In honor of Cinco de Mayo 2017, Dr. Jen opted to give all of the ‘newbies’ for the month names of Hispanic origin; we had already had a Cinco (and Dr. Jen is saving Mayo for a white kitty). So, here’s a little bit about Cilantro, one of May’s magnifico kiddos that became a Crash Cat.
Super cute Cilantro is a fun and fabulous fella born in early 2015 who was fortunate enough to cross paths with one of our volunteers. As part of her TNR efforts on the south side of town, the volunteer comes across MANY a cat in need, but thankfully Cilantro was pretty darn healthy, just homeless.
He initially had a difficult time adjusting to shelter life as he didn’t take too kindly to others invading his personal space, but over time he has gotten used to their company. However, we are sure he wouldn’t mind being in a single cat house as long as it is a VERY busy one, probably with a rambunctious kid or two! He can’t wait to chum around with a human that is as energetic and adventurous as he is.
Want to adopt Cilantro? Learn about the adoption process here. Fill out a pre-adoption form here.
Can’t adopt, but still want to help? Find out how you can sponsor a cat!
Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary have a common mission: To take at-risk stray cats off the streets of the Greater Grand Rapids area, provide them with veterinary care and house them in free-roaming, no-kill facilities until dedicated, loving, permanent homes can be found.
Change is never easy. Change becomes even more difficult to manage as we get older and more set in our ways. One of life’s more difficult transitions is the move from independent living to an assisted living facility. Many seniors view this transition as the last move of their life and perhaps, their final chapter. Coming to terms with that knowledge can bring sadness and depression. There are many ways to help your loved one ease into this transition and manage the emotions that accompany it.
When to Move to Assisted Living
There are many reasons to make the move to assisted living. Many seniors are more than capable of managing in their own home with some outside help from family, friends or a paid caregiver. However, this is not always possible or even feasible. Following are some things to consider as you work to determine the best care option for your loved one.
They can no longer shower or bathe without help, or you are concerned about their safety in the tub or shower.
They are at risk for falls.
They forget to take medications ortake medications improperly.
They no longer cook nutritious meals for themselves and may be losing weight.
They can no longer drive and are becoming isolated.
They have been recently hospitalized and you are concerned about whether they can recover at home.
Breaking the Ice
Moving a parent or loved one to assisted living is stressful for everyone involved. Adults are accustomed to being self-sufficient and to keeping their own unique schedule. Giving up their home can leave them feeling frustrated, helpless or angry. In addition, it’s hard for the caregiver to see their loved one growing older, and you may be having difficulty accepting the change yourself.
Visit the chosen facility several times and give your loved one a chance to become accustomed to the idea of moving. When you visit, encourage your loved one to talk with as many of the residents as possible. Most facilities will allow you to join them for meals. You should also take the time to meet with the administrator and any relevant staff members. Spend some time with your loved one going over any brochures or written material you may have been given. Be sure to get a copy of the activities schedule and point out anything you think might interest your loved one.
Ask the facility about respite care. Many offer it, and it’s the perfect way for your loved one to try out their new lifestyle without making a long-term commitment.
“Respite stays can last from a few days to more than a month,” said Amy Thayer, senior living consultant for Holland Home. “It’s not unusual for one of our respite residents to decide to make the move after experiencing everything we offer.
“It’s important to choose a facility that offers the full continuum of care, if possible,” said Thayer. “That way, should a move to a higher level of care such as nursing be required, your loved one will only have to change floors as opposed to moving to a whole new facility.”
Making the Move
When it’s time to make the physical move to the new facility, planning is key. Make sure you have the dimensions of the new space. If possible, plan the furniture arrangement in advance. You will want to bring enough personal items and furniture to make the space feel like “home,” but chances are you will not need everything in your loved one’s current home. Special pieces can be passed down to family and friends. Knowing others will be enjoy treasured belongings can make parting with it easier.
Have a plan for arranging the furniture so that the movers set things up in a way that suits your loved one’s lifestyle and makes them feel more “at home”. Placing knickknacks and pictures in the same or similar places will go a long way toward giving the new space a feeling of familiarity.
After Moving In
One of the best ways to ease the transition to your loved one’s new way of life is to get to know neighbors. They’ve already “been there, and done that,” and can help the individual adapt to the change. One of the best parts about assisted living is that your senior will no longer be isolated, dependent on visits from family and friends to ease any loneliness. They will be surrounded by peers and will have access to a full calendar of specially planned events and outings.
Check the activities calendar as soon as they move in and plan on participating in at least a few of the scheduled events. You may find there are clubs to join, musical evenings, movie showings and bus trips. Getting involved will help your loved one meet people and make new friends.
In addition, they should familiarize themselves with their new surroundings—check out the library, the exercise room, and the laundry facilities. Knowing their way around will make things feel familiar more quickly.
Finally, encourage your loved one to give themselves time to adjust to their new lifestyle. No matter how much they like it, there will most likely still be days when they feel sad or nostalgic for their old way of life.
“If those emotions persist,” said Thayer, “be sure to talk to the staff. Arrangements can be made for the individual to speak to a counselor who can help them ease into their new way of life.”
Most importantly, try to keep a positive mindset. Help your senior focus on the things they like about their new living situation and take advantage of all that it has to offer.
The use of smartphones, tablets and computers has become firmly integrated into our daily lives. Even the most resistant adopters of electronic devices in their daily lives often find themselves on the way to their local library or a family member’s house in order to ‘get online’ to complete an important task. Fast-moving technologies can make once simple tasks like banking or ordering from a catalog difficult for those who have not stayed up to date with changes.
While in many ways it can seem like technology has overtaken our lives, it has brought us many opportunities we previously didn’t have. Being able to place a video call to grandchildren who may live miles and miles away from us, or to consult with a physician and get help without an appointment, enriches our everyday experience. Using electronic devices can also empower us, increase our independence and safety, and reduce isolation by connecting us to our communities.
In May, the Pew Research Center (2017), released results on a study of the use of technology by older adults and the results indicated a significant increase of electronic devices in the few years. Since 2011, the use of smartphones among older adults increased 35%. Today 4 in 10 adults age 65+ own a smart phone. There were similar increases in tablet use. One third of seniors own a tablet, like an iPad, which is a 19% increase from 2010. These results indicate that older adults are just as connected as other age groups, yet for many older adults, their devices seem more a hindrance than a help in their daily lives.
While 75% of older adults surveyed in the Center’s study are online several times a day, only 26% of those same adults feel confident in their use of electronic devices. There are several factors that contribute to this experience, but one of the main ones is the feeling of disorientation that older adults sometimes experience when they first get a smartphone, tablet or computer. Well-meaning family members, may get a device for a family member, set it up for them with passwords and security questions they don’t share with the new owner, and then become impatient with them when the device isn’t working properly.
Seniors will often limit themselves to only using features of their devices that they are certain they know how to operate, like making a phone call or playing a favorite game, missing out on a world of functions and apps that can actually enhance their lives and help them continue to be independent.
There are many organizations working to help seniors become more comfortable and proficient on using electronic devices throughout the nation. Public libraries are a great resource for seniors to learn the basics about how to use computers and even tablets and smartphones. Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) is developing a class to teach seniors how to use their devices, and show them specific applications available that can support their independence and connection to their communities. We’ll also teach seniors how to protect themselves from scams while on the internet.
On Tuesday, August 22nd from 1-3 pm as part of Family Caregiver University, AAAWM will be introducing our new technology class. On this day, participants will learn the best ways to integrate new technology into the lives of older adults, some of the assistive technologies built into many devices, review apps that can help caregivers manage their lives, as well as give a preview of an upcoming course designed specifically to help seniors use mobile devices like a smartphone or tablet. The class will take place at Area Agency on Aging located at 3215 Eaglecrest Dr. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525.
For a full list of Family Caregiver University classes provided by the Caregiver Resource Network, please call 888.456.5664 or go here.
It’s no secret that job loss is stressful. Losing your income, daily routine and professional identity can lead to feelings of anger, fear and grief. Coping with these emotions can make searching for a new job overwhelming. There are things you can do to help stay positive and keep moving forward.
Start by organizing what you need to do into easy-to-follow steps. Focus on one step at time. Every time you complete a step, check it off your list. Eventually your list will no longer seem so overwhelming! The checklist below can help you get started.
Register with the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). You can register for unemployment and update your records all online. Visit the Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) to set up an account and file your claim.
Create a Pure Michigan Talent Connect (PMTC) account. PMTC is an online portal where you can search for jobs and upload your resume so employers can find you. Get started at www.mitalent.org/.
Visit a Michigan Works! service center. Once you file for unemployment, you will need to register for work in person at a service center. Michigan Works! staff can help you through the process. The service center in Ottawa County is located at 121 Clover St, Holland, MI 49423. Visit the West Michigan Works! website to find other locations in our region.
Talk to a service center staff member. They can tell you what free services you are eligible for. Depending on your situation, you may qualify for employment preparation, career planning or scholarships for career training or on-the-job training.
Connect online. Follow the Michigan Works! Facebook page in your county to stay up-to-date on employers that are hiring and other resources for job seekers. Update your PMTC profile at least once every 30 days. This ensures your information will continue to be seen by employers.
Remember to stay positive, take it one step at a time and use the many resources available to job seekers. West Michigan Works! offers a variety of free services to help you develop a plan and take your next step to a new career!
Employment Expertise is provided by West Michigan Works! Learn more about how they can help: visit westmiworks.org or your local Service Center.
Being disabled is tough enough, but imagine not having access to mobility equipment to get around. Thankfully, there’s a nonprofit that helps people who can’t afford or fall through the cracks of health insurance.
Alternatives in Motion enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing independence through access to mobility equipment.
The nonprofit’s vision is to be the central hub in West Michigan for recycling, distributing, and maintaining mobility devices for those in need. Alternatives in Motion had its beginnings in 1993, after the brother-in-law of founder George Ranville, a Grand Rapids native, got into a tragic accident. As Ranville struggled to help his brother-in-law attain proper — but expensive — equipment, he saw an opportunity to help the disabled community.
