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Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon Launches New Website

Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon County Launches New Website

Muskegon, MI – The Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon County (DFC) has launched a new website. The website will act as a one-stop shop for community members who are seeking information regarding SUD treatment, prevention, recovery, harm reduction, education, and awareness.

“I am so excited that the DFC has a new, user friendly website that brings information about substance use prevention, treatment and recovery so it is all in one place. It helps parents find facts and techniques to talk with their kids, places for community members to get involved, and information for those in need to find support and treatment options. We know that drug misuse is a community problem. The new DFC website is a tool to help our community address this issue together,” explained the Coalition for Drug Free Muskegon former chair, Kate Kesteloot Scarbrough, Executive Director at Mediation and Restorative Services.

The website highlights community organizations and services for individuals who are seeking information on treatment, detox, or recovery services. The website consists of state and local statistics and data, local agencies and community collaboratives, current legislation around substance use disorder (SUD), and educational resources.

“As an organizing body of many community initiatives, this platform will allow us to provide accurate information to our community. Utilizing a data-driven approach, this website is a collaborative effort to increase awareness on the various substance use resources available in Muskegon County,” said Muskegon County Sheriff and DFC Co-Chair Michael Poulin. “Through this tool, we are excited to have this information easily accessible to anyone with a smartphone.”

The DFC of Muskegon County houses six subcommittees that aim to educate youth and young adults on the legal, health, and social consequences of substance use. The Muskegon Alcohol Liability Initiative (ALI), Muskegon Area Medication Disposal Program (MAMDP), Knowsmoke Tobacco Reduction Coalition, and the Alliance for Marijuana Prevention (AMP) coalition were the original four subcommittees of the DFC. In 2018, the Ride with Pride Program and the Muskegon County Opiate Taskforce were added under the DFC governing body.

In 2014, the DFC and its subcommittees were nationally recognized by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) as Coalition of the Year, and were awarded the “Got Outcomes” award for producing the most outcomes in combating substance use among youth in Muskegon County.

The DFC Executive Committee, who assisted in the development of the website, consists of partnering agencies such as; HealthWest, Public Health of Muskegon County, Eastside Outpatient Services, Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office, Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office, the Health Project, Lakeshore Regional Entity, Muskegon City Police Department, and Norton Shores Police Department.

For more information about the Drug Free website, please visit:

Download the DFC Media Toolkit – FINAL
DFC Promotional Flyer 2

2020 Men’s Health Fair: Providing Screenings For Those In Need

“So many young men who do not have insurance need to be covered. You’d be surprised that younger people are having more problems today. Early detection is the best defense for prostate and chronic health issues,” stated Jimmie Fox, Community Health Worker at the Health Project. 66 men, young and old, attended the 2020 Men’s Health Fair that took place on Saturday, January 4th at Muskegon Heights High School.

Since 2002, Mimi Rankin and her outreach team have seen hundreds of African American men screened for preventable chronic diseases, providing a need in the community. “Before the Affordable Care Act, the Men’s Health Fair was the only check-up that men would receive because we offer free health screenings. Now, families and young men have access to a family physician and resources in the community,” stated Ivory Morris, Community Health Worker on the Health Project’s Outreach Team.

Screenings available this year were for diabetes, prostate, blood pressure, breathing tests, vision tests, and more.

Community vendors to provide education and testing were the Knowsmoke Coalition, Public Health of Muskegon County, HealthWest, Walmart, BlueCross Complete, Mercy Health Nurses and Doctors from the Mercy Health Lab, Hackley Community Care, and Muskegon Family Care.



YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program Now In Shelby, MI!

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program gives you the skills you need and the support you deserve to make lasting healthy lifestyle changes.

