Thrive Fund Builds

$500,000 Goal in Sight

Wrapping up our 50th year of service to our community, we are thankful for all you do for those we serve! We continue to be inspired by the collective impact our supporters make for those we serve.

Earlier this year, we embarked on an ambitious goal of building a strategic reserve fund that provides long-term stability and safety to ensure TrueNorth can continue to fulfill its mission for years to come. To date we have raised roughly $400,000 of our initial $500,000 goal for The Thrive Fund. We are confident, with your help, we can raise an additional $100,000 by the end of the year.

The past few years have shown just how important a reserve fund is. The Thrive Fund will help TrueNorth be prepared should drastic increases in demand for essential services occur, like food and housing. The Fund will also guard against unexpected replacement or repair of equipment and facilities. It will also ensure vital services continue after a sudden loss of funding.

By making a gift today, you will ensure our youth thrive, help build vibrant communities, create paths to self-sufficiency and meet the essential needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. Together, we can continue to inspire hope and create a better world. For more information, please visit our website or contact Mark Kraus at (231) 355-9484 or

Lasting Donation

The Toth’s 12 Years of Donations to CCP

Tom and Donna Toth have been generous donors to our Children’s Christmas Programs (CCP) for the past 12 years, although it might not be in what most people consider the traditional way. The Toth’s have been harvesting trees from their property, processing the lumber, allowing for it to dry for over a year, and then smoothing, cutting and notching the timbers into amazing, multi piece, building log toy sets.

Residing on 62 acres, the Toth’s inspiration for building these sets came after they built their own home through the same lumbering process, complete with custom kitchen cabinets. This is no surprise after seeing their amazing log kits. In addition to donating these kits during CCP, the Toth’s also provide building log toy sets to family members and friends, and often take along sets when traveling to give away to kids across North America. What a fun way to spread the love and joy of building!


50 Reasons to Celebrate

Take a Look Through our 2022 Accomplishments

Over this past year, as we have collectively commemorated our milestone 50th anniversary, we have honored our history and celebrated our future. There are fifty-two weeks in a year and each week on social media we reminisced about a past program or service on Throwback Thursdays and highlighted a current one on Feature Fridays. That’s over a hundred, and is still only a portion of what we have done and continue to do, together!

We have also had occasion to celebrate with those who share in our mission; those influencers, innovators and change-makers who are inspiring hope and creating a better world. We celebrated our advocacy for the arts by commissioning a new, original artwork for our service center lobby by former Art Scholarship winner and local artist, Cara O’Brien, and had a public event where we all enjoyed the art and the new outdoor Spark Space. In September, we had an anniversary luncheon and spent the evening celebrating our history with an original, fun, interactive trivia game.

Each TrueNorth program-area set 50th related goals for the year. Camp Newaygo celebrated 50 Outdoor Moments. Our emPower division came up with 50 energy-saving tips and challenged their participants to try all 50. Our Housing Department set lofty goals – 50 foreclosure preventions, 50 families safely housed, and 50 participants completing our financial capabilities education course.

It has been a fun and inspiring year. We know we couldn’t do it without you. Here’s to the past 50 and to 50 more!


Community Supports Hunger Prevention

A number of programs benefit our hunger relief efforts

This summer and fall our community offered tremendous support to individuals suffering from food insecurity in Newaygo County by supporting TrueNorth’s Hunger Prevention Programs. Thanks to the generosity of local farmers and gardeners, the annual Plant-a-Row for Hunger campaign brought in an impressive 6,375 lbs. of fresh produce. Families facing food insecurity often struggle to access fresh produce which plays a vital role in ensuring long-term health and well-being.

The local Hay Art contest brought in 7,147 lbs. of much needed food to our Food Pantry. As a part of the Fremont Harvest Festival, local businesses constructed sculptures out of hay and community members voted for their favorites by donating shelf-stable food items, with the winner being the sculpture with the most donated food, by weight. This year’s business winner was Gerber Life Insurance Company with 2,688 lbs., and the residential winner was Phil and Judy Deur. We want to thank the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce for organizing this fun, artistic event. Additionally, almost 71,100 lbs of food have been sourced from local businesses and organizations so far this year as part of our Food Rescue efforts.

