When Amore Trattoria Restaurant chef Jenna Arcidiacono found out Snoop Dogg was coming to play at The Intersection in downtown Grand Rapids, she called and to see if she could do the catering.
She got the job and prepared food for the crew of 35. Snoop requested chicken parm’, pasta, fish, fresh green salads and fruit. For dessert the restaurant prepared “Dog Pound Cake” and “Tiramisnoop.”
After eating, Snoop showed Chef Arcidiacono and Amore Trattoria some love on Twitter. @snoopdogg tweeted: ‘Grand Rapids catering knows how to do it Doggy Style‘.” Chef Arcidiacono and her assistant got an autograph, pictures and front row seats for the concert.
The show didn’t disappoint us either. He came on stage with his band, dancers and donning his typical Doggstyle. The energy of the 800+ audience, mellow beats and the sweet smell of marijuana made for a highly enjoyable evening. He even played into the audience by going back to his nostalgic songs from his 1993 debut album Doggstyle. My personal favorites.
Snoop Dogg is touring to promote his latest album, Doggumentary. Snoop has wisely conceptualized the album’s title and aligns his social media prowess with his creative output. Snoop is “doggumenting” the album’s progress online. He has already launched the much discussed #PuffPuffPassTuesdays campaign, where he releases exclusive visual and audio content to his 2.5 million Twitter followers every week. Next, unprecedented access to Snoop’s inner circle is granted via his frequent Ustream sessions. These afford millions of fans across the globe the opportunity to log-in and interact with Snoop live, as he streams new music.
Snoop is also responsible for the prolific WestFestTV channel on YouTube, which regularly uploads candid footage of Snoop in action and a slew of viral music videos.
Snoop Dogg‘s ability to stay at the forefront of popular culture and connect with his fans has resulted in unwavering relevance. While he’s a TV and movie star, the founder and coach of a hugely successful youth football league and a savvy adapter of new technology, Snoop Dogg remains Tha Doggfather of hip-hop. Incredibly, his music is as “doggumented” now as it was in 1992 around the launch of his timeless debut Doggystyle. In fact, a stronghold over the various social networking platforms makes him more accessible than ever. With all eyes on the skinny kingpin from Long Beach, Doggumentary is the perfect title for the man who continues to occupy thethrone as the world’s most famous rapper.”
For as long as I can remember having a Bernese Mountain Dog, one event that has always remained my favorite is the Brrrner Blizzard Bash. The BBB is put on by a group of volunteers that are also owned by the beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog.
Last weekend on a very snowy Saturday, The Heart of Michigan Bernese Mountain Dog Club hosted this annual event providing the west side of the state an opportunity to get together and have fun with their Berners. The Rockford Community Cabin in downtown Rockford was the perfect setting including a cozy atmosphere with all the comforts of home. Families and friends packed inside, complete with fur kids, and enjoyed a potluck of chili, side dishes and delicious desserts. After lunch a raffle was held and the organization raised money for both their general raffle as well as a donation to Berner-Garde. This event welcomed club members, non-members and the general public.
The Berner-Garde Foundationwas also on hand collecting DNA samples from some of the dogs to enter into their database and donate to MSU Repository. Berner-Garde Foundation was established to collect, maintain and disseminate information about genetic diseases observed in the Bernese Mountain Dog. The BGF is comprised of a voluntary Board of Directors, several committees and, at it’s core, a computerized database. The database contains information which has been compiled over many years from voluntary submissions of data from owners and from other public sources of information about the animals pedigree and health. It helps breeders make educated decisions around their breeding animals.
Not all that attended were Bernese Mountain Dog owners — many were potential buyers. The HMBMDC uses these types of public events to educate the community about the breed. You can find out more about these events by visiting their website: http://www.hmbmdc.org/
In keeping with tradition, after lunch everyone headed outside to get a group photo. Then they leashed up their dogs for a beautiful walk along the White Pine Trail through the quaint City of downtown Rockford located along the Rogue River. Truly a gorgeous sight to see.
It took an act of God for Chico Daniels to decide his future.
It was an argument, actually, and Daniels was pretty sure he knew the outcome.
