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Sinclair Grill takes ice cream on the road with two wheels and a sidecar

Cruisin' time is here. Greg Krantz knows that.
So come June, he takes to the road to cater weddings, open houses and outdoor parties with a favorite summertime dessert: ice cream.
As the owner of Sinclair Grill in Webberville, Krantz complements the fixings of his roadside diner with ice cream delivery and cart services. And his vehicles of choice? A Harley Davison equipped with refrigerated sidecars, a mid-century ice cream truck, and bicycle freezer carts—all pack with frozen favorites from the Michigan State University Dairy Store.
"This is the time of year when we heavily cater ice cream," says Krantz who recently became the area's only authorized vendor of MSU ice cream, cups and sandwiches. "We also have two malt machines and we do sundae bars for parties. We'll do most anything ice cream for a party or catered event."
Krantz says caters about 50 to 75 ice cream events over the summer, with business on the rise. He also caters breakfast, lunch and occasional dinner at nine companies in Greater Lansing, reaching as far down the road as Delta Township.
Krantz carries 16 flavors of MSU ice cream in his 800-square foot restaurant that's a reclaimed gas station diner that dates back to the 1930s. Krantz has 102 items on the menu that spans breakfast, lunch and dinner with standard American fare like hamburgers, hot dogs, French and chili fries, steaks, pulled pork, eggs and omelets, and some pasta.
Located at 345 W. Grand River in Webberville, the Sinclair Grill was among the hundreds of tiny roadside grills that dotted America's two-lane highways before freeways divided the landscape. Krantz bought the diner about three years ago and undertook a seven-month renovation to return the road-stop glory to the little restaurant.
The Sinclair Grill seats 49 inside and 49 outside on the summertime patio, and employs nine people. The interior is decked out with gas station and car memorabilia, with checkered tablecloths, chrome, and red and sea foam green accents for a 50s feel.
"We have a lot of motorcyclists and hot rodders who come to our diner," says Krantz, a confessed car and motorcycle enthusiast. "A lot of car clubs cruise here, like the model A or corvette club. They'll show up and fill the lot. It's like going back in time to the 40s or 50s."
Source: Greg Krantz, Owner, Sinclair Grill
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Go Greener plows the way toward expanded business

Grass grows. Spaces get dirty. Snow falls. Surfaces need repair. And that's where Go Greener comes in.
As long-time friends and experienced property managers, Russ Chambers and Mike Demmer launched the multi-tiered facilities management company in 2009. Starting with just three employees, Go Greener has grown to employ 30 staff, with plans to hire a half dozen more in 2014.
"It feels like we started a family here with our business," says Chambers. "We're involved in our community, too, and try to give back by sponsoring events at places like the YMCA and Peckham as much as we can."
Chambers and Demmer blended 20 years of combined experience to form a one-stop facilities management company that provides lawn care, janitorial and snow removal services, as well as asphalt repair and maintenance. The company's more than 100 clients includes schools, government offices, public buildings, manufacturing plants, financial institutions and retail centers, as well as a handful of residential customers.  
"If you're a business owner and you use several companies for all these services, we can consult and provide you with competitive pricing for all three," says Chambers. "We also have that small business feel, and our customers say our response time is great."
Go Greener's base of operations consists of a 5,000 square foot office building and nearly 70,000 square feet of warehouse space on Lansing's north side. The company's fleet is branded with the company's logo and dispatch with professionally clad staff for all services.
Chambers says that Go Greener's lawn services grew 45 percent over last year. The company's janitorial services also climbed by 40 percent, while snow removal piled up a whopping 60 percent from the previous season. Chambers admits part of the growth was due to the exceptionally rough winter, and added that the company went through 1,000 tons of bulk road salt that they shared with other businesses.
"I truly think our growth is from the service we provide our customers," says Chambers. "Word of mouth has helped, we have good name recognition. But when people say 'these guys do a good job,' that's the best."
Source: Russ Chambers, Owner, Go Greener
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

New tenant to transform legendary Creole Gallery into dining, drinking and music venue

