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.






Thank you for the Washing Machines!

The Sacred Suds community has been blessed by the many generous individuals and groups who have donated for improvements to our laundry facilities. We are currently in the process of working with Great Lakes Laundry to add 6 new dryers and 8 new washing machines to our laundry room by the end of January—replacing all of our decade old machines which are quickly failing.

These new machines, along with the addition of better folding areas, will help improve cost savings to our neighbors and Community enCompass. By providing state-of-the-art laundry facilities to the core city neighborhoods, your generosity is daily impacting the lives of individuals and families in very practical ways. They have an affordable laundry option, can make better use of their limited resources, and become part of a community working together to provide a better quality of life for all through long-term, sustainable change.

On behalf of all of us at Community enCompass, we want to thank you for supporting our efforts to empower people and build community in Downtown Muskegon by sharing God’s love in meaningful and practical ways.


Taking the Next Steps in Urban Farming

Many maintenance chores on the farm are taking days and weeks longer by hand than they would with a tractor. The land at the farm sites is shaped and adjusted each season as McLaughlin Grows continues to mature. New plots are needed to increase production and to create educational space. These changes are currently done with shovels, rakes, axes, hoes and hours of heavy digging, lifting, and clearing.

Will you help us raise $17’000 to buy a tractor?

Using a tractor would not only save hours of work, it saves wear and tear on workers. As we build the farm into a growing and teaching space for all, there is a significant amount of land profile change to come. Having a tractor to do this work will make it happen quicker, cleaner, and create a much more professional appearance!

Daily maintenance is a huge part of why McLaughlin Grows needs the addition of a tractor. Such things as stirring the four large mulch piles we maintain could go from a three day chore to one done in a matter of hours. Imagine a job that is currently spread over two or three days being completed in less than an hour by using tractor forks!

These are just a few ways upgrading our machinery on the farm would help. McLaughlin Grows is expanding in so many ways: increased capacity, new projects, more educational opportunities, expanding CSAs into the workplace…and more. We are a growing farm looking for ways to push the limits of our finite seasons. Having a tractor on the farm will increase our efficiency and give us the hours we need to grow, feed and teach our neighbors and our community.


Welcome to 1312 Ransom

Many owners and renters have called this house home over the past 104 years.  First in 1912 were the Rexford’s: William, his wife Edna and their daughter Ruth.  Mr. Rexford was a conductor for the railroad, his wife a clerk and daughter a student. They lived here for 10 years before selling the house to Frederick A. Bailey. Bailey was a teacher at the Hackley Manual Training School and lived here for 40 years. During that time he had two spouses, Florence and May, and also became a teacher at Central Junior High School.  In 1962 Robert M. Juntunen bought the house and five years later in 1967 William I. Coleman, a salesman for World Book Encyclopedia bought the house.  He lived here with his wife. They enjoyed the house for 27 years while William worked as a custodian for Mona Shores Schools and later Coleman Insulation.  In 1994 Joseph J. and Charity S. Zimmerman bought the property and it seems to have been a rental for several years. Then between 2006 and 2014 Heather Beagle, Melissa Tyler, Andrew Willet were owners and residents of the house at various times. And then the house fell into foreclosure.

When Sarah and Rehab Specialist Kimi George toured the house and saw its hidden beauty and possibilities they decided that it was redeemable. So early in 2016 Kimi began identifying the needs, creating a plan and pulling together the rehab team. For most of the year Kimi along with volunteers from the community, Community enCompass’ Youth Empowerment Program, West Michigan Works, Pay it Forward and other organizations, various subcontractors and members of Muskegon First Wesleyan Church transformed the house beyond its former beauty. New siding, new front steps, paint, new upstairs laundry and bathroom, refurbished kitchen with new cupboards and appliances and many other changes were needed to update the house. During the rehab a young family that had attended Community enCompass’ 2015 Taste and See was invited to visit the Ransom property.  They had decided that they wanted to live in the neighborhood and fell in love with the house. So the neighbors are now welcoming Jeremy and Brittany Lenertz and their two daughters Elise and Celia to the neighborhood. It is truly a story of redemption accomplished by love and hope and hard work.

