Category Archives: Community News

Read Muskegon opens literacy center in Muskegon County

Read Muskegon grew out of an informal group of volunteers providing one-on-one literacy tutoring, but the organization in recent years has shifted gears to boost its visibility and impact in the community.


When Melissa Moore joined Read Muskegon as its first executive director, she and two other part-timers shared cubicle space at Muskegon Area District Library’s administrative offices.


Today, less than four years later, a once-vacant storefront in Muskegon Heights has become a hub of literacy efforts in Muskegon County. Read Muskegon, the county’s only nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life through improved literacy was selected as a finalist in the MiBiz Best-Managed Nonprofits Awards in the small organization category. 


Since Moore started in 2014, Read Muskegon has gone from serving 50 individuals through one-on-one tutoring, which is still core to its mission, to a variety of outreach programs offered through Michigan Works!, Great Start Collaborative, Muskegon County Jail and its new Family Literacy Center at 26 East Broadway.


The organization, founded in 2005, has evolved from struggling to put on a fundraising event to a budget of more than $200,000, said Peter Violino, past board chair during the transition years of 2014-16 and a former tutor.


“The one-to-one tutoring was such a rewarding thing, but it’s a really tough model to reach the 20,000 to 25,000 people (who are functionally illiterate),” Violino said. “It’s great to see that (growth) happening because the program is now expanding and it opens up our services to so many other people in the community.”


Moore, with the guidance and forward-thinking of a dedicated board, is proud of the strides and expansion in recent years. The “one-on-one pairs are the heart of what we do,” but it’s a resource-heavy model to train volunteers and provide individual support to learners, Moore said.


“It wasn’t going to make a big dent,” she said. “We started thinking from the very start, who do we need to be? We obviously need to be something more if we’re ever going to make an impact.”


The board developed a strategic plan that included a literacy center in three to five years, but it happened much faster when space — leased for the cost of property taxes — became available in Muskegon Heights, an opportunity suggested by another board member, Jonathan Wilson, economic development manager for Muskegon County.


“We really wanted to be the hub for literacy in Muskegon County and be the go-to organization,” Wilson said. “Now with the move and expanding our programming, I think we have accomplished that goal.” 


The 2,600-square-foot center opened in May 2017 through a partnership with the city, which was looking to fill vacant storefronts in an effort to revitalize downtown. Transportation is often a barrier, so the move brought the center to the community with the most critical need.


“I got the sense that we could be in on the ground floor of something really exciting that would benefit the community of Muskegon Heights and was right where we need to be,” Moore said. “The other thing I loved is it said something about who we wanted to be as an organization. You can’t always play it safe, you have to think long term and think outside of the box.”


Classes, tutoring and programs still take place in the community, but, as awareness grows, the center will continue to expand programs for low-literacy adults, family literacy and toddlers up to 5 years old. Services include tutoring labs for drop-in and one-on-one tutoring, small group and ESL classes focused on improving functional literacy, job readiness and instruction for parents on how to engage in early literacy development with their children.


Moore, who has a background in nonprofit management but not reading, has discovered there are many barriers to reaching the agency’s targeted population. Printed materials and billboards aren’t an effective marketing tool if a person can’t read, and things like embarrassment and crisis management often prevent people from seeking help. 


The organization has focused on building community partnerships with health care organizations such as Hackley Community Care and Muskegon Family Care, churches, workforce agencies, Head Start and soup kitchens to make referrals. Read Muskegon leads small group classes at Michigan Works! and for inmates in the county jail, as well as those in the exit program.


The agency realized programming was needed to address breaking the cycle since children who have parents who are illiterate or low-level readers are the most at-risk for becoming adults who cannot read. Children can participate in literacy-based Play & Learn groups, and there is a family reading corner open during the center’s regular hours. 


The center also hosts the literacy-based ABC’s of Cooking, a six-week parent/child healthy cooking workshop, and community-based activities and book distribution at the Heights Farmers Market, family movie nights and other community events. 


Moore credits the organization’s growth to a strong board and solid financial management, including diverse funding through contracts, donors and fee-for-service programs. The organization’s budget increased by $70,000 for this fiscal year, and it received the first federal grant through the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act to help prepare entry-level workers with low literacy.


“My passion for this as an issue grows every day. My job is to be the voice of the people who are looking for our help,” Moore said. “Once you teach someone to read, they always have that gift. They carry it with them their whole life.”



