After what feels like an eternal winter, the sky is blue, the sun is shining and the grass is growing back from beneath the snow. The birds are out singing, people are back out in the streets, and we’re looking forward to many great things!
When our board and staff attempt to identify the reason why Community enCompass exists, we end up with phrases like “Neighborhood Transformation,” and “SHALOM in the City.” Lofty dreams for a rag-tag team of people who are often stumbling towards good. The year-end process of digging through data always makes me wonder..... how will we know once we’ve arrived? How will we know when our neighborhoods have been transformed and we taste SHALOM?
Dozens of neighborhood teenagers spent their summers doing internships through the Youth Empowerment Project. The PAID internships created an opportunity of high school students to gain experience in the fields of youth work, agriculture, construction, and gardening, building interpersonal skills and developing their resumes
Nina has bounced from house to house for over a decade, taking the initiative and engaged the services provided by almost every social service organization in the City---food assistance, substance abuse programs, parenting classes. She’s rented a place before, but the rent was higher than what she could afford—sometimes 70% of her total income, and she always ended up evicted.
This summer, hundreds of volunteers have already partnered with our neighbors to invest time, money and effort along 5th and 6th Streets from Houston Avenue south into Muskegon Heights. The project activities have provided effects similar to that of a facelift, rejuvenating the existing physical built environment of our core city neighborhoods. These activities are lifting the spirits of those living in these neighborhoods as well, and allowing neighbors to show-off their amazing gifts of hospitality!
“When we look at a house like this we see history, we see story, we see family, we see value and hope. We see good bones.” A house like this makes no sense to any real estate investor. It’s not a house you can flip for profit. The current real estate values in Muskegon's core city neighborhoods don’t make a house like this profitable in any way. It took close to $60,000 in materials and necessary contracted work to bring this house back to life, and that's not accounting for the countless hours of volunteer work that have been put in.
15% of Muskegon County residents have a certified disability, 25% higher than the national average. 41% of Muskegon county residents live at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty level, 22%* higher than national average. These numbers alone are sobering, so this month we are taking the opportunity to educate ourselves about the links between poverty and health, health and poverty.
Redlining is the historical practice of denying services to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic composition of those areas. Redlining in Muskegon resulted in some neighborhoods being underdeveloped, buildings being abandoned, businesses failing, increasing social problems and the removal of any incentives to invest.
Despite the heavy snow, spring always comes early at Community enCompass bringing with it the promise of opportunity. The opportunity to bring our fresh organic produce to more of our core city Muskegon neighbors. The opportunity to engage children and families in our learning garden. And the opportunity to help more people transform their lives through our farm-based job training program for core city youth.
For many years, a group of our neighbors has sought to provide high quality, new toys, and gifts for hard-working families in the core city Muskegon neighborhoods at an affordable price. Every child sees the same commercial yet Muskegon County’s ALICE population (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed) struggle to afford basic household necessities.