Although the real estate has changed hands, the new tenant coming into the space of the 15-year-old Creole Gallery plans to carry forward the cultural vibe that made the space a symbol of Old Town's renaissance.
Zoobie's Old Town Tavern co-owners Sam Short, Aaron Matthews and Al Hooper signed a lease the first week of June with new building owner Jamie Schriner-Hooper to open The Creole—a combination restaurant, cocktail bar and "listening room" in the 2,250-square foot space at 1218 Turner St. The new establishment, Short says, will pay homage to Creole Gallery founder Robert Busby by retaining the name, artistic sensibilities, and character and aesthetics of the interior.
"There's just a fantastic southern feel about the place," says Short. "It has that Louisiana, French-revival feel, and the sound and acoustics are great."
The Creole, Short says, will be a place to go to enjoy cocktails, beer and wine, and 50s-style punches, as well as gumbo-style cuisine. Live jazz, blues, funk, and roots rock acts will perform on the original built-in stage from Busby's gallery. Open space will be transformed into a dining area with a 100-person capacity. Other new features will include a full-service bar and a behind-the-scenes kitchenette, overseen by Johnson & Wales trained chef Dan Konopnicki.
Short says The Creole is slated to open in mid-August with a staff of 15 people. In addition to live music, he says the venue will also feature rotations of art by local and regional artists.
"We want to continue to build this unique dining and drinking culture to compliment the already spectacular art and bohemian vibe," says Short. "We're driven to make Old Town the progressive core of dining and drinking in the Lansing area."
Source: Sam Short, Co-Owner, The Creole
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

H2O Hydroponics gets planted in second Okemos location

Stan Havens will assure you it's the way to grow.
As the owner and partner of H2O Hydroponics, Havens can supply most everything needed for starting or maintaining an indoor garden. And most recently, he's brought those supplies to Okemos, opening a second location based on the success of his original Delta Township store.
"We knew there would be a real big demand for hydroponic gardening out here," says Havens of the new store that opened in March at 4706 Okemos Road. "We’re seeing a lot of people from MSU and horticulture students coming in for equipment and supplies."
Havens, his brother Bryan, and business partner Jon Olson launched H2O Hydroponics three years ago in their home turf of Waverly. The store, he says, was so popular that there was little doubt they would experience similar success in Meridian Township.
The 2,500-square foot space is stocked full of hydroponic gardening equipment including air pumps, reservoirs, lights, hoods and lamps; nutrients, natural pesticide solutions, and growing mediums; as well as trimmers and accessories such as garden soft ties and trellises. He also sells trays for herb gardens and is planning to bring in a full line of organic seeds.
"We cater to every day dirt gardeners, too," says Havens. "But indoor gardening is our main concept."
Havens attributes the growth spurt in hydroponic gardening to people's increasing interest in growing their own food and knowing where their food is coming from.
"Plus, it's just a really fun hobby," says Havens who grows as assortment of vegetables at home. "And you can grow year-round. That's the best part about it."
The Okemos store employs two employees, while the Waverly location employs 10.
"We're hoping as business grows that we can hire more local talent," says Havens.  
Source: Stan Havens, Owner/Partner, H2O Hydroponics
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Group of friends decant dreams for new Portland microbrewery

What was a downtown theater in one life and a pottery shop in another will become what owners say is the only microbrewery between Lansing and Grand Rapids when The Gallery Brewery opens this June in Portland.
The Gallery, says operations manager Hannah Green, will be a warm, comfortable place where friends can gather to enjoy seasonal craft beers, wine, and non-alcoholic brews like cream soda and root beer—all made onsite. Patrons, too, can enjoy a healthy version of bar food including flat bread pizza, baked chicken, hummus, salads, and baked cauliflower with buffalo sauce.
"We want everything to be and feel local," says Green. "We're in a farming community and we want to draw from that. It's something we're really working on."
Green, her husband Jared, friends Joe, Neil and Al Mathesin, and building owner Rush Clement reflected on their hopes and aspirations one night and came up with the idea for Portland's new brewpub.
"We've all been brewing for a couple years now and have a real passion for it," says Green. "We just got to talking and liked the whole concept of The Gallery."
The Gallery takes it name from the local artists the brewpub will feature each month. Green says they already have eight months worth of artists lined up, and are working to secure musicians to play once or twice a week on a built-in stage.
Green says all club owners have been pitching in to renovate the 2,500-square-foot-space that will retain its high-ceilinged, industrial feel. Seating areas will feature couches, coffee tables and a bar for a total capacity of 80.
"I have a big family, so between all of us we are handling the renovations ourselves," says Green. "It's been a lot of fun."
The Gallery will employ six people for starters with more added as business grows.
"This is right up my alley," says Green who works in the hospitality field. "I like meeting new people. I like serving food and drinks. It's fun to be able to create an experience for a customer coming in. That's what we plan to do."
Source: Hannah Green, Operations Manager, The Gallery Brewery
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