The new nonprofit began raising money and making its cause known, believing that access to mobility equipment is the path to independence for those in need. Since then, Alternatives in Motion, which remains entirely funded by independent donations, has continued to grow and strives to keep up with the need for mobility equipment.
The organization’s mission is to provide wheelchairs to individuals who do not qualify for other assistance and who could not obtain such equipment without financial aid. By creating access to mobility equipment and repair services for those in need, Alternatives in Motion gives them the independence and quality of life they deserve.
If you or someone you know needs mobility equipment, apply here. (You must live in West Michigan to qualify.) For more information go to the website or call 616.493.2620.
June 2017 was the busiest June on record at the Gerald R. Ford International (GFIA) Airport, coming off a March that was the single busiest month in airport history.
June 2017 passengers were up 5.59 percent year-over-year, not only resulting in the busiest June ever, but also securing the title of busiest second quarter in airport history by over 30,000 passengers; and the busiest overall quarter ever serving over 700,452 passengers since the beginning of the year.
“We are halfway through 2017 and already seeing incredible record-breaking statistics,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “This is a testament to our region, and our growing community along with our airline partnerships. Not only does this June go down in airport history, but 2017 now holds the title for busiest first half ever beating out 2016 by over 86,000 passengers.”
Each month of 2017 has resulted in record-breaking passenger numbers, and the Airport has seen ten straight months of record growth.
Through June 2017, GFIA has served 1,385,730 total passengers — up 6.6 percent from 2016.
“The first phase of our Gateway Transformation Project will be complete at the end of summer, and we’re excited to see what the combination of this redesign along with the growing business in West Michigan does for our numbers,” said Gill. “We hope our continued growth prompts more nonstop service, and more options for those travelers who keep supporting us to achieve these record- breaking stats.”
Gateway Transformation Project construction began in December 2015 and is slated to continue through summer 2017. The project’s main feature is the consolidated passenger security checkpoint which opened in June, and centralizes security screening to one main checkpoint in the Airport. Construction also includes new terrazzo flooring, lighting fixtures, kids play areas, restroom and nursing room, family restrooms, pre- and post-security business centers, new retail and food & beverage space, and much more.
Each week, WKTV features an adoptable furry friend (or few) from various shelters in the Grand Rapids area. This week, we focus on Humane Society of West Michigan, located at 3077 Wilson Dr. NW in Grand Rapids.
Humane Society of West Michigan’s mission is to rescue hurt, abused and abandoned animals and find them a new forever home. The 501(c)3 non-profit organization helps over 8,000 animals annually and is 100% donor-funded by caring individuals and businesses in the community. Additional programs help reduce pet overpopulation, provide assistance to low-income pet owners, behaviorally assess animals and reunite lost pets with their owners.
Missy — Female Domestic Short Hair Mix
I’m a 9-year-old cat looking for my forever home! I’m sweet, affectionate and relaxed. I would do well as the only pet in the home in a laid-back environment. My favorite activity is napping! I love to be petted and shown love. I would be a great companion for a senior or someone who is looking for a calm, loving, low-maintenance cat. My adoption fee is waived due to generous grant funding.
More about Missy:
Animal ID: 33958186
Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
Age 9 years 8 months
Safya – Female Catahoula Leopard Mix
I’m a playful and friendly 4-year-old dog looking for my forever home! I’m an active dog who would do well in a home with people who give me an active lifestyle by playing with me, going for walks, etc. I am kenneled with a playful male dog and we get along great! Having a dog friend in the home would be a great way for me to get out some of my energy by having a friend to play with. I would not do well in a home with cats. I would do well in a home with older/respectful children. Please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan!
More about Safya:
Animal ID: 35588482
Breed: Catahoula Leopard Dog/Mix
Age: 4 years 1 month 25 days
Feisty – Female Domestic Short Hair Mix
I’m a 3-year-old cat looking for my forever home! I was brought in to HSWM as a stray in April and am looking for a good home to call my own. I would do well in a relaxed home. I enjoy napping, being petted, and playing around. Please come meet me at Humane Society of West Michigan! Cat adoption fees are only $15.
More about Feisty:
Animal ID: 35187536
Breed: Domestic Shorthair/Mix
Age 3 years 20 days
Adoption fee includes:
A physical done by the staff veterinarian
A test for heartworm disease (if six months or older)
A first series of vaccines including DHLPP (distemper combo), Bordatella (kennel cough) vaccine, and rabies (if older than 14 weeks of age)
Treatment for internal parasites
One dose of flea preventative
One dose of heartworm preventative
The organization automatically microchips all adoptable animals using 24PetWatch microchips, which include FREE registration into the 24PetWatch pet recovery service. For more information visit www.24petwatch.com or call 1.866.597.2424. This pet is also provided with 30 days of FREE ShelterCare Pet Health Insurance with a valid email address. For more information visit www.sheltercare.com or call 1.866.375.7387 (PETS).
Humane Society of West Michigan is open Tues-Fri 12-7, Sat & Sun 11-4.
Everyone is looking for ways to stay cool under the summer sun, but it is even more important for older adults. Seniors are more vulnerable to heat because their bodies don’t adjust as well to temperature changes. Medical conditions and medications can also make it hard for their bodies to regulate temperature or can cause dehydration. In fact, a recent study found that 40% of heat-related deaths in the US were among people over 65.
It is important to know the signs of heat stroke so steps can be taken to treat it as soon as possible. Symptoms include:
Body temperature over 104 degrees
Changes in behavior, like acting confused or agitated
Dry, red skin
Nausea and vomiting
Heavy breathing or a fast pulse
Lack of sweating when it’s hot out
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, take steps to cool down and seek medical help. Use these tips to stay cool and prevent heat stroke this summer:
Drink plenty of water. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, be sure to drink plenty of cool water and avoid coffee and alcohol.
Eat light. Eat small portions of cold meals like salads. Hot, heavy meals like pot roast can increase your body temperature.
Keep the house cool. You may avoid running the air conditioning to save money, but in a heat wave it can be a life-saver. Keep your air conditioner filters clean to help them run more efficiently. Close your blinds to keep sunlight out and decrease the need for the air conditioner to work as hard.
Keep yourself cool. Wet a towel with cool water and place it on your wrists, face and back of your neck. Sit with your feet in a pan of cool water. Or take a cool shower or bath.
Visit a cooling center. If you can’t cool down at home, visit a public place with air conditioning to get some relief. A shopping mall, library or senior center are places to consider.
ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) provides a variety of programs to help keep seniors in Kent County health and safe. To learn more, go here.
Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit www.communityactionkent.org.
In honor of this year’s Muskegon Bike Time, which is July 13 – 16 in downtown Muskegon, WKTV will be airing the highlight reel of the Muskegon Bike Time 2016.
The half-hour show, produced by WKTV volunteer producer Gary Vande Velde
aka GV Wheels, will air on WKTV 25 this Thursday, July 13, at 1 a.m. and will repeat on Friday, July 14, at noon followed by by DMX Sports Blessing of the Bikes. It also will air on Saturday, July 15, at 12:30 p.m.
The 2016 event marked the 10th anniversary of the annual Muskegon Bike Time, which attracts more than 100,000 people and 75,000 bikes from across the country. The goal of the event is to produce entertainment opportunities in Muskegon aimed at attracting a broad spectrum of motorcycle enthusiasts for a vacation experience on Michigan’s West Coast.
The event’s activities include the Relentless Stunts Show featuring a motorcycle stunt team performing an array of nonstop action acrobats. There also is the Harley-Davidson Rushmore Experience Demo Rides along with the Blessing of the Bikes and the Patriot Ride on Sunday. The four-day event also will have food and plenty of live entertainment.
As beer continues to remain popular in Western Michigan and across the state, the Michigan Brewers Guild has labeled July as Michigan Craft Beer Month with the celebration of the Guild’s 20th anniversary.
Michigan Brewers Guild was created in 1997, hosting its first festival in July 1998. This year, produced by its members Breweries, the Guild will again be hosting four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan Craft Beer. The festivals attract more than 3,500 people each year, according to supplied material.
The first event, the Michigan Summer Beer Festival will take place July 21-22 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s Historic Depot Town. Other upcoming festivals include: Saturday, Sept. 9, UP Beer Festival, in Marquette; and Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27-28, Detroit Fall Beer Festival, at Eastern Market in Detroit.
With the number of breweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks 6th in the nation — with claims of being The Great Beer State.
For ticket and more information visit MiBeer.com .
Bell’s announces coffee milk stout offering
Comstock’s Bell’s Brewery recently announced its new addition to its beer offerings, set to be released this fall as part of its specialty lineup.
Arabicadabra, a coffee milk stout with ABV of 5.5 percent, made to debut on draught in 12-ounce bottles, packaged in six packs, this upcoming October, according to Bell’s.
“This year, we are changing things up a bit,” said Laura Bell, CEO of Bell’s. “Arabicadabra is a different take on a coffee stout and very similar to a local favorite that was released at our pub and at some events. It’s time to share it with an even larger audience.”
The beer was inspired by Milchkaffe, another Bell’s specialty beer, which debuted 2015, with the mix of milk stout.
For more information on this upcoming beverage visit bellsbeer.Com .
Metro Health – University of Michigan Health will host Family Day Camp, an annual event for families coping with cancer, from 3-5 p.m. every Thursday afternoon, July 13 through Aug. 3. Camp will be held at The Cancer Center at Metro Health Village, 5950 Byron Center Ave. SW.
A free four-week program, Family Day Camp provides education and emotional support for families that have a loved one battling cancer.
“Family Day Camp is a fun, supportive environment that gives participants a chance to learn about cancer and its effect on the family,” says Metro Health – University of Michigan Health President and CEO Michael Faas. “It helps families form stronger bonds with each other, while also connecting with other families that understand what they’re going through.”
