YEP at work!

June 18th, Father’s Day, will kick off the 9th year of CATCH Camp, the summer day camp in McLaughlin Neighborhood. Summer camp is about more than fun-packed weeks of adventure trips, kickball games, and character lessons.  It’s more than forming life-long friendships.  It’s more than strengthening character and self-esteem.  It’s all of this, to be sure.  But it’s about something more.


Summer camp is also about building leadership.  It is the time when young people (our YEPs!) who have been maturing socially and spiritually over the past year(s) get the opportunity to exercise their leadership before younger watchful eyes.  Nothing builds one's confidence like having others follow your example and aspire to be like you.

One of the greatest joys in neighborhood development work is seeing young leaders growing up to take positions of influence and responsibility in the community.  This summer a growing number of our emerging leaders will be thrust into positions of significant responsibility that will further stretch their abilities and test their faith.  They will work as farmers and mentors with McLaughlin Grows Farm, as camp leaders with CATCH Camp, as crew leaders with Royal Edge (our new and improved lawn care social enterprise!), and with our Home Rehab and Construction program at our newest home redemption project.  By the summer's end, they will be exhausted.  And significantly matured.

We need your help.  We have the work for the kids.  We have the staff to train and supervise them.  What we need is the money to pay the kids for their work.  Our goal is to hire 30 kids throughout the summer, awarding them $650 upon completion of a summer of job training!

Can you help us reach our goal?  



"I am a leader"

Our YEPs just got back from Washington D.C. This was made possible due to the generosity of our neighbors who helped the YEP's raise the money needed to make this trip. The YEPs visited many D.C. attractions, including the newly opened National Museum of African American History & Culture, Georgetown University, and Howard University.

YEP Keyvon Carpenter reflects on what he learned on the trip:

"Although I’ve been in a big city such as Washington D.C., this trip still helped me to have a better outlook on the world. It allowed me to see what it was like to be in a state, where people’s lifestyle is different. It also helped me to better myself in regards to working with others, experiencing other lifestyles, and even maturity.

Georgetown University gave me life. The campus and the people are beautiful. The history behind it is amazing and the environment itself incredible. The fact that I’m going into my senior year, these college tours were one step closer to preparing me for the real world. Washington D.C, as well as Virginia, are gorgeous states. I’ve always said that I belong in the big cities and these two really made me feel like home. I love how it’s busy and everything is going at a fast pace; how people walk, ride their bikes, and taking the subway is so cool to me. This trip taught me many things in only four days. Both good and bad. Some bad things were the traffic and how rude some people were. But like Ms. Charlotte (YEP Director) said, “Focus on the positive.” That didn’t stop my joyness, not one bit.

Some good things were the attractions such as the Washington Monument, African American Museum, and even walking through the city. But most importantly, the people I came with. I love these people so much and I look at everyone as family. The love, the care, the laughter, the arguments, the happiness… I can go on and on, only shows how close we are. I am grateful for not only these people, not only YEP, but Ms. Charlotte, and the strong young man that she is helping my mom mold me into. I loved everything about this trip and it’s one of the many reasons why I never left.

I am a leader. I’m ambitious and I’m inspiring because of YEP. I will remain that way.

Thank you."

On behalf of Keyvon and all of the YEP's we would like to say THANK YOU to everyone who was involved in this trip, you have truly helped to make an impact on these young leaders lives.




McLaughlin Grows’ “Community Supported Agriculture“ (CSA) For All Ages

Buying a CSA from McLaughlin Grows, your neighborhood urban farm, goes much deeper than just eating the freshest food available. There is the most obvious aspect of CSA membership:

The farm’s produce is grown clean, using organic practices and no harmful chemicals. We fertilize with locally produced compost (much from our own compost bins) and treat for pests with either soapy water, natural oils, natural predators, or by hand picking pests. Weeds are pulled by hand or hoe. No pesticides, herbicides or growth enhancers will ever be used at McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm, so your family receives the safest produce available.

