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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Talk Sooner - A Way to Help Parents Navigate the Difficult Conversations With Their Kids

It's always a tough spot.  Conversations about the "unspeakable" things are necessary but, when it comes to addressing things like drugs, sex, abstinence and more how do you get the ball rolling?  After all...the scariest part of this conversation just might lead to your child seeing that first crack in your infallibility and they might find out that you're speaking from experience on a few things you'd rather they not know about.

Talk Sooner is a collaborative effort across a few counties in West Michigan.  It's a website and an app that's designed to give you and idea of how to begin the dialogue on the "taboo" subjects.  Honestly, it's probably not going to be that comfortable no matter the tools you're given, but...the reality is, this kind of conversation needs to come from a parent.  Talk Sooner also is filled with information about things you may not be aware of.  What's popular among young people that are trying drugs now a days?  What's the street lingo about these and what kind of effects do they have?  It's made easier if you start talking about it sooner than later...thus the "sooner" part of the Talk Sooner idea and that talking...it's another key focus the group is working on with their message.

Visit Talk Sooner Online
We are all so busy.  We have high pressure, just in time schedules and they get even more demanding when the critters come along and need things like rides to practice, help with homework, new gadgets....the list goes on and on right?  Talk Sooner is stressing the importance of turning it all off and talking.  Using mealtime to communicate directly as a family....however you describe family....to just talk.  Talk about the day, talk about hopes and dreams.  Talk about stress, talk about victories, talk about failures.  Get those lines of communication open and ease in the tough stuff once in a while.  Maybe ask if any of their friends are doing things they think are not 100% right.  Ask if something is on their mind.  Practice the art of discussion and keep that tunnel vision on the tablet or computer screen away for a while as you do.  Let's face it...parent...it doesn't mean BFF...it means responsibility to raise a good human.

I met up with Missy Gallegos and Logan Jensen to talk about the outreach and message and let you know how you can get that app!  It was a beautiful, sunshine filled day at the Muskegon Farmers Market, take a listen.

Grab the app. Will it make you a difficult conversation superhero? Probably not.  But, it's a start to help you help your kids navigate an increasingly difficult world where we as the "grown up's" start to disconnect with what's actually being presented in the peer pressure circles today.  Knowledge is power and while a drug talk or the talk about the birds and bees will never feel like a chat about last nights episode of your favorite show.....it's a conversation that will make a life long impression on your child...and THAT is your legacy.  Talk Sooner is here for you as a resource.  Click below to visit the Apple App Store for the free download.  Andriod App Coming soon.

Friday, September 13, 2019

No More Sidelines and Muskegon Civic Theater Penguin Project 2019 - Peter Pan Jr.Oct 12-13 at the Frauenthal

It's project that's done across the country, but the power of what it does for a community is only a few years old around Muskegon.  The Penguin Project is an adaptation of a pretty familiar play that gives people with unique abilities a chance to be a part of a production that they would most likely otherwise never get a chance to do, and mentors and those who see the play a chance to see that what were thought as limits, well.....

No More Sidelines was founded in Muskegon about 15 years ago now.  Simply to be an organization that broke the stigma of "those kids" who were down the hall and away from other kids in a school.  The idea that a physical challenge or maybe a learning curve or genetic trait somehow isolated some kids, the idea kind of got to Cyndi Blair and the founding families of No More Sidelines.  So, like any great organization, out of a garage was born a group of friends, peer to peer support, outreach and engagement which has exceeded the wildest dreams of pretty much anyone involved in the early days.  The garage turned into the Folkert Community Hub on Seminole Road which is now the center for all things No More Sidelines and about to unveil a stunning new renovation to the building.  Stay tuned for details on that.

Muskegon Civic Theater Online
Sports were the main focus early on as the kids of NMS intermingled with the "other kids" around town.  But maybe not everyone is a basketball player of soccer buff.  Along came the idea of bringing The Penguin Project to Muskegon and seeing what performing arts could do.  The adapted plays pair the actors with mentors on stage and in Muskegon we've seen Annie Jr., Alladin Jr. and this year, Peter Pan Jr. comes to life on the stage at the Frauenthal on Oct 12th and 13th.  It's an amazing performance not only to see, but to support because no one walks away from this the same person they came in.  Lives are deeply touched.  Lifelong bonds are made.  New talents are discovered and as you'll hear in our video portion...even participants who were "non verbal" worked so very hard to speak,  They found their groove.

Yes, the tickets are for sale.  It's quite an endeavor on the biggest stage in town, with professional costumes and sets.  It also requires a little fundraising to help with the cost of the whole thing, so...No More Sidelines is inviting you out to see their home at the Folkert Community Hub and enjoy a "Peter Pan-cake" breakfast with all the fixins' on September 21st.  The address is 640 Seminole Road and the word is, those at the breakfast will be treated to a show preview as the cast performs some of the songs!

I met up with Cyndi Blair and Mark Lewis, who brought me in to the No More Sidelines fold years ago, as well as show director Michelle Prince to talk all about it!  Let's go!

