Monday, Sep 24th saw the accomplishment of Community enCompass’ 7th Annual Taste & See, a progressive dinner and tour through Muskegon's core city neighborhoods. Taste & See is both a fundraiser and an opportunity to immerse oneself in the great work happening in the core city neighborhoods, as well as sample the best culinary talent in downtown Muskegon!
As you can imagine 190 people on 6 buses, visiting 3 project sites, with the best food and drink Muskegon has to offer from 22 different vendors during a program that lasts only 3 hours is a bit of a logistical nightmare. But we did it, and we did it well!
But Taste & See is so much more than just a progressive dinner tour, it is also an opportunity for many in Muskegon to see our work first hand and meet with the neighbors that we work, live with, and love with on a daily basis.
So, what did our 2018 Taste & See guests SEE as they traveled through Muskegon’s neighborhoods?They saw Muskegon’s core city neighborhoods, hearing our neighbors’ stories as they witnessed the great things they have accomplished in their community.
Neighbors like Irma Buckner and Frank Noble. Irma is an 80-year-old neighborhood seamstress who got all 5 of her kids through college and into careers across the country. Irma was able to stay in her home, “aging in place,” by connecting to our home owner assistance program. Frank has lived his entire life in McLaughlin. A veteran working in corrections, Frank got sick, lost his job, his marriage, and finally his home. We helped Frank get back into housing, which enabled him to get his health and his job back. He told us that kids don't often see everyday people going to work, so he puts on his uniform with pride and makes sure the neighbor kids see him go to work, as an example of what is possible.
Guests got to meet neighbors like Anne Craig and Andrea Harmon. Anne won citizen of the year this year, and got all her neighbors to sign up for our 2018 Summer Neighborhood Facelift, during which volunteers helped spruce up curb appeal by refreshing landscaping, painting foundations, building porches, and replacing windows. She hosted volunteers through the summer, organizing lunches and prayer meetings under the shade tree in her front yard. Andrea’s home also had work done through the Facelift, and her son Michael was so compelled by the experience and the idea of investing in his neighborhood that he became a YEP.
These are just a handful of the stories shared on the buses. More stories were shared at the three stops along the tour.
Guests joined the team of Sacred Suds, our neighborhood laundromat and community center, to learn about the variety of services offered, including housing assistance for homeless and vulnerably housed neighbors. At McLaughlin Grows, our urban farm, guests learned about healthy living education for both youth and adults. They were also introduced to the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP!), our leadership development program for core city youth. And at our newest home redemption project at 1173 4th Street, guests met with some YEPs, and learned about the importance of quality housing.
It was a lot of information in 3 hours, but guests left the evening with heads full of stories and hearts full of a new love for our neighbors. Taste & See is a fundraising event (We are a small non-profit that relies on local donors, and every penny given goes back into the community-- 90% of our staff live in the neighborhoods we serve!), but Taste and See is much more. It's about tasting and seeing the passion and vision of neighbors, building connections and developing relationships with those neighbors, and together creating a hopeful story of a community we love--Muskegon!