Each two-hour session will be packed with fun for all ages. The entire family is invited, from newborns to great-grandparents. Children may participate without an adult, though families are encouraged to attend together.
“We’ve gathered the best family fun activities from around Grand Rapids and brought them all to the Cancer Center at Metro Health,” says Laura Smith, Cancer Center director. “We want families to be able to have some fun together while someone they love is battling a disease.”
Activities and educational topics will vary depending on the day. Families can participate in one or all of the four sessions:
July 13: Someone I Love is Sick (about cancer)
July 20: Battling the Bad Guys (about cancer treatment)
July 27: I’m Still Me (about changes in loved ones and routines)
August 3: Happy or Sad, the Good and the Bad (how to express emotions and support each other)
Participants are invited to meet at the big tent beside the cancer center. There’s no charge and no need to register in advance.
Family Day Camp is hosted by Metro Health Child Life Services, a department that specializes in helping children cope with illness, injury and hospitalization. The annual camp is funded through donations to the Metro Health Hospital Foundation.
For some people, being resilient is a way of life. As early as five years old, one Arbor Circle Homeless Youth client was removed from her mother who was selling drugs. During the course of multiple foster home placements and other times when she was physically and sexually abused, she was separated from her siblings and left completely on her own.
She dropped out of school in the 9th grade and ran away — again — staying with friends and other family members for short periods of time. She lived this way for years.
She then began prostituting herself with landlords for places to stay. When she came to Arbor Circle to see about the Homeless Youth program, she had just been told to leave a shelter home.
TheBridge of Arbor Circle is a safe shelter program for youth who are facing homelessness or considering running away. In the middle of crisis, The Bridge offers youth a stable and accessible place to stay. Along with a variety of supportive programs,it helps them connect with peers, learn new skills, and find resources to reconnect with their families, schools and community.
How it works
The Bridge provides crisis shelter, counseling, case management, group support, youth activities and connections to other needed services, The Bridge assists youth with meeting their basic needs, setting goals, building new life skills, and establishing connections with peers and mentors who can support them. Services include:
Shelter services available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for up to 21 days
Community education and prevention services
Service learning opportunities for civic engagement
The Bridge services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to youth in need of safe shelter and supportive services due to issues such as safety, runaway/homelessness, and/or disconnection from family, school or community. Services are available for:
Youth between the ages of 10-17, both Male and Female
Youth staying/residing in the Counties of Kent, Ottawa, Montcalm, and Ionia
Youth/families in crisis can call or walk in anytime
Services are free
Are you or is a youth you know homeless or considering running away? The Bridge can help. Call toll-free 1.877.275.7792 or call 616.451.3001.
Arbor Circle’s main campus is located at 1115 Ball Ave. NE in Grand Rapids. Phone 616.456.6571 for more information. The Bridge 24-hour Hotline is: 616.451.3001.
Editor’s Note: This story was first published in August 2016
Gloria Tungabose’s eyes flash as she tells of her father, killed in Burundi. Her mother’s ethnicity was Tutsi and her father’s was Hutu, and the two groups were engaged in a bloody civil war. Her mother, Butoyi, was arrested.
“My mom went to jail and was raped there and had my sister,” said the East Kentwood High School student, describing how men measured her mother’s nose to determine her ethnicity.
The family moved to Congo, where violence also raged, Gloria said. They eventually arrived at a refugee camp in Namibia, living off rations of flour, beans, oil, sugar and salt, carrying drinking water to their shelters and going to school. She was 10 years old, and would remain there for three years.
Sponsored by a local organization, Gloria moved to Michigan four years ago, to discover a place where snow falls in the winter, people ride daily in cars and buses and where she can go to school with students from many different backgrounds. Now she can graduate from high school, go to college and become a nurse.
“I feel like it’s a dream and I’m still sleeping. Am I in America, really?” she asked. “I just have to live life and accept the reality in it. Even though the past was horrible and bad, I want to make my future better and help people in the future.”
Gloria’s story is similar to many refugee students who attend East Kentwood High School. They’ve escaped war. They’ve ridden on top of trains to elude dangerous gangs. They’ve seen family members murdered. They’ve crossed oceans and lived in refugee camps. They’ve faced religious and ethic persecution unlike most Americans ever experience.
Now they are seated at their desks Monday through Friday, reading literature, learning algebra, studying U.S. history and taking Michigan Merit Curriculum tests. They dream of careers, financial security, a future without violence.
A Mosaic of Backgrounds
School diversity is often painted with a broad brush: white, black, Hispanic and Asian. But in Kentwood Public Schools, where students there come from 89 different countries, that picture is much more detailed. Diversity means students hail from all over the globe: from bustling Indian and Chinese cities to mountainous Balkan countries, to African tribal communities.
“We have 61 languages spoken here, which creates unique challenges,” said Erin Wolohan, an interventionist who works with students learning English. “We have many, many languages and cultures, so we have to come up with unique solutions.”
Many students speak half a dozen or more languages, a result of growing up in several countries, as their families fled areas and resettled in others. Gloria speaks Swahili, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, English, French and Portuguese. She has already graduated out of the English Language (ELL) Learner program, and her accent is barely detectable.
“I feel great. I am surrounded by different cultures. I feel at home,” she said.
Newcomers arrived in waves to the Grand Rapids area from Bosnia, Kosovo, Vietnam and other Asian countries, Burma, Nepal and Africa. Many have moved to the Kentwood area because of housing availability. In the 8,856-student Kentwood Public Schools district there is an English-language learner population of 1,686 students, 19 percent of the district.
“For the past two decades Kentwood Public Schools has experienced a demographic shift within our student population,” said Shirley Johnson, assistant superintendent of Student Services.
One way the district has responded is to provide cultural competency training to all employees to address the numerous challenges: logistic, communication and cultural. Teachers help with transportation and in reaching parents who don’t have cars or driver’s licenses, and who work second- and third-shift jobs. The district spends approximately $60,000 annually on translation services.
Two Kentwood schools, Meadowlawn Elementary and Crestwood Middle, have Newcomer Center programs for which students receive full-time, intensive ELL instruction. The high school also has many newcomer classrooms. Recently, in ELL social studies teacher Carlotta Schroeder’s class, students from Nepal, Burma, Congo and many other countries finished their first-semester exams.
Damber Chhetra, who came from Nepal five years ago, said his family came for better opportunities. “It’s a better life. I can have a better education,” Damber said. “I like the way the teachers teach. It’s different. They are so nice to the students.” He wants to become a computer engineer.
Students Settle Where Housing is Available
Families often live in apartments, and children who come unaccompanied by parents live with foster families and have church sponsors. Many high school students, without families to take them in, begin living on their own.
There are several reasons the Grand Rapids area became a destination for refugees, Johnson said. Grand Rapids participated in the resettlement of refugees even before 1980, when the Refugee Resettlement Act was passed authorizing more organizations to help facilitate refugee migration to the U.S. Some local agencies include Bethany Christian Services, Lutheran Social Services and West Michigan Refugee Education & Cultural Center.
Placement of refugees is based on housing availability. Resettlement agencies work with landlords to get fair and affordable housing, said Susan Kragt, executive director of the West Michigan Refugee Education & Cultural Center, located in Kentwood. Because Kentwood and Grand Rapids school districts have newcomer center schools, most refugee children end up in those schools.
School is sometimes entirely new for refugee children. Many come from non-urban areas without formal education systems, putting them behind academically. For teachers, nothing can be assumed or taken for granted, ELL Interventionist Wolohan said. Even the volume of someone’s voice can seem aggressive to non-English-speaking students.
Students have cultural differences and experiences that affect attitudes toward education, the roles of men and women and how they interact with each other. They may have never seen snow before, so aren’t prepared for cold winters. There’s also pressure from family members for teenagers to go straight to work to make money, Wolohan said. Kentwood teachers encourage them to stay in school because they will make more money in the long run, she said.
Adjusting to the Culture
A key piece in breaking down barriers is helping students and their families adjust to U.S. culture, as well as educating teachers about their needs, Kragt said.
The center works with refugee students through its School Impact Program. The program provides orientation sessions for students and parents; holds workshops for educators on the resettlement process and the cultural backgrounds of refugees; hosts panel discussions with refugee students and offers eight-week peer support groups for middle- and high-school students.
Workshops inform educators about students’ prior school experiences, and alert teachers to the symptoms of culture shock and trauma that can leave refugee students feeling isolated and depressed, Kragt said.
“Unfortunately, sometimes our kids get bullied,” she said. “We talk about the trauma of what they’ve been through, but sometimes it can be more traumatic trying to fit into a new culture… Their classmates are looking at them going, ‘You’re different.'”
Also, Wolohan added, it’s incorrect to assume students are here because they want to be. While many came for a better life, often they wish they could have stayed in their own countries.
“It’s a lonely life, it’s a hard life. They know they are better off than where they were, but it wasn’t their idea,” she said. “It’s not like they woke up one day and said, ‘I want to live in America.’ We have that misnomer that we think they should be so thankful to be here, and they are grateful, ultimately. But that doesn’t mean they don’t miss their families. If they could go back to their homeland and have it be more free, they would.”
A Welcoming Environment
Teachers are encouraged to lead by example in the classroom, giving other students “less permission to pick on that kid,” Kragt said. “These kids are not going to be the ones going around introducing themselves to everybody. They need people to reach out and say, ‘Hey, how are you?'”
The big picture is to help students acclimate permanently. A successful school experience is crucial to refugee families’ fortunes in America, Kragt said. Without students learning English, graduating high school and going on to college, refugees are apt to stay in an “enclosed community” apart from the broader society.
But in schools where there may be 21 foreign languages in one classroom, teaching is “a pretty daunting task,” she noted.
Her center provides after-school tutoring and other programs to help students catch up. More broadly, it strives to provide a welcoming culture for refugee resettlement in West Michigan. When Gov. Rick Snyder last fall sought to pause the state’s acceptance of Syrian refugees due to terrorism concerns, Kragt accused him of “leading with fear rather than reason” in a teleconference sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.