Still the best bunch I've ever gotten involved with.  The shows are incredible and no different than any other stage play you'll enjoy to the fullest!  The purpose...is amazing.  The effects on the performers and production people are life changing and for Muskegon to have something this incredibly special, it's something to be proud of.  Click on the link below to get your tickets for Peter Pan Jr and don't miss it at the Frauenthal October 12th-13th.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ballet Nepantla at the Frauenthal Center September 18th - Experience Latino Culture in Muskegon

After a hugely successful first time Latino Festival event at Hackley Park this last weekend, the Latinos Working for the Future have their sails full and are so encouraged by the reception they received at the event, they are ready to spread the cultural experience a little further in Muskegon with a wonderful ballet at the Frauenthal Center on September 18th.  Not only is it a rich experience of music and dance, it's an educational opportunity for up to 1000 kids who can get in free for the show.

Let's go back a little first.  The Latinos Working for the Future is an organization that's been around a while, but recently the leadership of the group has gotten a little younger....a little more focused on spreading the word and a little more "outfront" about wanting to show the community just how remarkable who they are and what they bring to all of us culturally.  The success of the festival in the park celebrating the food, dance and music was just the tip of the iceberg from the group.  They are young, energetic and out to do more.

Latinos Working for the Future on Facebook
Up next, will be a first time presentation in Muskegon for a ballet!  Ballet Nepantla will be presented at the Frauenthal Center.  From their Facebook Event Page - "Ballet Nepantla dancers are trained in classical and contemporary ballet and merged with ballet Folklorico, the traditional dance of Mexico.

Nepantla is a term/idea that comes from the Nahuatl language. It means to be in a space of "in-between-ness.” Gloria Anzaldúa described being in a state of Nepantla in Borderlands (1987), and in Light in the Dark (2016) as a cultural and historical place of ambiguity. Nepantla is also an artistic space of "in-between-ness," as Ballet Nepantla dramatically represents. In a pithy sense, it is what la India María humorously stated, when describing her own identity: "no soy ni de aquí, ni de allá." Indeed, she was in a state of Nepantla. That is the reality many grow up with in South Texas, and many who grow up in places everywhere.

Ballet Nepantla delves into those in-between spaces through its dance performances. In October 2019, the company will be performing its new show, "Valentina," in several South Texas locations. “Valentina" is a historical ballet that tells the stories of the strength and resilience of women during Revolutionary Mexico. Ballet Nepantla would like to present “Valentina” to a Michigan audience. "

I met up with Ana Olson from Latinos Working for the Future at the Frauenthal Center to talk about the organization and the ballet and how the 1000 kids can attend free, take a listen.

Jump right in!  Take the kids for free and help support a group on the move to help show us the rich culture of Latino Heritage and experience something beautiful while you are at it!  The success of the Latino Festival, followed up by the ballet coming soon and the drive and passion behind the Latinos Working for the Future will be an asset to all of us in Muskegon.  Help support their efforts by checking out the show!  Click on the pic below to get tickets!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Walk to Remember - Support for the Loss of an Infant September 28th at Heritage Landing

The unimaginable.  It's so hard to even begin to think of the difficulty that parents have to face in the event of the loss of an infant, a stillborn pregnancy or a miscarriage.  Strictly from an editorial stand point, it was a fear so great for me that combined with a couple other factors, I stayed away from having kids of my own.  More often than not, along comes a happy and healthy baby, but what happens when the worst case scenario plays out?

The truth is, there is really no quick answer as much as there is no right or wrong answer and the reality of that is, it's even harder for those who are suffering that loss to manage because we're all accustomed to getting an answer...processing the thoughts and moving on.  It's not going to happen in this case.  Combine that with the usual support system of family and friends who surround us...who usually know how to offer some words of comfort or maybe a little something to uplift us....they are all searching for answers too, and trying to find the words to fill the void.  It's no place anyone would want to be and no one can ever be an expert on the situation, because a loss like this is so overly traumatic that it's unique to every situation and again, there is no "one answer".

Find More on The Walk to Remember on Facebook
While there may not be experts, there are others who have shared this grief and who have gone on to take their sorrow, anger, questions, rage, and hopelessness and reshape them.  There are some who once they have healed the best they can, they take what they have learned and they share that with others who are experiencing the same and together they find at the very least, that they are not alone.

Such is the case with Chris and Missy Near.  They lost two kids as they were trying to build their family and through their experience, it was one simple question that led them to a change in their lives to help others cope with grief and loss because they understood all that went along with it.  Chris was wandering the halls of the hospital when he saw a door tag like theirs...it signified that the patient in that room too lost a baby and his knock on the door to ask if he could talk set into motion a system of support that is still going today.

While the group meetings are not as popular as they once were, the Near Family still supports those who have lost a child.  Their mission is to help with the grief, offer some support to those who have lost and those who are around them looking for a way to help console.  Their outreach is there anytime it's needed and they still host one larger event yearly to help anyone suffering the loss of a child to see that they are not alone.

The Walk to Remember is going to be at Heritage Landing on Saturday September 28th at 10:30a.  It's a chance for parents to get together and see that they are not alone, that they do have memories worth cherishing and that hope can return after the pain subsides.  Chris and Missy joined me at Hackley Park to tell their story and talk about the event.  Take a listen.

