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Shon Cook Law Offices in Whitehall

Shon Cook Law Offices in Whitehall
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Monday, August 24, 2020

Door of Hope Muskegon - Sharing Experience and Strength To Help Build Others


We all begin with what we think we know right?  Quite often too what we think we know tends to change over time.  It's a funny thing about aging, and an even funnier thing about how we go from being a "know it all" to being older, wiser and willing to be there with a hand for those we can look back on and want to help avoid making the same mistakes we did.  If not mistakes, at minimum we'd like them to avoid some of the pitfalls we found along the way.  What we're getting at here, wisdom.  Anyone can learn anything from a book, but wisdom comes from those who have gotten out there, lived life for a while, had to stop and pick up the pieces once or twice and still, they look to find ways to get others around those curve balls life throws.  Wisdom leads to humanity and humanity builds us all.  It's what we have to give back to one another and the best part is, sharing it costs nothing.

Lateasa Moore has been there.  She was a mom at an early age, she did some moving around when she was young.  She had to work a little harder, find some direction on her own and didn't always have someone there to say "try this, it might be a better way".  Hey, sometimes the bumpy roads make for incredibly strong people and what they give back to society is unbelievable, but living through it...it's a task.  It's a lot of prayers at night, a lot of seeking a hand from folks, a lot of worry a lot of doubt and a lot of energy just to get by.  Life can sure try to break anyone, but it's in those broken spots that we all find our true strength and in Lateasa's case, she's bringing them back to throw a line to a younger generation that might very well be able to use a hand.  Like anyone, the motivation is to take what's been learned the "hard way" and lessen the blow a little for those who are still learning.

Lateasa and friends are putting on a multi week work shop.  Free of charge, won't cost you a penny and all that's required of you is to show up at Mahali on Peck Street in Muskegon Heights on Saturday mornings for a few weeks beginning on September 5th.  There will be information on things like soft skills in the work place and life.  Breaking generational cycles, emotional readiness, resume building, how to find your unique talents and gifts and more.  Wanda Liddell of Dominion Kingdom Catering will provide a live demo at Kitchen 242 and so much more.  You don't even need to being a pencil, all that's asked is that you register in advance so plans can be made accordingly.

Lateasa and I found a picnic table outside in Roosevelt Park to talk about this great series coming up and to get to know a little more of her story and find out what drives her to do more for others, take a listen.
Imagine if each of us just took the time to help 1 other person avoid some of the stumbling blocks?  Lateasa is out to share what she knows with a younger generation to help them along.  It's a giving heart and a desire to serve that builds community and it takes a little vulnerability and willingness to say, "I made the same mistakes too, here's how to do better".  This is the greatest way we can all give something back.  All the details you need are below, you can click on the image to visit their website. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Lakes Community Garden - Extreme Generosity For Muskegon

As I drove off and the line was forming, I overheard "Is there anything someone needs today...anything specific that anyone needs?"  Been that way for years at the corner of Evanston and Mill Iron in Muskegon at the expansive and lush Community Garden that sits just outside the Connection Point Church.  It's not only filled with the bounty of all things Michigan in the Summer, it's all free to anyone who needs it.

The humble beginnings sprang from the idea that Terry Luce had one day.  It seemed there was a seldom used ball field on the church property and he'd tug at the pastor once in a while and say how good a garden would look there.  Well, Terry was in the same boat as many of us have been when it "took root".  He got downsized and went back to the pastor and said.... "Well, I have plenty of time now", and so it began.

Soil got tilled up, seeds were planted and a garden grew.  Not all together out of the ordinary, but the mission behind the garden...that's where things get good.  Those first few seeds were way more than plants.  They were the seeds of an amazing outreach that's been going on ever since.  11 years of providing fresh locally grown veggies for anyone who needs them.  It's simply an extension of their belief in taking care of community, friends and neighbors who might be in need and being able to provide for them in ways that take more time and love than just a cash donation.

Provide?  Do they ever.  Out of the garden hundreds of zucchini's, bushels of beans, peppers of all kinds, cucumbers, squash, broccoli, corn, tomatoes, cantaloupe, cabbage, kale, onions....what was once that desolate ball field is now the plot where anyone can come and find what they need, free of charge beginning at 11a every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday while the picking is good.  There's a magnificent stand where you won't find so much as a donation jar because they don't want anyone there to feel the pressure to match what someone else might have given.  The one thing you won't find?  Your way into the garden itself, unless of course you're one of the volunteers that helps tend it.  The preservation of the garden is best kept to them and their work is to be commended.

