Susan’s Family Finds Hope

Through Children’s Christmas Programs

For single-mother Susan, the upcoming Christmas season is not the time of joy she hoped for. She recently lost her job and is struggling to find flexible full-time work where she can still take care of her eleven-year-old daughter Allie and pay all of the bills. Susan is dreading the holidays because she worries about the stress her family’s situation is having on Allie and wants to give her a sense of normalcy.

Due to compassionate supporters like you, Susan will participate in TrueNorth’s Children’s Christmas Programs. Susan is thrilled to have the opportunity to pick out gifts she knows Allie will love. She will select a game, toy, art supplies, a hat and gloves, socks and a book among other gifts for Allie to open on Christmas.

Susan says that she tries to teach gratitude to Allie and encourages her to always look on the bright side, but this year it is challenging for both of them to remain positive. She expresses how overwhelmingly thankful she is to know that despite their financial struggles this year, Allie will carry the joyful memory of this Christmas for years to come thanks to kindhearted supporters like you.

When Allie opens her gifts on Christmas, she will have both the joy of receiving the gifts her mother picked for her while also knowing she lives in a community that cares. Because of your generosity, Allie and Susan will be able to celebrate Christmas without worrying about their situation.

You can help families just like Susan’s by making a gift to TrueNorth’s Children’s Christmas Programs. Through your support, you can lighten the hearts of thousands of local children just like Allie in our community. 

With the rising cost of living, more and more families need your help. Many do not have the means to make ends meet, let alone celebrate the season. But through your gift, you can inspire hope, joy and love in our children.

You can make a real difference in the lives of our children and their families. Make a generous gift today and bring joy and stability to the children in our community. Gifts can be made by clicking right here.


Weekend Hunger

Keeping Kids Fed Through PowerPacks

Kim works part-time as a caretaker and companion to Skip, an adult who is developmentally challenged. They both regularly volunteer at TrueNorth for a variety of programs, one of which, TrueNorth’s Weekend PowerPacks, is personal for her.

Like many others, Kim has an adult child and grandchild living in her home. Her husband is off work and recently applied for disability, and with extra mouths to feed in the household, and the skyrocketing increases in the costs of living, particularly for groceries, food insecurity has been a common occurrence. Luckily, her grandson was recommended for TrueNorth’s Weekend PowerPacks program by his school staff.

Each week, he receives a big bag full of kid-friendly, shelf stable pre-packaged foods such as protein, nuts, cereal, pudding, soup, fruit, granola bars, microwaveable meals, snacks and/or other items. These are designed to fill the gap left behind over the weekend when students are not receiving meals at school.  

“He loves it… He waits every week for Thursday to come and bring that bag home, and it really makes a difference.” states Kim.

Weekly about 420 PowerPacks are distributed during the school year to students in four school districts in Newaygo County and NCRESA. The PowerPacks program has undergone a 740% increase over the past four years. 

According to Hunger Prevention & Children’s Services Director, Mike Voyt, “Hunger and Food insecurity is on the rise in our area. During the past four years, we have experienced a 200% increase in requests for food assistance through our in-house food pantry and a 275% increase in Mobile Pantry use. Thankfully our community has been with us every step of the way as we work to meet this urgent need”  

NEW Giving Catalog

A Unique Way to Give Back During the Holidays

As we approach the holiday season, picking the perfect gifts for loved ones is at the top of many people’s minds. TrueNorth is launching its Inspiring Hope Giving Catalog to provide caring gifts to everyone in our community. 

The Inspiring Hope Giving Catalog features representative items from TrueNorth’s program areas to purchase in honor of someone. Individuals can choose gifts in honor of friends and family and will receive a card to personalize and give to loved ones. You can also make a monthly gift through the catalog. These gifts will support all TrueNorth and its programs.

When you choose a gift from this catalog, you are making two caring gifts at once – one to your loved one and the other to those whose lives you’re impacting. You can nurture positive relationships, eliminate isolation over coffee, provide safety and security for the most vulnerable, distribute meals to the hungry and so much more.

To create an even greater impact, make a gift on Giving Tuesday, November 28, through the Inspiring Hope Giving Catalog. Our goal is to raise $10,000 by Giving Tuesday to help our neighbors in need.

Access the Giving Catalog here.

Karen Builds Community

One Connection at a Time

“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.”

After Karen’s husband passed away, Karen struggled with loneliness and social isolation, but because of newfound relationships and purpose through her time at TrueNorth Community Services, Karen’s overall well-being has improved.

Karen first became involved at TrueNorth by donating to its Hunger Prevention Programs. It wasn’t until later she started coming to Joker’s Wild, TrueNorth’s card playing group.

Karen continues to come to Joker’s Wild, and has also participated in the Senior Thanksgiving Luncheon and Coffee Connections. She has even invited others from her apartment complex to come to TrueNorth programs. Karen has a heart for service and connecting with others, wanting to reach out to those in the same way others have previously done for her.