Local businesses and supporters including Brant Electric LLC, Ceres Solutions Co-op, Ed’s Orchard Market, Elsie’s Ice Cream and Comfort Food, Fremont Area Community Foundation, Fremont Regional Digester, Gene Christofferson, Gerber Collision, Gerber Federal Credit Union, Hesperia Automotive, Hesperia Sport Shop, Larry’s Auto Sales, Main Street Hair Designs, Michael Campeau, Neva Smith, Newaygo Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning Services, Nieboer Electric, Outback Auto, RTS Construction Group, LLC, Ryzebol Dairy, Shelby State Bank, Tractor Supply Company, and Unique Family Hair Care were also responsible for donating 4,400 lbs. of meat purchased during the Newaygo County Fair livestock auctions.

On October 6th and 7th, Empty Bowls made a triumphant return to a traditional in-house, sit-down event. Thursday, the event took place at the TrueNorth Service Center in Fremont, and on Friday at the Commission on Aging in White Cloud. Attendees enjoyed a wide variety of soups and bread provided by local establishments including The Blind Squirrel and Moon Dance Cafe in Fremont, Old Iron Bar & Grill in Grant, Northern Trails Bar & Grill, and Camp Newaygo’s own Ridge Specialties Catering in Newaygo, and The Shack in White Cloud. Between ticket sales, Stuff the Carts and generous donations, Empty Bowls raised $23,453 in direct support of our Hunger
Prevention Programs.

Fall Warmth Provided Through Coats

Coats for Kids (& Adults) 2022 wrap-up

It was back in 1990 when local resident and TrueNorth supporter Max Dietz lost his wife. He brought in several of her almost new winter coats and gave them to the relatively new Executive Director, Bev Cassidy with this charge; “Make sure these go to someone in need.” This simple act of practical generosity in the face of grief was the birth of our Coats for Kids (& Adults) program in 1991. Ensuring every Newaygo County child (and adult) who needs one, has a warm winter coat
is the simple driving force behind this much-needed program.

On Saturday, October 15th, families were lined up two hours before the start of distribution. During the distribution event, which ran from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, 760 coats were distributed, along with close to 1,000 additional cold weather items. We expect the total amount of coats distributed to reach 900. Coats will also be distributed to the schools and partner agencies. AmeriCorps members, local volunteers and MYOI youth volunteers helped distribute coats that day. When asked about the event, a local mother of 4 stated; “The event helps out a ton, especially this year. The kids love coming and being able to pick out their own coats… thank you so much for doing this!” New and used coats in good condition are collected at TrueNorth year-round. Event sponsors included the Gerber Foundation, The Fremont Area Community Foundation and Operation Warm.

50 Years Strong

Future focus of service and impact

This milestone year marks the beginning of the next 50 years of service and impact to our communities. None of this would be possible without you. Thank you for trusting us, walking alongside us, teaching us, and inspiring us. As we honor our past and boldly step into the future, 2022 has been more than a year of celebration. Our fiftieth year has been a year to reflect on our history, impact, growth and learnings over the past 50 years.

As we move forward into our next 50 years of service, we will continue to respond to changing needs. We will focus on our four core service areas: Ensuring Youth Thrive; Building Vibrant Communities; Creating Paths to Self-Sufficiency and Meeting Essential Needs. These core competencies will serve us well in creating safe places to live and raise our families.

Holiday Festivities at Camp

Learn About Upcoming Camp Newaygo Events

Every year Camp Newaygo gets a head start on Christmas decorating. This year is no exception. The lovely lodges are transformed into festive holiday tableaus. The staff and volunteers at Camp Newaygo spend a week decorating all three of their year round lodges as well as adding lights to outdoor trees, fences and rooflines. Over 25 Christmas trees in total are assembled and decorated by a troupe of volunteers and staff.