It was a second trip for me out to the garden to film the story.  As it turned out last week, I got there to film...and blew it.  Yep.  Plugged the mic into the wrong input on the camera but I found Terry Luce, Church Pastor Aaron Gregory and Rich Mitchell all very forgiving and we talked again about the passion for people and the desire to give grace with no expectation of return through their work.  Take a listen.

Can you imagine a world if we all just put in half of what happens here?   We're always so proud, an so humbled to show the good deeds that go on in Muskegon and our surrounding areas, but it really tugs at the heart strings when those good deeds are done of the sweat and labor of a few for the good of so many.  This is truly what makes Muskegon so incredible...these people represent the greatness that is our story in any time, and especially our times now.  Giant endowments are awesome and all the grants in the world are amazing, but quietly and humbly...the work of giants goes on too without much fanfare and it's truly a gift of the heart.  Our most sincere thanks to the crew at The Lakes Community Garden. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Local Mom Amber Horton Develops Sensory Kit for First Responders Handling Autism Calls

It's a fairly well known fact that when presented with a challenge for her kids, there's no greater force in the world than a mother.  That's amplified 10 fold when those kids have a bit more of a challenge in life like say Autism and if you mix in some real life experience on the mom's part and her ability to see that something is missing in essential services that could effect her job and her child....get out of the way and let the solution happen.

This is the story of Amber Horton who's an EMT at Pro Med here in town.  Amber is one of the front line workers we're all in awe of every time they have to come in to a desperate situation and somehow keep it all together in a moment of chaos in peoples lives and help them find a solution.  Her work has put her in about every unimaginable situation you can think of.  The life of an EMT is difficult and there's never much time for pleasantries and nice introductions when she meets most people.  It's more often than not a crisis situation and she's got one thing to do, stabilize things, assure people and get them in to the care of the hospital as quickly as possible.  In Amber's situation though, she's found a hole that needed to be filled when it came to helping someone.  What if the person they are responding to has Autism and is unable to communicate what's going on?

Visit Pro Med Online 
Inspired by her 5 year old son, who's on the Autism Spectrum and working on his vocabulary still,  Amber thought of the entire process of her work coming into the life of someone like her son.  Autism quite often sees things like noise, confusion, lights and more as "sensory overload".  Too much of what's not normal can trigger things like shutting down or running away to find a safe space.  So too can be the immediate influx of people that are new to someone with Autism.  Firefighters, EMT's, Police all might be on the scene along with parents and neighbors, maybe onlookers if it's an accident...a chaotic scene to some can become an absolutely unmanageable situation to others and without the ability to communicate what the problem is...things can go from bad to worse quick. 

Amber has created a kit that can be carried with all First Responders.  It's got things in it to help someone who's overwhelmed at the moment be able to communicate what they are feeling through simple picture language.  Imagine a picture of a person pointing to their stomach to express stomach pain, or maybe a person holding their head to indicate head pain.  It's all in a small book that can be easily shown and communicated with.  How about the loud sounds?  Sirens, people talking, machines making beeping noises and on and on.  There are some noise cancelling headphones included.  Too bright, how about some super cool shades?  They are in there.  Calming gadgets to take the mind off what's happening and most importantly, with the kit, will come the training for all of out first responder community, which might ask them to set aside most of what they have learned in a crisis response situation and adapt to help the Autistic person.  Amber also stresses the importance of Smart 9-1-1 when if a call is placed to 9-1-1, they will know in advance of a situation at a home and be able to respond accordingly. 

Leave it to a mom to get things right for her child and watch the ripple effect.  I met up with Amber at Pro Med in Muskegon.  Nice shady spot under a pavilion with 6 foot picnic tables to keep out distance and she told me how it all came about.  Take a listen.

A mothers love is set to go to the moon and back on this one my friends.  Amber's ability to see a necessity and develop a way to help others like her son, as well as other like her colleagues in the first responder field is going to have a deep and lasting impact for a lot of people.  This is an idea born of necessity and will grow out of purpose and love and it's starting right here in Muskegon.  As Amber mentioned....stay tuned for one of the events her husband puts on where kids can get up close and personal with the trucks and tools needed in the first responder world.  We've found some local hero's folks.  It's what we love best. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Taking Back Muskegon - Meet Michelle Tyson Who's Got The Future of Our Kids in Mind

It's always one of the greatest things we do to come across those who make the decision that it's time to do "something" no matter what that "something" might be.  If you're wondering if we have any experience in the field, take a trip back to 2015 when Andrea Rosema told us about "Giving Back Christmas".  Not only did her idea to do "something" take hold and grow, it set the pace for everything this blog and ideal would become.   Well, Michelle Tyson is making it happen again.