But there is so much more that you support by participating in McLaughlin Grows CSA program:

McLaughlin Grows employs local youth throughout the growing season. High-school students participating in the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) have the option of working on the farm, learning leadership skills, cooperation, patience, and earning practical work experience. By working on the farm, these youth learn the very basics of self-sufficiency…how to grow their own food.

McLaughlin Grows employs college-aged students as interns. They not only hone existing skills, but learn management and organizational techniques too,  as they work with every aspect of farm operations.

The farm also helps middle school students in summer school who are in danger of not passing to the next grade level. Through “Growing Goods,” middle-schoolers learn about eating healthy, gain knowledge about growing their own food and build self-confidence and self-esteem. They also learn first-hand that they can make amazing things happen when working together as a team.

We are growing educational programs at McLaughlin Grows too! Preschoolers, elementary school-aged students, middle-schoolers, and high-schoolers come to the farm on field trips and for community service projects to learn about what it takes to put food on their tables. Programs are being developed so that teachers can find farm-based lessons in a variety of subjects such as math, history, language arts, art, and the sciences that help teach their classes about farming and growing food using these different venues. It is a wonderful way to bring students onto the farm and the farm into the classroom!

Special needs students come to the farm regularly to learn practical life skills, how to grow food, and to gain hands-on work experience through everyday activities. These young adults are given the opportunity to grow and stretch their abilities beyond what can be done inside the four walls of a classroom. We are also developing programs to bring senior citizens and youth together. Having multi-generational activities where those with experience guide their young neighbors through the steps of sowing seed, growing and caring for plants creates bridges of understanding and fosters a greater sense of responsibility for each other.

All of these things and more are what purchasing a CSA share through McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm supports. Neighbors coming together, children learning where food comes from, elders passing skills on to their littlest neighbors, people learning to eat and live healthier and happier, and so much more! We are one community…growing healthier, growing stronger, and growing together!

McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm is currently hiring interns. If you want to get involved in community farming check out the oportunities HERE

Stay up to date on all the farm activities on FACEBOOK

Project Sawubona (“I See You”) by Najeah Tornes

On March 17, 2017, the YEP’s (Youth Empowerment Project) hosted “Project Sawubona,” inspired by a Zulu word meaning, “I see you.”  As YEPs, we invited students from other Muskegon school districts to come out and support the community of Muskegon.

We had planned to clean up two areas of the Muskegon community, cleaning up garbage and tidying up public spaces, but due to the weather (there was a blizzard that morning!)  we had a change in plans. Instead, we helped Kids Food Basket program, a program where volunteers make sack lunches for the students of Nelson and the Heights elementary schools to send home with students from struggling families so they can have an evening meal. They put a cool twist on it with colors and designs on every bag, so each and every student can have something positive every day.

Thankfully, a lot of our peers came and supported us from all different schools and areas such as Oakridge, MCEC, Muskegon, Western Michigan Christian, Orchard View, Muskegon Covenant Academy and Muskegon Heights. First, we all had breakfast and designed the lunch bags and had positive bonding time with our peers. We also had an activity where we had a discussion about the positive and negative going on in our community and ways we could make it better.

After both of those activities, we went to Muskegon Heights High School and had a rally where outstanding talents and amazing acts of courage were shown. Keyvon (a YEP) danced boldly and amazingly, and Ms. Charlotte (YEP Director) sang gracefully.  Wonderful things happened that day, but the most courageous was this: three boys from Muskegon Heights High School came up on the stage in front of everyone and shared what their school and city meant to them. Then, they asked for help from us, to get other people to see the Heights the way they do.

This was my first community project with YEP,  and I was inspired by all of my peers. It was refreshing to know that other people felt the same or had similar feelings and thoughts as me regarding my community. After this experience, for the first time in my life, I believed that we can actually change the community we live in and maybe even the world.