New Vision Natural Health charts road to wellness from Charlotte to Okemos

Nikki Bowles believes that when people know better they feel better.
And as a board certified naturopathic doctor, lifestyle coach and licensed esthetician, Bowles helps people make healthier choices, find balance in everyday life, and facilitate the natural healing process.
Since early 2009, Bowles has coordinated and provided a combination of holistic health practices through New Vision Natural Health in Charlotte. And as her practice grew, she knew she was ready to expand, and to offer her blend of services through an established facility in Okemos.
In May 2014, Bowles opened a second office for her naturopathic health practice inside the Institute for Bioenergy Studies at 4655 Dobie Road. She'll be there two to three days a week, she says, providing services that involve natural health consultations, bodywork therapies, energy healing techniques and Feng Shui adjustments.
"We can provide guidance and recommend things that can help you feel better," says Bowles, who also coordinates services with several independent holistic practitioners that includes a sustainability specialist, doula, intuitive Reiki master and holistic music advocate. "We can also address what might be putting you out of balance."
Bowles says that a variety of factors can create imbalances in the body and affect the natural ability to heal. Those factors might include poor nutrition, structural problems, negative thought, emotions or environmental toxins. Bowles works to gather information on a person's lifestyle and habits, and suggests combinations of therapies that can help. 
Bowles says she is looking to expand her network of practitioners as well as to open a store or co-op that showcases various naturopath practitioners, products and services.
"It would be an additional doorway to empowering people to heal themselves," says Bowles. "It would be another way to help you connect with people who can help you on your path to wellness."
New Vision Natural Health will be hosting an open house at their new Dobie Road facility on May 31, beginning with a free open group meditation from 11 to noon. The community is invited to come and meet practitioners, see the facility, and learn about products and services from 1 to 4 p.m.

Source: Nikki Bowles, N.D., Owner, New Vision Natural Health
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Kayak shop makes splash on the Grand River

Trey Rouss describes himself as being "pretty miserable" when he first moved to Lansing from Arizona 14 years ago.
"I missed the mountains and the ocean," says Rouss. "But once I discovered the Great Lakes, rivers and inland lakes and how water works here, I embraced it."
Rouss took to the water as an avid kayaker and became an immediate ambassador for paddle sports. Today, he's making a splash as Lansing's newest purveyor of paddle sports gear and instruction as the owner of the Power of Water Kayak store.
Rouss opened in early spring, and invited the public to fours days of paddle sports activities and demonstrations during a grand opening from April 24 to 27. His goal, he says, is broader than simply equipping people with gear and accessories; it's to equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to enjoy being on the water.
"We're focused on outreach and getting as many people as we can out on the water," says Rouss. "We want people in Lansing to see what the Grand River has to offer and to take an interest in exploring it more."
Located in a repurposed strip mall at 420 E. Saginaw, the Power of Water has access to Lansing's riverfront right out the backdoor. Rouss and his three staff decked-out the 1,300-square foot space with reclaimed barn wood for an earthy look that complements displays of nearly 20 stand-up paddle boards, 40 kayaks and gear.
Working with his director of programming Scott Fairty, Rouss offers classes for all ages and skill levels, including kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, advanced whitewater and river self-rescue.
"Our classes are focused, experiential and fun," says Rouss. "There's not a lot of talking and lectures. It's very on the water learning."
Rouss and his five to 10 instructors are certified through the American Canoe Association or the British Canoe Union. Courses run from May through October, with dry land or pool instruction offered during the off-season.
"The Grand River is an amazing resource going right through the middle of our town," says Rouss. "Our goal is to share our passion, to show people how to play on the water, and hope that will inspire people to protect it."
Source: Trey Rouss, Owner, Power of Water Kayak Store
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