Michelle sent in a post request to the Facebook group promoting a "Royal Family Photo Contest" and like any other post, it goes into hold until someone can take a look at make sure it's not some ad for free sunglasses or the latest junk post from some clown trying to steal your data.  We curate the group pretty heavily to protect what gets on and make sure that it's relevant and free of the typical internet trash you see everywhere else.  We often too will ask who posts a little more if it's an intriguing post and seek to learn a little more and if it fits, good...if not...we explain the group rules.
Follow Taking Back Muskegon on FB and Enter the Photo Contest!!

In talking to Michelle briefly, I asked about the contest and a little more abut her purpose.  She explained that before the COVID stuff, she and a circle of friends began a grass roots effort to help support the kids in her area by hosting some events, offering a safe space fight crime and give kids at an early age the thought that street life might look glamorous on TV, but the reality of it is, it's not.  It's a game of smoke and mirrors and the end result for those who get pulled into it, is a cycle that needs to stop.  So, like any other small group of folks who start off with a dream, it's been elbow grease, grit, drive and determination to get things going, maybe raise a few bucks to find a place to call home and then expand their centers over time.  In comes the COVID shut down and everything gets put on hold.

As things begin to open up again, however, that desire to make change happen continues to grow and a couple months of staying home and staying safe are not going to stop Michelle and crew.  While we were not aware of when things would begin to open up, to keep some awareness happening, they came up with the "Royal Family Photo Contest" which you can enter through their Facebook page to the right.  Why not get the family gussied up and looking good for a picture?  Probably better than the stretchy pants and robe everyone's been wearing around the house, right?  A fun thing to do as a family and a great way to draw a little attention to the cause.  Offer up a prize?  Who wouldn't love a cash prize?  Then start to tell your story.  Open that channel of communication with others and let the good word spread and let them see that when you're pushing to make something happen, there's bound to be someone else who's gonna come along and push too.

It snuck up on ya didn't it?  Michelle is building community.  She's a modern day hero and she's said that any difference, is a big difference....and it's up to her to make it, even if it's just in the life of one other person.

I dropped by to see Michelle in the City of Friendly People and learn a little more.  Take a listen to our chat on the corner!

Imagine if we all took that one moment to follow that divine spark?  That little voice in your head that says - "Do something about it!".  Michelle did that and in time, her following that voice will lead to a life changed forever.  It might be one....but that's a legacy and much like Andrea starting a Christmas event for kids, Michelle is starting her own journey and to be here to watch it grow...and help her with that....that's what it's all about at Positively Muskegon.  Michelle, we're here for you!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Lighthouse for Veterans Heykoop Car Show Becomes a Cruise in 2020 on the 4th of July at Mart Dock

It's a year of adaptation and improvisation.  Lot's of things have a different spin on them and some things have had to pull the plug because the whole idea of social distancing and safety is kind of impossible for some events.  While the Stay Home order is a thing of the past, the message of proceed with caution holds true and when we first heard "The New Normal" we didn't really know what that meant, but it's becoming more clear, it means some adjustments for everyone.

That's not to say that the world has come to a screeching halt.  Not in the least.  Some events have had to make some modifications and to continue on for the purpose they do, those modifications are so very important because the work that goes on....it's really important too.  Such is the case with Lighthouse for Veterans.  Started by Natasha Heykoop and her family after the tragic loss of her brother to suicide, Lighthouse for Veterans is an organization that provides retreats for Veterans so they can work through some of the issues they face among peers who may experience some of the same problems they do.  It's a unique situation to them as they often feel isolated and that no one understands other than those who have served as well.  Lighthouse also provides community education.  Helping others understand what to look for when it comes to signs that someone may be giving that they are suicidal and how to help them seek the help they need.  Sadly, funeral expenses.  If a Veteran falls victim to suicide, often the family has to deal with the cost of the funeral as well as the immense cost of the loss of a loved one.  Finally, awareness.  Lighthouse works to share the message that we lose Veterans daily and the Veteran suicide won't just magically go away someday.

Click Here for Details on the Heykoop Memorial Cruise
4 years ago, we began to tell the story of Natasha and her desire to do a little something.  We were in a freshly cut field off Getty and Airline which was the spot they found to get things started.  It was a launch with a few friends and family members, some car owners that caught wind of what was happening and even a little picnic table with some pot luck food on it and a handful of raffle prizes.  Now, just 3 short years later, the even has grown to need a little bigger space.  You'll find this years even once again at the Mart Dock in Downtown Muskegon for the kick off on Saturday July 4th.  Yes, a car cruise on the 4th of July to help Veterans is exactly as patriotic as it sounds and yes, you really outta be there.