Touching.  We first met Chris and Missy back in 2016 as they were preparing for that years walk and to know that they are still at it...still striving to make a difference for those who's path they know all too well....to us, that's a miracle.  We have truly incredible people here in Muskegon who are willing to help other heal and share the grief.  They do it without much fanfare...they don't expect a lot in return, they just know that the overall healing we all need, comes from within and being willing to give back that healing helps continue theirs. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Livability Lab - Muskegon's 100 Day Challenge

A while back, we told you about the Photo Voice Project.  It was a series of photos taken by area residents about their lives, the circumstances in their world and what they saw as positives and negatives.  The original story ran on our other page, The Muskegon Channel and it was called; "The South Heights Photo Voice Initiative".  A bright young man named Marquis Childers joined us to talk about his photo and the inspiration behind it.

Well, we are on to the next phase of the project.  The Muskegon Livability Lab is taking place on September 10th at the Folkert Community Hub and it's a day FILLED with information, speakers, breakout sessions, and data that has been acquired and studied by Michigan State.  You'll also get to see the Photo Voice Project once again give feedback, help target priority challenges, and yes, even have a chance to determine some next steps.

Does it sound like a lot?  Agreed!  Simply put...Muskegon is booming. We all see it, we all feel it and an event like this is designed to coincide with that boom to help define community priorities, what people feel is the most important part of their daily lives here in town and what that "Livability" term means to them.  As you'll hear in our interview, Mary McDonald makes a mention of something as simple as what time the street lights go out in a community are part of what factors into the "Livability" of a community.  This is not limited to just the city either, this is a discussion for the entire county so anywhere from White River Township to Ravenna Township is included.

Time is short to register.  They are asking registrants are in by September 4th as the event is September 10th from 7:30a-4p.

Take a listen to the chat between Mary McDonald, Marquis Childres, Kari Vanderhoff and myself at the Folkert Community Hub about this event for all the details.

Get signed up and save the date!  It's going to be a lot but, a lot is at stake!  Be heard!  Be a part of the future and let those involved with the Livability Lab know what your ideal Muskegon County is.  You can visit their website to register for the event by clicking below.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore Turns 50! Let's Have a Groovy Party!

50 years!  It seems to be a repeating theme this year.  Moon landing, Woodstock, the Trans Am was introduced the Beatles made their last public performance on the roof top of Apple Records and in the Muskegon area, Big Brothers and Big Sisters put down roots to begin to change the lives of kids, and adults who agreed to help them along with a little of their time and a little guidance when it comes to the art of growing up.

Since 1969 Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore has helped find those matches of "bigs and littles" and to date, over 12,000 kids have found their match through the BBBS program here in the Muskegon area.  That's a lot of lives that have been changed for "good" in a manner of speaking.  Good meaning positive and good meaning forever.  The impact that one positive role model can play with a younger person reverberates for generations and the impact that you can have by just including a younger person in your life for a few hours here and there, can literally change the world.

Click Here for Tickets to the Party
We've always asked for your attention on behalf of BBBS from time to time, because of the importance of the outreach of the organization.  It's not about how much money you can spend on a kid, or taking them along on fancy vacations or anything like that.  Sure, BBBS has to have plenty of fundraisers and ways to fund what they do throughout the year, but we direct your attention to them to maybe get you thinking if you do have those spare couple of hours here or there...maybe you find it in your heart to make that difference.  The organization has been run by some pretty cool people over our time with them too, so that always makes it easy to come and do a story on what's needed and why, or where you have the chance to get out and do a little something to help them in their work.

With a 50th Anniversary, they are rolling back the years and making things super groovy!  They are having a 1969 themed party to celebrate at the Bella Maria Event Center on September 26th.  Come dressed to get groovy and enjoy the hors d'oeuvers, the auction, the drinks, the band.  Get your photo done up in a custom VW Bus photo booth and more.  Tickets for the party are available in the link above and if you'd like some more details, take a listen to the chat between Suzanne Prell and myself.  We have all the deets.

A great party coming for a great purpose.  If you've had first hand experience with BBBS you know what a difference they make.  If you're curious, come learn more.  If you just want to hippy it up and come to a great party....that's cool too.  Our congratulations to this incredible organization for 50 years of making a difference in Muskegon and for the 12,000 plus they have served, which in reality is more like 24,000 because for every "little" a "big" has equally reaped the rewards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore.  You can visit their website below to learn more.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

New Mural Going Up on 3rd and Monroe - Meet Artist Jube Rodriguez

The beautification of Muskegon continues everywhere you look.  From the big new buildings gong up to the pride being shown in neighborhoods and in yards, renewal is upon us and for all of us who have weathered the storm, it's a relaunch that feels so incredible.  Pride is bubbling and Muskegon is on the rise!  It's an effort from so many, and from the projects large and small...some of the real eye catchers stand out.

We've got a LOT of artful things popping up to add to the luster!  We saw the addition of the mural on the wall on the Masonic Lodge a year or so ago celebrating the likes of Barak Obama, Fredrick Douglas and more.  We've got historical art detailing Muskegon's industrial eras on Western avenue, more recently some butterfly wings went up on the side of the Frauenthal and now, in Midtown on Third and Monroe, we have a local artist up on the scaffolding working on an inspirational piece for all to admire with a few hidden messages in it to relay to future generations of their limitless possibilities.