Najeah Tornes is a member of our Youth Empowerment Program, which provides neighborhood youth with leadership skills, volunteer experience, and college/work readiness.

Keep up to date on all the amazing things the YEP's do on FACEBOOK

Community enCompass is hiring a Lawn Care Crew Supervisor

We are currently looking for a temporary Lawn Care Crew Supervisor to join our team over the summer months.

This position is responsible for directing 5 core-city youth crew members in daily operations of lawn and landscape maintenance including quality control, training, punctuality, and safety.  Candidates must also have strong organization skills, ability to complete appropriate paperwork, and possess good leadership and communication skills.  The employee will provide quality service that meets or exceeds our customers’ and management’s expectations.  The employee will show attention to detail and effectively communicate with subordinates, peers and his/her supervisor.  All employees will possess a friendly, customer service minded attitude and will conduct themselves in a professional manner.

For more details on this paid position, please click the link HERE. Please apply with a resume and cover letter to

Job listing will end on April 30th, 2017.


Out goes the old, in goes the new

Thanks to the generosity of the Muskegon Community, Sacred Suds is able to celebrate the practical impact of neighbors helping neighbors with the installation of eight new dryers and three new washing machines at Sacred Suds.

Out goes the old...

Out goes the old...

In order to give a practical demonstration of the power of your gifts consider a simple comparison of the cost of laundry at Sacred Suds vs. the cost of laundry at a community laundromat.

Six loads of laundry for an average family of 4 at a local laundromat, including the cost of soap and other laundry incidents would equal $21.00 per visit. That is $3.50 per load or $1,092.00 annually.

The same 6 loads of laundry washed at Sacred Suds, with our new state-of-the-art high-efficiency machines, and the provision of soap and other laundry essentials provided for free, costs $12.00 per visit. That is $2.00 per load, $624.00 annually, and provides each family a yearly savings of $468.00.

In 2016, while operating at 75% of our capacity due to failing machines, 3,002 loads of laundry were done at Sacred Suds. An average of 250 loads per month. At 6 loads of laundry per family, we assisted at least 42 families each month, providing monthly savings in our community of $19,656 or $235,872 annually.

Your gifts have increased our capacity to 100%, as we move into 2017 and beyond.  Sacred Suds is now able to serve a minimum of 53 families monthly, generating monthly savings of $24,804 or $297,648 annually. In addition, we have a quieter environment, happier neighbors, dependable facilities, and we are already seeing increased usage. goes the new! goes the new!

This would not be possible without the generous support of the individuals and organizations who have provided support for our new washers and dryers, generous on-going gifts of laundry supplies, and enthusiasm for the work we do. Our neighbors would have a much more difficult time addressing this basic need and making use of the limited resources they have.

We are a privileged community, creating a sacred space within our city, with our laundry facilities operating as one of our essential community hubs.  

And we have been equipped by our individual donors who gave generously to support this initiative of Community enCompass; community partners such as Great Lakes Dental, Men Who Care, Mercy Health, The Greater Muskegon Service League, The Muskegon Chamber of Commerce Women’s Division, and many others who have given to this initiative and/or to our ongoing laundry needs by providing soap and other laundry supplies. You have given us the tools to help neighbors in need! Thank you!

We look forward in the upcoming weeks to providing you an opportunity to see the wonderful things that you have helped accomplish. Be watching for an opportunity to tour the updated facilities at Sacred Suds, and hear about the exciting things we have planned as we move forward. You are truly helping us rebuild community among those who have at times felt abandoned by community!

Click here for more pictures of our new machines!

The Early Bird Gets the ... CSA?

The Early Bird Gets the Worm!

...or in this case, a GREAT deal on Community Supported Agriculture shares!