While in years past, it's been a car show, this year...it's going to be a cruise with the line up starting in the morning and the cruise hitting a few destinations with a return back to Mart Dock in early to mid afternoon.  Logistics are going to be a little different and patience will be greatly appreciated, however there will be time for the public to see some of the great items up for raffle or get some event merch to help support the cause once the cruise takes off.  There will be refreshments and fun for those cruising and when they come back to Mart Dock, prizes will be given out.

As always, I got my annual visit with Natasha Heykoop to hear about the event, the modifications and of course the purpose.  And, as always it's just amazing to me to watch something so incredible take hold in place of such a tragedy.  Take a listen to our chat and start polishing up the car for the 4th of July!!  It's going to be epic!

Hope the Turtle Wax in the garage isn't all hardened and dried out.  The cruise will be awesome of course, but the purpose is so much more.  What Natasha and her group have built out of the ashes is amazing and they are to be commended and supported for what they have accomplished and continue to do even when the times throw them a serious curve ball.  Take a few minutes and visit their website and help support the work they do to prevent Veteran suicide and advocate that we all know more about the signs and what we can do to help.  It's our great pleasure to watch such things grow right here in Muskegon.  July 4th...enjoy the cruise!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Mom On a Mission - Meet Jessie Wilde Emerging Media in Muskegon

Wasn't so long ago, there was this guy who had the idea that maybe starting a blog in Muskegon talking about good people, who do something that has a beneficial impact for our community got his start and, from there, things kind of grew.  It was a pretty simple idea really, backed up by a GoPro camera and a free blog program, and it all kind of grew from there.  The important thing though, is though that while you grow, you don't forget where you started or that others might follow.

I'm a firm believer in not only watching others blossom and grow, but helping them along if the opportunity is there.  One of the things I disliked the most about the end of the "traditional media" days, was the lack of anyone coming looking for a job.  In fact, the last two years I was on the FM radio, there wasn't a single applicant trying to get in the business.  Between market consolidation and the slow decay of a once vibrant medium and economic driver, no one wanted to come learn what I was doing.  It was pretty sad, because I had incredible mentors that made sure I knew more than any college could ever teach me.  I am no "shove it down your throat" teacher, but to pass along some advice and nuance once in a while....it's how wisdom moves.  I keep my eyes open and will introduce myself when I think I see some promise, and you know what?  I think I see a LOT of it.

Follow WildeJessie on Facebook for Her Live Events
Meet Jessie Wilde.  Jessie is a "Mom On a Mission".  Jessie is multi-faceted in her life and work.  She helps run My Space Office and Storage on Getty Street in Muskegon.  She's the Founder of WildeJessie Business Consulting and in her newly emerging endeavor, she's taken to the digital world to speak to young women about challenges they face and how they can share some knowledge and experience among themselves to not only show that they are not alone in the day to day of life, but...that the situations they face are probably not unique and that there are others too who deal with the same and resources for answers.

Jessie works on the Facebook Live platform at the moment.  The humblest of beginnings like we all have.  She's right out of her house on Thursday evenings and features a guest who's got some real world experience on any number of topics and with the use of the comment section of the Facebook platform, she's able to take question in real time and see if there can be an answer right there.  She also features some giveaway's on the discussion.  A way to not only help get the name of some smaller local business out there, but to give those mom's a chance to win a little something and add a little fun to the show.  She got all this going with just an idea of "How can I add to our community, and what does it take from me?"  It's that kind of innovation we love to applaud and help support.

Had a chance to talk to this incredibly energetic mother of 5, take a listen!! 

Get the feeling you're watching a star launching? Ya. Here too!  Join Jessie for the fun of one of her live chats on a Thursday if you are a mom on a mission too, or maybe you're a mom that can add to the conversation.  One thing is for sure, Jessie has the right attitude and drive and sure seems to grasp the idea that using media, talent and drive to benefit everyone, including herself a little is what it's all about in a town like Muskegon.  Very thankful to Jessie for her time and very excited to watch her grow.  There will come a day when we say.... "Ya, we had her on Positively Muskegon once." and that is what building people and community is all about.  To visit her website, click on the photo below.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Fillets for Families - Help The Fish Monger's Wife Help Area Food Pantries

Muskegon finds a way.  No matter the circumstance, Muskegon always finds a way to take care of our own as well as some of the surrounding communities when it comes to times of need.  It might be a benefit for an individual or group, it might be a benefit for a cause, it might be a benefit for a large amount of people you'll never see or meet.  If the need is there somehow, we manage.  In our lifetime, we've never seen need on such a scale, but little by little, we're all still finding our way.

