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 large number of our emerging leaders (YEP’s) were thrust into positions of significant responsibility that stretched their abilities and tested their faith.  They worked as farmers with McLaughlin Grows Farm, as camp leaders with CATCH Camp, as crew leaders with Royal Edge (our new and improved lawn care social enterprise!), lot beautification under the direction of Sprinkler Works, and with our Home Rehab and Construction program at our current “home redemption project” on 4th street. The internships have ended, they are exhausted.  And have significantly matured.

We needed your help.  We had the work for the kids.  We had the staff to train and supervise them.  What we needed from you was money to pay the kids for their work, and you didn’t let us down. Because of your support, the summer was a success. YEP’s not only learned new skills while working summer jobs within the community, they also represented Muskegon as ambassadors to the multiple volunteer groups who partnered with us over the summer. Each group left having learned something new about Muskegon and its core-city neighborhoods because of the time spent working alongside our young leaders.

Due to the success of the “on job trainings” that the YEP’s completed and the enthusiasm from both the YEP’s and our neighbors, in 2017-18 Community enCompass will be offering more YEP Work experience opportunities for high school youth, YEAR-AROUND. To kick this year-around program off, we are launching the “YEP Fund” as an ongoing opportunity for you to support young leaders in the core-city neighborhoods. YEP: “Empowering youth to become LEADERS NOW, while forever changing their futures, as they become PILLARS of SOCIETY.”

For more information on the YEP program and the possibilities of this up coming FUND please contact Charlotte Johnson at

Muskegon Prescribes Food for Health!

When the last grocery store moved out of the downtown area of Muskegon, we were left with a “food desert,” a low-income area, that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. Many neighbors in the core city neighborhoods are without transportation, so access to fresh fruit and vegetables is difficult.  The result of this has been an increase of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, fueled by the mix of unhealthy food and lack of exercise. Through efforts of groups like McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm and the Muskegon Farmers Market (open 3 times a week through the summer months), affordable, healthy, fresh produce is becoming more available to the community.

But it’s still not enough. Nationally the average American is eating a calorie rich diet, with excess amounts of saturated fats, and sodium, our diets are lacking in enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium, and fiber. This has contributed to some of the leading causes of death in the USA, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, strokes and some forms of cancer.

So what’s the answer?
We are killing ourselves with our diets, and the pharmaceutical remedies are often expensive and cause other health issues. So what can be done? Check out our new and innovative program called, “Muskegon Prescribes Food for Health (MPFH). For the last year, Community enCompass has convened a table of advocates of farm, food and health to develop a core city neighborhood health system to support our low-income neighbors.

Through MPFH, doctors from Hackley Community Care will prescribe patients veggies from McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm as part of their patients’ wellness plans! Cooking and nutrition classes alongside the prescriptions for fresh produce at McLaughlin Grows will offer patients 12 weeks of fresh food from the farm, helping to put them on a path towards a healthier diet and healthy life.

“The average income of our core city neighborhoods is below the poverty level. And even though there may not be a lack of food, there is a lack of education about food—we want to change that. We want them to know there is a connection between good nutritious food and better health,” said Patti Walker-Moran, AmeriCorps VISTA member at Community enCompass.

A pilot project of MPFH officially began August 15 with 24 participants and will end October 31. In 2018, we will launch a bigger program that will expand the number of participants.


I chose to serve.

This summer AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate members serve in neighborhood development efforts while connecting with neighbors, volunteers and partners in the McLaughlin and Nelson neighborhoods. They have brought their passion and perseverance to where the need is greatest within the community. We are happy to have them serving with the YEP, McLaughlin Grows, Growing Goods, CATCH Camp, Rehab and Lawn Care programs. 

We recently asked two of our Summer Associates, Danielle and Fluarry to talk to us about why they decided to join our team?

Summer Associates Danielle and Fluarry

Summer Associates Danielle and Fluarry

"When I heard about this position as an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate with the Growing Goods project, I felt immediately drawn to it, submitting my application the same day. My previous employment as a barista was becoming monotonous and tiresome, while the lure of garden work, youth development, and creative opportunity was loud. I listened to that noise, and I marvel every day at the personal growth that has come from that decision.

A primary component of the success of Growing Goods is the positive community it creates for the students; forming these relationships with the youth has offered me an abundance of laughter, patience, and perspective. Additionally, collaborating with a strong, positive team of supervisors and high school Peer Leaders has shown me the fruitfulness of teamwork, and given me the support to voice my input. I feel fulfilled in ways that no other job has been able to do, though this feels less like a job and more like a place I get to go to learn, serve, grow, be creative, have fun, etc. It has given me highly transferable skills in leadership, initiative, time-management, and community building.