We got a call from the building owner, to say that we outta come see what was gong on so, we grabbed the camera and headed down to the Third Street Midtown District.  Third and Monroe to be specific only to be astounded by what we found.  Not only is the building being completely redone on the inside with beautiful, modern and affordable apartments that are some of the coolest you'll find anywhere, the exterior is getting a make over by local artist Jubenal Rodriguez.  "Jube" is a graduate of Kendall College in Grand Rapids and works as a designer in his real job. But in his spare time, he's got the brushes and buckets and he's leaving his mark on the community.

It's a project in part with Community ENcompass and the message is pretty clear.  "Hope Equals Power" and we'll let Jube tell you a little more about the project.  Take a listen!

Pretty awesome.  Pretty inspirational and a great feeling to know that an artist that's right from here in Muskegon who's doing his part to elevate.  Not only elevate, but to beautify and lave a mark that one day he'll be able to go by and say to his kids, or grand kids..."I did that".   Jube is leaving his mark on a building, that is being completely renovated in a neighborhood that was once forgotten but is now growing, reinventing and adding to the amazing change we're all seeing in Muskegon.  It's clearly written on the shirt of the kid in the mural.  "Hope equals power".  The collective hope of all in Muskegon has led to the power of change and the power of positive hope has brought on renewal, and it looks amazing.  Jube asked if we'd link up his Instagram account, so follow the link in the photo below and watch the progress of his amazing career.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Zumba on the LST 393 in Muskegon to Benefit Every Woman's Place

If you've been a part of Muskegon for any amount of time, you know that one of our most precious outreaches in town is Every Woman's Place.  They have been at the forefront of helping victims of domestic abuse in Muskegon and surrounding areas since 1975 and they continue to offer respite and shelter in a time where you'd hope that society wouldn't need their services anymore, but...they do.

One of the best things about Every Woman's Place is the way Muskegon embraces their work.  Small donations to large fundraisers, EWP is funded in part by the generosity of gifts large and small and no matter the size, they all add up and help this incredible agency do their work to protect the vulnerable.  Cash donations, health care supplies and more all add up and make a true difference.  Of course, you can ask for cash and toothpaste only so much....it takes a little innovation and pop up ideas to keep things fresh and some moolah coming in and those ideas come from people of all backgrounds and practices.
3Z Club Crew on Facebook

So,  with all the ideas..willingness to help and ways to raise money that there are in town, put them to work right!  It's happening!  We have a group in town who LOVE to Zumba and they are trying to spread their love for the workout and combine that with a way to help EWP!  There's a group called the 3ZCrew here in town.  They are all about getting YOU involved with Zumba for the good of your health and they want to take this love of the sport and help out EWP!

You have a chance to give it a whirl on the LST 393 on August 26th.  There's going to be a special event on board the ship not only to get you up and get you moving...but to send the proceeds over to EWP.  Every dime raised at this special event will go to help the agency as well as the people they serve.  7p is the time and there are no real pre requisites to be able to participate.

I met up with Elisa Hoppper and Quintina Pittman from EWP to talk about the event, take a listen.

Sound like fun?  Well, join them!  Do something fun and help out a remarkable cause and get yourself in the groove of Zumba!  You can click on the image below to get registered to be a part of the event!  It's a small donation, that will go so far...get your Zumba on and go!!  If you'd like to know more about Every Woman's Place, click on their photo below that!

Click Here to Register to Zumba on the LST

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Humans of Muskegon - A Project Detailing All of Us

So, we spend a lot of time here on Positively Muskegon trying to find those who do something remarkable and work to make a difference for all of us here in Muskegon.  Big or small projects, they all add up and they all help weave the fabric of what makes Muskegon home.  Some have unlimited grandeur to share, while others pick a small project and do all they can with what they have to make it shine.  We're not the only game in town however.

There are others who are preserving our history one human at a time.

Thing is though, it's not always easy to get someone who's more accustomed to being behind a camera or a computer screen to come out in front of one, so....I had to use a little trickery to land this meet up, but we pulled it off.

I first got to know Tara Marquard through on Facebook through her project "Humans of Muskegon".  It's a simple premise.  She asks people to send in a photo of themselves.  Can be any kind of photo that best describes "you" and a short story or paragraph about who they are, what this world is to them and what their life is all about.  It's a project that's been done in some other cities, but Muskegon is such a diverse community and has so many people from every end of the spectrum that to know a little more about them and what makes them tick...well, it gets interesting quick.  I myself have submitted a couple of stories about some parts of me that make me a unique human from my meteorite on my night stand to some of what makes me love Muskegon the way I do.

What makes Tara a "Human of Muskegon"?  All through this project, Tara has managed to battle and win breast cancer...she's a friggin warrior....she's also managed to keep working until just recently when a lay off notice came, and she's pushed and pushed to find more and more people to help share their story instead of trying to hide under a shell and wish it all went away.  She's shown strength in the face of fear and persists in wanting to leave her mark with photography and giving others a chance to share what makes them who they are.  She's kind of shy, not really one for the spotlight but definitely is working to show us all as the real Humans of Muskegon.  Meet Tara Marquard.