Enter a small business.  Smallest you could possibly get as seen by some.  The Fishmonger's Wife located on Sherman on Norton Shores.  Most of the year, it's just a husband and wife team running the place.  They ramp up in the Summer of course to meet demand adding some help to take care of the customers at the counter as well as the growing online business they added a couple years ago.  None the less, it's a micro enterprise and like any other small business, faced with everything we're facing now, an uncertain future when things were put on hold for a while.  They were very fortunate in the fact that they do operate an essential business, providing food, and that they were able to stay open and that's something that the Peterson family is not taking for granted and not forgetting others with through all this.
The Fish Monger's Wife on Facebook

The Fish Monger's Wife actually saw somewhat of a spike in business.  Adaptation was essential of course.  They had to shutter the friendly store front and find a way to deliver their freshly caught food in a contact free way.  The removal of a screen from the fresh fish processing area seemed to cover that necessity pretty quickly.  Kids home from school?  There's the lobby of the store.  This is what we have to do for now kids.  Taking card payments with the Ipad while customers read the number to them from the car, utilizing that web store a little more, temporary adjustments to keep people fed and keep things moving until they can once again open up to full service.

Through that, how do we pitch in?  Well, there's a pretty loyal customer base of their store.  There is also an abundance of fish coming from not only their fleet, but others out fishing too, so...the idea come up to sell some of that fish to their regulars, but...it would go to area food pantries to help make sure that in a time when others have not...especially those who are finding themselves in need for the first time..there's a supply waiting for them. Beneficial not only for those in need, but a couple other small business as well.  Keeping product moving, pantries full and hopefully, the worry and fear about where the next meal is coming from to a minimum for some.

We linked up with The Fish Monger's Wife herself to find out more.  We also talked a little about her small business, supporting other local small agricultural business and how you can help if you are so inclined to be a part of "Fillets for Families".  Take a listen.

Refreshing to hear some success in a business that's translated into a willingness to help others.  If you are a regular customer of The Fish Monger's Wife, you know the quality and service they put in to everything they do.  If you're not, might be a good time to try.  If you just want to help in a couple of ways, here's your chance.  You can click on the photo below to visit the site where the drive is happening!!  Cheers to the Peterson's for a great story, and a great cause when we need it most.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Volunteer Week in the USA - Brian Harris Talks About Volunteering in Muskegon

If you've been around town a while, you might know the face you'll see in today's video.  If you don't recognize the face, you'll certainly know some of the work he's been a part of over the years.  Brain Harris retired from the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department a few years ago, and in his "retirement" has gone on to work part time for the Norton Shores Police Department as well as Emergency Services here in town.

When he's not at one of those jobs, chances are you'll find Brian volunteering in some capacity.  Brian has his hands in a LOT of projects here in town that help a variety of needs.  He's passionate about organizations that help first responders as you can imagine.  He's also like a lot of other police officers, a pretty tender heart under it all and makes sure that a lot of organizations that help human need and especially kids out with their causes.  They range from the Fraternal Order of Police, to Kids Food Basket, Sportsmen for Youth and more.  Brian and his wife Tracy spend a lot of time investing in making life better for all of us through volunteering.

In Muskegon, we're kind of all used to volunteering.  We are resilient in the fact that we have to stick together at things to get stuff done.  There are organizations big and small who simply couldn't make it without the help of volunteers.  It might be a role out front helping at a festival or an expo, or it could be a role behind the scenes where your work goes on without much fanfare and you do your part without a whole lot of recognition.  Either way, it shouldn't be about the recognition or who's seeing you doing what you're doing, it should be about what matters to you and while you might not be able to contribute in ways that will get your name on a building or a street named after you, you take away the personal satisfaction that you did your part for what matters.

National Volunteer Week first came on the scene in the USA in 1974.  American's were asked to seek an opportunity to volunteer and in turn for communities to recognize the incredible amount of work that gets done by those who believe in the causes they help and reasons they do.   Today, even in the times we're experiencing now, there are plenty opportunities to do your part.  Food banks, human need organizations, churches, organizations like The United Way, Senior Resources and more need a hand now more than ever and it could be a great way for you to find some inspiration in the middle of a lot of desperation.  Certainly a great way to see the hope that comes from giving a little of yourself to help those in need.

Brian and I sat down for a chat to learn a little more about the volunteer experience.  Take a listen to his thoughts on what he's done over the years.  How he's grown from all he's learned and who he thinks are some organizations that would really benefit from you lending a hand when it matters most....right now.

Take the first step. No matter what your passion is, there's a need to be filled.  If it's people.  Some are going hungry.  If it's education, there are folks who can't read.  Is it pets?  There's an animal shelter that's filled with furries looking for forever homes.  How about the environment?  What better time to see what you can to to protect Earth?  It only takes that first step, it's a step for the greater good and it's a step that if taken, can benefit all.  There are some links below to follow for volunteer opportunities in Muskegon.  Follow your heart, and follow them. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Muskegon Civic Theater and No More Sidelines - The Penguin Project

We are very fortunate to live in a community that embraces some of the things we do.  One of which is our Muskegon Civic Theater and the other is an organization that began right here in Muskegon and has stretched it's reach across Michigan with it's message of inclusion, forgetting about what makes us "different" and seeing that on some levels we are all more the same than we are not alike.  That homegrown organization is No More Sidelines.