New classes begin on Tuesday, February 4th, 2020 from 5:45pm to 6:45pm at Mercy Health Lakeshore Conference Room, located at 72 S State St. Shelby, 49455

Questions? Contact Kelli at 231-722-9622 ext. 205 or email at

New Class Flyer – Shelby 2020
YMCA DPP Brochure_2019

Providing No Cost Vision Care To Those in Need

Matt, through the services and coordination of the Health Project’s Community Health Workers, was scheduled for a much-needed eye appointment with VSP® Eyes of Hope®. “I felt that the doctor did an amazing job. He was very caring and had a lot of concern with my Type 1 Diabetes. He overdid what he was supposed to do as far as the program is concerned. He dilated my eyes, did a search for any issues, and checked the overall health of my eyes. It had been several years since I have had my eyes checked because my insurance does not cover it. ”

Figure 1: Lori assists a patient with measuring and fitting his glasses on the mobile unit.

VSP, Eyes of Hope provides immediate access to eye exams and glasses for individuals in need and supports optometrists delivering eye care to those in need globally. In 2018, they celebrated the early achievement of their goal to provide access to eye care and eyewear for 2 million people in need with a commitment to reach another #MillionMore by 2020.

Figure 2: Hundreds of glasses align the shelves in the Mobile Clinic.

Their mobile eye care clinic’s program was developed from the relief response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. VSP was on the scene to help doctors, whose practices had been destroyed, quickly return to providing eye care, and to offer no-cost replacement eyewear for community members. Today, the mobile eye care clinics partner with charitable organizations and VSP network doctors across the U.S. when not deployed to communities affected by disaster.”We have traveled to Hurricane Harvey, Super Storm Sandy, tornados in Alabama, and to major fires in Paradise California. We will stay for up to 4-5 weeks at a time to provide disaster relief for those in need, and to provide employment for VSP doctors in that area of the disaster until their offices are back up and running,” stated Lori Fanning, a VSP Mobile Clinic Operations Manager. “During outreach activities, like in Muskegon, we partner with organizations that can connect us with patients in need, and from there the organization will schedule the clients to be seen”.

Each clinic is outfitted with an eye exam room and portable exam equipment to provide comprehensive eye exams, an eyewear dispensary stocked with popular frame brands, and an optical finishing lab.

Figure 3: Lori Fanning, Mobile Unit Operations Manager, measures eyeglass lenses that will be fitted into a donated pair of eyeglasses for a patient.

To view upcoming locations and dates, please visit and select Mobile Clinics. The Mobile Clinic schedule can also be found at


Connecting Community Through Nutrition

“Last week, we made tacos!” exclaimed Tom. Tom is a Support Coordinator Assistant at HealthWest. Tom and 20 other individuals signed up to participate in Muskegon Prescribes Food for Health 12-week program. “It’s a fun class! They incorporate healthy vegetables, whole grains, and fruits into meals that taste great. The idea of these classes is to teach others how to cook the same meals that we all grew up knowing and loving, but making those meals healthier for a healthier lifestyle”.

“We partner with the YMCA every other week to host the Cooking Matters curriculum. On the off weeks, we invite our yoga instructor, Diana Springstead, from Serene Yoga, to hold yoga classes,” stated Katherine Kaltz, Program Coordinator at Community enCompass.

Two years ago, the MPFH pilot program was implemented to link low-income participants with fresh fruits and vegetables from McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm. This program supplies fresh produce to a group of individuals who have been diagnosed with a chronic disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc. The program identifies health conditions that may benefit from improved nutrition. “We even see individuals who are pregnant, suffer from chronic pain, or those who attend to feel a sense of community and to connect with others,” stated Katherine.

In order for this program to be successful, the program has partners with multiple organizations in the community. Healthcare providers at Hackley Community Care write referrals for their patients to sign up for class and receive goods from the farm every time they attend class. Through the partnership with the YMCA, cooking classes are hosted every other week to educate the participants on nutrition and food preparation. Community Health Workers (CHWs) from Health Project Hub on the Lakeshore (Pathways) monitor the progress of the clients, and assist with the referral process while working alongside physician offices.

Today, the program is being supported by the Community Health Innovation Region (CHIR), and is a recipient of the Community Benefit Board Initiative Grant, organized by the Health Project.