AA Creative Corridor offers resourceful rental options to artistic community

When Ariniko O'Meara hung her photography exhibit on the walls of a gallery in REO Town, she didn't foresee she would be managing the space two months later.
But some things simply fall into place.
"Art Alley closed down a month before I was to exhibit," says the Lansing photographer. "I rented the space for a month, and saw no reason why we couldn't reopen."
Shortly after her October show, O'Meara refocused her energies toward relaunching the south side gallery. She changed the name from Art Alley to AA Creative Corridor, and then turned her attention toward expanding the use of the 1,100 square foot space at 1133 S. Washington Ave.
"We're renting the space as a venue," says O'Meara. "You can also rent space on the walls. It's a lot like what Art Alley was doing."
O'Meara envisions renting AA Creative Corridor for yoga classes, theater classes or other creative groups needing a venue for special events or activities. Rentals can be single use or in groupings, with prices scaled accordingly.
"We're flexible," says O'Meara. "We're hearing from community members who just need studio space. It's been a perfect fit."
O'Meara reports that six creatives are currently renting the space for exhibits, projects or activities. Community members can also rent the gallery for meetings, parties and classes. She is also reaching out to artistic groups and individuals interested in renting wall or floor space for exhibits or projects. She says she doesn't plan to do much physical renovation with the exception of possibly finishing the floors.
"People really like the look of the space," she says of the gallery that was converted from an outdoor alley to an indoor space. "There's old-fashioned advertising on the walls and rough floors. It's part of the draw."
Source: Ariniko O'Meara, Manager, AA Creative Corridor
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Grace Boutique nears June move to east side of Old Town

Every day, Summer Schriner gets one step closer to moving her boutique across Cedar Street and into the newest part of Lansing's Old Town.
"We're really excited to be expanding Old Town retail a little bit to the east," says Schriner, owner of Grace Boutique. "It will be great to join Leopold & Bloom and get closer to Zoobies."
In January, Schriner announced she was moving Grace Boutique into Young's Landing, a building just across the street from the old Temple Club. Now five months into renovations, she says she's gearing up for a June opening that will also welcome a second tenant into the three-storefront building at 509 E. Grand River.
"It's been like herding cats," laughs Schriner of the ongoing renovations that involve pulling out carpet, refinishing floors, restoring original wood trim, painting, and installing new lighting and fans. "But everybody now is moving at the right time in the right place."
Schriner opened her women's shop that specializes in classic styles in 2007. Since then, she's built a loyal following of shoppers looking for clothing and accessories with a vintage feel. The move from her current location at 115. E. Grand River, she says, will double her floor space to 2,200 square feet, and allow her to carry more items and to showcase designers. She also plans to host occasional private shopping parties and other events as space and time allow.
"We're been very fortunate that word-of-mouth about our service and shop has helped us out," says Schriner. "I want women to know when they come here that I'll get them something they'll look fabulous in."
Schriner currently works with one other person to run the boutique. Shortly after her move, Curvaceous Lingerie will move from Okemos into the adjacent storefront to complete the retail duo.
"They're a good fit for Old Town," says Shriner of the business owned by Loren Long. "She has a great eye and the spunk and personality that fits down here."
Source: Summer Schriner, Owner, Grace Boutique
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Curvaceous Lingerie finds perfect fit in Old Town

Things are taking shape for Loren Long.
In June, the owner of Curvaceous Lingerie will move from a 250-square foot location inside the Wedding Bell in Okemos to a new 900-square-foot store in Old Town. It's a move, Long says, that allows her to stock and display a larger variety of merchandise. And it's a move that enables her to get a little edgier while retaining her focus on being a lingerie boutique for every woman.
"We offer a nice selection of classy lingerie pieces that you can't find anywhere else around here," says Long. "Bras in hard-to-find sizes are our number one."
Long grew up in Okemos and learned about selecting and fitting undergarments while working in the bridal industry in Florida and South Carolina. She says it never crossed her mind to go into the lingerie business until she was home shopping for a birthday gift with a friend.
"My friend mentioned to me that I knew so much that I could open my own lingerie store," she says. "I knew then she was right and that it would be a perfect fit."
Curvaceous Boutique originally opened in November 2012 and currently offers a more extensive range of lingerie sizes than a typical department store, including bra sizes 28-46, A-KK cup, and lingerie from small to plus.
"We're also a store for someone who wants a special nightie," says Long. "Lots of customers come in and say they're traveling with girlfriends or a couple and they want cute pajamas that aren't too revealing or sexy."
Curvaceous Lingerie will move into the retail space adjacent to the soon-to-relocate Grace Boutique of Old Town at 509 E. Grand River. Once ensconced, Long plans to introduce a lingerie line that mimics retro style with a pin-up flare. She also hopes to add one or two employees and to host events that include private parties, ladies nights out, and mini-boudoir photo sessions.
"Old Town has this dynamic energy," says Long. "My family is artsy, so it's a place where I feel really at home."
Source: Loren Long, Owner, Curvaceous Lingerie
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Strange Matter Coffee to open espresso bar, create gathering space

