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Thursday, February 24, 2022

Citi Boi Corporation - Rob Mathis Takes Action With Friends and Family

 

We founded the Positively Muskegon blog way back when in 2015 when we found the need to highlight the people in and around Muskegon who have decided that it was time for them to contribute, be it large of small, to help better their community, and in turn, make life for all of us better.  To this day, the key element of all we do is to continue to find those who are willing to help even just one other person and give them a chance to spread the word.  This is how the long term healing of Muskegon happens. 



Rob Mathis is a Muskegon Veteran of the US Army and at the beginning of the pandemic a couple of years ago now, he saw an immediate need to give some relief to his neighbors that were close to him.  Sharing the neighborhood with families and kids, when the schools shut down no plan was immediately formulated as to how to take care of the kids who were dependent on the school breakfast and lunch programs, so, it was time to roll up the sleeves and get to work.  Making sure that there was food was first and then when the programs did come into place through the state and schools, making sure the food actually got to the kids was a second priority.  It was found that some of the kids meal drop off's were being swiped by area homeless and while we know hunger is everywhere, stealing from kids is taboo past most anyone's moral compass.  So a secondary layer was added to make sure that food deliveries got into the hands they were intended to. 

With the beginnings of the work, opportunity presented itself again.  Engagement often breeds awareness and the initial effort of some meals for kids turned into a little bigger push and the formation of Citi Boi Corporation.  Founded in 2021 and still waiting on final approval of their 501c3 status, from their website, Citi Boi describes themselves like this - "We can ensure the community that we are versatile in our approach and can acclimate to situations considering necessities. To guarantee this our organization is becoming Knowledgeable of the needs within the communities."  Street level, grass roots and absolutely from the heart.  This is the beginning of a miracle in action, and it's happening again, right here in Muskegon Michigan by people who never anticipated that they may be the ones called on to make that difference.  

Rob Mathis agreed to join for a talk today.  We are able to learn more about the very humble beginnings of Citi Boi as well as what they hope to see in the future.  A side bar conversation about relations pops up today.  It's an open discussion about what was, what is and if things are moving in the right way.  Rob also talks about where to find Citi Boi and even a meet and greet event coming up Monday which you can learn more about.  Take a listen. 


It's as simple as seeing a kid who needs a lunch. It's as simple as taking a moment outside yourself to see that helping isn't a global effort involving layers and layers or paperwork and accounting.  It's that one moment where we can all stand up and say "I can" and let that lead us to make a difference and a change, and then to see that ripple effect of change hopefully last for generations to come.  If you'd like to learn more about Citi Boi and follow their work, you can click on the link below to visit their website.  You'll find all the links to their social media there as well to follow the growth and progress of Muskegon people doing what we do best and that is taking care of each other, no matter how big or small the effort. 



Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Kids Belong - A Story About One Family's Work to Help Foster Children

 

Most would be surprised to know that over 600 kids in Muskegon and Ottawa counties are waiting in the foster system for a family to call their own.  Fostering a child is a huge commitment and with the hopes of finding an adoptive family eventually in the process of fostering, it's a world of dedication, emotion, support and finding a way to provide stability when a child might see nothing but turmoil no matter where they look.  





The idea that the need is so great in our area might be an eye opener to some but Jeff Steele and family are all too familiar with it.  They have a family of 13 kids between their own, those they have adopted and fostered and they have recently moved from the Grand Haven Area to Muskegon by Muskegon Community College where their new house is getting the finishing touches completed on it and it's also got room for expansion as their kids continue to grow and they continue to stick to their mission of Kids Belong.  Kids Belong is actually short for Kids Belong in families, which anyone can agree with.  However, there are times that families don't quite make it, kids need a stable environment and as those kids grow, they need the skill set to transition from childhood into early adulthood and know how things work like budgets, taking care of a home and how to navigate an ever more complicated world of "adulting".

Jeff works with local churches, support groups, recruiters to find families who might be interested in fostering or adopting and then to help with the next steps past the process.  Jeff is a Pastor himself and through he and his wife's adoption journey, they have learned that the next most important step for them is to find a way to help the kids who "age out" of the foster/adoption system and help them establish a path that will hopefully break the cycle.  Kids Belong is beginning to set the stage for that with the new house and the space to grow around it so they can build transition housing for the older kids and help them along.  They are 10% of the goal already!  Not a bad starting block for such an ambitious project. 

Like most anything, there are a lot of questions and a lot of nuts and bolts to the idea of adopting and fostering.  Jeff and I sat down to talk about everything from why he and the Mrs. began, how it's impacting the family, the project they are operating with Kids Belong and more.  Plus, hey, a quick tour of a house built for 13!  Who can pass that up?  Take a listen and learn why Kids Belong and how very important it is that some of the very most vulnerable in our community are cared for by such remarkable and giving people. 


It's a major commitment to be willing to jump in to a situation that requires foster care, this we know.  It's also probably one of the most selfless and rewarding things that can happen if the chance is taken and the patience and love required is given.  Does everyone run the numbers up to a family of 13?  Probably not, but the honest truth is this.  It doesn't take 13.  It takes one!  One act of kindness can change the world, and if not the world, one act of kindness can certainly change the life of one person and from there, the hope is that the cycle continues for the good.  Our thanks to Jeff for opening his home to us, if you'd like to learn more about Kids Belong or maybe help with the efforts you'll find them linked by clicking on the photo below.  They are a 501c3 entity so if you do help, you are making a tax deductible contribution to a pretty bright future to the next generation.