The Lenertz family

The Lenertz family

As Christ’s light scatters the darkness in our lives, it comes into this home to bless those who will dwell here. The prophet Isaiah says, “let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

Jesus says, “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”   As you hear these words may you be blessed with peace and joy and faith and love as you enjoy this beautifully redeemed house for many, many years.

May you welcome family, friends, neighbors and strangers through its door.    


Written by Karen Eichelberger

Community enCompass is Recruiting for an AmeriCorps Position

Michigan’s Campaign to End Homelessness (CTEH) AmeriCorps Program will support service providers by increasing their capacity to offer assistance to homeless and at-risk individuals and families. Specifically, the AmeriCorps members in the CTEH program will provide services that will increase an individual’s self-sufficiency in the area of income and life skills.

Click here for More information.

To Apply: Please send a resume and a cover letter to both Virginia Taylor, site supervisor, at and Kelli Beavers, program director, at




Community enCompass is hiring a Community Health Worker.

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Join our energetic team of "Downtown and Proud" Muskegonites who work creatively to make stronger, healthier neighborhoods.  Our Community Health Worker (CHW) is a front-line liaison that links neighbors to health/social services to reduce social isolation.

Our CHW builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy. 
Application to be sent in the form of resume and cover letter to by December 19th. 

See a full description here.

Youth-Led Race Relations Discussion

As a nation, we are becoming increasingly more aware of different ethnic groups within our communities. Within the next 20 years, the US will demographically shift from a predominantly white society to a predominantly minority society, but this awareness often comes hand in hand with very negative reporting. Unarmed black men threaten a predominantly white police force. Middle eastern immigrants are often referred to as extremists or even terrorists. The Latino community is continually referred to as “illegal” and job stealers. These narratives are routinely told and reacted to, despite being over-simplifications of extremely complex situations.

Due to the rise of social media, it is almost impossible for youth in the United States to ignore these narratives. Even if they live in a predominantly white, middle-class area. The need to be aware of racism in the US and how it manifests differently in different communities has become an important topic of conversation, but one that is often brushed under the carpet.
    The youth group of 1st Lutheran church in North Muskegon, however, has taken a different approach. The group of predominantly white teenagers, in a city that is 94% white, decided that if they were to progress in the world, they needed to broaden their horizons. The youth group decided to connect with our Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), to start the important conversation of race relations and to learn from the experiences of those who encounter racism in their daily lives.  “As a young woman going into the professional world, it is important for me to realize that the world that I see isn't the same world that other people see,” says Madi from 1st Lutheran.         

The workshops involve exercises that develop on the theme of inequality.

The workshops involve exercises that develop on the theme of inequality.

The YEPs jumped on the idea, eager to share their experiences as Latinx, Black and White youth living and learning together in Downtown Muskegon, an area that is over 50% non-White. YEP Miranda reflected on racism at a recent workshop: “It's really prevalent in our society and it’s relevant to what's going on in my life and the lives of people I care about.”
    It’s inspiring to see teenagers from different social and ethnic backgrounds walk through the maze of race relations together. “I am learning to look at all aspects of racism--not just what I have experienced. When I hear about racism I always thought it was a ‘black vs white’ thing, but I am learning there are other people who are being discriminated against, like Hispanics and Arabs too,” YEP Keyvon explained. “We all have something to learn and share here.”

At Community enCompass we are inspired by these youth leaders who are challenging all of us to engage more deeply in hard conversations towards healing and reconciliation.

"I Am Neighbor" - Shawn

The greatest wealth is health
— Virgil

The cost of health is a conversation that comes up regularly with our neighbors. The cost of health care can cripple a family.  Even when wise health decisions are made, exercise is frequent and diet is healthy, the “unforeseen” can blow a hole into anyone's reality. Highly publicized social media campaigns  among other things have been utilized and supported,  just to help people cover the cost of being well again.

Shawn at home in her favorite chair.

Shawn at home in her favorite chair.

