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.

Fall Youth Programs Begin

Out-of-School Time Sites Kickoff for the Year

Along with the beginning of a new school year also comes the start of a new programming year for our Out-of-School Time (OST) Programs; Engage!, Project FOCUS, and REACH. TrueNorth offers OST Programs in Baldwin, Hart, Hesperia, Holton, Muskegon Heights, Walkerville, and White Cloud, and each program has kicked off the new year in BIG ways! Check out all of the fun things happening for area youth.

Programming has included lessons surrounding:Choosing happiness; Being kind; Showing respect to others; Embracing unique differences; Spreading positivity; The Constitution; Controlling emotions; Season changes; Michigan Frogs; Safety; and STEAM Projects. The program also has offered interactive activities including: Fall arts and crafts; Scavenger hunts; Team building; Fall movies; Paper airplanes; College and career exploration; Nature hikes; Guest speakers; Obstacle courses; and more!

Prior to the 2022-2023 programming kick off, OST staff attended the Happiness Advantage/Orange Frog workshop which is designed to increase engagement, build resilience, and spread optimism within youth. The workshop focuses on the parable, The Orange Frog, who learns to embrace his differences and spread the “orange” way to live. Through doing so, he creates a positive ripple effect with his frog peers. Being orange is open to all, so staff have been implementing Orange Frog principles within their weekly programming, which in turn is infusing positive practices into their personal habits, school routines, and the entire school environment.

Cheers to 50 Years!

Celebration of TrueNorth’s 50th Anniversary

Last week community members, agency partners and supporters joined in celebration of TrueNorth’s 50th Anniversary! The evening event consisted of delicious appetizers, yummy drinks and a lively interactive trivia style game show. Attendees will long remember the fellowship, laughter and enjoyable evening, and hopefully some TrueNorth facts too!

The room was bustling with good fun and competitive nature as teams strived to dominate the leaderboard. The trivia consisted of a variety of formats, including video and audio; and even included a trivia break for a dance off! With both participation prizes, and prizes for the winning team, fun was had by all. What a great way to celebrate 50 Years!

Summer Trip to the U.P.

Parks in Focus students experience the outdoors

Parks in Focus is an outdoor-based group-mentoring program, utilizing curriculum provided by the Udall Foundation. Run by our TrueMentors division, the purpose of Parks in Focus is to connect youth to nature through photography. Outings of various lengths take youth to Michigan State Parks, Public Lands and National Parks.

Parks in Focus recently wrapped up their summer 2022 Immersion Trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Eleven youth enjoyed five days of photography, hiking, exploring and adventure! The group visited the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Beaver Basin, Sable Point, Miner’s Castle, a Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore sunset cruise, and much more.

“Parks in Focus provides Newaygo County youth with new experiences such as camping, hiking, and photography,” said Danielle Siegel, our Youth Programs Director. “Connecting youth to the outdoors is more important than ever and the memories they make will last a lifetime.”  

reception for students and their families (which is open to the community), showcasing the students’ photos is scheduled for Tuesday, September 20th at 5:30 PM, at the TrueNorth Service Center in Fremont. The photos will also be on public display here on Wednesday, Sept. 21st during our normal business hours.

Empty Bowls is Back!

Support our Hunger Prevention Programs

Our Empty Bowls luncheon is our area’s premier hunger prevention fundraiser and collects a great deal of much-needed financial support for TrueNorth’s Hunger Prevention efforts. After two years of pandemic disruption, we are very excited to move this event to its original, sit down format this year.

Attendees will receive delicious soup, bread, and dessert, all donated by a number of local restaurants and caterers, and a one-of-a-kind, hand-decorated bowl to remind them of all the empty bowls in and around Newaygo County. Bowls are made, and/or decorated by local students, artists, and volunteers.

“We’re looking forward to having everyone back in the building this year,” said Mark Kraus, TrueNorth’s Development Director. “We know half the fun of this event is getting to sit down with our friends, neighbors and co-workers over a bowl, or two (or three!) of delicious hot soup!” We will also be bringing back our Stuff the Carts portion of the event this year, which affords attendees the opportunity to purchase bulk quantities of food staples for the food pantry. In past years, this part of the event has raised thousands and thousands of dollars!

The dates for the two Empty Bowls events are; Thursday, October 6 from 11:30 am until 1:30 pm at the TrueNorth Service Center in Fremont, and Friday, October 7 from 11:30 am until 1:30 pm at the Commission on Aging in White Cloud.