Read Muskegon: 

Mission: To increase the quality of life in Muskegon County through improved literacy.

Service area: Muskegon County

Executive director:  Melissa Moore

Number of employees: 4

Annual budget: (2018) $214,781

Management Best Practices:

  • Hire staff committed to our mission, invest in developing their talents, and create an organizational culture where everyone knows they are valued.
  • Understand the unique challenges of the population we serve and target our communication and program strategies to reflect those challenges.
  • Build on a solid foundation, developing an infrastructure designed for sustainable growth.


Board of directors: Paula Kendra (chair), Kendra Consulting; Brandon Davis (vice chair), Senior Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Muskegon County; Caterina Holt (treasurer), Morgan Stanley; Jennifer Zwemer (secretary), Whitehall District Schools; Tamica Fox, ADAC Automotive; Cynthia Langlois, Muskegon Community College; Merle Scolnik, retired, special education; Joanie Smith, retired school superintendent; Judith Stojak, Raymond James; Peter Violino, retired, marketing; Jonathan Wilson, Economic Development Director for Muskegon County; Jane Wright, retired CPA


Muskegon County Calendar of Events 01/29/18 – 02/05/18

Muskegon County Calendar of Events 01/29/18 – 02/05/18

Click here to view the calendar.

Parmenter O’Toole Transitions to Parmenter Law

Muskegon, MI – Jan. 23, 2018 – Parmenter Law was founded in Muskegon beginning in the late 1940s. In 1948, Harold M. Street and Paul Sorenson started the law firm, which eventually became O’Toole, Johnson, Potter, Rolf, and Eklund. In 1949, George A. Parmenter and Robert L. Forsythe began practicing under the name Parmenter and Forsythe. It was 1992 when the shareholders of these two well-respected firms merged to become Parmenter O’Toole.


Thomas O’Toole, one of the firm’s founding partners, established the traditions that continue to guide the firm today. His values of honesty, respect, hard work, and “doing what you said you would do” remain at the firm’s core. Mr. O’Toole practiced law with a dedication to these fundamental principles that continue to embody the spirit of Parmenter Law.
While the standard of exceptional legal services continues, the new year marks a transition to Parmenter Law, marking an evolution of the firm’s strong historic roots in the community to a new model of experience, trust, and team collaboration.


The change to Parmenter Law reflects the firm’s new and different business model in a rapidly changing business climate. Parmenter Law’s attorneys and entire team embrace a new collaborative philosophy in serving clients and achieving goals. They take a holistic approach to clients’ needs in a positive, trusting and transparent environment.


Today, Parmenter Law’s practice areas include Estate Planning, Elder Law, Real Estate, Business, Public Sector, and Civil Litigation. The firm provides legal counsel to businesses, municipalities, families, and individuals through West Michigan and beyond. The Parmenter Law team has 11 lawyers and a group of 17 paralegals and legal assistants.


The firm supports the local community through a variety of partnerships such as sponsoring Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce events, including the annual E Awards. Also, each year the firm partners with a local non-profit by supporting them financially and with hands-on project participation. In 2017, Harbor Hospice was the community partner, and in 2018, No More Sidelines will be the community partner.


Parmenter Law is located in downtown Muskegon on Muskegon Lake. For more information on the firm and their services, please visit or email


Muskegon County Calendar of Events 01/22/18 – 01/29/18

Muskegon County Calendar of Events 01/22/18 – 01/29/18

Click here to view the calendar of events

Support Harbor Hospice Programs & Services, BIG Fundraiser August 18 and 19

Harbor Hospice Foundation has scheduled a two-day celebration this summer, and we hope you will join in the festivities!  The festive weekend will begin Friday night, August 18, with a ‘summer casual attire’ Event of Events ‘SUMMER SPLENDOR’.  This incredible night includes of specialty food catered by Harris Hospitality, live entertainment by Black Circle Radio, silent auction, raffle games and more!  All funds raised will benefit the programs of Harbor Hospice.  Hosted at the Event Center at Fricano Place in Muskegon, we expect to welcome 300 enthusiastic patrons.  Auction item/experience donations will be taken in through end of July.