 For Shawn the “unforeseen” was a large beautifully ornate piece of furniture, which ended up taking  3 years out of her life. “I was hauling a big book case, like the ones in a lawyer's office, with 3 other men. One of the guys dropped his corner, and I tried to compensate for it. It felt like I had pulled a muscle, so I thought, ‘It’s Friday….Whatever, I’ll just grab some Tylenol,’ and I went home.” That pulled muscle turned out to be a crushed disk in her neck and a pinched nerve. She lost all feeling in her right hand and arm. It was fixable, but she would be out of work for months.

Shawn was working for an antiques restoration shop, a small company with only a handful of employees. When she spoke with her employer about health coverage after the accident, she was told that because she did not fill out an accident report form the day of the accident, the accident didn’t happened within work hours, and they were, therefore, not obliged to help cover the cost. None of her colleagues were willing to risk their jobs to vouch for her, so she had to take her employer to court, just so she could keep paying the bills.

Shawn dressed up as a nun and her daughter dressed as Hillary Clinton for Halloween

Shawn dressed up as a nun and her daughter dressed as Hillary Clinton for Halloween

Months later, after enduring torrents of verbal abuse from her ex-employer, the judge ruled in favour of Shawn. Shawn had  the forethought to record all conversations she had on the phone with her ex-employer, including the abuse. The judge ruled that either the employer paid Shawn worker’s compensation, or he would face legal charges of harassment and abuse, charges he would lose too. He chose the worker’s compensation.

The whole situation left a bad taste in Shawn’s mouth: She had been ostracized by other employers in the area and couldn't find work.  But she had to keep paying the bills.  So Shawn and her young daughter moved to Muskegon for better opportunities.

 To make the situation worse another “unforeseen” hit. After Shawn’s first surgery the doctor told her that they had found evidence of a degenerative bone condition in her spine. Unfortunately the condition is hereditary: her brothers, mother, and grandpa all have it. Her vertebrae are compacting down, literally crumbling away. Since discovering it, Shawn has had two more surgeries fixing some of her vertebrae, but ultimately there is no cure.  She can have other surgeries, but the main deterrent is physiotherapy, exercise, and pain management for the rest of her life.  And that's not cheap especially when there's no money coming in, so Shawn signed up for Medicaid.

Unable to find work, with worker’s comp running out and bills piling up, Shawn finally had to claim disability benefits. They pointed her in the direction of a local veterans housing facility. Shawn had served in the 126th Army Band of the Michigan National Guard as an oboe player. She had signed up with her parents permission right out of 11th grade,  and was honorably discharged months before the 126th was set to deploy to Iraq during Operation Desert Storm as medics in 1990.

“I jokingly say, ‘I defended Michigan with my oboe: STAND BACK, or I will play!’” It was this experience that qualified her for the free non-permanent, dorm room apartments. It was better than nothing, but after the allotted time, Shawn and her 11-year-old daughter were out on the street. With no place to go and no money for rent, they ended up in the Muskegon Rescue Mission.

Shawn didn’t want to be there. “It was really bad for us,” Shawn recalls.  Shawn was breaking the rules, smuggling food in for her daughter who would cry herself to sleep at night due to hunger.  “At some point I just realized, ‘‘I need to get out of here!’ My daughter was losing tons of weight, she was being really quiet and was intimidated by the other women there.”    

It was around this time that Shawn came across Community enCompass, quite by accident. She had seen signs for the Learning Lab, a computer room at Community enCompass open to the community where people can find help with job applications and resumes among other things, and she wandered in. It was here she overheard conversations about military housing assistance. Shawn was told that Community enCompass had resources to support female veterans with families. Two years later Shawn shares a two-bedroom bungalow with her daughter, who is in high school. Shawn pays part of the rent, and Community enCompass pays the rest. Through the help of West Michigan Works, Shawn found work with Pioneer Resources, providing care for people with physical and mental disabilities. Shawn enjoys her work. The physicality of it keeps her active, which helps with her spinal condition, and the work is flexible. She works part time so she can continue attending her physical therapy sessions.

One of Shawn's hobbies is to revive dying plants.

One of Shawn's hobbies is to revive dying plants.

Between Shawn's initial accident with an ornate bookcase and her finding her job with Pioneer Resources, Shawn was unemployed for three and a half years. As she looks back over the years of struggle, she is thankful. “It is definitely a blessing: my church, my family, and Community enCompass. I don't know where we would be without them. They are a strong part of what has gotten us this far.”