No More Sidelines humble beginnings came when a young girl asked her mom why she didn't have sleep over's and things like other kids do?  It was a question that set into motion a tidal wave for Cyndi Blair who founded No More Sidelines for her daughter Alivia so that she could experience what the "normal" kids do.  Friends, sports, activities, simply put....inclusion.  The idea of "mainstreaming" was kind of losing wind in it's sails, you know...where the kids down the hall got to do a class or two a day with the others, or maybe lunch...but they kind of stuck together and kind of only blended in a little.  With No More Sidelines.  It was anything but that.

If kids did it, well...No More Sidelines kids were going to do it too and they were going to do it in a way that fully integrated them into the lives and surroundings everyone else had.  Dances, movie nights, bowling leagues, sports games at high schools...you name it.  Along with the activities, came the message that the differences were really not that big.  If you've been around the group, even for 5 minutes...you realize quickly...no only are there few differences, you'll probably need to sharpen your skills around some of these folks.  They are quick witted, fun and full of adventure and most of all LOVE!

Help The Penguin Project With Go Fund Me
As time went on, a new challenge came along.  A collaboration of No More Sidelines and The Muskegon Civic Theater called The Penguin Project.  Yes, kinds who have downs, autism, anxiety disorders or maybe a physical limitation get their chance in the spotlight to be the star of the show.  2020 is the 4th year for the production and collaboration and the experience for both the Civic Theater members and the No More Sidelines participants enriches their lives in more ways than can be described.  The No More Sidelines group gets to learn acting and perform on stage at the Frauenthal.  The actors from the Civic Theater get to mentor the actors and shadow them on stage just in case a line is needed or a little nudge has to come along to help them stay on track.  If you've seen a performance, you won't forget it.  If you have not seen a performance, you owe it to yourself.  It's an experience unlike any other and the energy and excitement flows right from the stage into the audience.  It's amazing.

This year, with some of the challenges we're facing, a hand is needed in the fundraising for the performance.  Most everything has crawled to a standstill including some of the performances and events set aside to help the project, so there's an ask out there to see if we can all rally around two of our most special organizations in town to lend them a hand.  Jason Bertioa is the Executive Director of the Muskegon Civic Theater and he joined me today for a chat about all things Civic Theater and especially about the Penguin Project.  Take a listen.

Such a great combination and collaboration.  Both of these groups enrich lives and make our community a better place to be.  The arts are also an incredible way for young people to learn and grow..and as far as the mission of No More SIDELINES, well, let's add in no more hiding back stage or behind the curtain.  Out in to the spotlight and right front of the crowd where the cheers, love and amazing support come back to the performers 10 fold. 

To learn more about the Muskegon Civic Theater or No More Sidelines, click on their photos below to visit their websites.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Wags and Gags - Help the Noah Project - Postponed Till May 30

In Muskegon, we might not be experts at everything, but we have mastered the ability of making sure that things get taken care of for those who are not able to take care of themselves.  Be it a need of any kind, somehow, someway, we all find a way to circle the wagons in our own way to fill the cracks and make sure that the needs are met and that when the time is needed.  This applies to human need as well as the need for the companions we keep in our pets.

The Noah Project in Muskegon has been an all volunteer organization since the beginning.  From their website - 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."

Located on Airline Road, The Noah Project is known far and wide for their work and their dedication to pets.  They rely solely on donations and volunteerism.  Funding doesn't come from any kind of annual budget from a municipality or entity.  When a need is there, it's met by the traditional methods, social media requests, word of mouth, email, fundraisers, donation buckets, and maybe even the ancient method of a phone call....what's that right?  Food, cleaning supplies, litter, cash etc...you name it....The Noah Project is 100% community funded and it resonates with those who adopt from them and help support their work.

This event has been postponed TFN.  We' will reissue the story when it is rescheduled.

See that part about fundraisers in the last paragraph?  Well, that's what we're here to talk about.  March 21st at the beautiful Trillium Events Center, The Noah Project presents Wags and Gags!!  A fantastic event focused on comedy, food, drink, silent auctions and of course, making sure that the needs of the shelter are met.  The comedy is coming from the Lighten Up Comedy troop, which features a comedian of any age level.  3 great comics coming for your entertainment.  The food?  Pasta bar and the fixins'.  Come hungy!  The silent auction?  Filled with all kinds of incredible items from local business....back to our opening statement of Muskegon circling the wagons...we're the best at it, including.... tickets to see Elton John up close and personal at Van Andel Arena when he makes a stop there on April 23rd.  As you'll hear in our chat...the tickets are close enough to the stage you'll scare Sir Elton.

