Street Talk: The future is now


Fifteen of the Muskegon lakeshore’s up and coming young professionals are being recognized by the business community for contributing to the growth and success of their company/organization and making a positive impact along the lakeshore.

“In these changing times, it is very important that we usher in new leadership for this community. This award is an effort to encourage worthy individuals to step forward to engage in leadership activities going forward,” said Cindy Larsen, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce president. “In addition to being recognized, all of our Future 15 recipients will receive a $100 gift certificate toward the Muskegon in Focus Leadership program.”

A selection committee consisting of young professionals who were among the 2018 Future 15 award recipients gathered to determine who this year’s honorees would be.

After review of the nominations, this year’s Future 15 emerging young leaders are the following: Amanda Barnhill, Arconic; Bobby Fisher, Shelby State Bank; Brennen Gorman, Brower Vander Veen PLC; Brian Olian, Reeths-Puffer Schools; Erica Sandford, WUVS 103.7 The Beat; Holly Schroeder, Manpower; Jacqui Robinson, Muskegon Catholic Central Schools; Jamie Sutton, Lamar Advertising; Jenni Griswold, Dockside Salon and Day Spa; Kiara Scott, Community enCompass; LaShaun Turner, city of Muskegon; Mikaela Taylor, Boys and Girls Club of the Muskegon Lakeshore; Natasha Heykoop, Lighthouse for Veterans; Tacitus Bailey-Yabani, Abeshi Ghanaian Cuisine LLC and Abeshi LLC; and Marc VanderStelt, Norton Shores Police Department.

Larsen said the 15 finalists will be recognized at a Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce member event from 5-7 p.m. Aug. 1, at The Deck on Pere Marquette Beach.

Early learners

Grand Rapids Community College’s Early Learning Laboratory recently received a transformation any child would be excited to explore. A carpenter at Rockford Construction, Fernando Zamudio brought GRCC’s vision to life in his latest project that renovated the playground into a space that sparks imagination.

Zamudio was tasked with constructing a hobbit house and wooden butterfly, creating a space for kids to play, learn and be exposed to the skilled trade of carpentry at an early age.

Before beginning construction, Zamudio met with those who attend the Early Learning Laboratory to discuss the construction process, carpentry skills and ensure he built the kind of playground they wanted.

Known around the office for bringing complex and unusual ideas to fruition, Zamudio began by crafting a clay model, built the final structure in five separate pieces and assembled them on-site, bringing the request from dream to reality.

Shine bright

The Grand Rapids Public Museum had a successful Front Row for the Fireworks celebration on July 6. With nearly 1,700 attendees, visitors celebrated Independence Day with patriotic activities throughout the GRPM and ended with front row seats to the city of Grand Rapids’ spectacular fireworks display.

Among the attendees, foster children and their families were welcomed as special guests to enjoy the night’s festivities. Thanks to donations and sponsors from the community, GRPM was able to bring more than 635 foster children and their families to enjoy Front Row for the Fireworks at no cost to them.

“The GRPM is proud to offer this experience to local foster families,” said Kate Kocienski, vice president of marketing and public relations at GRPM. “We would like to thank our community sponsors who helped to make this fun and memory-making experience possible for foster families.”

GRPM hosts foster children and their families at Front Row for the Fireworks each year, working with Samaritas, West Michigan Ronald McDonald House, D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s Home, Bethany Christian Services, Kids’ Food Basket, Catholic Charities of West Michigan, Wellspring Lutheran Services and Family Promise.

Garden party

Being outside, hands in the earth, recalling memories of farming in their youth, residents at Allen Manor have the opportunity to dig in the dirt this summer through a partnership with Bates Place.

This spring, 10 residents signed up for a new program to build, plant and maintain raised beds that house greens, peppers, beans and strawberries.

Samaritas’ Allen Manor, an affordable living senior housing facility in Grand Rapids, launched the project with Bates Place, a nonprofit striving to cultivate a sense of community in the Bates and Henry area of Grand Rapids.

The fruits and vegetables grown in the raised beds and gardens will be harvested and eaten by residents in a farm-to-table experience.

Community retailers and volunteers are collaborating to facilitate the project. Donations included lumber and wood from Zeeland Lumber, soil from Birch Tree Landscape, and trees, flowers and gardening supplies from Lowes.

Along with the raised beds, Allen Manor created an additional garden space with tomatoes, squash and an apple tree.

Allen Manor has worked with Bates Place in the past and hopes to continue the partnership. Bates Place employees Wayne Squires, Joshua Holwerda, Luke Dehaan, Jerry Baker and Ren Miller have collaborated with Allen Manor on this gardening effort and other projects, including recording oral histories of Allen Manor residents.

Allen Manor staff hopes to coordinate with Bates Place for a summer reception honoring garden volunteers and sponsors. Plans are in the works for a farm-to-table potluck for residents and community members later this summer.

Kimberly Sleet, senior manager of Allen Manor, said the residents are thrilled with the gardens, and Allen Manor is looking forward to expanding the project in the future.

“Their faces light up when they work outside and see the raised beds,” Sleet said. “It also provided a wonderful opportunity for Allen Manor residents to engage with local community members and volunteers.”

Samaritas has affordable living communities across the state that offer a blend of residences, amenities, programs and health care services. Each location continually seeks out partnerships to enhance the quality of life for the people in these communities, the company said.

Teacher feature

The largest West Michigan-based retailer is offering a discount to help teachers buy classroom supplies.

Meijer said last week that it will offer the 15% discount — which it says is the largest it’s ever offered — from now until Sept. 28.

“We recognize that teachers spend a lot of money out of their own pockets on school supplies, and we hope this offer will help,” said Brandon Pasch, director of back-to-school merchandising for Meijer. 

The teacher discount applies to all Meijer stores, and there is no limit to the number of times it can be used before the deadline, he said.

To get the discount, teachers need to present a current school ID at the customer service desk to obtain a coupon to use for in-store purchases.

Qualifying items include spiral notebooks, Crayola products, Elmer’s Glue, Sharpies, Post-It Notes, planners, journals, memo boards and select brands of backpacks.

Teachers will be allowed to use their mPerks Rewards alongside the discount, Pasch added.

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