy the program.

  Dominique Bunker of The United Way of the Lakeshore joined me to talk about the event and the fun surrounding it.  Take a listen to our chat below.

  Hey, if nothing else, think of it as a sneak Christmas gift for your kids!!  They won't even know what hit 'em.  You're giving them a book a month and a visit with Santa all while you're setting the tone for the rest of their lives by encouraging them to read!!  Pretty amazing how it all works huh?  The 27th is Giving Tuesday, so, give a gift they will use their entire life...a love of reading.  Our thanks to The United Way of the Lakeshore for all they do and for inspiring young readers everywhere.  If you'd like to know more about the United Way here in town, click on the image below to visit their page.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Folkert Community Hub Invites You Out December 4th For An Announcement

  The Folkert Community Hub is the home of No More Sidelines.  Located on Seminole Road in Norton Shores, "The Hub" was chosen after a lengthy search for a place for this group to call home for it's versatility, location and the ability to expand to be more than just a club for the participants in No More Sidelines.  The founders wanted a true space that anyone in the area could consider their community space.

  The facility boasts meeting space, banquet facilities, expansive room for expos, a gym, a beautiful commercial grade kitchen and also houses some pretty amazing programs during the day to help kids with unique abilities.  Loving care is put into every corner of the building.  There have been many wedding receptions held, plenty of fundraisers and luncheons.  Lot's of games and fun for the No More Sidelines participants and the mission continues.  The Hub was designed to be a place to bring people together and break down barriers.
Follow No More Sidelines on Facebook

  Evolution has always been part of The Hub.  At one point, the building was the design facility of General Dynamics.  It was a maze of partitions and fabrication areas as the workers there designed and built weapons.  The building itself was designed to government spec for security purposes.  No windows, rooms that were silent to the "top secret" level and closed communications systems.  Bits and pieces were changes here and there...fabrication became the gym....windows were added to the banquet rooms.....brighter paint.....newer carpet....the transformation was steady and today, it's an inviting place for all, and those who rent it for an occasion, are helping the No More Sidelines group.  All the proceeds go to help the families who participate.  It's a Muskegon based organization that's growing still today.

  On December 4th at 10am you are invited to The Folkert Community Hub for an announcement about the future of The Hub and No More Sidelines.  There are some exciting plans for the building as well as the participants that call it home.  There will be some media on hand, some refreshments served and if you've never had the chance, a tour of the building so you can see first hand just how incredible the place is.  I was invited by Angie Brock and Mary Dandron to stop in and get you a little sneak preview of what's coming.  Take a listen.

  Want the whole story?  December 4th!  10a!!  One of the most wonderful things I have ever been a part of has been No More Sidelines.  I have learned more about myself and more importantly, I have learned that what I once thought were some of the really big differences in people, are not at all.  I will be forever grateful to the families and founders of No More Sidelines and hope you can make it out to hear what's next on December 4th.  If you'd like to know more about No More Sidelines, click on the photo below.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Family Promise Supermarket Sweep at Great Lakes Fresh Market November 16th 2018

  The tickets were sold and the stage was set.  It was time for the fin of the Supermarket Sweep to get underway at Great Lake Fresh Market on Friday morning November 16th on Sherman Ave in Muskegon.  Just shy of 800 tickets were sold to benefit Family Promise of the Lakeshore.  Family Promise keeps families together in a homeless emergency.

  It's a completely community supported organization, and Marian McDermod and her staff work tirelessly to make sure that needs are met.  Food, personal care items, education on running a household and making sure that once the time with Family Promise is up, the families who do have to rely on their service, have more knowledge and won't have to face the same crisis twice.  It's a tremendous outreach and something everyone in Muskegon should be very proud of.

Visit Family Promise of the Lakeshore Online

Ed and Marion showing off the register tape
  Ed Wosinski was our contestant.  His wife's ticket was actually drawn, but she's a teacher up at Holton Schools and had a test that had to be given and couldn't make it out of work, so Ed stepped up.  We all met up at the store about 8:30 to go over some of the rules.  No alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets or gift cards.  There is a 5 minute limit and other than that...the store is yours.  Ed did a couple of pre-sweep walk through laps to see what was where and of course the Mrs. gave him a list.

