Features

Feature Story Trails-Small

‘It really opened up my world’: Users welcome health benefits of accessible trails

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan worked closely with Disability Network West Michigan to develop an accessible trail system that gives visitors like Jeffrey VanDyke access to the health benefits of being in nature. 

Longform Death duolas

Faith in Action: Befriending the Great Mystery with death doulas

“Westernized culture increases the fear of death,” says Debbie Eisenbise, a Kalamazoo death doula. “We outsource death. Doulas are trying to make a change in that culture by bringing about an acceptance of death. Death is natural. My goal is to keep people living until they die. This is about quality of life.”

Longform Holy Childhood

Surviving Holy Childhood: Indigenous woman shares story after 50 years of silence

“I say to other survivors, what happened to one of us happened to all of us. We met in Harbor Springs and we bonded together,” says Sharon Skutt, an indigenous survivor of a Michigan boarding school. “The more I speak about it, the more healing there is."

Longform Katie Wendel, director of planning and advocacy at Area Agency on Aging 1B, which recently launched a voucher program to help unpaid caregivers afford respite care.

Finding temporary care is a challenge for Michigan's many unpaid caregivers, but help is available

Approximately 1.7 million Michiganders are unpaid caregivers, and they often desperately need a break from that work. Resources, like a new voucher program to pay for respite care, can help.

Longform Housing Solutions Portage home

First-time homebuyer in Portage gets help from program funded with Kalamazoo County housing millage

The future can be intimidating for a person in their early 20s, but for Blaise Boulding it's off to a secure start. With help from a program that assists people to get ready to be a homeowner she now has her own small house in Portage.

Feature Story Holiday Pop-Up

Battle Creek Holiday Vendor Pop-Up to showcase local food and artOn the Ground Battle Creek to celebrate 5th year of local coverage

Join the On the Ground Battle Creek team to celebrate its 5th Anniversary during the first-ever Holiday Vendor Pop-Up event, featuring local artists and food artisans, on Dec. 7 at 32 West Michigan Avenue, Battle Creek.

Feature Story MRC

Why a Kalamazoo nonprofit is ending subminimum wages for workers with disabilities

Since its inception, MRC Industries, a nonprofit that serves people with developmental or intellectual disabilities in Kalamazoo County, has paid its workers a subminimum wage. But no longer. MRC dropped its 14(c) certification in September.

Feature Story Wild-Rice-Small

Copper Country initiative emphasizes fresh and local foods

On its reservation in the UP's copper country, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is striving toward the goal of food sovereignty, strengthening the community's ablility to produce more of its own fresh and local food sources. 

Feature Story Holy Childhood

Road to Healing: Indigenous woman shares her story of surviving Michigan's Holy Childhood

The Road to Healing Tour is giving indigenous boarding school survivors throughout the United States an opportunity to publicly share stories that many had suppressed out of fear and shame. In honor of Native American Heritage Month, Southwest Michigan Second Wave will feature three of these women's stories.

Longform Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken Jr. dedicate $5M Kalamazoo Central H.S. ballfields

Fulfilling dreams takes work and patience. Ask Derek Jeter, baseball Hall of Famer and Kalamazoo Central High School graduate. He worked hard to become a shortstop for the Yankees — and to give his alma mater top-tier baseball and softball fields. For the Kalamazoo community, the fields are also a dream come true.

Feature Story 21st Century BCPS

School doesn’t end when the bell rings for many Battle Creek Public Schools students

“We’re structuring little people's lives. We are their teachers, motivators, and in some instances, mothers and fathers to these kids," says Freddie McGee, Director of Extended Learning programs for Battle Creek Public Schools. "We’re going to be that extra adult in their lives. These kids want to be recognized.”

Feature Story Pastors on Patrol

Faith in Action: Pastors On Patrol strengthening community-police relations in Kalamazoo

Pastors on Patrol, a partnership between Kalamazoo police and pastors, has been helping increase trust between residents and police, diffuse tense situations, and 'cushion the blows of calamity.' Since the pandemic, both police and pastors involved say they have seen the need for the program grow.

Longform Ken Nixon, director of outreach and community partnerships for Safe & Just Michigan.

Lack of data raises questions about quality and cost effectiveness of Michigan's prison health care

According to Michigan researchers and advocates for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, health care in prison is far less than adequate.

Feature Story Two GRIT wheelchair users pose at a local park.

All-terrain wheelchair loan program opens outdoors to more users

The GRIT wheelchair can go across all terrains standard wheelchairs can’t, and a West Michigan family who knows the constraints of conventional wheelchair use has created a program to allow the public borrow two of them.

Feature Story AllyKat Salons

Kalamazoo's AllyKat, a body art, lash and brow salon, helps LGBTQIA + feel at home in Vine

AllyKat Studios, LLC, is a new lash, brow, micro-blading, and tattoo studio that caters to the Queer community. For clients who are currently transitioning genders, a new set of eyelashes, the right brow shape, or even gender-affirming tattoos, AllyKat owners say, can help lessen the dysphoria that oftentimes accompanies a transition.

Feature Story Natalie Baker

New partnership takes flight at WMU’s College of Aviation in Battle Creek

Western Michigan University's College of Aviation announced a new partnership with Allegiant Travel Company. The Accelerate Pilot Pathway program will streamline the career trajectory for graduates in an industry that is experiencing pilot shortages.

Longform VOY Climate

Voices of Youth: A climate change education law in Michigan?

In this radio story, Voices of Youth Kalamazoo's Harper Horvath speaks with State Representative Julie Rogers about an important environmental literacy bill proposed by Rogers and 30 fellow representatives that could change the way climate is taught in the state.

Feature Story BC Pride Thanksgiving

Battle Creek Pride to host Thanksgiving Dinner at Christ United Methodist Church

“There are a lot of free Thanksgiving dinners that happen throughout Calhoun County and this one is a family-friendly, fun event and it’s completely free to the public," says Chris Fulbright, meal coordinator and 'executive chef.' "We just want people to come in and enjoy their food and each other's company.” 

Feature Story Housing Solutions Habitat in Portage

Portage works with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable homes

It's been a while, but now Habitat for Humanity is working in Portage to put up houses as the county works to improve the affordable housing situation. 

Feature Story KRock-SMALL

Rock musicians with autism to be honored with Discover Ability Award

Together, Keegan Russell and Keenan Miller keep the beat as the band K-Rock. The musicians were nominated by Autism Support of Kent County because “they show others what is possible when individuals are given a chance to shine.”

Battle Creek

How Battle Creek's Jamari Taylor paints a picture of success

Artist and muralist Jamari Taylor, inspired by her own Battle Creek Central High School art teacher, is paying it forward through classes and one-on-one art instruction through the Arts and Culture Collective of Battle Creek. For the full story, click hereFor more stories, please visit here.
 

Kalamazoo

Bike's give Dignity in Motion for Kalamazoo unhoused

Dignity in Motion was formed when Judy Lowery realized that people who are unhoused not only need shelter, they need transportation. Its waiting list is now at 27 people requesting bikes. The demand is year-round — last winter, they gave away about 30 bikes. Read the full story here. Read more stories here.