Muskegon Community

Focus on Possibilities, Not Obstacles

by Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels

“My neighbor recently shared the story of a professor who handed out an exam to all of his students – one plain piece of paper with a black dot on it. There were no questions – nothing but a black dot. He then told them to write about what they saw. At the end of the exam he collected all the papers and started reading each one out loud. Without exception every student was focused on the black dot, what it meant, how it was positioned on the paper, etc.”

After all the reading was done, he said:

“I’m not going to grade you on this; I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same thing happens in our lives.”

He went on to explain that we all have this tendency to focus on what is wrong, what is troubling, what could happen, rather than all the good and all the possibility in our lives.

How often do you or I focus on what is wrong in Musekgon, what is troubling, what could happen, rather than all the good and all the possibility in our lives and in this community?

I reconnected with a community advocate colleague recently, one who reminded me of our work in a group called PositivelyMuskegon. That group was organized to generate community discussion over one issue, but the underlying commitment of the people in that group was to DWELL IN POSSIBILITY.

Decisions made in desperation—individual, corporate or community—are sourced on only seeing the small dot of a crisis, not the overwhelming abundance of resources—especially in other people.

The WatchmUSGOn campaign is filled with that possibility perspective.

Dwell means “to keep the attention directed.” What can we do as individuals in each of our families and professions this week to DWELL IN POSSIBILITY?

EXIT Program, Muskegon Community

WANTED: Visionary Employers

I’m being inspired by a new publication intended for donors willing to invest in work-ready programs: Clearing Obstacles to Work.

“Lack of opportunity and generational progress at the bottom of our socioeconomic pyramid are now matters of concern for many Americans. The best available antidote is to help those who are lagging become effective workers. Because… works works when it comes to curing deprivation, softening inequality, and erasing unhappiness.”

Take a look at the significant opportunity for Muskegon employers bold enough to invite ready-for-work EXIT men to join their company teams!!

Read Robert Johnson’s Article

70x7 Life Recovery - Muskegon, EXIT Program, Muskegon Community

Meaningful Work Matters

Finding dignity and purpose for your life through meaningful work is truth we can all embrace. And BtC has the opportunity to be integrally engaged as we continue to step up and help connect EXIT program participants to meaningful work.

Bridge to Communities is now also doing business as 70×7 Life Recovery – Muskegon, expanding to serve the broader post-incarcerated community. That means helping to build networks that provide jobs, train and provide work and life skills mentors, and champion successful family and financial life.

Tall order. Do-able. Exciting beyond description!

Meaningful and gainful work is crucial to so much of life’s success. A key piece of the Muskegon EXIT program is job skills for marketable, meaningful work. These men are learning relevant manufacturing skills to obtain and retain employment through one of our many partner businesses!

EXIT Program

The Fun Part of Hope

This summer, Muskegon’s Bridge Bible Church youth group is specifically embracing Christ’s admonition to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Their “Jerusalem” is Muskegon, their “home town.” With intense planning and recruiting a support team including Bridge to Communities, Kingdom Life Church, some EXIT staff and amazing community volunteers, the EXIT Carnival and Family Fun Day took place last Wednesday.

See the linked story. A great day for everyone! BtC and all the other adults were excited to see young people taking the lead, setting up and staffing the games for families and truly learning practical ways that young people can make an impact in Muskegon.

Way to go!!

Read MLive Story

Muskegon Community

Local Group Aimed at Finding Convicts Jobs Awarded $2 Million Dollar Grant in Muskegon Co.

We are learning a lot about effective prisoner re-entry programming from 70x7LifeRecovery in Holland. This is just one way 70×7 is teaming up with others at EXIT to build Muskegon.

With the issue of repeat offenders in Michigan’s prisons, millions of dollars are being funneled into Muskegon County from the federal government. The goal is to help convicted criminals get back on their feet instead of getting caught in the cycle of the judicial system.

Read Full Article

Muskegon Community

5 Ways to Help Others That Can Come Back to You Tenfold

Giving people a little more than they expect is a good way to get back more than you’d expect. — Robert Half

Ok, I’ll be honest.

This image pulled me right in. The Entrepreneur article underscores our Bridge to Communities approach to community work, so I should share it with you. (and smile when you see the picture……)

  • Great image.
  • Great thoughts.
  • Great ways for all of us to approach reclaiming Muskegon’s amazing history as a community.

Read the: 5 Ways to Help Others That Can Come Back to You Tenfold Article

Muskegon Community

What does it mean to serve our neighbors?

“The big question for us all to wrestle with is how our theology works on the ground and how it enables us to approach our world in a distinctive way that resonates with Biblical teaching and the hope of the Gospel.” (David Kim, Serving the City, Shaping the Political Community, Center for Public Justice’s 20th Annual Kuyper Lecture, Grand Rapids, May 2015)

How is our theology working in Muskegon to serve a distinct group of men? These men have children, but they also have been sentenced to jail for non-violent felonies. Can unique service to them make a difference in their lives and the lives of their families? To avoid what has seemed the ‘inevitable’ next step of a return to poor choices with greater incarceration consequences? To avoid the repetition of those same poor choices and consequences for their own children?

Yes

Serving Together is a church-based employment readiness and mentoring experience for felony-convicted individuals. Currently in Muskegon, we work with men from a new alternative sentencing program (EXIT—Empowering X-offenders In Transition) who were recently released from Muskegon County Jail. This informal mentoring environment provides the opportunity for individuals to get to know each other, develop relationships, evaluate the work ethic and ability of the participants, and identify individuals for whom we can confidently advocate for employment in the community.

Having a felony “on your record” makes employment difficult, impossible in some circumstances. Serving Together and the mentoring environment presented to potential employers directly addresses that difficult issue. We think that this service—that empowers men and mentors alike—is a community gap that Bridge to Communities and many others are bridging well.