Because her apartment complex does not have a gathering place, Karen and a few of her friends there have been working to get more residents involved with TrueNorth programs, particularly Coffee Connections. Karen has opened up her home to bring people together, letting TrueNorth staff use her lawn and garage for Coffee Connections to create their own gathering place.

Karen says, “I’m grateful TrueNorth has made it possible for us to include new people in our little community who we haven’t been able to reach.” Karen continues to be a light in her community as she reaches out to those who feel alone-creating lasting connections that have strengthened both her and her neighbors.


Homeless Awareness Month

Joe’s Path to a Secure and Healthy Future

“If it hadn’t been for [my caseworker] I wouldn’t be here. I’d still be on the street, point blank, I’d still be homeless,” says TrueNorth Community Services’ housing participant Joe.

November is Homeless Awareness Month – putting a spotlight on what it means for people who are homeless and how the community can help. Homelessness takes a number of different forms. From sleeping on city benches to living in tents in national forests, many of our neighbors like Joe need a hand up.

For Joe, having the support and guidance of TrueNorth made all the difference in his journey. Joe had lost his home and spent time in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation facilities for health reasons. He became connected to TrueNorth after he was found living in his storage unit with nowhere else to go.

Having step-by-step guidance from TrueNorth was critical to Joe getting housed, especially with his health conditions. Joe is legally blind and has mobility issues, needing a walker to get around safely. His caseworker helped with all of his housing applications and anything else needed. Fourteen applications later, Joe had applied for housing in as many places as he could to find his new home.

With TrueNorth’s help, Joe was able to stay in a motel for an extended period due to his vulnerable situation while he waited to hear about an apartment. Joe’s caseworker provided him with resources for long-term shelter, but Joe chose not to use them. Joe was able to pay for another three weeks in the motel on his own when he hadn’t heard back from any apartment complex. 

Unfortunately, after weeks in the motel, Joe still did not have a place to go. The motel manager helped Joe bring his belongings to his storage unit. From there, Joe went back to the hospital due to poor health. Homelessness continued to take its toll on Joe.

He was discharged that night and walked to his estranged sister’s apartment but could only stay there one night. The next night, Joe was found in the park by a kid from a local church. Thankfully, the church paid for Joe to live in a campground nearby for a month.

Joe’s caseworker continued to check in with him at the campground, making sure they were doing everything possible to get Joe safely housed. “No matter where I landed, even when I was in the streets, she found a way,” says Joe about working with his caseworker. “She came out to the campground, letting me know what was going on.”

Joe did not have anyone else in his life to help him or offer any kind of support and encouragement. But, TrueNorth made sure he didn’t feel alone. Besides working to get him housed, Joe’s caseworker spent hours in conversation with him, encouraging him not to give up. 

After months of waiting, Joe finally found housing in a local apartment that was accessible and in a safe area, giving him an added sense of security.

Besides guiding Joe through his entire housing process, TrueNorth connected him to other resources so he could live self-sufficiently. Joe now is set up to have people help clean his apartment, with his medications and read his mail to him. He also was connected with a place to get furniture for his apartment. With these resources, Joe is on his way to a healthier, more sustainable life.

Joe says, “I’m just looking forward to being able to live like a human being once more.” 

Many members of our community face similar challenges as Joe. To meet our neighbors’ needs, TrueNorth works personally with each individual–meeting them where they are and guiding them to a safer, brighter future.

TrueNorth’s top priority is to first find housing, reducing the physical and emotional effects of homelessness, and then develop a long-term plan to end homelessness for each person experiencing it.

You can get involved at TrueNorth Community Services to help our neighbors. With the weather turning colder, many people who are homeless will be living in unsafe conditions. Whether you donate, volunteer, advocate or help in any way you can, you can be confident you are offering a hand up to our neighbors in need. 

Click here to get involved and keep everyone in our community healthy and secure this month and beyond. 

Ruth’s Story

CNH Helps Ruth With Back Taxes Through MiHAF

Ruth and her significant other are both on disability and unable to work due to serious medical issues. They are the definition of a household on a fixed income. When cost of living increases got too high, they ended up in danger of losing their home due to back taxes. That’s when Lori from our CNH Division stepped in. To see a short video and hear the whole story, click here.

Schools Fight Hunger

Through Empty Bowls Initiative

This year our annual Empty Bowls fundraiser moved to include area schools. While we still had the soup luncheon at the TrueNorth Service Center, over 80 school staff joined the fight against hunger with a delivered soup lunch.

A Newaygo County educator says, “Kudos to TrueNorth for reaching out to the local schools to participate in this event…Definitely looking forward to next year to do it again and that we can help in some small way!”

School staff received a lunch of soup and bread along with a hand-painted bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in our community just like those at the in-person luncheon. This event hit home for school staff because they see the effects of food insecurity first-hand in many of their students.

