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.
This was my first time at the “Taste and See” Tour of our core city neighborhoods and Community enCompass. Wow: I am so very impressed with the awesome programs that Community enCompass has their hands in, rebuilding our community. Love IS what Love DOES & Community enCompass is doing much with Love. A great variety of amazing things are growing in our community as Community enCompass ministers through growth.
Phew: What a summer! So much work has been done. One of the highlights this summer has been our “4th Street Facelift” Project. Community enCompass was 1 of 10 organizations across the state to be awarded a $50,000 grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for neighborhood enhancement projects. Competition was hot with 36 projects across the state applying, and the grant was a catalyst for neighborhood organizing in a powerful way.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
...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!
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.
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