Emergencies: Dial 911  •  Health Project Mainline: 231.672.3201  •  Health Project Toll-Free: 1.866.671.4819

Posts by revel

Muskegon County May Increase Tobacco Age to 21

One West Michigan county is a step closer to changing the age to buy tobacco products.

Muskegon County commissioners say they support changing the legal purchasing age from 18 to 21 years old. In an unanimous vote Tuesday night, the commissioners approved a resolution of support. Several things still need to happen for the resolution to become an ordinance, but the coalition behind the initiative feels the move was a step in the right direction.

“It’s a lot easier for me to keep a child from smoking than it is to get an adult to quit,” Cyndi Powers, the co-chair of the Knowsmoke Coalition, told 24 Hour News 8. “Over 83 percent of all of our adult smokers came from smoking households. So if we can keep kids from becoming that smoking generation, that’s what our mission is.” Though there’s still a long way to go before the change could happen, some area tobacco shop owners already worried.

“It’s going to affect a lot of industries. It’s going to affect the tobacco industry, regular store-bought cigarettes, the roll-your-own. It’s going to affect the vapers. It’s going to affect a lot of people,” said Rustyna Brewer, who owns the Tobacco Shack in North Muskegon. She told 24 Hour News 8 a big chunk of her store’s customers are under 21. “Raising the age, that’s going to take at least a third of our customers away and that, for small businesses, hurts,” Brewer said.

Despite concerns, the Knowsmoke Coalition thinks the change will be a positive for health and not a negative for business.

“When we did smoke-free bars and restaurants, we had the same concerns. Studies have shown us we did not see a decrease in their business, so we definitely will do our part as a coalition to educate the community and we’ll make sure we make it an easy transition for everyone,” Powers said.

Right now, Ann Arbor is the only city in Michigan where 21 is the minimum age to purchase tobacco products. The city council there adopted the ordinance in August.

Learn more about Tobacco 21 here.

Increase of Tobacco-Buying Age to 21 Proposed to County Commissioners

Muskegon County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a resolution that supports raising the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products.

At a full board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 20, the commissioners unanimously voted to support an initiative called “Tobacco 21,” which aims to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21. Behind the resolution is the Knowsmoke Coalition, a Muskegon County anti-smoking group. The resolution was introduced at board committee meeting Thursday, Dec. 15. Cyndi Powers, Knowsmoke Coalition co-chair, said reducing young peoples’ access to tobacco is the group’s focus.

“Studies have shown if we keep a child from smoking until after they’re 21, the chances of them being a long-term addicted smoker is a lot less,” Powers said.

According to an update from the One in 21 initiative, which is striving to make Muskegon County the state’s healthiest county by 2021, the rate of adult smoking in the county improved to slightly below the state average. Kendall Stagg, director of safety net transformation and community health innovation for Trinity Health, said the next step is to inform the public about Tobacco 21. “Beyond 200 jurisdictions have passed this law, so it truly is a national movement, it’s sweeping the nation,” Stagg said.

California and Hawaii, in addition to 212 cities and counties in the United States, have banned tobacco sales to people younger than 21-years-old, according to the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation. In Michigan, Ann Arbor became the first city to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the from 18 to 21. An ordinance was adopted by its city council in August.

Supporters of the Ann Arbor ordinance claimed it would make it harder for teens to be introduced to nicotine or tobacco products. However, opponents argued people younger than 21-years-old could drive to other municipalities to purchase those products.

Learn more about Tobacco 21 here.

January 2017 is RESILIENCE MONTH in Muskegon!

Building a more trauma-informed community, together.

Our community recently conducted an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) survey, finding a high prevalence of childhood trauma in adults living in Muskegon County. ACEs are directly connected to a wide host of health and social problems due to the impact of toxic stress on brain development and health and social behaviors. Learn more about Resilience Muskegon, a movement to educate the community about trauma and to develop brain-based approaches that will help heal individuals and provide connections within community.

The January 2017 Resilience Month Community Calendar is a growing list of events that promote community connections, positive relationships, and skill building. Click here to learn more and to view the ACES Muskegon Community Report and Resilience Month Community Calendar.

If you have an event you would like included on this calendar contact and your event will be included in the next calendar edition.

Muskegon Area Medication Disposal Program Take Back Continues to Hit Record Numbers

The Muskegon Area Medication Disposal Program (MAMDP) held its final event of the year on Saturday, October 22nd in downtown Muskegon with over 290 participants who dropped off 989 pounds of non-controlled and 65 pounds of controlled medications. In addition to the one-day take back numbers, the team collected 665 pounds from community and Mercy Health retail pharmacies as well as 966 pounds from permanent law enforcement collection boxes.

The City of Muskegon hosted the event at the Fire Station, where participants drove through the fire department bays to drop off their unwanted materials. Several volunteers were on hand to greet participants, collect materials, and provide enforcement support. Mercy Health pharmacy volunteers helped classify the collected materials.

“We continue to provide the one-day take back events in conjunction with the national DEA events to capitalize on the public awareness of properly disposing unwanted medications,” said Carrie Uthe, Chair of the MAMDP initiative. “After each of the one-day events, our team evaluates if they are still necessary, and this last one certainly proved we should keep going.”

The MAMDP initiative was started in 2010.  Since then, they’ve host several events per year and established permanent collection boxes at all Muskegon area law enforcement departments and several local pharmacies. To date, the group has collected well over 12.5 tons of materials. The Muskegon initiative has received national attention in the 2015 National Drug Control Strategy and listed as a best practice by the White House for Community Benefit projects.

Visit the MAMDP website here.

