Experience Mentoring

During National Mentoring Month

Mentorship is a cornerstone of community and a relationship toward brighter futures. Launched in 2002, National Mentoring Month was created to amplify, encourage, and strengthen mentorship for young people. A month-long celebration, the goals of National Mentoring Month are to:

  • Raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms
  • Recruit individuals to mentor, especially in programs that have waiting lists of young people
  • Promote the rapid growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations to engage their constituents in mentoring

We are hosting our Experience Mentoring event on Saturday, January 21 from 10 am – 12 pm at the main Service Center in Fremont. Anyone, youth and their families, or adults interested in volunteering, is welcome to attend. Join us for light refreshments, a facilitator-led canvas-painting project, and the experience of being a mentor or mentee. Anyone interested in becoming a mentor to a Newaygo County child, or to RSVP for the Experience Mentoring event, should contact Danielle Siegel, Youth Programs Director, at dsiegel@truenorthservices.org or (231) 924-0641, ext. 109.

Rural Homelessness

In the Blizzard of 2022

What if you had to face a blizzard while you and your family were living in an unheated camper, or worse, a tent down a long two-track on state land? For the homeless in Newaygo and surrounding counties, this scenario became terrifyingly real last month. As our housing staff worked frantically, temporarily housing the most vulnerable, Lisa Reinecke, our Housing Data, Grant Compliance and Training Manager said this, a day before the blizzard hit;

“We have emergency motel money we can utilize in all four counties (Lake, Mason, Newaygo and Oceana), but the biggest obstacle with this money is all the work it entails for grant compliance (about a 1-2-hour process with each person) and the amount we can get reimbursed per night ($85 per night). We only have two motels in Newaygo County that will work with us, one of which is almost at capacity, with only one room left. If we had unrestricted money, we could utilize other hotels in the area.” 

To help prevent this situation from happening again, we have set up a dedicated donation funding stream for Homeless Prevention Services. By simply visiting here and making a secure, online donation, we will have a reserve of unrestricted funds our Homeless Prevention staff can use as needed.

30 Days Around the World

With our Engage! Program

For the month of November students in our Engage! Out-of-School Time Program at Hesperia Middle School journeyed across the globe to learn about different countries and cultures. Activities ranged from Bollywood dancing, making sushi, and Turkish art, among many others, and also included guest speakers! Youth sampled food from other countries, practiced different art styles of various cultures, and played games to learn about landmarks around the world.

Students were able to keep track of their travels in their personalized passports, writing what they learned and adding their stamp. In total we covered 19 countries: Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mali, Ireland, United Kingdom (England and Scotland), Turkey, Germany, and Burkina Faso. Ask your student about their favorite country and activity!

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 mkraus@truenorthservices.org.

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!