CSA shares allow people to purchase a season’s worth of produce in the spring. They then pick up fresh, locally grown produce each week that is harvested and rinsed just for them! To be certain, buying a CSA share from any organization is a guarantee that your family will be eating the freshest food available. But it goes much deeper than this, especially when buying from your neighborhood urban farm, McLaughlin Grows. By purchasing a McGrows CSA share, you will be supporting programs that employ our local youth, promote healthy eating and teach our community how to grow their own food, support education for young and old, and bring access to fresh food into the neighborhoods where there are no grocery stores.

The farm’s produce is grown clean, using organic practices. We fertilize with locally produced compost (much from out of our own compost bins) and treat for pests with soapy water, natural oils, or hand picking. Weeds are pulled by hand or hoe. Nothing unnatural will ever be used at McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm, so your family receives the safest produce available. And all produce in your CSA share is grown at the farm. There is no doubt where this food is coming from…you know the place it is grown AND who grows it!

But wait…there’s more! If you purchase your CSA before March 1st, you will receive a special EARLY BIRD rate! There are several different CSA options…follow this link for more information and to find the perfect McGrows CSA for your family.

If you would like to become more involved with the farm, watch for volunteer days to be posted on our Facebook page. McGrows also has many internship opportunities available; descriptions can be found here. 

All of these things and more are what purchasing a CSA share through McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm supports. Neighbors coming together, children learning where their food comes from, elders passing skills on to their littlest neighbors, people learning to eat and live healthier and happier, and so much more! We are one community…growing healthier, growing stronger, and growing together!

Intern at McLaughlin Grows!

McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm has several internship opportunities for the 2017 season. Whether your passion is growing, management, education, special events, advertising, community service, or promoting healthy living, McGrows has a place for you on the farm! Terms and length of service for most of the internships are fluid and can be discussed during the interview process.

Farm Education Internship: Preparation for, and assistance with, the farm’s educational opportunities will be a large part of internship responsibilities, as well as assisting the farm education coordinator in the office and at education sites. Additional duties may include some general farm work, preparation for and assisting at local farmers’ markets, and assisting with McLaughlin Grows Community Supported Agriculture program. Please refer to complete description for more details.

Farm Marketing and Event Internship: This internship will focus on promoting the programs in place, proposing additional opportunities for events and products, researching the viability of new products within the constraints of local ordinances, and developing marketing materials for these possibilities. Marketing responsibilities will include the farms’ Community Supported Agriculture program, local farmers’ market participation, educational opportunities, and more. Additional duties may include some general farm work, preparation for and assisting at local farmers’ markets, and assisting with McLaughlin Grows Community Supported Agriculture program. Please refer to complete description for more details.

Farm Management Internship: The Farm Management Intern will report to McLaughlin Grows’ Farm Manager and work extensively with farm staff, farm workers, volunteers, and community members who come to the farm. This internship is fast-paced and requires a great deal of working in all types of weather, focus, and commitment. Areas of involvement are extensive, so please refer to complete description for more details. We are excited by the prospect of working with someone who is willing to offer their own ideas for improvements in operations, in helping to develop new partnerships, and has interest in shaping the long-term direction of our farm. Please refer to complete description for more details.

General Farm Site Internship: Farm work will be done under the direction of the Farm Manager. These interns are an integral part of operations, work extensively with farm staff, farm workers, volunteers, and community members who come to the farm, and will support production and aid in all daily aspects of the farm. Workdays will involve working in all types of weather, traveling to multiple sites and repetitive tasks. Please refer to complete description for more details.

“Muskegon Prescribes Food for Health” Internship: The intern for this program will attend multiple meetings while participate in the planning process, assisting McLaughlin Grows’ staff and program manager/coordinator with research, implementation guide development, grant writing, and troubleshooting. This program is being developed in conjunction with federal funding, so attention to detail is a must! Additional duties may include some general farm work, preparation for and assisting at local farmers’ markets, and assisting with McLaughlin Grows Community Supported Agriculture program. Please refer to complete description for more details.