  Here's the twist though, Ed's plan was to get only a handful of things for himself.  The rest was all going back to Family Promise or another organization that Ed and his wife are passionate about working with refugees here in the area.  Ed's the Youth Minister at First Lutheran Church and wanted to show by example that giving can so so much further.

It's a wild run, so give yourself a few minutes and take a look and watch for the total at the end.  The Supermarket Sweep is on.  Go Ed Go!!

  What a unique and fun fundraiser for a remarkable organization.  Ed's generosity will go far beyond the $10 ticket it cost he and his wife to be in the drawing and his example is one for all of us to follow.  Our thanks to Great Lakes Fresh Market for their generous support of the  Family Promise of the Lakeshore.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Bells are Ringing - Busy Season Starts for The Salvation Army of Muskegon

  You'll hear the bells soon, you'll see the Red Kettles and you'll know that the season is upon us.  What would the holidays be without The Salvation Army outside your favorite place to shop with that familiar gentle ring and the sounds of "Thank You - Merry Christmas"?  In an ever increasing and fast paced world it's the small stuff that makes it feel like home and the nostalgia of the bells goes back across generations.

  Well, there are plenty more ways you can help out the Salvation Army than with just the pocket change.  Although, that pocket change, it adds up.  If everyone in the county gave less than a dollar, the Salvation Army would make the Kettle Campaign goal for the year and that would be that.  Less than a buck!  Imagine that?  But it's so much more than just the spare change.  The Salvation Army's reach is deep and your chance to be a part of what they do and how they help comes in a variety of ways.
Click on the Sweet Season Pass Pin to Visit the SA Muskegon on Facebook

  Want to be on the Turkey Run?  You can help Thanksgiving morning by delivering dinners to those in need around Muskegon County.  Want to get a sweet lapel pin that shows you have a "Season Pass" for the bell ringers?  You can make a donation to do just that and sport some snazzy attire accouterments for some holiday bling.  Want to be part of the Kettle Campaign Kick Off?  Show up at the Community Tree Lighting event at Hackley Park November 24th at 5:30p.  Want a starring role?  YOU!  Yes YOU!!  Can be a bell ringer!  Imagine the glory and honor or being out and seeing friends and neighbors with you and your chest puffed out doing your part!  You can do one or all!

  I sat down with Robin Henshaw-Hard and Captain Chris Carlin to talk about the "busy season" at the Salvation Army of Muskegon and how you're part in all of it can help it come off without a hitch.  Take a listen. 

  There is a lot of good that comes out of the Salvation Army and if it's some spare change or if it's some time you can spare, your part of the total adds up quick!  If you see a bell ringer, pennies nickles and dimes add up.  If you want to see the face of someone light up on Thanksgiving, consider the Turkey Run for a few hours and if you can give a little more, please do.  Our community is better because of the work of the Salavation Army.  We'll plan on seeing you out soon ringing some bells somewhere in town!  If you'd like to know more about how to be involved you can visit the Salvation Army of Muskegon on their website below!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Meet Asia Hughes - Boys and Girls Club of Muskegon and The Lakeshore's Youth of the Year

It was a night of celebration and anticipation at the Holiday Inn Downtown Muskegon on November 8th.  The Boys and Girls Club of The Muskegon Lakeshore had the ballroom to celebrate some of their members for their accomplishments in and out of the club.  Factored in are things like how they do in school, personal achievements and more.  But this year, there was a twist.  There was a voting element among the attendees and of the 3 finalists, it could go to any.

Founded in 2015 after a monumental effort on the part of so many in Muskegon, the Boys and Girls Club has begun to start to show that the mission....works.  It's a safe harbor to some, to others a place for character development or academics, others might learn about healthy lifestyles and some might need it for a sense of belonging, healthy relationships and fun.  The impact is monumental and it's growing.  There are now over 1000 registered members of the club who take part in the activities provided and they are given the opportunity to flourish year round.