“We have a strong history of welcoming refugees (in West Michigan), and a lot of people are informed about refugee resettlement,” she said. “That’s allowing us to maybe push back on some of the misinformation that’s out there.”
Just walking the halls at East Kentwood High School helps dispel fears and promote acceptance. Students are often dressed in native clothes, speak their native languages and celebrate their traditional holidays, all while navigating the U.S. education system.
Wolohan said refugee students and the perspectives they bring add to the richness of the district.
“It’s an education you can’t buy,” said Wolohan, who’s had four children in Kentwood Public Schools. “What we have here doesn’t exist anywhere else. I think this is one of the most diverse schools in the country. For my own children, it’s given them more acceptance of other cultures and also a world view. It brings the world to them.”
That kind of attitude is one of the district’s core values, Assistant Superintendent Johnson said.
“We believe that our district reflects the real world. As students prepare to live and compete in a global market place, they will fully appreciate the rich differences among their peers, understand the value of diversity and be equipped to successfully interact within a multicultural society.”
SNN reporter Charles Honey contributed to this article.
The City of Wyoming’s yard waste drop-off site will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. through Saturday, July 15 to allow for storm damage clean up. The drop-off site, located at 2660 Burlingame Ave. SW, will return to normal hours on Monday, July 17. The site is free to Wyoming residents and they are encouraged to continue assisting with the clean-up efforts.
The City will also be performing a city-wide pickup of branches and trunks starting today. All debris must be stacked neatly in the parkway areas between the curb and sidewalk. Homeowners are asked to have this material ready for pickup by Monday, July 17.
While this is not a regular service provided by the City, leaders feel it is necessary due to the severity of the storm. “We generally do not provide yard waste pick-up after weather events, unless they are extremely severe in nature such as last year’s tornado. There are extra costs associated with these services, and we always seek to use our resources in the most judicious ways,” said Curtis Holt, City Manager for the City of Wyoming. “Due to the severity of last weekend’s storm we feel we should assist residents to the extent we’re able. Our thanks go out to all of the residents who have already cleaned their properties and brought debris to our yard waste drop-off site. Their efforts are tremendously helpful and we hope they will continue to assist us.”
The cleanup effort will be performed by both City staff and contractors. City staff will be removing small piles of debris, while contractors will remove larger piles throughout this week and next. At this time, residents do not need to call Public Works to request pickups.
As a young kid, Adam Khafif was already developing a sense for business, working in his off-school hours for the family’s cookie business. In high school, he launched a streetwear company, completing his first sale – to his aunt! With the dauntless spirit of an entrepreneur, Adam sharpened his focus, majoring in business at Babson College and cementing his vision for his LSNP clothing line. Today, he sells hip clothing, all the while incorporating his core values that set LisnUp apart in a very competitive industry.
Cutler Park was filled with bluegrass fans as Macey Jane Williams, 7, took the stage and was part of the kick-off show at the Sounds of Summer Cutlerville.
Proud daddy, bluegrass singer and songwriter Lare Williams and his band members from New Direction smiled as Macey sang one of Williams’ original songs.
Sounds of Summer Cutlerville hosts free community concerts every Thursday evening in July starting at 7 p.m. This week the series “rocks out” with the Lakeshore-based band Bettie Paige which is fronted by the ever amazing and entertaining John Merchant. According to organizers it should be a great night of music and a variety for all tastes.
Concerts are taped through WKTV and aired throughout the summer. Television showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 p.m. Fridays; and 9 p.m. Saturdays.
David Fuentes believes it is impossible to find a piece of music that is not about who we are and what we care about. “In fact, I even offer $500 to any student that can find one,” said the music professor. “I’m not out any money yet.”
Fuentes addresses this in his writing for, Vocation across the Academy, a book collaboration with NetVUE, a nationwide network of colleges and universities. NetVUE is working to create resources that empower students in vocational exploration, said Fuentes. Fuentes contributed chapter five, “To whom do I sing, and why,” addressing the place of music in human flourishing.
Fuentes began his musical journey when his mother picked up his first instrument, an accordion, at a garage sale. From then on, said Fuentes, he had a knack for music and liked making up his own songs. Since then, Fuentes has enjoyed composing music for theater, television and the concert hall as well as teaching a number of Calvin’s music courses.
Music as vocation
The topic of vocation is particularly important to Fuentes because part of his job is to help students uncover their personal calling and understand how much of their lives will be directly related to music. “For some this will be 100 percent, for others it will be a smaller part,” he said.
Fuentes believes the way students approach education has changed over the years. In the past, it was about learning reasoning and critical thinking, he said. Then, in whatever field you pursue, you would be pulling from a pool of knowledge. “Students today are trying to be practical about what they are going to go into. If they don’t have a job right out of college, they feel like a failure.”
Fuentes said students are often so focused on finding a career that they forget to ask: What are my gifts and loves? How can I contribute to God’s Kingdom? Educating students about vocation helps them fine-tune and understand all of their giftings, he said. It also gives students permission or a calling to help people.
“I have been nervous about pursuing music as a major for the longest time, but I definitely felt more comfortable after taking his class,” said Alexia White, a student of Fuentes.
Why music matters
Each semester Fuentes asks his students: Why does music matter in human lives? Are people just listening because they like it or is there something deeper?
“I assumed that when I took this class it would be about how music is only meant to bring glory and honor to God,” said White. “But Professor Fuentes helped us understand how that can be one purpose for music, but music can help us explain our biblical worldview. Music can teach us about God, others and ourselves.”
In the chapter he wrote in Vocation across the Academy, Fuentes tackles the issues of artists creating only for self-expression and audiences expecting a profound emotional experience with every artistic encounter. According to Fuentes, this is only a small part of what music can do.
“Sometimes people use music to escape; music is good at that. We go into a different state of mind and can experience great emotion there. On the other hand, music can help us delve into issues,” said Fuentes. “The deepest and most profound emotions come when we realize something. Rather than escaping from reality, music can bring us deeper into reality,” said Fuentes.
“There are two basic ways human beings make sense of the world: rationality and intuition,” said Fuentes. “Music brings those two together beautifully.”
Copyright Calvin College, reprinted by permission.
The Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Government Matters meetings bring together government leaders of all levels and topics often range from local libraries to Washington. D.C. politics. You can see for yourself as WKTV replays the meetings.
At the July 10 meeting, discussion on the current state of healthcare reform took center stage as Greg VanWoerkom, district director for U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Michigan 2nd District), gave a status report to the other government officials and representatives.
“Really, all the eyes have been on the Senate the past two weeks, what their strategies are regarding healthcare, and we hope to hear more information on that this week, ” VanWoerkom said. “Everybody is watching every senator and what they are saying about it.”
Rep. Huizenga has consistently called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
“What we are seeing, with the Affordable Care Act, is that more and more people are not having options to purchase (medical insurance) in the individual market,” VanWoerkom said. “Counties, states, individual insurance companies are just dropping out of that exchange marketplace at a pretty good clip. … the Affordable Care Act is not working.”
To see the entire discussion, check out WKTV’s replay of the meeting (link below).
The Chamber’s Government Matters meetings include representatives of the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming, Kent County, local Michigan House of Representatives and Senate, and, often, representatives of other State of Michigan and federal elected officials. The next meeting will be Aug. 7 at Wyoming City Hall.
The meetings are on the second Monday of each month, starting at 8 a.m. WKTV Journal will produce a highlight story after the meeting. But WKTV also offers replays of the Monday meetings on the following Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Cable Channel 25. Replays are also available online at WKTV’s government meetings on-demand page (wktv.viebit.com) and on the chamber’s Facebook page.
Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is now giving away free of charge the life-saving medication, Narcan, to patients upon discharge who experience an accidental or intentional opioid overdose. These kits are funded through a generous grant from the Metro Health Hospital Foundation.
Opioids, like heroin and common prescription pain medications, have been associated with overdoses at epidemic levels nationally. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, more than 33,000 people died because of opioids in 2015. The Center also reports that nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. In 2015, Metro Health’s emergency department treated 285 drug overdoses with 190 of those being actual or potentially opioid related.
“Opioid use is on the rise, and so are overdoses,” said Dr. Marc Afman. “Overdoses can be accidental or intentional. We also know that if a person has one overdose, they are far more likely to have a second, and that one could be fatal. An overdose can happen to anyone. By distributing these kits, we are helping to save lives by providing education, community resources and Narcan; an antidote (reversal) for opioids.”
Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is distributing Narcan in nasal spray form. Narcan is a prescription medication used to reverse the dangerous life-threatening effects of opioids. An overdose is a medical emergency. Narcan does not take the place of emergency medical care, and 911 should be called when it is used.
The hospital’s goals for distributing these kits include:
eliminating the need for the patient to travel to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for Narcan;
removing any financial barriers that would prohibit a patient from obtaining a kit at a pharmacy;
educating the patient and caregivers regarding appropriate use; and
reducing the amount of deaths in the community related to opiate overdoses.
“At Metro, we want to be clear about one thing: we do not encourage the improper use of opioid drugs; rather, we recognize that Narcan used immediately by family and friends could save the life of someone they hold dear,” said Pete Haverkamp RPh. “We recognize that not all overdose victims are using illegal drugs, and whatever the cause of the overdose, we want to provide life-saving tools to those who may need it the most.”
“Our mission at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health is to improve the health and well being of our communities,” said President and CEO Michael Faas. “The focus of this program is to be proactive and do what we can to curb the spread of this health epidemic. That’s why we are so pleased to provide these kits—free—to patients upon discharge who have overdosed on an opioid.”
Each Narcan kit includes two doses of the spray. Instructions are printed in English, Bosnian and Spanish. Also included in the kit are instructions indicating how to recognize an overdose, initiating emergency response by calling 911, and how to administer the life-saving medication, Narcan. Additional information includes a list of community resources where an individual, or family member, can find local help, including support groups, shelter, food, addiction services, crisis lines and counseling.