I met up with Jane McGregor and Bill Vanderweele who are both board members of The Noah Project to learn a little more about the event and the cause...take a listen to our chat about this awesome event to learn more!

A fun night out with purpose.  The work they do at The Noah Project is of the heart and the support is fantastic.  It's a great thing to be part of a community that continues to give, and support so many important things, especially the causes that rely completely on the kindness of others.  Grab your self some tickets to the party and have a great night out, or if the fundraiser isn't your thing, make sure you stay in touch with The Noah Project on their Facebook page or their website.  Maybe some extra cleaning supplies or a little cat litter here or there from you....little things all add up to help support such a great cause!  You can visit the Noah Projects Website by clicking below!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

A New Observance in Muskegon - World Water Day - Meet Shannon Donely

World Water Day was first declared by the United Nations way back when in 1993.  You know, back when we were asking things like "Got Milk?"  and when "Sleepless in Seattle" had us all misty eyed at the movies!  They slipped in an observation on us and most of us probably didn't even see it happen!  Kind of a bad deal too because let's face it...what's our life here without water?  Pretty empty.

Sure, Michigan has made news for plenty of other water issues over the last few years.  We still have the issues going on in Flint.  We saw the contamination of the Rockford Area, even in the construction of the new convention center in Downtown Muskegon, there was a pause for some water contamination that had to be mitigated before the project could continue.  It's a big issue and for a state surrounded by 21% of the worlds surface freshwater, it's something we all need to be more aware of and do our part to help protect and maintain.  No matter the size of the role, everyone doing a little something adds up.
Find the Lakeshore World Water Day Festival on Facebook

Well, there are those who do some and there are those who take their passion and put the pedal to the metal.  Shannon Donely is one of those who's taken her passion for water and has gotten behind it to educate, advocate and take action on one of life's essentials.  Let's face it, life on Earth is 100% dependent on water and without those who are willing to go the extra mile for it, we'd all be facing a very grave future.  Shannon is organizing the first Lakeshore World Water Day Festival which will encompass events from Muskegon to Grand Haven with the hopes, that in the future, it will be one BIG event going on between both sites and an all encompassing effort by all to help protect what we've got.

March 20th there's a "Zero Waste Potluck" happening in Muskegon.  On the 21st you'll find "Walk for Water" activities going on in multiple places and the events will conclude with The World Water Day Festival event at the Loutit District Library in Grand Haven with special guest speakers, poets and musicians.

I met up with Shannon to talk about the events and the importance of our water supply at The Coffee Factory in Muskegon.  It was a busy place when we met up, but what else would you expect from The Coffee Factory?  Take a listen.

Is it your time? Is now when you get involved?  It's very much a grass roots effort here on the Lakeshore and something we love to get to right out of the box!!  We wish Shannon and her crew the very best on their events, and especially their mission.  We too often take for granted I think just how lucky we are to have such an abundance of water here...to be the best stewards of it that we can, is where it all begins! 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Your Plate or Mine Benefit for Jennifer Davis February 25th at the Lakes Mall - Britta Cleveland Reports

It is always my sincere pleasure to sit down and chat with my dear friend Kate Lillie who is the brilliant heart and mind behind YOUR PLATE OR MINE located inside the Lakes Mall in Muskegon. For years Kate has put her entire heart into our community and her amazing ceramic/canvas painting shop… creating timeless memories for countless people across the Lakeshore area… but nowadays YOUR PLATE OR MINE has a whole new special purpose for Kate’s beautiful daughter, Jennifer Davis who is bravely battling a very serious heart condition. 

She is a loved wife and mother of four young children enduring a very scary, debilitating heart condition. 
Click Here to Help Jennifer Davis

This Tuesday, February 25th from 6pm to 8:30pm at YOUR PLATE OR MINE in the Lakes Mall, Muskegon they will be hosting a Public Fundraiser Canvas Painting event benefiting Jennifer Davis. The cost is only $35 per painter, with $10 of each painting going to help Jennifer with her mounting medical costs. The canvas painting class includes a 10”x20” canvas, all of the paint and supplies needed to create your masterpiece...and step by step instructions by the teacher. This is a family friendly event for all who are 8 years of age and older. Space is limited so please call to make a reservation.

For all those who are interested in participating is this event ….or if you would simply like more information about helping out Jennifer Davis and her family please see the information listed below.