Find the Boys and Girls Club of Muskegon on Facebook
With the programs and activities come the need for an occasional fund raiser and celebration of accomplishments.  The tables were set, the guests arrives and the honorees were all mixed in with the crowd.  There were some proud parents, some grand parents sprinkled in for good measure.  Board members, contributors and the average joe who just wanted to see a nice program celebrating young people.  As the night unfolded and the program got underway, we heard from the top three of 6 finalists as to what the Boys and Girls Club has meant to them, what some of their life circumstances were and how they have applied what they have gleaned from the club to be part of their life going forward.

Elroy, Michael and Asia got up and shared some thoughts with the audience of a couple hundred people.  Not an easy task for anyone, but they injected personality, insight and even some humor into their presentation.  Hopes and dreams were shared, some of the bumps in life were as well and you could have literally heard a pin drop when you heard what some of these young people have lived through.  None of which is even a senior in high school yet.  To say they have lived more life at 15 than most of us will ever see is an understatement.

After the stories, the voting took place on Ipads and cell phones and when the announcement was made...Asia was the Youth of the Year.  She spent her younger days in foster care and the experience was less than ideal.  Instead of letting it consume her, at 15 she knows that her mission in life is to make sure those who are in foster care in future generations don't have the same experience she did.  She joined me for a quick conversation in the afterglow of the ceremony, you can still heat the buzz going on around us as we talk.  Take a listen.

Smart, powerful, determined and strong.  Her story on stage brought the room to a stand still and her presence in person is one of a remarkable future leader.  I have done enough around people in my life to know that there are some who have been touched by their life experiences, those who have helped shape them...both for the good and bad and they are able to take all of that and become a force.  Asia is all of that at such a young age and her future...limitless.  It was a great honor to be part of the evening and to spend a few minutes with the kid, I promise you...there will come a day when we all say "We knew her when."

If you'd like to know more about the Boys and Girls Club of Muskegon, click on their logo below to visit their website.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Help the Family and Friends of Pam Allen Saturday November 10th at the VFW on Grand Haven Road

In a past life, I had a job and was told that, "No one gets on the air unless they pay.  Even if it's a benefit spaghetti dinner at a VFW Hall, cash is king and we don't give out air time".  I kinda scratched my head and did it anyway, because what's the worst that could happen?  Getting fired?  Been down that road before and you know...it always seemed to work out.  Whatever.  Thanks for the pep talk.

As time has gone on, I have found that there is a whole lot more to a spaghetti dinner than just a benefit.  It's a chance for all of us as a community to find a small way to give a little something back to someone and get together. It's a chance for some fellowship, a chance for some local business to show that they care and a chance to help defer the burden that people find themselves in from time to time when it comes to medical needs, final costs, catastrophic losses...you name it.  It takes a village and there is no better village than Muskegon when it comes to taking care of our own.
Pam Allen Benefit Event on Facebook

One of the "care takers" is Jack Allen Jr.  He's a devoted husband to Pam and he's out every chance he can get helping others benefits if it's for veterans causes, those with an illness or whatever.  He does it without expectation of recognition or return and he's gone on about it while doing all he can to take care of Pam who was attacked by a blood born virus years ago that hit her spinal cord and left her paralyzed.  In all the years I have known Jack, it's always been about someone else.  I didn't even know he had a wife, let alone his devotion to take care of her.  Jack has spent countless hours helping others, and it's pretty clear to see why.  He understands how hard it can be.

This Saturday, the favor will be returned.  You guessed it.  A spaghetti dinner with all the fixins'.  Raffles, music, silent auctions, donations, good cheer and maybe a tear or two.  A thankful community will come together to return the kindness paid in advance for all the others who have been given a hand by Jacks silent behind the scenes work.  The event will be held at the VFW at 5209 Grand Haven Road by the Muskegon County Airport.  Barb VanBoglen is part of the group working to out the event on.  Barb had the original idea to get the Sandy Corely Memorial Run going, so she's got a little experience in putting on a good benefit, take a listen to our talk.

You can't even get a hamburger out anymore for $10 bucks.  A fantastic spaghetti dinner, a chance to help someone who spends more time helping others than themselves and a chance to win a 50/50!!  Way better odds than the lottery.  :)  Jack is the kind of guy who'd never ask, so let's all do what we can to help get Pam what she needs and remind them that a grateful community stands behind them. If you can't make the benefit.  There is a link to the Go Fund Me page if you click on the photo below.