There's some strange brew coming to the East Side. And according to Lansing's latest artisan barista, she's serving up brew that begins with the essence of the bean.
Beginning in July, Cara Nader will open the doors to Strange Matter Coffee at 2001 E. Michigan Ave. The coffee bar, she says, has been in the works for about three years, and is a friendly collision of her two passions: science and java.
"Strange matter is a particular form of quark matter," says Nader of her business moniker. "It's a theoretical form of quark, often thought of as a liquid. It's a nerdy kind-of science thing."
Nader's confessed geekiness for science shapes her approach to brewing. Each cup served in Strange Matter, she says, will be made to order using one of several brewing devices. One device—the Chemex—extracts a clean cup of coffee through a drip filtering process. The Chemex, Nader says, resembles a science beaker, and is among contemporary devices featured in the Museum of Modern Art. Another system Nader uses—the V-60—involves a cone-shaped pour-over device that produces a quicker cup.
"We'll use a particular device to bring out different characteristics of the bean," says Nadar, who compares her coffee to micro-brewed beer. "Each device has its benefits and I'll be using one or another to highlight flavors."
Nader sources her beans from distributors like Populace Coffee who specialize in single- origin, seasonal coffee. She'll also feature a rotating menu of roasters from around the country, and a few varieties of chai tea.
"I like to focus on in-season coffee that's freshly harvested," she says. "We'll feature coffees from individuals farms and particular regions since not every region harvests at the same time of year."
Nader is currently replacing flooring, painting and putting in a espresso bar in the 1,500-square foot place that will seat from 25 to 30 people. And as business gets up and running, she hopes to bring two to three staff on board.
"I want people to sit and enjoy their beverage," says Nader. "Every coffee has it's place, and I want people to have that moment when they say 'wow, I didn't know coffee could be this good.'"
Source: Cara Nader, Chief Coffee Engineer, Strange Matter Coffee Co.
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Detroit Frankie's fires up outdoor kitchen for fresh, made-to-order pizza

Frank Tignanelli has gone from restaurants to backyards to city streets to make and bake the freshest pizza on earth.
"From the time you order to the time it's in the box it takes about seven minutes," says Tignanelli, a long-time Michigan restaurateur also known as Detroit Frankie. "And you're there watching me make it, watching it go into the oven. I even have people take pictures while it's baking."
In mid-March, Tignanelli started cooking his famous wood-fired pizzas for Greater Lansing in an outdoor kitchen on the corner of Cedar and Oakland, Monday through Friday. Passers-by can pull in, order pizzas to go from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and watch as Tignanelli hand-tosses the dough, sauces with fresh-packed tomatoes, and cheeses with whole milk mozzarella. Customers then choose up to four toppings from a list of 20 fresh ingredients, including meats, vegetables and fruits. Tignanelli completes the "old world charm" by cooking the 16-inch pizza in a deluxe wood-fired brick oven.
"I feed wood into the oven to keep it hot all day—about 750 degrees," says Tignanelli. "The crust gets little charred marks on the outside and stays chewy on the inside. You get a nice clean taste with all the fresh ingredients."
Tignanelli says he learned all about pizza from his dad "Papa Joe" while growing up in Detroit. In the mid-70s, he started in the pizza biz by working in family restaurants in central and Northern Michigan. In between restaurant gigs, he became an expert food distributor, then came back to his his true calling: creating and serving pizza. He bought the wood-fired brick oven, started catering, and began making and baking pizzas at festivals and events. When a friend suggested he find a weekday location, he staked out his current corner.
"I've owned and managed restaurants all over Michigan," says Tignanelli. "But what I always loved best was standing in front of my oven making pizza and talking to customers. And that's what I do now. It's like having a food show every day."
Source: Frank Tignanelli, Owner, Detroit Frankie's
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Retired executive revolutionizes wine cellar design with Revel Cellars