Though I have only been apart of the Growing Goods team for a couple of months, it feels like it’s been much longer due to the inclusion from my supervisors since the beginning, empowering me to dive right in and contribute. This will be a difficult project (and team) to walk away from, but I am infinitely grateful for the lifelong enrichment it has provided."
-Danielle Warren

"The AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate position with the YEP (Youth Empowerment Project) serving in leadership development has been good for my soul. The consistent support and guidance from AmeriCorps VISTA Leader, Arisha Coffee & YEP Director, Charlotte Johnson allowed me to grow in immeasurable ways.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work so closely with the youth in the YEP Program. The experience has allowed me to be in community with people and to work with youth.

I have been away from my hometown,  Muskegon for seven years to complete undergrad and graduate school. I moved away from home to gain a broader perspective on life. I became disconnected from my passions and over focused with success in academia. This summer experience has allowed me to positively reintegrate back into my community and learn daily from a great group of youth.

I chose to serve to take a break from school. I chose to serve to find meaning and purpose outside of academics. I wanted to give myself a real chance to seek true joy, peace, and balance while engaging in experiences that I am truly passionate about. I am very thankful for the opportunity to work with a great group of people through a super chill organization. This was a good summer."
-Fluarry Jackson

It is through people like Danielle and Fluarry that Community enCompass is able to effectively walk alongside our neighbors in the core-city neighborhoods of Muskegon. We always have opportunities open for people to join our team. Why not check out our OPPORTUNITIES page to find out how you can be a more active neighbor in the core-city neighborhoods.


What a crazy summer!

What a crazy, busy, blessed summer! We would like to take a few moments to share some of the great things happening in YOUR core city Muskegon neighborhoods.

The YEP's 

The YEP's 

Thanks to those of you who generously donated to our YEP program and to MI Works, we have been able to employ 25 YEPs within our summer projects, from CATCH Camp and the Farm to our housing rehabs and lawn care services. The YEPs have been able to earn a wage while also developing their leadership skills within the community. We could not do our work alongside our neighbors without the input and energy of the young leaders in the YEP program. Thank you for your donations and support!

Volunteer from Catholic Heart work Camp cleaning siding on 4th street.

Volunteer from Catholic Heart work Camp cleaning siding on 4th street.

This summer has seen the launch of a strong effort to rejuvenate 4th street. The #4thStreetFaceLift is an ongoing effort to revitalize our community, to bring neighbors together sharing tools, time and skills to help each other clean up yards, repaint houses and weed sidewalks. Some of you may have been following the progress of our #4thStreetRehab, a house we saved from demolition in the winter and have brought back to life through the help of volunteers from near and far. Both the #4thStreetFaceLift and the #4thstreetRehab have been made possible by you, our neighbors who have given of yourselves to help our neighborhood grow. We appreciate your donations and support.

Finally, we have a very exciting public art project on the go in partnership with King David’s Masonic Lodge on Mason Street, the YEP’s and West Michigan Artist Elloy Villarreal. Together they have collaborated on a two-story mural on the side of King David’s Lodge, portraying black leaders from the past and present, locally and nationally who have inspired today's young leaders within the YEP program. We are deliberately being coy on the details of this exciting project until its grand unveiling on August 5th. But if your curiosity gets the better of you why not take an afternoon to drive down 5th street and try and spot it, maybe you could even guess what it’s going to be!

Can you tell what it is yet?

Can you tell what it is yet?

Because of your continued support, YOU have created a summer full of learning and service for core city neighbors and youth. So why not come and celebrate with us and the YEPs!

Saturday, August 5th, from 4 to 7 PM, at King David Lodge, 260 Mason Ave.

Join us as we honor and celebrate all the youth that have successfully completed the 2017 Summer YEP Program, and unveil the new public art mural painted to highlight black leaders who have inspired our YEP's.

Questions? Call Charlotte Johnson at (231) 728-3117 or email

We all hate tax season.

Tax season is always a headache. The forms, the numbers, do you file as a household or individual? Do you qualify for one of the seemingly thousands of different Tax credits? Do you file online or by mail? The forms themselves seem specifically designed to confuse and baffle. They leave you with a sense that maybe you ticked the wrong box, that carries on for weeks after. Some of us forego the stress and pay for others to prepare our taxes for us, buying the peace of mind of knowing if anything goes wrong, it wasn't our fault.