Now, here's your chance!  Think about who you are and what makes you that person!  Share your story.  It doesn't have to have your name attached.  You can maybe hide behind some shades...you can maybe even send in a picture of a shadow!  But...be part of Tara's amazing project and show your human side!  You will find the link to the Humans of Muskegon Facebook page linked below!  Don't let this pass you by.  Tell your story and help Tara continue hers! 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

70x7 - Now The Fresh Coast Alliance of Muskegon A New Start For Many

We introduced you to 70x 7 years ago.  It was an organization in Muskegon dedicated to helping those who had spent some time in prison become re-acclimated to being part of society.  How do they get used to being out in the world again.  How much has changed in the world since they were sentenced and how are they going to fit back in when it comes to things like family, friends and how will they avoid the pitfalls that got them sent away in the first place?

They are scary and tough questions but 70x7 boldly answered them and did it on a level that people could understand.  After all, the Muskegon founder of 70x7 had his fair share of knowledge of life on the other side of the law.  After his time though, Nate Johnson's life had changed dramatically and he wanted to give back his new found freedom to others.  As he says, he was part of the problem and now, it's on him to help fix it.
Follow Fresh Coast Alliance on Facebook

Today, there's a new name for what was started.  70x7 is now called The Fresh Coast Alliance and encompasses so much more than just working to end recidivism.  Today, The Fresh Coast Alliance of Muskegon offers not only reentry programs, they offer recovery, employment, housing and counselling for substance abuse.  Their ministry has extended to include both men and women and encompasses a full approach through faith in rebuilding lives that were once thought to be lost.  Fresh Coast also works to help educate the public as well as legislators when it comes to issues revolving criminal justice reform and others issues.  Which brings us to our visit today.

There will be 2 opportunities to learn a little more about Fresh Coast and their work.  First up.. "Facing Choices".  August 15th at the Fresh Coast Alliance a discussion will be held.  It will be a discussion with parolees and probation servers about guns.  We are seeing far too much gun violence in more than just one area...and this will be a very frank and to the point discussion of the consequences both state and federal if you commit a crime with a firearm.   Then on August 17th there will be a convening of Clean Slate Michigan.  It's about working to get the record of those who have served their time and made life adjustments that are so profound, that consideration of a "Clean Slate" should be given to them so then can resume their life free of a record that can keep them from things like jobs, housing or other benefits.

Nate and I sat down to recap all the changes as well as talk about the upcoming programs.  Take a listen.

Amazing work going on to help break the cycle and offer some new hope for those who have faced some of the worst in life.  From the streets to the cell and back again....it's got to stop somewhere and an organization to help those who desire to change for good is an amazing resource for people and the community.  If you'd like to know more about Fresh Coast Alliance, please....click on their logo below to visit their website and support their work.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Kool Kids Concert at McGraft Park in Muskegon August 30th

You live and work in a town for a while and you think you have a pretty good grip on who's doing what, and more importantly who's doing what and why...and then from out of the blue, you get a message on social media about an event coming up wondering if you could share a link. Take a look at the link and you think to yourself, this might be a better story than a share, so you set that up and BOOM you find out more than you ever imagined was going on!

Let's start off with the sizzle!  Do your kids like to "whip and nae nane?"  Well, that's by an artist names Silento and he's coming.  Have you ever seen your kid "flossing"?  Not the kind of floss they get at the dentist office....do your kids like dance troops they see on YouTube and maybe some of the big talent shows like AGT on TV?  It's going to be a HUGE day for kids and families at the Kool Kids Bash at McGraft Park on August 30th.  It's a star stutted day with meet and greets, fun for everyone and it's all got a purpose behind it... the Reds Youth Project.
Get Your Tickets Here for the Kool Kidz Concert

If you have not heard, the Reds Youth Project is a mentor-ship program for young people  who need a hand with direction in their lives.  How to make good choices, where to ask the tough questions, where to go when something just doesn't seem right and there doesn't seem to be anyone else to turn to.  Erika Bell is a mentor in the program and she's gotten to where she is today organizing this benefit concert and bash by having just that kind of positive influence in her life as she grew up.  There is no one who doesn't need a balancing point from time to time and a group like the Reds Youth Project finds a way, somehow to fill in the cracks that are left behind no matter the life circumstance.

Like any other small organization, they have to find ways to raise funds where they can.  It's a never ending struggle for smaller organizations without dedicated fundraising arms to find the money they need to function, but they do it...and they do it because they all know that they are making a difference.  They have seen it play out time and time again, and in the end, taking care of the next generation is essential to community building and long term success.  Grass roots takes on a whole new meaning when you look at the time and care being put in to make a difference.

Back to the concert.  Silento took his "Watch me Whip" song to 2.4 million sales.  That's a lot of records or downloads or however the kids get their music now a days.  "Backpack Kid" first popped up on Saturday Night Live when Katy Perry played "Swish Swish" on the show and has become a way for kids to pass the time while getting down and The Future Kingz made their America's Got Talent debut in season 13 of the show! This is a BIG day for young music fans and it's happening right here in Muskegon.