Stabenow, Peters Accepting Applications from Candidates Interested in Nomination for Federal Judgeship and U.S. Attorney in Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan
U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have announced they are accepting applications from qualified persons interested in nomination for federal judge or United States Attorney. There is currently one vacancy on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and one vacancy on the United States District Court for the Western District. Both U.S. Attorney positions are also vacant. Interested candidates should request an application by emailing email@example.com. Applications are due no later than July 31, 2017.
Peters Amendments to National Defense Authorization Act Passed by Senate Armed Services Committee
By Zade Alsawah
U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, authored several provisions and amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets policy for the Department of Defense (DoD) for Fiscal Year 2018. The legislation was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee this week.
Senator Peters also cosponsored several provisions that were approved by the Committee, including a provision to require the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct a study on the health implications of PFAS in drinking water, as well as an amendment authorizing funding to support the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, encourage partnership between MEP affiliates and the Manufacturing USA Institutes established by DoD, and improving manufacturing engineering education. MEP is a public-private partnership dedicated to providing technical support and services to small and medium-sized manufacturers.
Senate Commerce Committee Approves Peters’ Amendments to Strengthen Airport Security
Amendments Included in Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill
By Zade Alsawah
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today approved several amendments authored by U.S Senator Gary Peters (MI) to help strengthen security and protect travelers outside of Transportation Security Administration (TSA)-screened areas in local airports. Recent incidents at airports in Ft. Lauderdale, Brussels, and Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan, have highlighted vulnerabilities to coordinated and lone-wolf attacks in public areas like baggage claims or pick up and drop off points.
In Grand Haven, Senator Stabenow Joins “All Hands on Deck” Event on Lake Michigan to Highlight Importance of Protecting Our Great Lakes
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force, today joined community members at the Grand Haven State Park for the “All Hands on Deck” Great Lakes event. The event was one of 64 local events happening in communities and at public beaches in six different states to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our Great Lakes and funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
“All Hands on Deck” was started by Kimberly Simon of Charlevoix in March, 2017 to raise awareness and bring people together in a nonpartisan way to advocate for our Great Lakes. Kimberly launched the idea after the Trump Administration proposed eliminating funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. For a complete list of the more than 30 events happening in Michigan, visit https://allhandsondeckgreatlakes.org/communities-participating/ and for more information, visit https://allhandsondeckgreatlakes.org/.
Peters, Stabenow Urge Department of Defense to Explore Efforts to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs in TRICARE
By Zade Alsawah and Miranda Margowsky
U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis asking him for timely consideration of a pilot program to improve access and reduce the costs of prescription drugs in the TRICARE program, which serves active duty military personnel, National Guard, reservists, retired service members and their families.
Currently, all TRICARE beneficiaries must get non-generic medications from a military treatment facility (MTF) or through mail order, but have no option to visit a pharmacy in person. The pilot program, which was established in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017, will allow beneficiaries to get their medications from local pharmacies while preserving access through the existing MTF and mail order systems, and reduce costs by allowing the Department of Defense to purchase non-generic medications at the same lower rate it pays for drugs dispensed through the mail or MTFs.
The pilot will also provide additional options for the families of retired servicemembers, National Guard members and reservists who may not live near an MTF to visit a pharmacy in person to purchase their medications. There are more than 97,000 TRICARE beneficiaries living in Michigan, but there are no military treatment facilities in the state.
For the first time in its history, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) will be a venue for ArtPrize.
GFIA has been a sponsor and welcoming point for artists and visitors for several years, and decided to sign on as a venue for the 9th annual art competition, given the connection to the community. Seven artists will have art displayed at the Airport, which includes both indoor and outdoor work.
“We are thrilled to be a part of ArtPrize in more ways than one, and serving as a venue will not only give visitors a first impression of our city; but it will hopefully bring in those from around West Michigan into the airport to see the art and check out our newest facilities,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “The Ford Airport strives to be reflective of the people and events in West Michigan, and what better opportunity is there to do so other than partner with ArtPrize? We look forward to welcoming in both local and international artists, and look forward to seeing their talents on display.”
ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition which takes place for 19 days each fall in Grand Rapids. More than five hundred thousand dollars in prizes are awarded each year, which include a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts.
Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate. Art is exhibited throughout downtown Grand Rapids—museums, bars, public parks, restaurants, theaters, hotels, bridges, and for the first time – the Airport. Over eight years, 2.9 million visitors have cast 3.2 million votes and artists from around the country and world have received $4.1 million in awards.
“In addition to their stunning renovations, we are excited to expand the ArtPrize boundaries to include The Gerald R. Ford International Airport allowing visitors from all over the world to experience — an vote for — the work of ArtPrize Artist on their first and last stop in West Michigan,” said ArtPrize Executive Director Christian Gaines.
Many college students live in a sort of societal cocoon, inside the walls of their schools and surrounded by their friends and classmates. Some are barely able to decide what classes they want to take each year, let alone their career path. They often change their majors multiple times as they progress through their late teens and early 20s.
Grace Bible College’s Kate Shellenbarger is not your ordinary college student. No less a witness than Wyoming Police Det./Lt. James Maguffee would testify to that fact.
Soon after she arrived at Grace, the soon-to-be junior at the Wyoming college ventured off campus and waded into the murky midst of a possible local example of the nationwide problem of human sex trafficking — and her determination to “do something” about it has brought her recognition from the City of Wyoming Department of Public Safety.
She also has decided that combatting the problem of human trafficking is the educational and career path she is driven to by her small-town upbringing, her Christian-based morals, and her ever-expanding world view.
Shellenbarger already had some knowledge of the human trafficking issue, from her high school, having been involved with the “One Dress, One Month” idea, where someone wears the same plain dress for a month to invite people to open a discussion on the issue. She brought the “One Dress” idea to her new college, but then she amped up her advocacy.
“I come from a small town in Ohio, so it was different there than it is here, in a big city, like Grand Rapids,” Shellenbarger said in an interview with WKTV. “When I came here, I had a friend who I talked with, talked to her about human trafficking. She was the one who saw something and told me and we said, ‘Lets look up and see what this particular business is.’ It looks kind of sketchy to me.”
It was a massage parlor that attracted their attention — a business that can often be legitimate and operated by law-abiding persons, but can also be the location of illegitimate but hard-to-prove criminal activities such as prostitution. And where there is prostitution there is often human trafficking.
“I got kind of mad,” Shellenbarger said. “I knew it was right down the road. I didn’t understand why it was happening right in front of my face — right here and right down the road. So I called the police. … I was hoping they were already doing something about it. That was my hope.”
Working with local authorities; not just complaining
It was then that she began her discussions with the City of Wyoming Department of Public Safety, specifically Maguffee.
This story “is a 20-something college student cold-calling the police department and waiting until she got to the right extension to talk to somebody — there is patience involved even with that,” Maguffee said. “Really, it is just a willingness to call and have a discussion with your local law enforcement about your concerns, and see where that conversation goes. In this case, … [Shellenbarger] and I talked and we had mutual concerns, things we had both seen. But instead of her just making it a ‘I’m making a complaint, now go do something about it!’, she and I were able to say, ‘Hey, what can we do together?’. What can we do next? That’s when the conversation really can get going.”
Through Maguffee, and others, she learned more about the problem and local groups working on the problem of human sex trafficking. (For more information on the subject of human sex trafficking, including a WKTV Journal — In Focus discussion with Wyoming police department’s representative on two groups battling the problem and a link to an award-winning locally produced documentary, “Stuck In Traffic”, see related story here.)
Much of what Shellenbarger found out, many of the avenues she saw to get involved, frustrated her.
“I wanted to do something right now, and a lot of them were ‘You can do this when you get this degree’ or ‘You can do this when you turn this age’,” she said. “I was getting frustrated, but then I found S.O.A.P.”
Other groups working on the problem
Shellenbarger’s discussion with Maguffee led her to the Kent County Human Trafficking Taskforce, a Western Michigan victim-advocacy group which includes the local chapter of Women at Risk International (WAR). (For more information on an upcoming conference led by representatives of WAR, see related story here.)
And a seemingly small activity working with WAR during the 2015 run of ArtPrize led Schllenbarger to “do something now” — she decided to volunteer with WAR and other local groups working on the S.O.A.P. Project (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution), to deliver soap to area hotels and motels — soap wrapped in paper with the telephone number of a hotline to help victims report and escape trafficking crimes.
“There were a lot of people — men and women and kids, all helping to package soap,” she said. “There were a group of girls from Grand Valley (State University) helping me pass out the soap.”
Working with WAR’s S.O.A.P. project in 2015, inspired her to lead a can drive to raise funds for the 2016 S.O.A.P. project — both at her college and, with Maguffee’s help, throughout the City of Wyoming. That combined effort led to about 4,000 cans and about $400 to buy soap to be distributed to motels and southern Kent County.
It also led to Shellenbarger being honored this March at Wyoming Department of Public Safety’s annual award ceremony, and to her deciding to change her educational and career path.
“It boosted my confidence a lot. I showed me that I can do something right now, even being a broke college student, I can do whatever I put my mind to,” she said. “As far as my career, I wasn’t planning on doing anything associated with criminal justice — I was going to get into human services, to be a child psychologist. But that changed once I realized how passionate I was about this.”
She added that she hopes to work with Wyoming Police Department through a college internship, then, maybe, go to work with the FBI, or a nonprofit in the field, or doing research on the issue, she said.
As far as her continued work with the Wyoming Police Department, Maguffee said he would not be surprised by anything Schllenbarger does.
“To me, this is the important moral of this, especially for people like … [Shellenbarger] and other young people who are interested in getting started and making a change,” he said. “It is really patience over the long term.
“The cynic could talk about her and say that [only a little was accomplished] through a lot of effort — collecting $400 and buying toiletries with a hotline number on them and distributing them to hotels. That’s a great thing. And my hope is that some exploited individual will call one of those numbers and get some help.
“But even if that doesn’t happen, all of this is worth it because a group of young people at Grace Bible College are saying ‘Hey, there are some things going on that we can have an impact on’.”
