Category Archives: Community News

Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association Announces the 2020 Plant Michigan Green

Community Landscape Beautification Award Winners


The Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association’s (MNLA) Community Landscape Beautification Award Program recognizes outstanding communities for their excellence in improving the physical and aesthetic environment of their neighborhoods and in raising the awareness of the positive economic growth and environmental impacts that quality landscaping brings to Michigan’s communities. These projects are designed to enhance the visual image of the neighborhoods, improve livability, build civic pride and promote community spirit.


Congratulations to the following 2020 Community Landscape Beautification Award Winner:


Lakeshore Garden Masters Project: “Monet Garden of Muskegon”


An award ceremony has been scheduled for 11am on Friday, August 21, 2020 at the Park – 470 W. Clay Ave., Muskegon, Michigan 49440.
Community leaders are invited and encouraged to join us and recognize your community for its contribution to a community landscape beautification project.


We congratulate all of the 2020 Community Landscape Beautification Award Winners across Michigan:

City of Hastings and Thornapple Garden Club – “Adopt-a-Corner”

Lakeshore Garden Masters – “Monet Garden of Muskegon”

Leadership Bay County Class of 2019 and Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Gateway Corridor Beautification Committee– “Reinvigoration at Realtor Park”

Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association

Our Mission: United to Advocate Professionalism, Integrity and Growth for Michigan’s Green Industry.

John Ball Zoo hosting second Adult Night Out Thursday, August 27th

Special evening afterhours for adults aged 21+


GRAND RAPIDS MI –John Ball Zoo is hosting their second Adult Night Out of the season on Thursday, August 27th for those aged 21 and up looking for a fun date night or friend’s night out.


Adult Night Out gives attendees the opportunity to experience the Zoo at night, with adult beverages, and without any kids. Zoo staff will rotate throughout the Zoo in front of animal habitats helping guests learn more about the animals and the Zoo during the evening. To allow proper social distancing, no scheduled programming will occur.


Attendees can also enjoy the summer evening with beer selections, specialty drinks, and delicious food options, including the recently launched JBZ beer in partnership with Brewery Vivant.


The Thursday, August 27th Adult Night Out is 5:15 – 9:00 p.m. Limited tickets are available so the Zoo highly recommends reserving tickets before the event. The Zoo offers four times to enter at 5:15 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 6:15 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. to help with space for safe social distancing.


Tickets can be purchased online for $18 for members or $20 for non-members at Tickets could be available for those who walk-up but the Zoo cannot guarantee these will be available. The Zoo notes that the July Adult Night Out did sell out days in advance.


Masks will be required for those medically able when visiting their indoor habitats, and for outdoor areas where a 6 feet distance is not possible between other guests. The Zoo asks for guests to bring their own mask.


John Ball Zoo is located on Fulton Ave., one mile west of downtown Grand Rapids. For questions or for more information, visit, call (616) 336-4301 or email


United Way of the Lakeshore Invests $1,841,511 million in Human Service Programs for Muskegon, Oceana, and Newaygo Counties

United Way of the Lakeshore’s Board of Directors awarded $1,841,511 to non-profit programs in Muskegon, Newaygo, and Oceana Counties aimed at helping working families meet their basic needs by 2025.


“Thanks to the generosity of thousands of area residents and companies, and time spent by dozens of dedicated volunteers, United Way of the Lakeshore is pleased to provide needed funding to area health and human service organizations who improve the quality of life for so many in need,” shared Erin Kuhn, Impact Council Chair and President of West Michigan Regional Development Commission. “We all know the needs are great in our communities. We are fortunate to have so many able partners to assist our friends and neighbors during these tough times.” Kuhn said.


The funded programs focus on building thriving communities through health, education and financial stability and target the following community level goals:


  1. Building a skilled & educated workforce through school readiness, math & reading proficiency, on-time graduation, and career awareness/life success;
  2. Financial stability and independence through stable employment to living wages, building savings through budgeting, housing stability, and manageable expenses;
  3. Healthy and safe individuals and families including a healthy start for children, access to health care and counseling, safe and caring homes and community, good nutrition and active lifestyles.