The classes are held once a week for two hours for 12 weeks throughout the year. “Attendance is Key!” explained Katherine. “We reward those who have finished all 12 classes with a certificate of completion and a large kitchen prize.” Think crockpot or Instapot. “Every week, participants get to leave with an incentive for attending the class. Today, we gave away kitchen scissors, spatulas, and every participant will walk away with a bag full of vegetables from the farm.”

The program’s long-term goal is to collaborate more with physicians and doctors’ offices to become more involved in the program. “We would like for doctors to promote more of a holistic approach by supporting nutrition-based initiatives. By increasing access to healthy foods and education around cooking, we can benefit a patient’s overall health.”
“I think the program connects people who are yearning for more knowledge of eating healthier and cooking healthier meals. We are all on this health journey together. Food is universal. It does not matter what skin tone you are, or religion—people can connect with food. If you can have a meal together, and share the same space, you both will discover that you have the same common ground.”

The Muskegon Prescribes Food for Health Project has wrapped up for the 2019 year, but those who are interested in the 2020 year may connect with Katherine at

Join Community enCompass for the Taste and See 2019 Tour on Monday, September 23rd at 5pm. TASTE & SEE 2019 is a progressive dinner tour and fundraiser through Muskegon’s Core-City Neighborhoods. Guests get to see firsthand the great things happening in Muskegon and meet the neighbors who are making the difference, with food provided by downtown’s premier establishments.

Tickets may be purchased here:


Education on the Importance of Having a Plan for Advanced Healthcare Boosted by a $25,000 Grant

July 2, 2019 – Muskegon, MI – If you became unable to make decisions about your healthcare, would anyone know your wishes? How will you make sure that healthcare providers know what type of treatment you want – or don’t want?

“After more than 20 years working in health and human service settings, I have witnessed many unfortunate ethical dilemmas that families and health care providers face when they are forced to make decisions for patients who can’t communicate for themselves,” says Luke Reynolds, Executive Director at LifeCircles-PACE.

It’s a common problem with an easy solution. It just takes a little planning, and the staff at Harbor Hospice and Harbor Palliative Care can help. The organization has partnered with the Charted Healthcare Planning Coalition (Charted) to ensure, through outreach and education, that adults in the region know how to make a plan for their healthcare needs.

To carry out that work, Harbor Hospice recently received a $25,000 grant from the Health Project Community Benefit Board.

“We are grateful and excited about the grant, which will make it possible for us to continue to educate members of the community on the importance of advance care planning so each individual’s healthcare wishes can be honored,” said Lisa Cummins, president and CEO of Harbor Hospice and Harbor Palliative Care. “Planning in advance means family members don’t have to make difficult decisions for someone close to them, without knowing what they want.”

“This grant will allow Charted Healthcare Planning Coalition to equip people with the education and tools necessary to ensure everyone’s wishes are known,” adds Reynolds, who is also co-chair of Charted.

There is no cost to prepare advance directives. Those requesting help can schedule an appointment with Andrea Nofsinger, Charted Coalition Coordinator, at 231-728-3442.

In addition to Harbor Hospice, and Life-Circles-PACE, Charted’s community partners include Affinia Health Network, Hackley Community Care, Mercy Health, Muskegon Community College, Muskegon Community Health Project, North Ottawa Medical Group, and Senior Resources of West Michigan.

KnowSmoke Educates Community on the Vaping Epidemic

KnowSmoke Coalition members and Tobacco Cessation Specialist, Cyndi Powers, presented to over 100 Muskegon Rotary Club members on Thursday, July 11th. Cyndi presented on the vaping epidemic happening across the country and what they local Muskegon Coalition, KnowSmoke, is doing to combat the issue.

“When 1 in 4 high school students in Muskegon County are vaping, it’s extremely important that they are aware of the legal, health, and social consequences,” said Cyndi Powers. Since 2010, the KnowSmoke Coalition’s mission has been to educate the community on the dangers of smoking, which now includes vaping.

