Tee Up for TrueNorth

And Boost Social Health

“We get lonely,” says Community Connections participant Karen Cross. “When you’re by yourself, even though you have big families, they’re very very busy with other things in their lives. You can feel very lonely if you don’t have anybody around.”

Many in our community have similar experiences as Karen. Having social connection is integral to the health and well-being of our neighbors. This is why Community Connections exists to provide safe spaces for individuals to connect and give back so that people like Karen can build life-changing relationships.

You can help our neighbors connect with each other and the community. Join us for our first annual Tee Up for TrueNorth Golf Outing on Saturday, August 24 at the Village Green Golf Club and help people like Karen thrive.

We are holding a four-person scramble with two divisions, mixed or men’s. Enjoy an 18 hole round with cart, lunch, prizes and awards. The proceeds from the event will support all of our Community Connections initiatives:

• Special interest volunteer groups through All Together
• Conversations with isolated community members through Call & Connect
• Gatherings at local apartments to meet people where they are through Coffee Connections
• Opportunities to connect and have new experiences through Community Friends

Register today and know you are improving the well-being of our neighbors.

Supporters Celebrated

At the Annual Community of Efforts

Every year we celebrate our dedicated volunteers and generous donors at TrueNorth’s Community of Efforts event. It really does take a community of efforts for TrueNorth to accomplish all it does in any given year. Last month, over 100 people attended this celebratory event as 14 individuals or organizations received recognition for their support of our organization. To thank our volunteers and donors, Camp Newaygo’s Ridge Catering served a delicious meal, and students from Fremont High School gave delightful musical performances upon guests’ arrival and during dinner.

Charlie Forbes, TrueNorth’s Volunteer Hub Coordinator says,“Our organization continues to prosper because of the unwavering dedication of our volunteers and donors. Their commitment and contributions are the cornerstone of our mission, and we are profoundly grateful for their support. Together, We Thrive!”

There were four Community Awards presented to individuals and organizations for their exemplary service to TrueNorth and the community: Sue “Bart” Barthold received the Bessie Slautterback Award for lifetime service, Officer Kyle Rasch received the Peggie Stone Award for commitment to youth, Wesco received the Community Partner Award for generosity and the Project FOCUS students from Baldwin Jr. High received the Youth in Action Award for youth volunteerism.

Ten Program Awards were given to individuals and organizations who have gone above and beyond in the specific program area they serve: Chris Rosenberg (Camp Newaygo), Cindy Kraley (Community Connections), Virginia Boone & Colleen Artzner (emPower), Sportsman’s Christmas Kids (Housing and Family Services), Sandy Spradlin (Hunger Prevention), Melody Leone (Out-of-School Time Programs), Judy Kraus (President’s Award), Randy Kinsey (Spirit of TrueNorth), Diane Franke (TrueMentors), and NCRESA Education and Activities Center Transitions Program (Volunteer Services).

We are grateful to not only these award winners, but also our countless volunteers and donors for their endless support of our organization. A huge congrats to our 2024 winners!

A Summer of Fun

With Project FOCUS

For Hesperia and White Cloud children, kindergarten through 8th grade, there’s a NEW and exciting opportunity this summer, Project FOCUS Rural Grit Summer Programming. Six weeks of programming will be offered at Patricia St. Clair Elementary, David C. Outwin Middle School, White Cloud Elementary and White Cloud Jr. High, all which began June 10th, but there’s still time to enroll your child for a summer of fun.

Activities and programming will vary from site to site, but include topics consisting of outer space, dinosaurs, camping, field day, history, oceans, insects, life skills and of course, some amazing guest speakers and field trips too! Some sites are visiting John Ball Zoo, others are venturing to Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo, another to Legends Ranch and one even to visit the Michigan History Museum in Lansing. No matter where your child attends-it’s sure to be a fun summer. The two school sites are even planning a pen-pal program, how fun!

Programming takes place Monday through Thursday, 9 am until 3 pm, at Hesperia Community Schools and 8:30 am until 2:30 pm at White Cloud Public Schools. For more information, contact the site coordinator at the appropriate school location-
Patricia St. Clair Elementary: (231) 854-6615, ext. 8623
David C. Outwin Middle School: (231) 854-6720
White Cloud Elementary: (231) 689-2306
White Cloud Jr. High School: (231) 689-2181, ext. 3328

Make this summer one your child remembers for years to come!