While he won't say who they in casual conversation, his customers include CEOs, venture capitalists and entertainers. And Forbes writes that his product is "the world's best," thereby adding to its cache.
It's a level of success, Jim Cash says, that's he didn't expect right off for his start-up business. But it's one he's been able to build thanks to the skills, craftsmanship and innovation he finds right here in Michigan, including support from the East Lansing Technology and Innovation Center.
In April, Cash moved Revel Custom Wine Cellars from the TIC to 435 E. Grand River Ave., signaling a new home for the company that creates wine cellar cabinetry for the discerning wine collector. It's cabinetry, he says, that provides a revolutionary way to showcase and protect prized wine collections, while bringing ease of access to wine cellar storage.
"Traditional wine racks are a matrix with individual cubicles where a single bottle goes," says the retired COO of Lansing's Christman Company. "I had a rack like that and had all kinds of problems from bottles not fitting to not finding the bottles I was looking for."
Cash drew on his love of wine and his nearly three decades of professional building experience to create cabinetry that involves sliding drawers, "lazy Susans" and dowels that leverage space and hold both bottles and cases. Customers can enhance the patented design with LED lighting, cellar doors, labels, and additional components for a system that combines form and function.
Cash coordinates sales and marketing from his new 700-square foot office, while the cabinets are built and constructed in western Michigan. His sales and management team includes two representatives based in San Francisco and Florida, and an operations manager in New York. His goal for 2014 is to build about 20 cellars at a cost of about $40,000 each. Long-term, he hopes to build and sell at least 50 a year.
"We're doing something that hasn't been done before," says Cash, who is a long-time wine collector himself. "There really hasn't been a design evolution in the way cellars are built. Essentially they've been built the same way for hundreds of years."
Source: Jim Cash, Owner, Revel Custom Wine Cellars
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Perfect Circle Recycling helps put waste to good use

Todd Wilson has never been shy about cleaning up and doing dirty work. In fact, he's building a business that helps haul away trash for a greener world.
Perfect Circle Recycling, Wilson says, gives residents an option for recycling food waste, leaves and grass clippings through a personal hauling service that connects with environmentally conscious reuse facilities.
"There is a lot of food byproducts that are being landfilled that could be repurposed," says Wilson. "I see it all as a perfect circle."
Wilson started his company in 2011 from his home in southwest Lansing with a little bit of ingenuity, a truck, a trailer and bins. Working with a partner in the composting business, he helped Central Michigan University initiate a system to recycle food waste into compost, renewable energy or animal feed.
Today, Wilson is focusing on building services back home in Eaton County and Delhi Charter Township. Beginning July 1, he plans to launch a weekly service that involves hauling food waste, leaves and grass clippings from small businesses, restaurants or residents to facilities that can repurpose the debris. Those facilities, he says, include composters, anaerobic digesters, compressed natural gas providers, or qualifying animal feedlots.
Customers signing up for Wilson's hauling service receive a three-gallon bucket for in-house use, as well as a 96-gallon roller cart. His service runs $10 a month. Customers who prepay for six months receive a 15-pound bag of premium compost, while those who pay it forward a year receive a 25-pound bag.
Wilson's short-term goal is to grow his customers to 100 or more this year and to divert at least 100,000 pounds of food waste from landfills.
"It's a way you can become a steward of your community and be involved," says Wilson. "Basically, it's just about being green."
Source: Todd Wilson, Owner, Perfect Circle Recycling
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Homeless Angels sets up home base for coordinating outreach

Jessep Magoon doesn't believe that everyone who holds up a cardboard sign and asks for help is doing so to support a drug or alcohol addiction.
That's why Magoon asked a friend to create a sign for his grassroots cause that helps redefine perceptions of the homeless.
In mid-April, Magoon's sign for the Homeless Angels found a permanent home in the window of their first brick and mortar office.
"It fit perfectly," says Magoon of the portable sign he has used for outreach events. "It was one of those fate things—that this place was meant to be."
Magoon co-founded the Homeless Angels with Mike Karl in November 2013. The idea, he says, is to provide a resource that bridges the gap between the homeless and local agencies.
Until April, the Homeless Angels was run from the streets. Volunteers met in parks, parking lots, churches or other supportive organizations to coordinate outreach and "street teams" to help Greater Lansing's homeless.
"Since the beginning, our big focus has been street outreach and building relationships with people who might otherwise fall through the cracks," says Magoon who is also a student at Lansing Community College. "But since we didn't have a home base it was hard to do client intake. We did everything by laptop and cell phone, and knew as we got more innovative we would need an office."
Directly across from the State capitol, the 900-square foot office at 328 W. Ottawa Street is easy-to-access, wired for Internet, has ample storage space for a food pantry and supplies, and is staffed by a core group of about 10 volunteers. There's even a washer and dryer on site to clean cloths or blankets for homeless clients. Rent, Magoon says, is funded by donations made through GoFundMe, with other services supported through community fundraisers and donations.
Magoon says his drive to build the volunteer non-profit is fueled by his past struggles with addiction. He finds inspiration, too, in the depth of understanding held by Karl, who previously lived on the streets.
"We know there are underlying factors and a story behind why people are homeless," says Magoon. "Our hope is to shed a positive light on a negative situation, and to show the community that the homeless are not just stereotypes, but people needing help to get them back into society."
Source: Jessep Magoon, Co-founder, Homeless Angels
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
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