Vaping is defined as using a battery-operated device to heat up a liquid into an aerosol that can be inhaled. Some of the harmful chemicals used in “e-juice” include diacetyl, benzene, propylene glycol, and nicotine. Due to the high amounts of nicotine being delivered through e-cigarettes, young users are finding it difficult to kick the habit. During the presentation, Powers explained, “We are finding that the majority of parents and students aren’t aware of the harmful chemicals in e-cigarettes or that they contain nicotine.”

The coalition has spent the last year educating themselves about vaping and sharing what they have learned with the community. In partnership with the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District and other local organizations, the coalition will be launching their “Vaping Toolkit” into local area schools. The toolkit will include educational materials to inform students about dangers of vaping and resources to help schools continue this education.


If you would like to get involved or learn more about KnowSmoke, visit our Facebook page or our website.



Meet the Health Project Board Chair, Rem Sprague

Q. What is your role at Mercy Health? How does that position you to be influential in your work at the Health Project?

A. I am the Chief Medical Officer at Mercy Health Muskegon. I oversee the Medical Staff Office, Graduate Medical Education, Oncology, Hospital-Based Physician Contracting, Physician Recruitment Support, Clinical Informatics, Medical Staff Quality and I serve as a member of the Senior Leadership Team. As Chair of the Health Project board and SLT member, I serve a liaison function between health system leaders and the community benefit activities of the Health Project. As a clinician, I help orient Health Project activities to the medical needs in our community.

Q. How long have you been on the Health Project board?

A. Since its inception in 1993.

Q. What is your favorite part of being on the Health Project board? Do you have a favorite service or program the Health Project offers? Why?

A. I enjoy interacting with our colleagues at the Health Project, participating in the Diabetes Summit, Men’s Health Fair and other community activities. It has been an enlightening experience to learn about my community from the perspectives of our colleagues, residents and clients. I am proud of all our programs, but particularly of Health Project Hub. Our ability to empower our clients and help them overcome barrier to health improvement has been among the most rewarding of my experiences.

Q. What is your favorite part of living in Muskegon?

A. I was drawn to the area by Lake Michigan, having grown up on the “big lake” in Michigan City, Indiana. Our family has lived here since 1981 and has developed a deep affection for the people, the legacy, the resilience and the year-round benefits of living here. I am excited to see the resurgence that has characterized Muskegon’s history over the past century. I am proud to be a leader of an organization that respects and cares as deeply for Muskegon as I do.

Q. If there was one thing that you could change that would make our community healthier, what would it be?

A. We need to continue our efforts to educate all our residents and help them achieve their maximal potential. We need to enhance our efforts for diversity and inclusion and unify our various communities so all of us benefit from the growth and development happening all around.


Highlighting Members of STATS: Straight Talk About Tough Stuff

Jennifer LaChapelle, STATS Coordinator at the Health Project.

Q. How long have you been involved with STATS?

A. I have been the STATS Coordinator for one year in August. The program has been around for 25+ years.

Q. What is your favorite part about STATS?

A. My favorite part is getting to know the high school students who go out and present. They all have their own unique reason for taking the pledge to stay Free from Sex, Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco. It is wonderful to get to know their personalities and help them express themselves.

Q. Why do you think it’s important to educate your friends and fellow students on substance use and abuse?

A.  This is effective because it is peer education. It is high schoolers presenting to middle schoolers with the message that not everyone is doing it. This is key for a lot of students because social norming tells them that “everyone is doing it so they may as well, too. What can really happen?” For a lot of students, breaking the social norm helps them to say “no” and just walk away. For a lot of our presenters, this is a very personal topic, as they know someone who has been effected negatively by substance abuse.

Q. What are a couple things you learned from STATS? Any takeaways?

A. Students learn the 4-Way stop – say no with confidence, change the subject, reverse the pressure and just walk away. They also learn comeback lines and how to set personal boundaries. Presenters can also give personal talks on how they have been effected by abuse and how they cope with it. The key here is to empower the middle schoolers to be their own voice of what they want for their future.

Sarah Yonkman, STATS Team Lead.