‘Tis the season for office parties and coffee breaks over holiday treats. While many enjoy these opportunities for more casual office interactions, it can also open the door to negative conversations and gossip.
According to a survey from Fierce, four out of five employees surveyed work, or have worked, with someone who is negative. Use these tips to keep the negativity to a minimum:
If you talk to someone who makes outrageous claims, you can politely challenge the information by asking “Is that a fact?” Or, “Did someone tell you?” These questions will make it clear that you only want to talk about factual things. Hopefully they’ll leave the gossip out of future conversations.
This is the person who always needs to “vent” about something. Their conversations quickly turn from positive to negative. You can easily leave the conversation before things get out-of-hand by saying “I have to get back to my to-do list.” Or, “I need to finish a few things before the day’s over.”
The Negative Nancy
Sometimes you can’t avoid working with your negative co-workers. If a conversation starts to turn negative, you can quickly change the direction by saying “There’s too much negativity these days. Let’s focus on the positive.” While this person may not like the redirect, it will help alleviate the uncomfortable position of listening to their toxic conversation.
While you’re sharing a mug of hot chocolate at your company holiday party, make sure you do your part to shift negative conversations to positive ones. If the conversation swings back to negativity, stay but don’t contribute or politely excuse yourself.
Employment Expertise is provided by West Michigan Works! Learn more about how they can help: visit westmiworks.org or your local Service Center.
For real-time updates from the City of Wyoming, go here.
The City of Wyoming’s yard waste drop-off site will be open 24/7 through the weekend to allow for storm damage clean up.
The drop-off site, located at 2660 Burlingame Ave. SW, will return to normal hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, July 10. The site is free to Wyoming residents. Go here for more info.
The City is currently working to repair storm damage as quickly as possible. Trees blocking a roadway or a power line can be reported to non-emergency dispatch at 616.530.7300, ext. 1. For information on power outages, go here.
For more information, follow the City on Twitter @WyomingCityHall and on Facebook here.
As of 11:30 am, the City of Wyoming has issued a PARK CLOSURE & STORM DAMAGE UPDATE: Please exercise caution when visiting any park or trail during this weekend.
BUCK CREEK TRAIL. Closed.
PINERY PARK: Closed.
HILLCROFT PARK: Playground & shelter closed. Trail and general park area open.
LAMAR PARK: One section area closed. Disc golf open. All other areas of park, including splash pad are open.
ORIOLE PARK: No power – splash pad not working as a result. All other areas are open.
DOG PARK: Overhanging tree limb over access road requires caution – avoid. Dog park is open.
FROG HOLLOW: No power. Playground open.
LEMERY PARK: No power. Playground, tennis courts, active play areas open. Buck Creek trail closed.
From the City of Wyoming: “We cannot anticipate and identify all concerns immediately. Again, look up & down when visiting any park or trail following storm events. Exercise caution and report (message) any concerns.”
For real-time updates from the City of Kentwood, go here.
City of Kentwood crews are cleaning up debris and fallen trees on city streets and sidewalks. Remember, it is the property owner’s responsibility to clean any debris from your yard. At this time, Kentwood does not have debris drop-off, but they are currently assessing the situation.
The City of Kentwood reminds residents to contact Consumers Energy if you see a downed line. Downed Line phone number is 800.477.5050 — and stay at least 25 ft away from the line. More information about what to do with a downed line can be found here.
Consumer’s Energy is working to restore power. Please check their outage map for more about your location.
As of 10 a.m. today, Friday, July 7, Kent County Emergency Management has been working since the early morning hours to determine the severity of storm damage throughout the County. Thus far, no injuries have been reported due to storm damage in Kent County.
Public works crews throughout the County are working to remove debris in roadways and utility crews are working to repair downed power lines.
More than 50,000 people lost power in Kent County this morning.
“Because of the busy activity of our responders, we are not going to run the monthly siren tests throughout Kent County at noon today,” said Jack Stewart, Emergency Management Coordinator for Kent County. “Monthly testing will resume August 4. We want to focus today’s efforts on the more immediate needs of our communities.”
Kent County Road Commission has additional crews working to remove large trees from roads.
“Much of the work is from Five Mile Road through southern Kent County at this time,” said Jerry Byrne, Director of Operations of the Kent County Road Commission. “Right now, the Alto area has significant damage, with trees in the road on Whitneyville Avenue and on Buttrick Aveune SE. If you see our crews, please either turn around or proceed with caution.”
Central dispatch in Kent County has been
busy responding to calls all morning. Kent Count Emergency Management staff reminds residents:
If you see a downed power line, do not approach it!!! Call 911.
If you have lost power, report it to your energy provider either by phone or online.
If you plan to use a power generator, follow manufacturer instructions. DO NOT use a generator in the garage or basement of a home and make sure there is good clearance for exhaust to move away from your home. Carbon monoxide, the gas that is produced by a generator, can be odorless, tasteless and deadly.
Now is a good time to make sure you have a plan for storm-related damage. Make sure you have a week’s supply of water, several days of non-perishable food, flashlights/batteries, a first aid kit, and a weather radio. Several apps are available for smartphones, including weather warning apps and incident preparation apps.
Aw, isn’t that baby animal just adorable? Maybe you’re tempted to scoop him up and turn him into a pet — after all, he must be starving, because mom isn’t around, right?
Not necessarily. In fact, if you intervene, you could make things a lot worse.
Mammal babies are usually born naked with their eyes shut and require a lot of care from their parents. People are often tempted to take in mammal babies and try to raise the babies themselves. This is a bad idea. Not only is it illegal to do so without the proper permits, but it is dangerous for the animal and yourself for multiple reasons:
Misfeeding or Dietary troubles
People will try to feed mammal babies, and they will often end up having the babies choke to death on the food. Many people are under the misguided impression that since it is a baby animal, they should get milk from the store and feed that to it; however, only humans and cows can digest cows’ milk! Baby animals are lactose intolerant, which means that drinking milk will cause diarrhea, which may result in death (due to dehydration and lack of nutrition).
Mammals can carry a variety of diseases.
For example, raccoons can carry distemper, rabies, and a roundworm parasite that can be transmitted to other mammals, including humans. The parasite finds its way into the body and can burrow into the brain.
Another problem is that of imprinting.
People who don’t know how to properly rehabilitate animals will end up with imprinted babies — even skilled rehabbers can have problems with imprinting babies. So, when the cute baby mammal turns into a mean adult mammal, and you try to release it, it can come right back and not be afraid of you, other humans, or people’s dogs and cats. Imprinting makes it easier for these animals to be hunted or injured, and there have been attacks on people by imprinted animals, particularly children.
Baby rabbits are often found in backyards. Rabbits will make nests in shallow depressions in the ground, in grassy areas. These areas are often near edges of forest, by fences, and under shrubs. Before you mow the lawn or rototill your garden, you should check the area for rabbit nests, and if you find one, just work around it and wait a few weeks; the babies will be ready to leave and get out of your way.
Bunnies are born with their eyes closed and no fur. Their ears are close to their head. Bunnies are on their own when they are around 5 inches long and furry, with their eyes open and ears up. They may still hang out with each other near the nest for awhile before going their separate ways. You don’t want to bring these older bunnies to a wildlife rehabber, since they don’t need help, and bunnies tend to become stressed out very easily and could die from just the transport to a rehab center. It’s a good idea to make sure they need help before trying to help them, or you could do more harm than good.
If you find a nest with bunnies inside that are too young to be on their own, unless they look injured, leave them alone. The mother will come back, but not until dusk and dawn. So, you won’t see her coming back to the nest. If you’re worried that the mother isn’t coming back to the nest, put flour around the nest and place some twigs in an X formation over the nest, and check back the next morning. If the flour and/or twigs have been disturbed, the mother hasn’t abandoned her babies. If you happen to touch one of the babies, just put it back and gently touch the others so they all smell the same. The mother will still accept them, just make sure you don’t handle them much.
It is not a good idea to move a rabbit nest, but if you can’t wait a week or two for them to leave, or if you have already disturbed the nest, you can try to move it. You should move it to an area as close as possible to the original location, in an area that has some longish grass, possibly under a shrub. Put the fur that was in the old nest in the new one, and cover the bunnies with dry grass. Again wait till the morning to see if the nest was visited by the mother, using flour and twigs.
Tourism and hospitality industry leaders will be meeting with the local chapter of Women at Risk International (WAR) on July 20 for a day-long session to help educate the business community on the dangers of human trafficking as well as provide resources to help combat this growing crime against women, children and others.
But those interested in simply getting more information on the issue are invited to attend.
“The event is open to anyone who would like to attend, but much of the information will be focused in toward hospitality and tourism related businesses,” said Dianna Stampfler, executive director of the Kent County Hospitality Association. “Much of the underlying information and statistics however will be related to anyone interested in learning more about this epidemic.”
The event is Thursday, July 20, from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. at the downtown Grand Rapids Courtyard Marriott. The conference is sponsored by the Kent County Hospitality Association, Women in Lodging-Grand Rapids and Experience Grand Rapids.
According to supplied information, Michigan is one of the leading states for human trafficking — a modern-day form of slavery. It is defined but the U.S. Department of State as: the “recruiting, harboring, transportation, providing, or obtaining of a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through force, fraud, or coercion”.
Human trafficking affects over 20 million victims worldwide, according to the Polaris Project, with a total market value of over $32 billion. More than 1.2 million children are trafficked each year and this epidemic affects at least 161 countries worldwide. Between 100,000 and 300,000 underage girls are sold for sex in the United States every year.
According to WAR, in many instances, hotels and motels, in both rural and urban areas are prime locations for human trafficking activity. And, when there are major influxes of people — such as during major events like ArtPrize — cases often soar.
The conference will allow tourism and hospitality professionals to find out why such activity is bad for business, how to be on the lookout for this crime and how to report suspicious activity.
Have you ever filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to get information from a governmental body? If so, you are likely familiar with how slow and cumbersome the process can be.