In Muskegon County, $906,629 was awarded to 36 programs from 28 agencies. In Oceana County, $55,460 in funding was awarded for 13 agency programs. In Newaygo County, 19 programs received a total of $85,976.


Along with these awards, $253,401 in COVID Relief funding has gone out to support 48 programs through the pandemic with emergent needs like, food, shelter, child care, and personal protective equipment. $310,045 was directly designated by donors to specific non-profit agencies and another $230,000 was approved to support youth employment programs. A total of $1.8 million invested in direct assistance in Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana Counties. In addition, United Way of the Lakeshore provided programs and support in the areas of volunteerism, community collaboration, education and training.


United Way’s fund distribution process began in March, with 78 volunteers learning about community needs in the areas of education, income and health through the review of funding proposals and agency presentations held virtually this year due to the pandemic. Volunteers then made recommendations on funding the United Way Impact Strategy Team in each county, who made final recommendations to the United Way board of directors.


United Way of the Lakeshore is strategically focusing efforts and funding on helping ALICE families become stable and thriving. ALICE is an acronym for those households that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, and earning more than the U.S. poverty level but less than the basic cost of living for the county. The number of households falling under this threshold represents 45% of the population in Muskegon, 47% in Oceana County and 45% of Newaygo County. Christine Robere, United Way of the Lakeshore’s President and CEO, said “We have set a bold goal as an organization to help 10,000 more working families meet their basic needs by 2025. Since the first ALICE Report in 2014, more than 6,000 lives had improved, mostly moving from poverty to ALICE. Over the last several years, we saw wages and job opportunities improve, but the cost of living went up in Michigan by 26% forcing many more families below the ALICE threshold. The current pandemic has exacerbated an already challenging financial stability situation in our communities. Programs aimed at eviction prevention, food assistance and job training are particularly vital this year”.

Oakridge Public Schools and Best Financial Credit Union Partner to Launch CoBranded Debit Cards in Support of Local Education

Muskegon, MI | August 12, 2020 – Best Financial Credit Union, in partnership with Oakridge Public Schools, is excited to announce a co-branded Oakridge Debit Card. This debit card will allow community members to raise funds for Oakridge student programs and activities with every transaction while displaying their Eagle pride.


“Best Financial Credit Union has been a true community partner for many years,” said Oakridge Superintendent Tom Livezey. “This creative support of our kids is really appreciated. They are a trusted local business that is passionate about our school.”



Current members with a checking account at Best Financial Credit Union can switch to the Oakridge Debit Card at no cost. Anyone who wants an Oakridge Debit Card may open a free checking account online at or visit the Sherman Branch at 1888 E. Sherman Blvd. in Muskegon. Oakridge receives a small donation with every purchase members make using their Oakridge Debit Card, and a more sizable donation every time a member signs up for a new Oakridge Debit Card.

Muskegon Museum of Art’s extensive glass collection on view

Works by pioneering to modern masters that shaped the glass movement


Muskegon, MI— The Muskegon Museum of Art presents GLASS: Treasures from the Permanent Collection, a spectacular and immersive glass experience, on view now through November 29. This exhibition displays an array of works from the museum’s collection of vintage and modern glass.


This dramatic and colorful display of the MMA’s decade-spanning collection of studio glass features works by many of the artists that defined the studio glass movement, including Dale Chihuly, Harvey Littleton, and Marvin Lipofsky, along with works made by today’s new masters. Collections of vintage Tiffany and Steuben lamps and glasswork and pieces from the pioneering days of contemporary studio glass give visitors a glimpse into the changing technologies and interests that have shaped the glass movement.


GLASS also celebrates the legacy of C. Corcoran “Corky” Tuttle and her husband Robert Tuttle, who introduced the museum and its supporters to studio glass and helped guide collecting. Through Corky, the MMA hosted internationally recognized glass artists Dante Marioni, Stephen Rolfe Powell, Benjamin Moore, Debora Moore, Sonja Blomdahl, Nancy Callan, and many others featured in this show.



GLASS anchors Shaping the Future, Celebrating the Past, an exhibition program that highlights and explores the various facets of the MMA’s internationally recognized permanent collection in all of its galleries through fall of 2020. Shaping the Future, Celebrating the Past features themed displays of works representing various facets of the collection in each gallery. Visitors will see the MMA’s most recognized masterworks along with more rarely seen objects that define over 100 years of collecting, begun in 1910.