Sarah is also employed at Mercy Health where she works as a registered nurse in the emergency department.

Q. How long have you been involved with STATS?

A. I have been a STATS team leader for one year and merging into my second.

Q. What is your favorite part about STATS?

A. My favorite part about STATS is the time I get to spend with the high school kids working toward educating our future young adults about ways to avoid peer pressure and teach them it’s okay to not follow “what everyone else is doing”.  As an adult now, I want these kids to know how respectable it is to say, “No” and love themselves more; to understand they are worth it.  When I say “worth it”, I mean staying free from emotional and physical harm they can unintentionally cause themselves by entering into unhealthy relationships or getting involved with substances—something the “adult me” wishes the “younger me” would have understood.

Q. Why do you think it’s important to educate your friends and fellow students on substance use and abuse?

A. I work in the ER department and see the effects of substance abuse daily.  I see young adults and older adults who have entered into a world of substance abuse, some that have young children, some who are distant from their families due to the hold the addiction has on them. As a mother of 3 kids; ages 22, 11 and 9, I want more for them.  My own family has several adults who have become addicted to a substance of some kind.  I want to help be their chance to see what is out there and help them develop the confidence to say, “No” and to know they are worth it.  I also feel the same way about my high school students and the students they go in front of. I have a great respect for the high school students that I worked with last year.  It’s hard to be “that guy”; to go up in front of peers and practice what they speak; to remain free from unhealthy relationships and free from substances.

Q. What are a couple things you learned from STATS? Any takeaways?

A. If there is one student that we can reach with our message, it’s worth it.

Kenna Grant , 12th grade student and member of STATS

Q. How long have you been involved with STATS?

A. This will be my fourth year with STATS.

Q. What is your favorite part about STATS?

A. My favorite part about STATS is the amazing opportunity we are given as peers, and role models, to teach these kids how to make good choices, to live a free and healthy life not only through our performances, but also by example.

Q. Why do you think it’s important to educate your friends and fellow students on substance use and abuse?

A. I think that it’s important to educate my peers on substance use and abuse because too often today we are taught by the world and social media, and not by those who love us and have the best intentions at heart. This often can be misleading and so confusing. By teaching lifestyle based on freedom, the best of intentions are at heart.

Q. What are a couple things you learned from STATS? Any takeaways?

A. STATS has been a blessing to me. I have learned so much from this program. Personally, I have always stayed out of trouble, made the right choices and surrounded myself with people who also make the right choice. I am so very thankful and blessed that I was so lovingly taught this lifestyle by my parents, family, and church. I also now know this is not the case for everyone. Not only do people struggle making the right choice, but many of them either don’t have the tools and support to make the right choice, or even can’t tell what that choice is.

Q. What are your hobbies outside of STATS?

A. Outside of STATS, some of my favorite hobbies are playing volleyball, baking, and being around family and friends. I am also involved in IMPACT, varsity volleyball, PALs, ski club, men’s volleyball volunteer coach, Harvest student ministries, Wednesday Warriors, STATS advisory board, youth volleyball volunteer, and Harvest infant volunteer.

Livability Lab – Muskegon’s 100 Day Challenge


On September 10th, the Community Health Innovation Region (CHIR) will convene Livability Lab, Muskegon’s 100-Day Challenge, a day-long Summit. We are calling together individuals and groups from every sector throughout our county to mobilize around a common vision. We have chosen as our vision the ability for all residents to have the opportunity to achieve economic self-sufficiency to ensure that our community will not only thrive, but that all residents and families have the opportunity to individually prosper. It is, an audacious vision.

The United Way’s new ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed) report and Mercy Health’s recent Community Health Needs Assessment, reflect that fully 45% of local residents either live in poverty or struggle daily to meet basic needs while working multiple jobs. The Summit is an opportunity to come together and not only identify but initiate strategies that confront barriers to upward mobility and well-being for our residents and growth for local business and enterprise. There are many factors: educational achievement, health, transportation and others that have separated us as a community.