I met up with Erika Bell at the site of the upcoming show with the band shell as our back drop.  Take a listen.

Pretty cool, and honestly...if you watched the interview, I am truly in disbelief it took me this long to meet Erika.  As we were wrapping up, I asked her if she was still looking for sponsors for this event and she said that the best form of sponsorship she could use....is someone to buy some tickets for kids who can't afford it.  She's a first time promoter of such an event and wants the experience to be a great one for the kids first and foremost.  Below, you'll find a link to the Reds Youth Project and you can help if you choose by getting a hols of Erika there and doing what you can to support this amazing day focused on kids at McGraft park in Muskegon August 30th.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Muskegon Welcomes the Nance Family to Head The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army of Muskegon is a staple in the community for those who seek a little solace from what life can deal out from time to time.  Be it poverty issues, substance abuse, disaster relief, hunger issues the Salvation Army is always right on hand to help when all else seems lost and hope is distant!  For the Salvation Army, it's a 24/7 365 mission while some of us only think of them when we hear the bell ringing at the holidays.

One thing very unique to the Salvation Army, is that they are not a stagnant organization.  Their actions require engagement and they also require hands on people who immerse themselves into a community and actively participate in the mantra of "Doing the Most Good".  We have been amazing lucky to have had incredible leaders of the "S.A." over the years and we've always done our best to help share the news when some new faces come along to take over the mission and add their uniqueness to the business of human need here in Muskegon.

Follow the Salvation Army of Muskegon on Facebook
Meet Major's Mark and Valerie Nance who have recently taken the helm at the Salvation Army of Muskegon.  They are very familiar with West Michigan having put their time in in Grand Rapids as well as Cadillac with the Army and are very excited to now call Muskegon home, as anyone would be, and they feel that it's the will of God that they are here to continue the mission.  Mark was considering retirement due to a back injury, but healing hands got him back in shape and it might have just been a sign from above that there was a need for the couple to put down some roots on the West Coast of Michigan and get to work.

They are in the process of getting to know the town a little better.  Coming up with some strategy....taking what they have learned elsewhere and applying it here, and learning what's worked here and what can be fine tuned.  Anytime you come to a new town, it's a new adventure but in speaking with Mark and Valerie things sure seem like a perfect fit for them to be a part of Muskegon, take a listen.

As mentioned in the video you'll have a chance to meet the Nance family at the United Way Downtown Muskegon on Clay Street from 3:30p-5. Stop in and welcome our new neighbors and see if there is anything you can do to help them in their calling to do the most good for all of us in Muskegon.  Of course, stay tuned to Positively Muskegon and The Muskegon Channel as we keep you updated with what the Salvation Army is up to!  They are always striving to "Do the Most Good".  You can click on their logo below and visit the Muskegon Salvation Army website.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The 3rd Lighthouse for Veterans Car Show - July 6th at The Mart Dock

Three years ago, we get a message about a car show that's trying to get things started.  Ok....tel us a little more.  After all, it's a car show.  There are lots of car shows and lots of cars...how does this one stand out?

As the message pops back up, "Well, this car show is a memorial for my brother...."

You have my full attention....

It was Natasha Heykoop, and she lost her brother to PTSD from his time in the military.  He took his own live on Thanksgiving Day in 2015.  It left a hole in a family and quite honestly, a hole in the community because we lost yet another, who was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, to the demons in his mind.  The isolation and feelings of being alone and having nowhere to turn made Jeremy Heykoop one of the statistics of the 22 veterans we lose a day to the struggles they face post service. It's still happening and sadly, we'll have to face it until the stigma of proper treatment for mental health is lifted.
Find Lighthouse for Veterans on Facebook

As a remembrance and a way to heal, it was decided that Jeremy's love for cars would be the focal point for the family and friends to bring a little attention as well as hopefully a few bucks to send along to help treat those who suffer PTSD like Jeremy did.  It's the classic story of turning a tragedy into a triumph and finding some healing while offering some respite for others.  They found a little spot, back off Getty and Airline, brought in a brush hog, cleared off the lot and had a small car show.  Then year two came along....the event grew substantially and the mission continued.  Still back by the swampy small field...but instead of a few cars...it more than doubled and the size of the crowd that attended blew up too!  It would seem that the memory of Jeremy and the cause put out by the Heykoops drew some attention.

It's year 3 now.  The Lighthouse for Veterans outgrew the small lot on Getty and will be found Downtown Muskegon at the Mart Dock on July 6th.  Car show, bike show, bounce house for the kids.  A great silent auction going on along with a 50/50 raffle every hour...a live auction at 11a.  Food all day and more.  It's $10 for a car entry and if your fancy yourself as a master of corn hole, you can CLICK HERE to register your team for a small donation.  It all leads up to helping fun a retreat for veterans only in September up in Custer.  A little respite from the world and a chance to decompress and heal.  CLICK HERE for info on the retreat.

Met up with Natasha to talk about the new spot, the 3rd year and how much things have grown and will continue to grow for her passion to remember her brother and help others from having to live through the same. Take a listen.