Over 200 Zombies Walk to Raise Awareness About the Dangers of Tobacco Use

The 2016 KnowSmoke Zombie Walk was a tremendous success with over 230 participants walking through downtown Muskegon on Saturday, October 15th. The fourth annual event promoted the next smoke-free generation message while highlighting the health risks of addiction and tobacco use.
The event started at the L.C. Walker Arena where participants could take advantage of classes on how to walk and dance like a zombie and have zombie makeup applied. As the horde descended upon Hackley Park, they were educated and entertained with educational skits, music, and dancing. This year’s event had help from the Hackley Community Care Teen Health Center’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC), who planned and implemented the walk, and Mona Shores High School, who developed promotional videos shared in the community. This KnowSmoke Zombie Walk was supported by 20 different organizations, and over 50 volunteer humans made the event possible. Each year, the zombies take over downtown Muskegon in support of becoming a smoke-free generation.

Stay tuned for more information at

Enroll West Michigan Takes It to the Streets

Several members of the Enroll West Michigan team went door to door in Muskegon County sharing information about enrollment resources in Muskegon County in anticipation of the November 1st Marketplace open enrollment start date. The group held three neighborhood canvassing events in Whitehall, Wolf Lake, and the Lakeshore neighborhood in October, with volunteers distributing over 2,100 door hangers.

Enroll West Michigan was founded in the spring of 2013, with over 15 organizations devoted to ensuring West Michigan residents are covered under the expanded Medicaid or the Federal Marketplace. This year, the effort expanded into Oceana County where enrollment specialists are also available in the community.

For information on our upcoming events, please contact Liz: 231-672-3201

You can also visit us online at


Charted Shares “Being Mortal” With the Community

2014-being-mortal-headshot-credit-tim-llewellyn-1The Charted Healthcare Planning Coalition sponsored several community screening events of Being Mortal, the award winning Frontline documentary featuring Dr. Atul Gawande. The documentary not only puts a human face on end-of-life issues, delving into the real hopes of patients and families facing terminal illness and the relationships they have with their doctors; but it also explores how healthcare professional are faced with the practice of caring for the dying.

The first Being Mortal screening event, hosted by Senior Resources, was held on Thursday, October 20th at Tanglewood Park with over 40 people in attendance.

“I feel like people came away from the event inspired and motivated to talk with their families and create a plan,” said Lisa Tyler, Charted Engagement Chair and host of the Senior Resources screening event.

In addition to the events, Charted has trained professionals to have conversations with people about their own wishes, family communication techniques, and how to fill out an Advance Care Directive. The Charted coalition was recently rebranded from the “End of Life” coalition to find a name more mindful and representational of the group’s efforts in helping people chart a course of life.

The group capitalized on the nationwide screenings events of Being Mortal. The documentary was partially supported with funds from the Hospice Foundation of America. Other events were held at Brookhaven Medical Care Facility, Four Points Center for Successful Aging in Grand Haven, and Mercy Health in Muskegon.

“Our efforts really are not about the end of life,” said Tyler. “They’re about helping people embrace life to the end. We are striving to share the tools to do this.”

Learn more about Charted here. 

Make this your year to quit!

Learn. Manage. Stop. These FREE classes will help you learn how to manage cravings, thoughts, and social relationships so you can become – and stay smoke-free. The more you try, the more likely you are to succeed!


13th Annual Diabetes Conference Aims to Educate and Empower Muskegon Community

If you’re struggling to manage your diabetes, or simply wish to meet new people and learn more about diabetes, don’t miss the 13th Annual African American Diabetes Conference on Saturday, November 5.

The event, organized by the Health Project, aims to educate and empower individuals living with diabetes in Muskegon County through free health screenings, informational workshops and connection with local resources. The screenings and hands-on sessions not only address diabetes, but also several conditions that often accompany diabetes: heart disease, blood pressure, poor nutrition, hypertension, and more.

The conference’s keynote speaker, Leola Collins, is a Sanofi-Aventis AIC Champion. As an AIC Champion, Collins shares her personal story with groups of other individuals living with diabetes. Collins’ message is simple: “You can manage your diabetes while still doing the things you like to do. It’s up to you.”

Mimi Rankin, the Health Project’s Community Outreach Coordinator, is one of the main organizers of the conference every year. In her role, she ensures that those in the Muskegon community living with diabetes have control over their disease and are informed on what resources are available.

“We’re encouraging everyone to come and be a part of this annual event. Every year, you’ll learn something new about diabetes that you never knew before,” Rankin said. “It’s a wonderful day to meet other people living with diabetes and learn from their experiences.”

The conference takes place on November 5 from 10:00 am to 2:15 pm at Muskegon Heights High School (2441 Sanford St, Muskegon Heights, MI 49444). There will be several local vendors on site to answer your questions and lots of giveaways for attendees. Don’t miss this chance to connect with your community and learn how to manage your diabetes.

The event is sponsored by Mercy Health, Sanofi-Aventis, Walmart Vision Center, Hackley Community Care, Muskegon Family Care, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Blue Care Network of Michigan. For more information on the event, contact Mimi Rankin at or 231-672-3201.

Health Project in Search of Americorps Members!

AmericorpsVery recently, we learned that Mercy Health Muskegon + Health Project have been selected to participate in the Trinity Health Community Health Coordinators Program.  The program will utilize AmeriCorps members to assist individuals in our community gain access to key social service and healthcare providers/services to access their health and improve their lives.  The AmeriCorps members will serve the dual eligible population of Medicare and Medicaid.

We are recruiting individuals to fill the five AmeriCorps openings that are assigned to the Health Project.  This a year of service for AmeriCorps members.

Interested? Please visit the Trinity Health Job Portal  and use Req # 90054734 to learn more.