The 100-Day Challenge is a best practice approach used to initiate community change. The process aligns around a specific vision and then identifies all of the various factors that get in the way of achieving that vision. Our goal is to engage a diverse group of local stakeholders and residents who will pursue solutions to these barriers. The barriers themselves are identified by reviewing local data and engaging in community conversations.

Teams will be formed around individual challenges that emerge from Summit discussions. These teams will work together to define, design and take action to achieve ambitious and measureable results. The Challenge process allows participants to create innovation – to use the opportunity to address issues that we know exist but too often don’t have the time or ability to confront. Each team will be asked to schedule a bi-weekly series of rapid-response meetings over the following 100 day period after the Summit concludes. During the 100 days, groups will target solutions and initiate strategies to address their chosen barrier issue (root cause). Each team will receive staff support as well as some resources to assist their process.

At the completion of the 100-day period, we will reconvene in December for a second one-day Summit Celebration event. At this event, each action team will be asked to report out on their progress. The Muskegon CHIR will be inviting local and state funders and investors to join us at the second Summit – particularly where the goals of funders or investors might align with the strategies teams bring forward.


Muskegon is going through a transformative period that presents an important opportunity for all of us to lean in during this important time of change. The 100-Day Challenge:

  • Takes on issues that get in the way of community-wide success;
  • Creates a safe, community led “innovation zone” to experiment with new ideas and get results!
  • Creates energy, capacity and momentum so we are able to tackle the big issues;
  • Supports the emergence of new leaders for our community;
  • Deepens local collaboration to achieve a greater good.


To support the 100-Day Challenge, CHIR leadership we will be working again with the Michigan State-based ABLe Change design team. From launch to report-out, our staff will work with you to support team processes and report meeting notes into and through a common framework. Throughout the process we will be identifying data and also best national practices to help each team move forward. Team members will also receive an ABLe-developed participant launch guide as well as other materials to inform the process and help your team achieve success.


Want to get involved?

  • Now and through the summer we will be busy interviewing stakeholders and residents about the process – invite us to a staff meeting or let’s talk one-on-one about the Challenge. We are anxious to answer questions and to get your input on barriers that you’ve identified and possible ideas for change!
  • Complete a CHIR Vision Feedback Questionnaire (see how to information below).
  • Share data – do you have a survey or material that you believe could inform our process? Please share!
  • Circle the date and come out and participate in the launch in September.
  • Join a challenge team or invite a member of your staff or colleagues to participate.
  • Lead a challenge team. Do you have an idea – an innovation that fits the goal? We are looking for seed teams to start the process early or, for individuals interested in leading a team.

Want to know more about the Livability Lab and how you can get involved and complete a survey?   Please reach out to Vondie 231.571.3889, or Michael Ramsey 231.672.3234 with any and all questions – we look forward to working with you!

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our services

The Health Project provides a number of direct services to eligible members of the community. These services include the following programs:

Service Highlight

2020 Men’s Health Fair: Providing Screenings To Those In Need

The Health Project held the 2020 African American Men’s Health Fair on Saturday, January 4th at Muskegon Heights High School from 9am to 1pm. Diabetes, Prostate, Blood Pressure, Breathing Test, Vision Screenings and more were offered to over 66 men who attended the event.


what’s happening

Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon Launches New Website

Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon County Launches New Website

Muskegon, MI – The Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon County (DFC) has launched a new website. The …

2020 Men's Health Fair: Providing Screenings For Those In Need

“So many young men who do not have insurance need to be covered. You’d be surprised that younger people are having more problems today. Early detection is …

YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program Now In Shelby, MI!

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program gives you the skills you need and the support you deserve to make lasting healthy lifestyle changes.

New classes begin on Tuesday, …

Shout! Out

Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon Launches New Website

The Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon County has launched a new website, which highlights community organizations and services for individuals who are seeking information on treatment, detox, or recovery services. The website consists of state and local statistics and data, local agencies and community collaboratives, current legislation around substance use disorder (SUD), and educational resources.


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