Public Fundraiser Canvas Painting event for Jennifer Davis
located inside the Lakes Mall, Muskgon
Tuesday, February 25...6pm – 8:30pm
Reservations are requested
(231) 799-1918

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Gavin and Kamden Cross - Making a Difference for Shelter Animals in Muskegon

We all work to try and make a difference for causes that matter to us.  Some work to help others who struggle with long term illness others, work to make sure those who go without have the needs like food clothing and shelter.  As we experience life, we develop friends who think like we do and we develop networks of like minded people who share their beliefs and work toward making a difference.  You gotta start somewhere!

Meet Gavin and Kamden Cross.  Sure, they are students in Mona Shores Middle School but, they are no strangers to working toward a goal of making sure the needs of others are taken care of.  Their mom, Jenny Cross, started the Andy Cross "Whatever it Takes" organization when they were in kindergarten.  It was in memory of their father who was lost to cancer at a very young age and left a hole in the hearts of many.  As Jenny worked to remember and honor his memory, the boys saw first hand the impact that could be made when it comes to making a difference.  They learned well.
Care to Help? The Boys Mom has a Venmo Account You Can Donate To.

Not too long ago, inspiration hit the twins.  They had the idea that if they rolled up their sleeves and got to work they could make a difference for some of the animals in our community.  When you're in middle school, you go with what you know right?  So, the idea was that if they worked to collect things that pets need, like collars and leashes, which mean that the shelter pets are going to be getting their forever home pretty soon....they will head to that home with something new and all theirs and their adoptive families also get to know that there was a little love behind their new family member.

So, what's next?  Of course, you begin with a social media video on mom's Facebook page.  Explain what you have in mind and why and get the process rolling.  Then, the local guy with the blog who likes to show off who's doing amazing things around town gets a look at it and asks if he can help.  A time is arranged, we sit down to have a talk, learn a little bit about what it's like to be a twin...life in middle school and why it's important to help in some way and how they are going about getting things done.  Meet Gavin and Kamden and learn about their "pet project".

Nice to meet some young people who've already got the idea that making a difference is good for the community and god for them.  Yes, they were taught young and that giving spirit continues and of course..there SO many stories of people young and old who try to do their part...large or small for things that matter to them.  They all add up to making Muskegon who we are.  A town of great people who find a way to make sure needs are met and we pass along that sense of community and taking care of all of us to generations to come.  Thanks to Gavin, Kamden and Jenny Cross for coming on to share their story.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Bling Thing - Benefiting The Hackley Library Feb 7th-8th at the Century Club

In-arguably, in the center of Downtown Muskegon we have a treasure like no other when it comes to a focal point, gathering spot, historical archive and true sense of community pride when we talk about the Hackley Library.  Even just driving by the place, the sense of awe and wonder is drawn upon immediately when you see the  grandeur of the building built in 1890.  Did you know?  The Hackley Library is on the Michigan Registry of Historic Places?

It stands today as a memorial to the Lumber Baron who donated it and as a symbol of the resilience of our community.  Sure, it's evolved with the times and of course, the Hackley Library offers all the modern amenities that any library should, but there is just something about the "special stuff" inside that grabs the heart strings of all of us, or those who just come for a visit and reminds us of what a treasure we truly have nestled in an ever growing and modernizing Downtown Muskegon.

Follow Friends of Hackley Library on Facebook
The Hackley Library thrives from it's support of the community but of course, there are some things within those budgets that are not covered.  Some of the areas that need to be attended to but need a hand from an organization who's purpose is to shore up funding for special projects around the library.  Be it a new awning out front...maybe it's the re-purposing of a room to accommodate a need?  Could it be modernizing some shelves?  There are lots of things that need attending to when you're 130 years old and that's where the Friends of the Hackley Library come in.

Founded in 1973, the Friends of the Hackley Library is a membership over 200 strong who work to provide for the library where some of the "gaps" are found.  The work year round to put on events to raise the needed funds through events like the used book sale, the Hackley Distinguished Lecture, and what's become their biggest event every year...The BLING THING which is happening at the Century Club Ballroom on February 7th and 8th this year!

It all kicks off Friday Feb. 7th with an early sale party.  Your $10 donation in will get you first crack at all of the "bling" like beautiful jewelry, purses, scarves, jackets and more.  There will be wine and chocolate and of course other things that "bling", all donated to the Friends of the Library to help out by local community members.  Saturday the 8th, the sale opens back up again at 10a and you can stroll through and find something amazing as well, and in the last short part of the entire event, you will find some pretty good discounts on what remains!

I met up with Barb Klingenmayer and Carol Ann Balcom to talk about the event this year and show off some of that "bling", take a listen.

To learn more about the Friends of the Hackley Library please, click on the photo below to visit their website!

Friends of Hackley Library Online