We dodged it as long as we could this year, but Winter has taken a firm grip now and we're all back to heating our homes.  There are a multitude of ways people heat places, but all come with some risk.  Yes, there is a risk of fire from anything that generates heat, but if there is combustion involved, there is a chance there could be carbon monoxide.

It's hard to believe, but it's been 10 years since Dancing With the Local Stars come on the scene in Muskegon and in those 10 years, the amount of money raised for area food banks is staggering.  Dancing With the Local Stars is an event put on by the Womens Division Chamber of Commerce in Muskegon and in the 9 years they have been going on, over $755,000 dollars have been raised to help supply area food banks.  Over 3/4 of a million dollars going to help those who suffer food insecurity in the Muskegon area is a monumental endeavor in itself, but Dancing With the Local Stars has gone on to do so much more.  

How bout a good old fashion chili cook off to warm up a cold winters weekend?  You'll have the chance to stop in to one December 9th at Tiffany Woods Apartments in Roosevelt Park.  Everett Hawkins is part of the staff over at Tiffany Woods now, but he's got quite a past in the area working with local bands, bars and booking gigs for different places and he and the staff at the complex thought it was high time to throw open the doors and invite friends and neighbors over for some fun, food and a chance for chili masters to win some pretty cool prizes. 

It's not everyday that Muskegon get's a "Social Entrepreneur" in town.  Just what is a "Social Entrepreneur" you might ask?  Well, it's a title that someone gets when they see something that needs to be fixed and takes a grass roots idea and turns it into a national platform to help others see more in themselves. They also take their experience, strength and hope and put it to work so that others might be able to avoid some of the pitfalls in life that have been experienced and that the next generation can be stronger, bolder and ahead of the game when it comes to their life.  

Molly Barker came to Muskegon today.  Molly is the founder of the Girls on the Run program.  It began with 13 girls in her neighborhood and has grown to empower girls across the nation to believe in themselves.  The mission is to "inspire young girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun experience based curriculum which creatively integrates running."  Girls on the Run's vision is to "create a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams."  I personally got involved with Girls on the Run a few years ago when I was asked to be the emcee at their event in Muskegon and saw immediately that it was something I wanted to be a bigger part of.  Our young people are our future...they are our greatest investment and it's up to all of us to do what we can.  seeing the faces of these girls on race day, crossing the finish line...it's an experience beyond any price point.

After founding Girls on the Run, Molly has gone on to other social platforms working in Washington DC for a while on the Bipartisan Policy Center and now, she's founded The Red Boot Way.  The Red Boot Way "creates compassionate communities by teaching a practice of intentional communication where self awareness, connections and trust grow."  Molly was in town to speak to the Rotary lunch and I was invited down a little early to meet this inspiring woman and talk a little about Girls on the Run and her new Red Boot Way.  Something all of us could use a little more insight on.  Take a listen.

It was a great pleasure and honor to meet Molly.  Thanks too to Susan Gifford and Lori Burgess for the local arm of Girls on the Run for the opportunity to sit down and talk with such an icon when it comes to strengthening  others and leading by example.  Miracles happen every day.  They happen in every town, and they happen by the work of people who see a reason to make a difference in the lives of those around them.  Some are big, some are small....but one thing is for certain, they all impact someone.  Molly's miracle grew to touch thousands of girls and their families...don't think that what you've got stirring in the back of your mind can't do the same thing.  To learn more about The Red Boot Way visit http://theredbootway.org/.  My thanks to Molly for her time today and her inspiration to so many. Visit Girls on the Run of Grand Rapids and Muskegon .

Muskegon, we're in for a treat.  We love our food and restaurants that offer a great value and unique tastes are starting to pop up more and more in the area.  Foodies can rejoice on December 1st as we're set for the opening of a very unique and very good new endeavor called Gouleese.  Yes, it's a goulash restaurant!  Now, before you go thinking "a goulash restaurant?!?" let me tell you a little something.

Holiday travels coming up?  If you are heading out always check the Muskegon Airport for your travel plans.  First off, let's just talk about the simplicity and convenience of it.  It's right here.  There's no long drive, there are no long lines, there are no exorbitant parking fees and the overall pressure of flying drops by about 80% with the ease and friendly approach of the staff at the Muskegon County Airport. 

Time for a little history lesson as well as some holiday fun!  The Greater Muskegon Women's Club has been operating continuously since 1890!  Over 100 years of work toward a better community, empowerment for women, education, philanthropy, and social functions right in the heart of Muskegon.  Like any club, there have been high points and some where there has been a bit of a struggle, but it's stayed alive and intact all these years and preserved a piece of history in Muskegon that all should be proud of. 

Did you know that there is only six weeks which is forty-seven days and only seven Fridays until Christmas. If your anything like my husband you like to wait the day before but if you're like me you like to have it all done weeks if not at least a month before hand. Today I am here to tell you how you can get a little more of that holiday shopping done while helping out a very deserving family.

If you're not familiar with the topic, let me tell you this....if we forget history, we're doomed to repeat it. 

With that being said, I Never Saw Another Butterfly is a collection of poetry and are of young Jewish children who were held at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in World War 2.  The title comes from a poem by a boy named Pavel Friedman who was incarcerated there and later, killed at Auschwitz.  Most of the contributors of the book were killed before the camp was liberated.

Dog N Suds is a classic, iconic brand of Americana.  At one point, every small town near and far it seemed had a Dog N Suds in it where families could enjoy a nice night out with car hop service, one of the world famous window hanger trays with the food and the delicious root beer served up after you pulled up in the car and pushed the button on the back lit menu under the awning with the glow of the neon close by and the sound of music filling the air from the overhead speakers!  It's a memory that believe it or not, still manages to survive in Muskegon and Montague much to the thanks of a guy who grew up in drive in life, David Hosticka.

We're in a very exciting time for change in Muskegon.  Things are coming quick and it's a lot more than just a lot of talk around town.  The evidence is everywhere, and the proof is in the cranes in the sky, the hammers being swung and the overall mindset of Muskegon people who are just sick of the status quo.  I have said on more than one occasion that Muskegon is about to boom, some have argued it already is but my gut tells me it's just the beginning.