Love it! To see something inspired by loss turn into hope for others is simply the best way we can tell a story.  It doesn't hurt either to see such incredible growth with such powerful purpose behind it.  This is humanity at it's finest, and honestly....this is what makes Muskegon so incredible.  If you wonder still, after all the years we've published Positively Muskegon what our purpose is...look no further than Natasha Heykoop and Lighthouse for Veterans.  You can visit their website by clicking below.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

D-Day Plus 75 - May 31st and June 1st at the LST 393 in Muskegon

75 years.  It was a day that can't and won't be forgotten.  The landing to free Europe form the grips of Hitler was truly one of the most world wide efforts ever put together.  To remember what happened and revere those who served with such valor and such selflessness is important, and more over...to teach younger people about what happened and why is essential so we don't have history repeat itself.

Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 has been at the D-Day Plus observations in Muskegon now since D-Day Plus 72.  It's an event that has not only grown in size, but it's also grown in stature and importance of the message it carries and it shows.  This year, the event has expanded in to two days down at the LST 393 which has a D-Day story all of it's own.  If you're not familiar with Rolling Thunder, they are an organization who advocate for POW/MIA and Veterans of all branches of  the military.  They work to make sure that no soldier is forgotten and that people understand the sacrifices made to help protect our great nation.
Follow Rolling Thunder on Facebook

D-Day Plus 75 is set for this weekend.  You'll find a variety of activity going on.  Static displays of historic vehicles, free tours of the LST 393, the Michigan Vietnam Memorial Wall, battle re-enactments, an air raid simulation, and a 1940's pin up girl contest and a swing dance.  You'll get to hear from a wonderful young speaker who at 11 has been recognized for her efforts to help POW/MIA and Veterans. There will be activities for the kids, there will be food vendors on hand and in as much as this might feel like a festival, it's an important part of history and it's a living breathing hands on learning experience for those who have only seen what war is on tv or in a movie.

Chris "Lefty" Johnson invited us back down again to talk about the event and what you'll find.  Take a minute and listen to what's to come and then plan on spending some time on site this weekend to get the full experience. 

It's a very full day with a lot to see and do, that's for sure.  As we mentioned though, while it feels like it's a party....the idea is to recognize the sacrifices made of those who served on D-Day or any battle.  Those who don't understand history are doomed to repeat it and to have the assets we do in Muskegon to make this kind of observance possible.  Add in a group like Rolling Thunder Chapter 4 who work tireless hours to make this event bigger, better and have a greater impact and we have so much to be proud of.  Thanks to Lefty for having us down and if you'd like to know more about Rolling Thunder, click on the image below to visit their website.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Donut Day - June 7th at Ryke's to Benefit The Salvation Army of Muskegon

The Salvation Army has been around a while.  A long while.  In fact, all the way back to World War 1 The Salvation Army has been doing "The Most Good" by actually sending members to the front lines of the war to feed the troops.  They would bring in coffee and food...but how did they get something that was easy to transport and prepare to the front where danger was at every corner?  It also had to fill up the "dough boys" and keep them moving.

The answer....doughnuts.  Yes, The Salvation Army brought three ingredient doughnuts to the front lines...in the trenches and when it came to cooking them...a soldiers helmet was the fry kettle that made it all happen.  Can you imagine what life must have been like in that situation?  One bit of respite however, came from The Salvation Army.
Donut Day Event on Facebook

Today, The Salvation Army continues to offer their work where needed.  We might not be in the trenches at the moment in some foreign county but the front line is still there.  We're battling poverty, hunger, addiction, disasters and more.  While it might not feel as scary on the surface, the reality is...this is all going on in our home, and still The Salvation Army continues to serve.  You are familiar with the bell ringing and the kettles at the holidays, but the need to raise a few bucks continues all year and not every fundraiser has to be a solemn gathering with an ask for money or a commercial tugging at your heart strings.  Fundraisers can be fun.  So...let's honor what The Salvation Army did way back when while seeing some local celebs do their best to wipe out some donuts themselves!

On June 7th, "Donut Day" will be celebrated at Ryke's Bakery in Muskegon.  Rykes will be making a special run of those donuts that once served the front lines so you can see first hand just what soldiers were treated too.  Local dignitaries will be competing in a donut hole eating contest which you'll be able to watch on The Muskegon Channel's Facebook page and the best part, First General Credit Union will be offering a dollar for dollar match for all money raised to help benefit The Salvation Army of Muskegon.

I met up with Chris Carlin and  Robin Hard of The Salvation Army and Adam Bell of Ryke's Bakery to talk about the event and the "who's who" list of folks coming to try and win the donut hole eating contest.  Take a listen.

If you're a history buff that wonders what life on the front line tasted like, come on out.  If you want to help and organization out who continues to shine in moments of darkness for so many, June 7th is the day.  If you just want to have some fun over lunch and watch people woof down donuts, be there!  click on the photo below to visit The Salvation Army of Muskegon's Website.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Puttin' For Paws to Benefit the Noah Project June 8th at Chase Hammond in Muskegon

How's a great day on the links sound for a terrific cause sound?  Well, that's what you're going to find at Puttin' for Paws on June 8th at Chase Hammond Golf Course as The Noah Project of Muskegon rolls out the red carpet for duffers and animal lovers everywhere for one of their biggest fundraisers of the year.  Why not get in a round and do a good turn for an organization that means so much to so many?