GLASS: Treasures from the Permanent Collection is underwritten by DTE Energy Foundation Fifth Third Bank Lorin Northern Trust Hines Corp. Nichols Rehmann Shirley Gossett Don & Nancy Crandall Tim & Anne Erickson Floyd & Caron Farmer Patricia Flynn Steven & Caroline Mayberry Garry & Charlotte Olson Vance & Deborah Smith


Additional support is provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Michigan Humanities Council with the National Endowment for the Humanities


Visitor Information The Muskegon Museum of Art is located at 296 W. Webster Ave. in downtown Muskegon. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and closed Mondays. Visit or call 231.720.2570 for upto-date information. Membership Information: 231.720.2571/Museum Store: 231.720.2580

Hackley Community Care Provides Medical Care at Camp Pendalouan COVID-19 Isolation Site

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist to Tour Ag Worker Isolation Site

MUSKEGON Mich. — Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist will be touring the Agricultural Worker Isolation site at Camp Pendalouan on Monday August 10, 2020. The camp will soon become the isolation home for seasonal migrant workers that have tested positive for Covid-19.

The camp will provide housing, and Hackley Community Care (HCC) will serve as the health care provider for this partnership. Hackley Community Care will provide the site with medical staff who will be responsible for Covid testing and conducting daily temperature and symptom checks for residents. HCC will also conduct medical and mental health telehealth visits.

Located on Big Blue Lake, in Blue Lake Township, Camp Pendalouan typically serves as home to summer programs for kids. Due to Covid-19, the camp is not open to youth this summer.

During the visit and tour, all attendees will adhere to mask requirements and practice social distancing guidelines.

Pioneer Resources 3rd Annual Hats and Horses Fundraising Event Goes Virtual

Muskegon, MI, August 10th, 2020: Hats and Horses is now a virtual party with a purpose. The ever-popular fundraising event, themed around the Kentucky Derby, will celebrate its third year with a week-long lineup of events benefiting various Pioneer Resources programs.
Beginning Sunday, August 30th and running through Saturday, September 5th, Hats and Horses will feature the following:

• Live-stream Video
• Silent Auction
• Fund-A-Need
• Apparel Sale
• Best Derby Hat Competition
• And More

This year’s proceeds will help Pioneer Resources serve its mission of helping people with disabilities and assisting seniors in attaining independence by creating opportunities for participating in the community.
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our organization and many other non-profits,” said Jill Bonthuis, Executive Director. “The support of our community is needed more than ever, so we may continue to offer programs for persons with disabilities and seniors.”
Hats and Horses Ticket Options

• $15 – Virtual Ticket – Access to online auction and live stream event.
• $15 – Best Derby Hat Entry
• $25 – Virtual Ticket and Best Derby Hat Entry
• $55 – Date Night Box – All of the above plus drinks and cookies for two people.

For more detailed information about Hats and Horses or to purchase tickets, please visit
About Pioneer Resources – Pioneer Resources began as an unincorporated association of parents and educators in the late 1940s, operating as Pioneer School and providing special education and therapy. Over 65 years later, the agency offers a diverse array of individualized support and services for persons with disabilities and seniors.

It’s SUPERHERO DAY at John Ball Zoo!

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superhero Day at John Ball Zoo! Come dressed as your favorite superhero and meet amazing superheroes on Tuesday, August 4 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Zoo guests can meet the rotating group of superheroes Warrior Women, American Hero, Bat Hero, Spider Hero, Woman of Steel and Panther Hero.


John Ball Zoo notes that the superhero meet-and-greet will be different this year. Instead of individual photo opportunities with each character, guests will have the chance to meet and take photos with a group of characters on the beautiful Bissell Tree House deck. For the safety of our performers and our guests, these magical interactions will be from a safe distance of 6 feet apart.


Superhero Day meet-and-greet is included in regular admission. Along with meeting superheroes, guests can also see the Zoo’s BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise, meerkats, and the new inclusively designed entry.