For those not familiar with FOIA, it’s a law that gives the public the right to request information from the federal government, often described as the law that “keeps citizens in the know about their government.” Enacted in 1967, it requires federal agencies to disclose any information requested unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security and law enforcement.
Kent County currently processes more than 4,300 FOI requests each year. To streamline the process, the county’s Corporate Counsel’s Office has updated the website to allow the public to submit requests for public records online, through the County’s web page. The new electronic system automates the FOIA processing from submission of the request until final disposition.
On June 15, Assistant Corporate Counsel Sangeeta Ghosh, along with AccessKent vendor Webtecs, rolled out the upgraded system for FOIA coordinators who serve at the Sheriff Department, Prosecutor’s Office, Purchasing Division, Health Department, and Animal Shelter. The new system will help process timely FOIA responses, as requestors have the right to file appeals or lawsuits that can result in increased civil fines, punitive damages, and legal fees and costs to a public body.
The upgrade lets users track the status of a FOIA request from start to finish. Upgrades to the system provide a faster turnaround in releasing records, uploading records online for a user to download from his or her preferred device, encryption of confidential records, retention of records, generation of reports, payment by credit or debit card, internal communication between the Corporate Counsel staff and coordinators on formal responses, and monitoring for legal exposure.
Much of today’s news seems to include a cybersecurity twist, but how do companies prepare for cyber incidents? They exercise or practice, as the West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium will at Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus’s DeVos Center in Grand Rapids.
The 5th annual WMCSC Cybersecurity Exercise will take place Friday, July 14, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (followed by a Networking reception from 5:30-8 p.m.), at the DeVos Center, 401 Fulton St. W.
The cybersecurity event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and interested attendees should reserve their space by Friday, July 14, by visiting firstname.lastname@example.org
The day-long exercise will include Purple Teams — typically, cybersecurity teams are Red (offense) or Blue (defense); working together, they are Purple teams. The exercise will use the Michigan Cyber Range’s “Alphaville” virtual devices.
Alphaville, developed by Merit Network in Ann Arbor, is a collection of virtual machines simulating information systems that are networked together and assigned varying security levels modeled on how real towns across the country are configured. It exists as part of the Michigan Cyber Range, a secure test bed designed to enable cybersecurity attacks and defense methods in a realistic environment without impacting production network traffic.
At the July 14 exercise, nine Purple teams will be challenged to capture, secure and defend email servers, web servers, and file systems, using security and hacking tools comparable to the systems found in most businesses today. They will compete against each other hoping to be crowned the winners for “owning” the most systems for the longest time.
The West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium is a multi-jurisdictional, public/private partnership whose purpose is to enhance the prevention, protection, response, and recovery to cybersecurity threats, disruptions and degradation to critical information technology functions. Its membership includes individuals from government, healthcare, law enforcement and private businesses. The group meets quarterly to share information around cybersecurity issues.
The Michigan Cyber Range prepares cybersecurity professionals to detect, prevent and mitigate cyberattacks in a real-world setting. Like a test track or a firing range, the Michigan Cyber Range enables individuals and organizations to conduct “live fire” exercises: simulations that test the detection and reaction skills of participants in a variety of situations. The Michigan Cyber Range also offers certification courses for a number of cybersecurity disciplines, with instruction available on-site and live online. A full training schedule may be found at the Merit Michigan Cyber Range web site at merit.edu/cyberrange/
The Michigan Cyber Range is hosted and facilitated by Merit Network in partnership with the State of Michigan and with the sponsorship of Consumers Energy and DTE Energy.
Merit Network, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities. Merit owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. In 1966, Michigan’s public universities created Merit as a shared resource to help meet their common need for networking assistance.
Since its formation, Merit Network has remained on the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides high-performance networking and IT solutions and professional development to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations. For more information visit merit.edu/
Beyond-beautiful Buzz (born in April of 2005) and drop-dead gorgeous Goldie (born in April of 2004) were former Crash Cats known as ‘M-n-M’ and ‘Horatio’ back in the day. Both boys were so social and adorable that it was no surprise to any of us that they got adopted (and together) not too long after they were put on Petfinder.
The dashing duo resided harmoniously with a retired gentleman for the better part of nine years, but when their proud papa passed away in 2016, the boys were relocated to a relative’s house. Unfortunately, the relative’s two feline residents didn’t take kindly to the additional company, so he contacted us in early April of 2017, asking if we would be willing to open our doors to them once again; we jumped at the opportunity without hesitation.
We hadn’t seen the guys in years, so the first order of business was to get them out to the clinic for wellness exams, re-testing, vaccines, lab work and dental cleanings. Buzz needed a few teeth extracted and some minor grooming (as the fur on his undercarriage tends to mat and clump, since it is soft as down) but other than that, he was good (no, great) to go!
Goldie fared a little bit worse, as Dr. Jen discovered the reason he had been over-grooming his belly prior to his arrival was that he suffers from an inflammatory condition of his bladder known as Feline Idiopathic Cystitis; Dr. Jen suspects the stress of his owner’s death and upheaval from the move exacerbated this underlying condition that can wax and wane.
In order to control this extremely common affliction, Goldie was put on daily canned food and oral anti-inflammatory medication. He was also started on monthly injections of a drug that helps protect the cartilage in his joints, as Dr. Jen had diagnosed him with a tear of his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee back in 2014. Now he simply glides around our place with grace and ease, as comfy as they come; since both medications are very inexpensive, we don’t feel that either condition is a deterrent to adoption. For an old guy, Goldie does pretty darn well for himself!
We were a bit concerned as to how the pair would fare, not having lived at Crash’s for over 10 years, but we needn’t have given it a second thought, as they settled in so seamlessly and quickly that you would have thought they never left! Both are VERY nice boys who seek out any attention they can get; if you stand still for more than a few seconds, Buzz will jump onto your shoulders or try to climb you like a tree, and Goldie follows the volunteers around asking for belly rubs constantly. They aren’t particularly bonded, so they do not have to go into a home together, though Goldie would do best in a place without small kids, as he likes to nip a bit when you touch his hindquarters.
Overall, each fab cat couldn’t be sweeter; both are excellent choices for companions! Take it from us when we say that seniors make THE BEST PETS, as they seem to be sincerely appreciative for another chance at a life surrounded by creature comforts and people to adore and share their time with!
More about Buzz:
Current on vaccinations
Coat Length: Medium
More about Goldie:
Current on vaccinations
Coat Length: Short
Want to adopt Buzz or Goldie — or both? Learn about the adoption process here. Fill out a pre-adoption form here.
Can’t adopt, but still want to help? Find out how you can sponsor a cat!
Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary have a common mission: To take at-risk stray cats off the streets of the Greater Grand Rapids area, provide them with veterinary care and house them in free-roaming, no-kill facilities until dedicated, loving, permanent homes can be found.
Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) recently announced that they signed an agreement to purchase nearly 200 homes in Grand Rapids and Lansing from a Chicago developer. ICCF will work with other affordable housing advocates to make sure these homes remain affordable for individuals and families with limited incomes.
While Kent County—and Grand Rapids, in particular—is seeing tremendous population and economic growth, it is creating a housing shortage that is driving up the cost to buy or rent a place to live. In many cases, people who have lived in neighborhoods for decades can no longer afford to live there.
There are several agencies in Kent County that are working to ensure that all residents have access to affordable housing and thriving communities. When the broad community is engaged in addressing the urgent need for adequate, affordable housing, we all become less vulnerable and more resilient:
Kent County Housing Commission provides rental assistance to families on extremely low incomes through a voucher system. They also educate property owners and the community on the need for affordable housing.
LINC Uplinks community organizations with real estate developers to “help neighbors, business owners, and community stakeholders realize their visions for the community.”
Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit www.communityactionkent.org.
The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) will open its doors free of charge on Sunday, July 16 from 12-5 pm. Visitors will receive free general admission on this day to explore the Museum’s three floors of core exhibits.
The GRPM offers fun, hands-on learning opportunities for all ages through a variety of core and traveling exhibits. Visitor favorites include the Streets of Old Grand Rapids, an immersive exhibit that transports visitors back to 19th century of downtown Grand Rapids, and West Michigan Habitats, that showcases the vast wildlife found in West Michigan.
“We are excited to be able to offer the community the chance to explore the Museum free of charge again this year,” said Kate Moore, Vice President of Marketing and PR at the GRPM. “The GRPM continues to be the West Michigan hub for hands-on science, history and cultural education, and continue to increase access to the Collections for all.”
Additional experiences for visitors include Mindbender Mansion, planetarium shows and the Museum’s 1928 Spillman Carousel, that are available for an additional charge.
For more information on the event, visit grpm.org.
Visitors to Mindbender Mansion are greeted by the wacky Mr. E., master brainteaser and puzzler extraordinaire to explain the mysteries of Mindbender Mansion, then set out to gather hidden clues and secret passwords.
Throughout the exhibit visitors will find a combination of tabletop brainteasers they can solve on their own and larger group challenges that require assistance from their fellow mansion guests.
Upon completing each of the select brainteasers and group challenges, visitors will see if they gathered the necessary clues and passwords to become a member of the Mindbender Society and add their portrait to the “Wall of Fame.”
Admission to Mindbender Mansion on the free day will be $2 per person and free to Museum members.
Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies will present Ambassador Carla Hills, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Trade Representative, with the Hauenstein Fellowship Medal, one of the highest honors the university can give.
The presentation of the medal will follow Hills’ William E. Simon Lecture in Public Affairs, celebrating President Gerald R. Ford’s 104th birthday, at the Ford Presidential Museum at 7 p.m. on July 13.
Hills served as President Ford’s HUD Secretary (the third woman to hold a cabinet position) and also served as an assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.
She has also served as a professor in UCLA’s law school and is currently the chairman and CEO of Hills & Company International Consultants.