The Noah Project of Muskegon is an all volunteer no kill animal shelter.  From their website, their mission statement is clear, " Noah Project is a non profit, no kill animal shelter that is dedicated to provide for the compassionate well-being of rescued, abandoned, abused, unwanted or neglected pets.  Animals in our care are spayed or neutered, receive all veterinary care and are treated with dignity, love and respect as they await to be matched into new relationships within loving forever homes.   Our goal is to educate the community on animal welfare, collaborate with other shelters and ultimately strive for a world where every companion animal has a home to call their own."  Seems simple enough, right? Well...let's look a little more. 

Click Here and Follow the Noah Project on Facebook
To pull this off, The Noah Project relies heavily on all of us.  Community is what helps make The Noah Project so special to so many.  Need supplies?  Well, they post about the need and within an hour or so...someone finds it in their heart to help.  Need some food, litter, or maybe a hand spreading the word about The Noah Project?  They have an entire network of people willing to help.  They operate solely on grants, donations and fundraisers...and that means it takes who they have now, and it takes all of us to pitch in a little when we can.  Building community while saving lives is very reflective of all of us in Muskegon and it's a big reason why so many consider The Noah Project such a great organization.

So, now that you know a little more about The Noah Project...get involved!  You can become one of those champions donors...if they put out a call for bleach....that's about a buck a gallon....grab one.  Got some time on your hands?  Volunteer down at the shelter on Airline Road.  Want to just go have some fun at a golf outing to help out?  June 8th at Chase Hammond is your day!  There are still some spots open for the 2pm start and of course, it's an outing filled with all you'd expect.  Food, games, prizes and contests. Probably a great chance to wet your whistle while golfing and the'll feed you at the end too.

Jane McGregor of Five Star Real Estate and William Vanderweele of Weber Lumber are Board Members for The Noah Project and we met up to talk about the event and the shelter, take a listen. 

If it's a love for all things about pets, it's a great cause. If you need some therapy on a golf course, here's your invite.  If you just want to be part of something a little bigger than yourself it's time to be part of The Noah Project.  You can learn more about their shelter and find the links to sign up to get your team on "the links" June 8th by clicking on the photo below.  Many thanks to Jane and Bill for taking a few minutes to talk about their work today and how they help find homes for our area pets.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Humana Food Drive for Muskegon Area Veterans at Community Shores Bank Locations Beginning May 20th

Our veterans are owed such a debit of gratitude. We are fortunate in Muskegon to have a local Department of Veterans Affairs to goes so far above and beyond for our local Vets who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.  They are not only there to help them with the difficult system of benefits provided to Vets for their service, they take it to the next level providing services that are not required too, but they also need a hand from all of us.

Services like assistance with daily needs, food in times of shortage, groups to help Vets deal with life post service and more.  Vets are guaranteed certain benefits, but what's available to our local men and women is so much more.  It's an amazing outreach and to know that what's being done is being seen by some pretty heavy hitters is an accolade to the work that is visible, and that which is not.

Muskegon County Veterans Affairs
Humana is teaming up with Community Shores Bank for the 20th annual VA food drive for Veterans which kicks off May 20th at all Community Shores Bank locations.  It's been an amazing outpouring over the years from people who bank with Community Shores or just want to stop in and help out.  Canned goods, non perishables, maybe a gift card or, if you prefer a cash donation can be made at any branch of Community Shores Bank and 100% of the donated items go to the Veterans Service Center Food Bank.  We talked earlier, about the guaranteed benefits, the food bank is not one of them.   This is one of those added levels of support for those who served, in wartime or not that can help fill the gaps when things get difficult for our area Veterans.  I do believe that personal care items such as hygiene products and toiletries are welcome to be dropped off too for the pantry.

The drive itself gets underway on May 20th as we mentioned and you have until June 14th to drop by any branch of the bank with your donation.  Donations would be welcome at the Vets Center in the County Complex on Apple as well.  1 in 8 people struggle with hunger in society today.  1 in 8.  To think that something like that could be effecting our men and women who served is just too much and it's on all of us to do a small part to help.
Community Shores Bank

We were able to "rally the troops" if you will.  We met up with Mike Baauw of the Veterans Service Center in Muskegon as well as Lindy Allison of Community Shores Bank and Bretta Young, who is the Branch Manager of the Norton Location Community Shores Bank to talk about this great chance to give back, take a listen.

It says something about the longevity and purpose of this food drive to have a company like Humana be a part of it.  It's a tremendous nod to the extra mile that is put in by the Muskegon Veterans Service Center and Community Shores Bank for being such great stewards of our area, and out people in need to be a part as well.  It's a simple process for you from here on.  Stop in to a branch of Community Shore Bank with your donation.  Bring your kids to show them the importance of being a caring and contributing member of our community and help say thank you to our area Veterans for their willingness to serve for all of us!