Community Support

Helps Area Youth at Bowlapalooza

With over 200 community supporters, TrueNorth’s annual bowling fundraiser, Bowlapalooza, successfully raised needed funds for TrueMentors last month. All funds raised will facilitate the connection of local youth with positive role models through the program’s three areas: Community Mentoring, TrueBlue Academy and Parks in Focus.

Community support included sponsors, bowlers and donors. Altogether the event raised over $24,000 for the program. To celebrate the fundraising efforts of supporters, TrueNorth held bowling at Fremont Lanes for 11 different teams, totalling nearly 100 bowlers between the two nights. Luci Moore of Gerber Life Insurance was the top fundraiser of the event, raising $900 total for TrueMentors.

“Thank you to everyone who participated in and supported Bowlapalooza,” says TrueNorth Youth Mentoring Specialist, Serena Lafferty. “You are making a difference in local youths’ lives, and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the support from all of you.”

Bowlapalooza would not have been possible without the generous support from our lead sponsor Leinenkugel’s, and from our additional sponsors: Ed’s Orchard Market, Gerber Federal Credit Union, Gerber Life Insurance, Hi-Lites Graphics, Hoaglin Electric, Magna Mirrors, Murray Lumber & Supply, Nieboer Electric, Par-Vox Technology, Tire Wholesalers and Wolff Builders.

Local Talent Awarded

Student Art Scholarship Contest & Expo

2024 marks the 52nd year of the county-wide, middle and high school Student Art Scholarship Contest and Expo. Students in 7th – 12th grades enter either individual pieces or portfolio collections of original artwork, which are judged and awarded by a guest adjudicator; this year – Tatsuki Hakoyama, Assistant Professor of Studio Arts, from Kendall College of Art and Design.

Award ribbons were given out for Outstanding Recognition in middle and high school, Outstanding Senior Recognition, Director’s Choice, and Scholarship Awards for outstanding portfolios in middle and high school at a public event on the evening of April 29. The Director’s Choice awards are ranked, with the top student afforded the opportunity to sell their piece to TrueNorth to become part of our permanent display of student artwork. Students winning the Scholarship Award, awarded as a cash prize, can be used to further their artistic education, through classes, camps, or the purchase of art supplies.

320 community members viewed the artwork while it was on display at our service center over a four day period. To view a short walk-through of the show and see complete lists of the winning students – click here!

Plant-a-Row for Hunger

Continue the Good Gardener’s Tradition

Eating fruits and vegetables is essential for long-term health, yet many facing food insecurity find it difficult to access these nutritious food items. Newaygo County benefits from rich soil and boasts a thriving local agricultural community. From apple and peach orchards to onion and carrot farms, the region produces a wide variety of fresh produce, and many residents maintain successful home gardens, which often yield more than they can consume.

In keeping with the good gardener’s tradition of sharing their bounty, we remind everyone of our annual Plant-a-Row For Hunger campaign. As you put in your gardens, please consider planting an extra row with intent to donate the extra produce to the Food Center at TrueNorth. Even if you don’t deliberately plant an extra row, we ask you to donate any excess to help feed your neighbors who are experiencing food insecurity. 

We also want to empower those visiting our Food Center, to grow their own gardens, maybe even for the first time. During our seed distribution event in April, we distributed 800 seed packets to Newaygo County residents, and offered a seed starting workshop for our Food Center members. Donations are accepted during normal business hours, Monday-Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.

Give Meaningful Gifts

This Mother’s Day & Beyond

Looking for unique gifts for your mom this Mother’s Day? Search no further than these meaningful gifts in the Inspiring Hope Giving Catalog!

The Inspiring Hope Giving Catalog features representative items from TrueNorth’s program areas to purchase in honor of loved ones. Each gift in the catalog represents the real needs of our community, showing what our neighbors need and what can be done to help them.

When you purchase a gift for your loved one this Mother’s Day, you will also receive a card to personalize and give to them. Your mom will feel appreciated knowing her gift will make a positive difference in the life of one of her neighbors.

Make two caring gifts at once, one to your mom and the other to those in need, when you select gifts from our Inspiring Hope Giving Catalog. From Protecting a Child and Inspiring Young Artists to Guiding a Family to Success and Distributing 250 Meals to the Hungryyou will find the most meaningful gifts for your loved one.  Click here to learn more.