There are a limited number of guest tickets available for Superhero Day. The Zoo highly recommends reserving timed entry tickets online prior to arrival. This will ensure guest entry as the Zoo cannot guarantee tickets will be available for walk-up ticket purchases.


Photos of each superhero, along with additional event details and a ticket link are available at Zoo admission is $14 for adults, $11 for children (3-12) and seniors, and children 2 and under are free.


John Ball Zoo notes that guests will need to adhere to the state’s masks guidelines for both the Zoo’s indoor and outdoor locations. For all indoor public spaces at the Zoo, anyone who is age five (5) years and older, and who can medically tolerate a mask
must wear one. In addition, if you cannot maintain six feet distance from other guests, are age five (5) years and older, and can medically tolerate a mask, you must wear one outdoors. The Zoo asks that guests bring a mask with them for their visit.

John Ball Zoo is located on Fulton Ave., one mile west of downtown Grand Rapids. For more information or (616)336-4301.

ReCon 2020 is Going Virtual

ReCon 2020 is going virtual and will take place Sept. 15!


The ReCon planning committee is working around the clock to move this conference to its new online home, and we want to keep you up to date on what this means for our community partners who have hosted resource booths during the conference.


In this email, we will discuss how you can sign up for your for ReCon 2020 virtual resource booth, how this virtual conference will operate, and introduce you to this year’s keynote speakers.


We understand this change may be challenging for those organizations that are used to face-to-face connections or may struggle with learning new technology. But rest assured, the entire ReCon planning committee is here to help you through this transition, and our goal is to make ReCon 2020 a worthwhile and rewarding event for everyone who attends and all of our exhibitors.


Thank you for your continued support of the ReCon Veteran Resilience Conference. We can’t wait to see you at ReCon 2020!

Kirk Cousins picks his name for John Ball Zoo’s red panda cubs

Video invites community to cast their vote for their favorite names in support of John Ball Zoo


GRAND RAPIDS MI – Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings and former Michigan State University quarterback, is helping John Ball Zoo choose names for the newborn red panda cubs. John Ball Zoo asked Kirk Cousins to help them kick off the contest to name the three adorable baby red panda cubs. In a video message posted by the Zoo on their website, Cousins reveals his name choice of “Sparty”.


The video also announces how the community can make their choice through online voting. The three female red panda cubs have three possible names for each; cub A – Zoë, Rose and Masala, cub B – Sage, Pixie and Ruby, cub C – Ginger, Willow and Sparty. Everyone and anyone can cast their name vote online at for as little as a $1 donation to the Zoo.


For every dollar donated, a vote will be recorded and the name with the most donations for each cub will become their name. People can cast as many $1 votes as they want for their favorite(s)! Proceeds from the naming contest will support the care and conservation of red pandas at John Ball Zoo and through the Red Panda Network in support of their conservation work being done to save red pandas from extinction in the wild.


The names up for vote were selected by the Zoo’s animal care staff and their supporters who made the red panda habitat possible.


The birth of these three females, along with their parents Wyatt and Wasabi, is incredibly exciting and crucial for John Ball Zoo and red pandas all around the world. Habitat loss is the top threat to the survival of the less than 2,500 adult red pandas left in the wild. Now more than ever, the Zoo’s red pandas serve as a great reminder of why it’s so important to support and be actively engaged in the conservation of wildlife and our natural environment.


Since their birth in late June, the John Ball Zoo’s red panda cubs have been a favorite by thousands of people online and the Zoo is excited to announce that the community will get a chance to help name the cubs.


The voting window will be open from July 27 – August 30 and the winning names will be announced on September 4. For $1, each vote for a favorite name will help make an impact in the care and conservation of red pandas. To cast your vote, visit

John Ball Zoo hopes for the cubs to make their public debut in August but noting how Wasabi will determine when she and the cubs are ready for the debut together. In the meantime, the community can follow the cubs’ progress through the Zoo’s social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


John Ball Zoo was founded in 1891 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is the 10th oldest Zoo in the United States. Guided by the four core values of conservation, education, community and celebrate, John Ball Zoo accomplishes the mission to inspire our community to be actively engaged in the conservation of wildlife and our natural environment. Additional information can be found by visiting