The next morning, hundreds of sailing fans along the shores of Muskegon Lake will gather for the 10th Annual Harbor Hospice Regatta at the Muskegon Yacht Club. This hugely popular race is part of the National Hospice Regatta Alliance ( that has raised over $23 million dollars for hospice services across the country. West Michigan sailors love this race, and in the past 10 years have raised over $300,000 to support local hospice care.  A wonderful picnic will be available for $10 per lunch.


Open to the public, families throughout the western Michigan lakeshore communities are invited to attend the annual Harbor Hospice Regatta. Not only will guests be able to enjoy a beautiful view of sailboats on the lake, but they are also invited to participate in the family-oriented picnic as well as mingle and listen to vinyl played by Black Circle Radio. The event, which first began in 2008, will take place on Saturday, August 19, at the Muskegon Yacht Club.


“The Harbor Hospice Regatta is a wonderful, fun-filled event for families to enjoy,” said Ammy Seymour, Harbor Hospice Foundation Director of Development. “The proceeds from this event help to ensure that all Harbor Hospice patients facing a life-limiting illness have access to expert care as well as support for their families regardless of their ability to pay.”


The Race begins with the starting gun at 1 p.m. Muskegon Yacht Club hosts a shoreline picnic lunch, which is open to the public, from Noon-5:30 p.m. tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for a pick three menu for kids 12 and under.  Picnic tickets will be available day of the event.


Harbor Hospice is a member of the National Hospice Regatta Alliance, a nonprofit, 501 (c) 3 association of hospice regattas, which independently raises money and awareness for local hospices.


For additional information, to become a sponsor or donate an auction item, please contact Ammy Seymour at 231.728.3442 or

First day of service at Cardinal Elementary!



Kids’ Food Basket friends,


Today is the day we’ve been planning for! Thanks to your continued support of Kids’ Food Basket, students at Orchard View Cardinal Elementary are receiving their first Sack Supper. Taking a new school off our waiting list is a huge accomplishment, and it also means we will now be serving more than 1,000 Sack Suppers each and every weekday – quite a milestone that you have helped make possible!


As our team has been making plans to start Sack Supper service, I have been blown away by the support shown by our amazing community. The response from Orchard View Cardinal Elementary has been incredible: parents are sharing their gratitude for our work and volunteers, while others are sending gifts or asking how they can join the attack on childhood hunger!


We anticipate Sack Supper service growing to reach more than 350 students at Orchard View – 350 students that will now have the security and consistency of a guaranteed evening meal full of the nutrition they need to grow, learn and live well. I hope you’ll join us in celebrating what this impact means not only for today, but for a brighter future in Muskegon.


I also hope you will continue to join us as we work tirelessly to not only serve our current schools but grow to reach even more children in our community. Last week, I sent an email with additional volunteer opportunities – learn more here. If you can’t make a volunteer shift, consider donating items from our Wish List – every bit helps!


Thank you so much for your continued support – you make all of this possible!

Stephanie Kerr Cathey


Tech Center Open House Shows Teens How To Get More Out of High School

MUSKEGON: To help teens get more out of their high school experience, the Muskegon Area Career Tech Center is hosting Connect with Tech Night on Wednesday, January 24 from 5–7 p.m. at their campus located at 200 Harvey Street in Muskegon. Teens are encouraged to connect with one of the 15 career-related programs that matches their college and/or career interests.


MMD open house

Students of all ages, and their families, are invited to explore careers in healthcare, engineering, criminal justice, graphic arts, culinary, veterinary sciences, and more. While they are here, they can meet instructors and current students, take part in hands-on demonstrations, talk to local manufacturing employers, college and armed forces representatives, and enter to win an iPad Mini. Current sophomores and juniors can even fill out 2018/19 registration forms on-site.


“Last year was our first year hosting Connect With Tech, and 39 students filled out enrollment forms for 2017/18. I’m excited to see how those numbers grow this year,” said Student Outreach Specialist Stephanie Hoekenga.


“This is my second year at the Career Tech Center,” shared Environmental/Veterinary Sciences student Kerrigan Semans (Whitehall). “I enrolled here to further my education in animal care and because it’s an environment that’s focused on what I want to do after high school.”


To learn more about Connect with Tech Night and the 15 career programs offered at the MACTC, visit or call Stephanie Hoekenga at 231-767-3613.