“I had an argument with God,” Daniels recalls. “He wanted me to open a rescue mission on skid row. I said I didn’t want to do that…that I don’t like my house dirty or unprofessional…He said He didn’t either.”
And with that, Daniels embarked on a career that took him from the streets of Oakland on the West Coast to downtown Grand Rapids where he is now President and CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries. It is his second job here — he previously headed the Guiding Light Mission — and his fourth rescue mission since beginning in Oakland.
A thoughtful, soft-spoken man, Rev. Daniels seems neither the argumentative type nor one who could long tolerate the harshness of the streets. Yet it’s a reality he has experienced first-hand. Born in New England, he grew up in central Florida — one the country’s deepest pockets of poverty and homelessness — and was, by his own admission, “going down the wrong road.
“When I was 19, I joined the Air Force,” he says. The move got him away from what appeared to be a bleak future and gave him discipline and a sense of purpose: “I learned to serve, to serve Jesus more. My life was changed. I wanted to give something back.”
“I asked the Lord ‘what difference could one person make trying to run a skid row mission?’”
He attended a Bible Institute in California and became an ordained minister. His early mission work took him places around the world and in environments such as Sierra Leone, West Africa, a region of extremes — vast wealth from the diamond trade, acute poverty on the low rungs of society, and unremitting violence as warring factions vied for control.
Daniels spent two years in Sierra Leone, another five working in prison ministry in California. It was during this latter assignment that he began to wonder what happened to people when they got out of prison — where did they go, where could they go, where did they often end up?
“That’s when the mission bug hit me,” Daniels recalls. And that’s when the argument began. “I asked the Lord ‘what difference could one person make trying to run a skid row mission?’” Daniels says. He got the answer he wanted and hasn’t looked back.
Mel Trotter Ministries, located in the 200 block of Commerce Street, is a formidable structure. If not for the sign in front one might take it for an office building. Once inside, visitors will notice how clean and inviting it is. It has the look and feel of a vintage hotel — burnished wood floors, an expansive lobby, open hallways. This, says Daniels, is how a mission should operate. “It’s how God would want us to help these people,” Daniels says.” We’ve worked to change the image — from a flophouse into God’s house.”
But Mel Trotter’s does more than provide a bed. It offers a range of programs that include helping people with food, clothing, and furniture; it maintains a therapeutic substance abuse program; and its amenities include a women’s and children’s computer lab to aid in job searches and education opportunities, many in concert with Grand Rapids Community College. The Ministries further embraces what has become a highly successful green initiative, and it operates bustling thrift stores throughout West Michigan.
There’s a lot going on, and a lot that needs to be done, according to Daniels. While he is ostensibly apolitical, he sees the problems associated with broken families and poverty as growing more acute and, he adds, some people are simply not equipped to manage the fallout.
“I watch kids come here and I see the fear in their eyes…it’s like they’ve been in a war.”
“We are told to be self-reliant, that if you work hard you will succeed, that you just have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” he says. “We are told anybody can become wealthy. I’ll say there’s a certain amount of truth to this but not everybody comes from equal backgrounds.”
He says there are basic differences, such as coming from an intact family versus a family with a single parent, or with maybe a dad in prison, or in not even knowing who one’s father is. In these cases, Daniels says ”there’s no family support system,” adding that the lack of a support network often drives people to the street. “In some situations people are running from a family…they’re in an unsafe place and they’d rather be homeless and out on the street.”
For Daniels — the father of three grown children — it is the kids he worries about most.
“I watch kids come here and I see the fear in their eyes,” he says. “They come out of such abuse…it’s like they’ve been in a war.”
He’s seen many a child at the Ministries who is afraid to even look at another person when they first arrive, but after a week or two they run to the mission when they get out of school. It is, for once, home.
Like any good CEO, Daniels has a line on the facts that support the operation he leads…and the need for mission sin general. He points out there are 1.6 million children in America who are living below the poverty line, many of them under the age of 18, many homeless. He tells people about drug and alcohol abuse and how it is” no respecter of families, wealthy person or homeless…my own baby brother is somewhere in Texas living in and out of shelters.”
Mel Trotter Ministries receives no government funding; it operates solely through the philanthropy of the community.
Mel Trotter’s embraces as many people as it can, and for as long as it can. “People can be here as long as they have to be,” Daniels says. “Some have to be here up to one or two years…some have to come back.”