To add to the school staff, an additional 125 community members came to the luncheon held at TrueNorth’s Service Center, totalling 250 supporters for the entire event. Making additional donations of over $3,300, attendees “stuffed” 22 shopping carts full of fruits, vegetables, peanut butter and other items for our on-site, self-select food pantry. In total, $16,676 was raised through donations, ticket sales, Stuff the Cart and sponsorships.

With a goal of $25,000 to support our Hunger Prevention programs, there is still a great need for support with $8,324 remaining to meet our goal. With the growing need in our community, many bowls are still empty. Our neighbors need your help to live healthy, sustainable lives. 

Mike Voyt, TrueNorth’s Hunger Prevention and Children’s Services Director, says, “During the past four years, we have experienced a 200% increase in requests for food assistance through our in-house food pantry and a 275% increase in Mobile Pantry use. Thankfully our community has been with us every step of the way as we work to meet this urgent need.”

You can help fill the remaining empty bowls in our community by making a gift today.

Coats for Kids

Keeping Families Warm This Winter & Beyond

As the weather turns colder, many children and adults in our community will not have the protection they need to stay safe and warm. Warm coats, hats and gloves are critical to the health of our families during the cold Michigan winters.

To help our neighbors, TrueNorth held its annual Coats for Kids (& Adults) coat and winter gear distribution. Compassionate supporters like you have already been giving generously to meet our community’s needs. Last week, we distributed 629 coats at the event, an increase of 130 over last year’s distribution, and will work with area schools and other organizations to distribute another 300 coats to keep our families secure this winter.

But our neighbors still need your help.

We do not receive many kid’s coats donations due to the wear and tear they usually incur. Because of this, we purchase many of these coats to continue to provide protection to the kids in our community. Cash donations are needed to fill this gap.

When you give to Coats for Kids (& Adults) today, we will use your gift to purchase coats after the winter season, when coats are on sale to make the most out of your gift. You can keep our children and adults healthy and warm this year and beyond.

We are asking you to make a caring gift to Coats for Kids (& Adults). Through your support, you will be personally offering a hand up to our neighbors in need. Give today and be confident you are ensuring the health and security of our community.

Parks in Focus

The Great Outdoors + Photography = Big Fun!

Since 2007, TrueNorth has been partnering with the Udall Foundation to offer Parks in Focus, an outdoor-based small group mentoring program that connects youth to the outdoors through technology!

Each summer, a new group of youth go on a series of day trips to local parks, learning the basics of photography, and the program culminates in a eight day immersion trip to Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. This August 12 adventurous youth camped, hiked, canoed, and explored, all while connecting with one another and capturing gorgeous shots of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Seney National Wildlife Refuge and Tahquamenon Falls.

On September 13, at 6 pm they shared some of their favorite photos via a slideshow and photo exhibit that wass open to the public at the TrueNorth Service Center. Funding for this program is made possible thanks to a grant from the Youth Advisory Committee of Fremont Area Community Foundation

Empty Bowls

Join the Fight Against Hunger

For Ethel Sluiter, having the resources from TrueNorth Community Services’ food pantry has helped her and her husband make ends meet. Both have retired and are unable to work, and because of this, they are living on a fixed income making it challenging to get by with the rising cost of living.

Ethel has come to TrueNorth’s food pantry every two weeks for the past five years. Having a reliable place to get food and other necessities like laundry soap and personal care items has helped Ethel and her husband live off of their fixed income.

With rising costs, many seniors like Ethel have struggled to get by. In just the past year, there has been an increase of seniors who have utilized TrueNorth’s Hunger Prevention services. Ethel says these services are a, “Tremendous support for people, especially the senior citizens…for senior citizens, they can’t work. This is a tremendous support for them.”

Living on a fixed income makes unexpected costs difficult to manage. Ethel says that being able to come to TrueNorth’s food pantry gives her peace of mind that if these unexpected costs come, she has access to food and essential items and won’t have to sacrifice her family’s essential needs to get by.

“I’m just thankful for the help that we do get,” says Ethel. With the resources from TrueNorth, Ethel and her husband are able to live healthy, secure lives knowing they have what they need to live and thrive.

You can help individuals and families like Ethel by giving to our Hunger Prevention programs. Your gift will provide those in need with nutritious, healthy food that will give them the sustenance necessary to lead productive lives. Without your compassionate support, many in our community would go hungry.

You can also join the fight against hunger by attending Empty Bowls. Supporters come to Empty Bowls for a simple lunch of soup and bread and take home a hand-decorated bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in our community. 

If you can’t attend Empty Bowls, you can still help meet our neighbors needs by making a generous gift.

Make your commitment to decreasing food insecurity in our community by giving today and attending Empty Bowls. Click below to make your caring gift and register for Empty Bowls.

Make a caring gift to Hunger Prevention

Register for Empty Bowls