Charles Fritz

Charles Fritz

The headache of tax returns often leads to many people filing wrong records, meaning they end up paying higher levels of tax than they should or do not receive the refunds or credits that they are eligible for. This has the largest impact on low-income households already struggling to make ends meet. A low tax return, or even worse, a tax bill can become the last straw pushing households down the spiral of debt and soaring bills towards poverty that we see so often within the ALICE community of Muskegon.

That’s where VITA comes in. VITA has had a site at Sacred Suds for many years, helping low-income individuals and households file correctly and get the returns they’re entitled to and need, helping pay their bills and put food on the table. Other such sites included Baker College, Goodwill Industries, Muskegon Heights Library and Tanglewood Park.

Richard Olson

Richard Olson

Charles Fritz and Richard Olson are part of the VITA team based at Sacred Suds through tax season, volunteering a day a week for 11 weeks, using their skills to help their community. This year they helped 126 households and individuals with an average income of $12,703 receive an average of $771 in federal and state returns. For a total of $131,626 returned to our core city neighbors.  When combined with the efforts of the other sites in Muskegon a total of $2,198,802 was returned to low-income households in Muskegon.

So on behalf of our neighbors and community, we would like to say a big THANK YOU to the volunteers like Charles and Richard who worked so hard this year, helping the hardworking families and individuals of Muskegon navigate the quagmire of filing taxes and collect the refunds that they deserve.


Brand new housing opportunity in Muskegon Heights.

525 West Summit Avenue, Muskegon 49444

525 West Summit Avenue, Muskegon 49444

The former Roosevelt school has been newly renovated into new, high-quality one and two bedroom apartment homes. The community boasts large, beautifully lit, spacious living and common areas, with touches of the buildings school-roots running throughout. Restoration offers a community garden, playground, and large living and community spaces with tons of natural light.

Applications can be picked up at Community enCompass' office. Applications can be picked at the reception window during the following hours:

Monday 9AM to 1PM
Tuesday 9AM to 1PM
Wednesday 9AM to 1PM

Your application CANNOT be returned if you do not have ALL of the following items:

  • Homeless verification.
  • Identification card.
  • Social Security cards fro ALL household members.
  • Birth certificates for ALL household member.
  • Proof of income.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to come to the office and speak with our receptionist.

Meet our Summer Associates!

"This summer, Community enCompass is privileged to host 6 VISTA Summer Associates, and we would like to introduce you to our team:

From left to right: Will, Shantel, Chris, Arisha (Vista Leader) Danielle, and Nathan, (Fluarry not pictured) 

From left to right: Will, Shantel, Chris, Arisha (Vista Leader) Danielle, and Nathan, (Fluarry not pictured) 

Nathan Helm is serving as the McLaughlin Grows Farm Education Assistant coordinating healthy meals and educational programs for youth on the farm and youth participating in summer programming. Nathan is no stranger to the McLaughlin Farm and has been a great help to Laurie. He is currently finishing up his culinary studies at Baker’s Culinary Institute of Michigan

Will Paige is serving as the Lawn Care Assistant helping to train YEP's to develop lawn care and leadership skills while providing yard services in core city neighborhoods. Will is happy to share his skills and talents with the team. Will has been a long-time volunteer at Sacred Suds, and we’re excited to have him join us as a Summer Associate.

Danielle Warren is serving as the Growing Goods Assistant to provide support for youth in summer school and community settings including McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm.  Danielle is passionate about serving in the community.

Chris Longmire is serving as the Rehab Housing Assistant working alongside YEP's and volunteer groups to develop leadership skills and training. Last year, Chris shared his skills with Community enCompass as a Baker College Intern, and so is another returning member of the Community enCompass family.

Shantel Johnson is serving as the CATCH Camp Assistant leading 8 YEP counselors to ensure kids involved in CATCH Camp have a safe and fun summer experience. Shantel is a former YEP and will be going into her last year at Michigan State as she furthers her dream to become a scientist.

Fluarry Jackson is serving as the YEP Leadership Development Assistant coordinating the lunch program for the CATCH Camp summer experience participants, Lost Arts public art and Leadership Development with the YEP's. Fluarry has experience working with youth and is excited to connect with the YEP's.

These Summer Associates will serve in neighborhood development efforts while connecting with neighbors, volunteers and partners in the McLaughlin and Nelson neighborhoods. The Summer Associates will live and work alongside these community members to advance local solutions.

AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate members bring their passion and perseverance where the need is greatest which is in the community. We are happy to have them serving a 9-week term with the YEP, McLaughlin Grows, Growing Goods, CATCH Camp, Rehab and Lawn Care programs.

We are excited about the experience, growth, relationships and support this team will gain during their term of service and are confident their energy will contribute to each program's impact."

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.