Camp Newaygo’s Co-Ed Day Camp

Find Adventure Close to Home This Summer

Summer will be here before you know it. With school out until August, families will be looking for ways to keep kids busy and enjoy sunny days. Camp Newaygo has been providing outdoor, adventure co-ed day camp programs to the community since it became part of TrueNorth Community Services in 1996. Thousands of local boys and girls have played, fished, hiked, and enjoyed their local great outdoors with Camp Newaygo.

This summer at Camp Newaygo’s Day Camp promises to be just as fun, with each week centering around a theme. The summer will kick off with Animals Week – campers will meet camp animals, search for creatures in their natural habitats, and end the week with a trip to John Ball Zoo. Local budding scientists can join for a heart-pounding week of awesome explosions, rockin’ rockets, and electrifying gizmos and gadgets during Boom and Zoom Week. Whether wielding a paintbrush, rocking out with a drumstick, or conquering projects with a hammer, campers’ creativity will run wild during Dream It, Build It, Play It Week. Camp Newaygo also hosts two weeks of Spanish Immersion Day Camp – one of the only programs like it in the midwest, right here in Newaygo County. 

On top of engaging, new theme activities every week, each day is filled with classic outdoor adventures. Campers can hike through camp’s bog, ride a tube behind the speedboat, paddle a canoe, and ride a 1000’ zipline. There’s daily time at the lake to swim or build sand castles and moments of guided free play for campers to interact and engage in creative, imaginative play. Campers can even participate in optional Thursday overnights and cook over a campfire. All of the activities and experiences are planned and led by trained staff to ensure campers don’t just have fun but also build social emotional skills, appreciate the environment around them, and have a sense of community. Amanda Ferner, long time Day Camp parent and director of The Ark in Fremont said:

“We started attending Camp Newaygo’s co-ed day camp summer of 2021 and have returned every year since! They have convenient drop off and pick up times for working families. My child loves that he is able to spend time outside, swimming, exploring the woods, learning about the weekly theme and of course shopping at the camp store! It’s a very affordable option this summer for any school age child!” – Amanda Ferner

TrueNorth Community Services, Camp Newaygo, and local funders believe these experiences are important for all children to have. Scholarship applications, for students living or attending school in Newaygo County, are also available online or can be mailed to you. In 2023, over $10,000 in Day Camp scholarships were provided to children in Newaygo County. If your children, grandchildren, or kids you know would love to spend part of their summer at Camp Newaygo. Go to campnewaygo.org/co-ed-day-camp to learn more about dates, themes, and the cost of camp.

Food Truck Frenzy

STEAM Challenge Engages 161 Kids

Every year, TrueNorth’s Out-of-School Time students take part in the STEAM Challenge, focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math in a hands-on approach to creative problem solving and critical thinking.

161 students from all 13 of TrueNorth’s Project FOCUS and Project FOCUS Rural Grit sites, along with nearly 100 adults (staff, judges and parents), took part in this year’s challenge, held at Hesperia High School on Saturday, March 9th. Students participated in a series of judged challenges and projects which included building challenges and art projects, all centered around this year’s theme – Food Truck Frenzy! Students built models of food trucks, created their very own original recipes and created food-themed works of art.

“This year’s STEAM Challenge was filled with impressive submissions from talented students, a beautiful display of cooperation amongst school districts, and fantastic community support – more community and family attendees than any year in the past!”
– Danielle Siegel, Project FOCUS Director

STEAM-related programs expose students to “big-picture” concepts seen in real, physical environments. They help foster a creative approach, encourage creativity, improve social skills, develop curiosity and critical thinking and help make students more adaptable to a wide range of situations and challenges. Additionally, STEAM projects require students to solve problems in a hands-on way, using skillstechnologies and core curriculum in new, exciting and fun ways.

To see a complete list of winning students, click here.

New Board Members

Welcome Carmen and Hannah

TrueNorth recently welcomed two new members to their Board of Directors. Carmen Faulkner (pictured left) and Hannah Harrington (pictured right) joined the Board in February, adding to the existing nine members. Both entrepreneurs, Faulkner the owner of River Stop Cafe and Harrington the owner of Third Coast Creative, are a great addition to the Board, as they bring experience in communications and marketing, community involvement and volunteerism. 

Both residing in Newaygo, and graduates of Newaygo Public Schools, Faulkner and Harrington are devoted community members who are excited to give back in a tangible way by advocating for people and services needed in our communities.

As individuals who are open-minded, and who come to TrueNorth with many life experiences, we are excited to have them join us. Please help us give a warm welcome to both Carmen and Hannah as they take action and begin their journey on the board. To view the entire Board of Directors click the button below.