“Unforeseen” things can push anyone over the edge into poverty, vulnerable housing, or even homelessness. Accidents, medical conditions, the insensitivity of others, can all pile up on top of each other until everything breaks down. At Community enCompass, we encounter neighbors whose realities have been swallowed by their struggles to survive. We make it our business to walk alongside neighbors so that they are able to do more than survive.  Shawn and her daughter have incredible gifts to share with society, and she is in a place now where she can offer them up.  We are so proud to call Shawn neighbor, and look forward to seeing how her gifts add value to our community!  


"I Am Neighbor" - Yvette

As I sat talking to Yvette in the living room of her Bethany Housing apartment I was struck by just how clean everything was. In her kitchen the white tiled floor was sparkling, dazzlingly white, a shock to the eyes after the dull gray morning sky outside. Here in the living room, the beige carpet was fuzzy, spotless. Her apartment was clean, almost too clean, at least, cleaner than you would expect from a 21-year-old living on their own for the first time.

    It came as no surprise to find out that Yvette was a janitor at a local school. She gets paid to clean, so the spotlessness of her apartment made a little more sense. Yvette moved into her Bethany Housing apartment in May 2015, after being on the waiting list for a few months. She was excited to finally live independently. “It was a blessing because of everything I went through. Most young adults aren’t ready to be adults, but I was ready--physically ready, mentally ready.”
    Yvette has been through a lot. She was adopted at a young age “My parents gave my siblings and I up for adoption because they want me to be better than them”, she tells me, “It was to help  me, my sisters and brothers out.” Yvette’s adoptive mother then died when Yvette was 8 years old, and so she was taken in by an aunt. She has struggled with feelings of resentment towards her birth parents, but has recently reconnected with them. “Now I look back and think I could've been in jail, in the grave, or something like that but instead look where I am today! Look at how I was raised and brought up. I have no kids, I have my own place, have gone to college, have a full-time job, and now I look on the positive side of it. No negativity.”
    Yvette bounced around a few different schools but finally settled at Muskegon High School and connected to Community enCompass through its Youth Empowerment Project (YEP). The program  aims to equip young people with the tools and encouragement to become leaders within their communities. YEP opened Yvette up to opportunities like mentoring younger children through  an after school program and CATCH Camp, a summer day camp for children.  As a YEP, Yvette also worked with a team of 4 other young YEP women on the rehab of a residential home  Community enCompass rehabbed to sell, learning  skills in construction and rehabbing. “That project taught me how we can bring a community together and build something great. I really liked that.”

Yvette in her Bethany Housing Program apartment.

Yvette in her Bethany Housing Program apartment.

The YEP program also helped to Yvette become college-ready. Although she has put her formal education on hiatus, she is close to completing a degree in Early Education with Criminal Justice, and she also recently enrolled in a local cosmetology school. Ultimately, Yvette wants to work within the prison system, as she sees it as a way to be able to give back to the community. However for Yvette, just like most young adults, being able to finish school, and be financially independent is close to impossible.

Yvette doesn't want to take out a loan. “It will get you in the long run,” she says referring to the high-interest rates on monthly payments. So, she studies and works. In the past, she has worked two jobs while also going to  classes. Her current 2nd shift janitorial job allows her to cover her bills and live comfortably, but it also conflicts with the times the majority of college classes are  taking place. She sums up the predicament many youth face today,  “College can't pay your {immediate} bills. I wanna go back, but right now I can’t.”

Yvette is being wise: working hard, paying her bills, and staying away from debt and loans. She’s even saving a little money, but this hasn't always been of benefit. A lack of loans, car payments, credit card payments can lead to bad credit. Landlords often won’t  rent to those with bad credit, so despite working hard, saving money and making wise decisions, she struggled to find a place to call her own until she contacted Community enCompass.  Our Bethany Housing Program helps provide units to people who have low  credit scores or can't find a reliable cosigner, instead looking at proof of income and rental history to gauge suitability for the program. For the last year and a half, Yvette has been a model tenant and neighbor.

    Yvette is a strong, independent, fearless young African American woman, with a bright future ahead of her. We are so glad to call her neighbor!