If you and your family are interested in experiencing the festivities at Camp there are several options this holiday season. Camp Newaygo hosts an annual Santa & S’mores event on December 3rd. It features photos with Santa and live reindeer. There is also a Christmas and Cocktails event for women to come and enjoy a meal and entertainment. This will be held on December 9th this year. Christmas decor will remain in place through the New Year so be sure to check out their New Year’s Eve Buffet on December 31st. There are many ways to enjoy the holidays at Camp Newaygo!

Students Visit Art Institute

Group Travels to Chicago for Art Study Trip

On Friday, October 28, fifty art students from Fremont, Hesperia, White Cloud, and Newaygo, and their teachers traveled to The Art Institute of Chicago as part of TrueNorth’s annual Art Study Trip. This program is part of our A.R.T.S. programming (Artists Reaching & Teaching Students) and dates back to 1976! The group took in all Chicago has to offer by walking the Art Loop, visiting the Art Institue, and experiencing the city, including dining at an authentic Chicago-style pizzeria.

Dan Dipple, 6th- 12th grade Art Teacher for White Cloud Public Schools had this to say;“My students had a wonderful time with experiences that will form lifelong memories, just like the ones I made when I was a student on the same trip back in the 1980s. We went to a giant art supply store, walked through Millennium Park, strolled along the river-walk, and spent three hours at the art museum where students were entranced by the art. They were especially moved by the paintings of John Singer Sargent, the sculptures from the ancient world, and famous paintings like Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’, and Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’.”

To hear Dan and two other local art teachers talk about their experiences going through our ARTS programs as students, and now as art educators, check out these two videos: ARTS Alumni Part 1 and ARTS Alumni Part 2.

Empty Bowls Success

Attendees Enjoy Hot, Delicious Soups!

On Thursday, October 6th and Friday, October 7th, Empty Bowls made a triumphant return to traditional in-house, sit-down events. The Thursday event took place at the TrueNorth Service Center and the Friday event at the Commission on Aging in White Cloud.

Attendees enjoyed a wide variety of soups and bread provided by local establishments including The Blind Squirrel, and Moon Dance Cafe in Fremont, Old Iron Bar & Grill in Grant, Northern Trails Bar & Grill, and Camp Newaygo’s own Ridge Specialties Catering in Newaygo, and The Shack in White Cloud. The conversation was lively, the fellowship friendly, and the soups hot and delicious.

At the Fremont event, people made purchases of bulk food items to stock our pantry and ended up buying enough to stuff 15 shopping carts. At the White Cloud event, they filled another 3 carts for a grand total of 18 carts; beating our goal of 12 carts. In total this brought in $2,331 in donations. Overall, the two events raised $23,453 in support of our Hunger Prevention Programs.

Jubilee Concert

50th Anniversary Concert Slated for October 23rd

Bernadine Johnson, who has been involved with TrueNorth’s Cultural Programming since she moved to Fremont in the early 1970’s is organizing another free Sunday Concert we are calling the Jubilee Concert, to celebrate our 50th anniversary.

Over the years, in addition to her work with the Madrigal dinner concerts and the Newaygo County Piano Teachers Association’s slate of programs and events, Bernadine has organized and headlined several Birthday Concert Series events celebrating the music of great composers. For the Jubilee Concert, she is bringing back several local favorites and has asked a few newcomers to offer up musical selections. Those scheduled to perform include; Leslie Anderson, Shaunna Baker, Jack Brooks, Cassie Luchies Dalton, Mick Hanna, Thea Hoekman, Jean Howarth, April Keith, Chris and Jill Kuebler, Gabriel Malone, Christina Tuls, Jim Webb, Kirk and Alexandra Weller, and of course, Bernadine Johnson herself.

The concert will have something for everyone, from pianists and vocalists, to cellists and singer/songwriters. “We are so thrilled to have Bernadine work her magic for us, once again as she brings together a wide variety of talents for this concert,” said our CEO, Bev Cassidy. The FREE concert will take place at the TrueNorth Service Center on Sunday, October 23, starting at 3 pm. Light refreshments including cake will be served.