The Hauenstein Fellowship Medal recognizes the extraordinary life of the center’s namesake, Ralph Hauenstein, and is intended to recognize public servants who exemplify the service and leadership that Grand Valley State University seeks to inspire in its students and graduates.
“The conferral of the Hauenstein Medal is always a very special occasion for our center, as it allows us to reflect on Ralph’s life and achievements while celebrating someone who holds the same leadership ideals,” said center director Gleaves Whitney.
Previous recipients of the Col. Ralph W. Hauenstein Fellowship Medal include President Gerald R. Ford (posthumously), Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State James A. Baker, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, Ambassador John Beyrle, and Admiral James M. Loy.
The Saugatuck Center for the Arts (400 Culver St.) kicks off its Summer in the Studio concert series with guitarist Elden Kelly. Kelly will perform July 10 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available at sc4a.org, 269.857.2399, or by visiting the box office.
Elden Kelly is an improviser, bandleader, guitarist, composer and singer-songwriter. He is known for a type of classically influenced jazz and world music. Of a live performance, reviewer Lawrence Cosentino wrote, “He meandered from the Ganges to Delta blues, bluegrass, flamenco and a folk idiom so heartfelt it bordered on the devotional.”
After graduating from Boston’s prestigious New England Conservatory of Music with a degree in Contemporary Improvisation in 2008, Kelly accepted a full scholarship and teaching assistantship at Michigan State with Rodney Whitaker, earning a graduate degree in 2011 in Ethnomusicology.
Today Kelly’s sound is influenced by genres such as jazz, neoclassicism, American Roots, Hindustani and Turkish music. Kelly is also known for playing the glissentar, an 11-string fretless guitar.
“The music I play on the fretless guitar is a combination of Indian music, Turkish music, and roots music, so I call it ‘Indo-Turkish Bluegrass’,” Kelly said.
Kelly processes a voice akin to Jeff Buckley, and technique that is the guitarists envy. But Kelly says he isn’t limited to just one genre such as folk. Instead he has experimented and blended many genres throughout his career to create his own powerful sound.
The Summer in the Studio series is an intimate, living room-style series hosted by the SCA. The next artist to be featured is Danika & the Jeb, a guitar and vocal duo who provide a unique blend of acoustic pop music.
Just after the morning school bell rings, West Kelloggsville Elementary School teacher Joy Howard calls up her kindergartners one-by-one to hand them breakfast. They settle back in their seats to sip milk and juice, nibble cereal, crunch apples and devour muffins.
“It makes us healthy,” said kindergartner Jerez Prebble, after polishing off his morning meal.
Following spring break, six teachers at West served breakfast in the classroom as a way to make sure their students not only had the option to eat at school, but that a meal was put right in front of them every morning. It’s a way to get more children eating; while free breakfast has been available to all students before school through the School Breakfast Program for years, the number of them arriving in time to eat was lagging. At West, 79 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches.
“The percentage of students at West eating breakfast was way lower than you’d expect the need to be,” said Principal Eric Schilthuis. “We want them to have a nutritious meal to get them through the morning.”
It’s a common scenario. Nationwide, 21 million U.S. children get free or reduced-price school lunch, but only half of those students get breakfast even though they are eligible. That’s according to No Kid Hungry, a campaign of Share Our Strength, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that connects children with healthy food offered through federal programs such as the School Breakfast and Summer Meals. In Michigan, offering breakfast is mandated in schools with a free and reduced-lunch population of more than 20 percent. Some low-income districts offer free breakfast to all students.
Research shows starting the day with breakfast has long-term benefits. According to the report, “Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis” by Deloitte and the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices, students who eat breakfast attend an average of 1.5 more days of school; average 17.5 percent higher on math tests; and are 20 percent more likely to graduate high school.
Since serving it in the classroom, breakfast participation at West jumped from about 35 percent to 68 percent building-wide. That should increase more when more teachers offer it next school year. “It’s been a great success here,” said Brenda Jansen, food service director.
The Big Picture
The story is bigger than breakfast: it’s about ending childhood hunger. Amy Klinkoski, breakfast coach for Michigan No Kid Hungry, is working with Kent County districts, including Kelloggsville, to make breakfast more accessible.
Klinkoski recently coached food service directors on implementing a “Grab and Go” option at Union and Ottawa Hills high schools and C.A. Frost middle and high schools. The option allows students to grab prepackaged breakfasts from mobile carts in high traffic areas, such as hallways, entryways or cafeterias. Since starting the option, the number of Union High students eating breakfast has increased by 250 to 300 students per day, she said.
East Kentwood High School offers vending and smoothies to students until mid-morning, and has the highest percentage of students who eat breakfast at a Kent County high school, Klinkoski said.
Wyoming, Godwin Heights, Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, and Alpine Elementary in Kenowa Hills Public Schools have had breakfast in the classroom in place for several years.
In Wyoming’s Oriole Park Elementary School, second-grade teacher Danielle Terpstra said eating breakfast in the classroom is part of the routine for at least 50 percent of students. She keeps leftover breakfast items around for snacks later, so nearly every student in her room eats something.
“Some of the kids eat the food as breakfast, morning snack, some at lunch, and even ask to take some home,” Terpstra said. “I believe it gives the kids the necessary start to a healthy body and brain for learning that day.
“I am thankful that we can fill that basic need for so many of them,” she added. “I don’t have any test scores to back my claims, but I really believe that the breakfast is one thing we can do to get our kids just what they need at the start of the day.”
Klinkoski reminds hesitant educators that offering breakfast at the beginning of instruction time is the same type of interruption as having snack time later — and keeps hunger in check earlier. Also, increased revenue from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for more breakfasts offsets the cost of labor and food.
Why it Matters
According to the report “Ending Childhood Hunger” from The Lunch Box, a network supporting healthy school food programs, 48.8 million Americans — including 13 million children — live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. As a result, they struggle with hunger at some time during the year. The average Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program monthly benefit is $1.46 per meal, and nearly half of SNAP recipients are children. Three out of four teachers say their students regularly come to school hungry.
In her kindergarten classroom, Joy Howard agreed starting the day with breakfast in class helps her students be more ready to learn until lunchtime.
“Some of the children who needed it the most were missing it,” she said. “There’s a comfort knowing that if they haven’t eaten, they can get it here.”
Curiosity Labs will continue this summer at the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) as part of their ongoing science programming, making science accessible and fun for children and families. Curiosity Labs take place once per month on Saturdays and change focus each time.
July’s Curiosity Labs will focus on Mystery Solving Science, and will take place on Saturday, July 22. Participants can help the Museum solve mysteries using science! Learn to think like a scientist and conduct two hands on experiments. In this lab, kids will search clues to find out who stole a missing artifact from the Museum’s Collections, using hands-on scientific techniques.
On August 12, visitors can learn more about food in the What’s in My Garden? Lab. Are you interested in the food we eat and where it comes from? In this Curiosity Lab, kids will be hands-on learning about gardens, from how to care and harvest, down to what is in the soil that helps plants grow. Kids will prepare their own snack using some of the vegetables from the Museum’s urban garden. This lab will partially take place outside, weather permitting.
Labs take place at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on their scheduled date. Labs are designed for children to work alone or to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. It is recommended children 8 and under have a parent or guardian with them. Tickets can be purchased at grpm.org/science or by clicking here.
“This is a great way for kids and families to learn together about science!” said Dr. Stephanie Ogren, the Museum’s Science Director. “These special lab experiences were designed after our successful weekly ongoing science programs, Science Tuesdays. At the Museum our goal is to make science accessible to all learners.”
Additional Summer Family Programming at the GRPM
Additional experiences at the Grand Rapids Public Museum this summer include Camp Curious summer camps that explore the wonders of science, history, culture, art and fun. For 9 weeks this summer, kids age 4-14 can use the Museum as a learning lab in a variety of camp themes.
Camp Curious runs through August 14 with various sessions available depending on age and interest. Discounts are available for enrollment in multiple camps and by registering multiple campers. Additionally, Museum members receive discounts off each camp.
Camp Curious offers sessions with a focus on a variety of themes from space exploration to building with Legos®, and from fossils to exploring what it was like to grow up in the Victorian Era. Camp options vary for each age group and are suited to their interest. Age groupings are 4-5 years old, 6-8 years old, 9-11 years old and 12-14 years old. To register and to learn more about Camp Curious, visit grpm.org/CampCurious or call 616.929.1700.
Special Exhibits — Creatures of Light & Mindbender Mansion
In Creatures of Light visitors will move through a series of luminous environments, from the familiar mushrooms on land to the extreme in the deepest parts of the ocean, to explore the diversity of organisms that glow and how they do it. Visitors will discover the ways in which light is used to attract a mate, lure unsuspecting prey and defend against a predator, and to learn how, where and why scientists study this amazing natural phenomenon. Creatures of Light is open through July 9.
In Mindbender Mansion, families will enjoy exercising their minds as they try to master each of the 40 individual brain teasers and the 5 group activities in this fun and unconventional new exhibit. Visitors to Mindbender Mansion will be greeted by the wacky Mr. E., master brainteaser and puzzler extraordinaire to explain the mysteries of Mindbender Mansion, then will set out to gather hidden clues and secret passwords. Upon completing each of the select brainteasers and group challenges, visitors will see if they gathered the necessary clues and passwords to become a member of the Mindbender Society and add their portrait to the “Wall of Fame.” Mindbender Mansion is open through September 3.
Science Tuesdays is an ongoing educational experience, offering science programming based on changing themes each month. Science Tuesdays take place throughout the day every Tuesday at the Museum and include a variety of activities and interactive displays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
July will focus on amazing explosions, and will teach about the minerals responsible for the fantastic colors in firework displays. Participants will learn about exothermic and endothermic chemical reactions through demonstrations and quick experiments.
August Science Tuesdays will focus on food. Learn about where the food we eat comes from. Visitors can discuss large scale agricultural science as well as community gardening. Museum artifacts will feature historical food-making devices and utensils to emphasize the relationship between food and culture.
For more information on Museum programming and exhibits, please visit grpm.org.