Click Here for the Open House Flyer




Student Designers Will Compete to Win $500 Scholarship


The Lakeshore Home Builders Association is pleased to announce their 50th Anniversary Parade of Homes Guidebook cover design contest. The contest is open to High School and College students in Allegan, Ottawa and Muskegon Counties. The winning design will be featured on the cover of the 2018 Parade of Homes Guidebook, and the student designer will receive a $500 scholarship to the College or Trade School of their choice.


Students are asked to design a cover design that commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the event. Creative and innovative ideas are encouraged.


“We are proud of our long history of showcasing new and remodeled homes along the lakeshore, and thought that a design contest would be a great way to involve the community,” shared Executive Officer Sue Schurman. “Since students are the future of the residential building industry, why not involve them in our anniversary.”


Sponsored by Mercantile Bank, Lake Michigan Credit Union, and James Hardie Building Products, the Parade of Homes features newly built homes from the Lakeshore Home Builders Association building professionals.


If you enter:


Cover design specifications are available at


Entry deadline: March 1, 2018


About the Lakeshore Home Builders Association


The Lakeshore Home Builders Association is a non-profit trade association representing the residential building Industry along West Michigan’s Lakeshore from South Haven to Muskegon. Affiliated with the Home Builders Association of Michigan and the National Association of Home Builders, our members represent “the best of the best” in residential construction, remodeling, and repair.


The Lakeshore Parade of Homes ( is an annual showcase of new and remodeled homes built by the Lakeshore Home Builders Association building professionals. 2018 marks the 50th year we have presented this new home showcase.



The Frauenthal Center Presents Comedian LOUIE ANDERSON

Date:  March 9, 2018
Time:  7:30 pm
Place:  Frauenthal Theater
Tickets:  $29 – $49


Muskegon, MI  —  Iconic comedian Louie Anderson takes the Frauenthal stage in a one-night only hilarious stand-up act!  The three-time Emmy Award winner is one of the country’s most recognized and adored comics; named by Comedy Central as “One of 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time.”


With a career spanning more than 30 years, Anderson currently co-stars in the hit FX comedy series Baskets, winning the 2016 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.  He is a best-selling author, star of his own stand-up specials and sitcoms and he continues to tour the country performing to standing-room-only crowds worldwide.


Tickets are $29 – $49 and can be purchased at the Frauenthal Box Office via phone at 231.727.8001 or in person, open Monday – Friday from 11:00am to 5:30pm or by calling Star Tickets at 1.800.585.3737.   Tickets can also be purchased at



Frauenthal Center
425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon, MI  49440


Date:  Sunday, March 4, 2018
Time:  3:00 pm
Place:  Frauenthal Theater
Tickets:  $20 – $30 / $12 Youth


Muskegon, MI  —  RICHARD DOWLING: THE MUSIC OF SCOTT JOPLIN‘s piano concert features the beloved Scott Joplin ragtime piano works used in the 1973 Academy Award winning movie, “The Sting,” (including The Entertainer) plus many other dazzling, delightful, and rarely-heard Joplin compositions.


The program features an Audience Choice selection — a Joplin work randomly selected by an audience member from the remaining complete Joplin piano repertoire (53 rags, waltzes, marches and cakewalks).  Richard Dowling is the first pianist in the world to perform all of Scott Joplin’s piano works in public.  On April 1, 2017 — exactly 100 years to the day that Joplin died in New York City — Mr. Dowling performed the complete Joplin cycle in two historic sold-out recitals at Carnegie Hall in New York.  Rivermont Records recently released Mr. Dowling’s 3-CD definitive set of The Complete Piano Works of Scott Joplin, recorded on a magnificent Hamburg Steinway concert grand piano.


Tickets are $20 – $30 Adult / $12 Youth (18 and under) and can be purchased at the Frauenthal Box Office via phone at 231.727.8001 or in person, open Monday – Friday from 11:00am to 5:30pm or by calling Star Tickets at 1.800.585.3737.   Tickets can also be purchased at


Frauenthal Center
425 W. Western Ave.
Muskegon, MI  49440




Other ways to get involved

Volunteer for the Lakeshore Art Festival

A unique blend of arts, crafts, music, food and fun along the shoreline in historic Downtown Muskegon. More than 300 artists and crafters will be showcased with fine art in the park, crafts, children’s activities and Michigan food market – all wrapped up in a huge downtown street party atmosphere!   Come out and join us on July 6th,  and July 7th, 2018.

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Join Watch Muskegon

Muskegon has more to offer than ever before. Join the conversation, movement and Watch Us Go!

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