But despite the open door, programs such as Mel Trotter’s have detractors. Some suggest patrons are served only if they agree to profess a statement of religious faith, a critique Daniels says is unjustified. While there is a faith-based mission statement and what is referenced to as an inter-denominational religious focus, visitors to the Ministries are not obliged to acknowledge or display faith before they are served. “You feed them first. You care for them. Give them a hug,” Daniels says. “Maybe later you try and show them something more.”
Being able to do something more is always foremost in Daniels’ mind, and he’s announcing an ambitious new program that will expand the Ministries services. It’s called Warming Place. Its goal is “to give people a starting point to work their way back into society,” Daniels explains. “The homeless often only qualify for day labor and they need a point of contact. We have washers and dryers for them to clean their clothes and to give them a respite from hanging around the library or the lobbies of local churches.”
The need is there, Daniels maintains, as 9-1-1 calls and reports of panhandling have escalated. Warming Place will be housed in a rescued building on the corner of Ionia and Williams and is expected to open sometime between late January and mid February.
“God is a God of second chances…
sometimes a third or fourth.”
The project, like the Ministries itself, is a testament to Daniels’ unyielding faith. Unlike many CEOS he does not have readily available capital to sustain or expand programs. Mel Trotter Ministries receives no government funding; it operates solely through the philanthropy of the community.
“We have no guaranteed funding source,” Daniels says. “It is all by faith.”
In this, Daniels admits the Ministries are fortunate to have West Michigan as its home. “The generosity and philanthropy are above average here,” he explains. “The Grand Rapids-Holland area is second only to Salt Lake City in terms of giving.”
Volunteerism is equally important, Daniels adds. “We have a strong volunteer spirit here, far better than other areas — we take care of our homeless.”
Even so, Daniels concedes “the biggest challenge is to stay focused on the important thing of serving the client, not getting distracted by monetary troubles.”
For now, the Ministries are stable, but Daniels wonders about the future: “We don’t know what’s going to happen when the heirs to the people who donate now are making the decisions. Will they sell the business? Stay in the area? Will they want to give to the mission?”
But there is little time to ponder. There is work to do, and faith that it will get done.
After all, Rev. Daniels says, “God is a God of second chances…sometime a third or fourth.” And, as Rev. Daniels can attest, pretty good at winning arguments.
Last evening was a night of Kids, Cars & Stars at the 2012 Charity Spectacular preview for the 14th Annual Michigan International Auto Show, presented by Huntington Bank and The Grand Rapids Press. From 6:30-10pm nearly 1000 guests headed out to DeVos Place for a night on the town at this premier social celebration, benefitting the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation. Held less than 24 hours before the official opening of the Auto Show, the event was also broadcasted live on WOOD TV-8.
The Charity Spectacular provided guests the exclusive opportunity to preview the latest automobiles, trucks, vans, sedans and sports cars before anyone else in West Michigan – including the Million Dollar Motorway (where all vehicles are priced at a minimum of $100,000) and the historic display from Gilmore Car Museum.
Special entertainment this year included fun cirque performances like fire-eaters, stilt walkers, a martini-glass balancing act and various aerial silk acts from the local entertainment company, Knotty Bits. Also, the famous Dominguez Family Stunt Riders amazed the audience with their “Globe of Death”! These fearless performers kept the audience in awe as the riders twisted, turned and looped vertically and horizontally, coming within mere inches of one another – at top speeds of 45mph – inside a 16-foot tall, 7000lb sphere of steel mesh.
In addition, guests were treated to an impressive strolling dinner menu prepared by the culinary team at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, along with special wine pairings from award-winning Michigan wineries and craft breweries.
A featured part of the evening is the Silent Auction, which included a variety of items up for bid including get-away packages, autographed memorabilia, dinner packages and so much more. Tickets were also be available at the Charity Spectacular for the 2012 Grand Prize Raffle – with a 50/50 first place cash prize! Other prizes included a 50” Panasonic plasma TV and a $500 gift card.
100% of the net proceeds from this $150.00 per person event benefit the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation. Guests donned their finest attire, making it a great night, for a great cause. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids is the regional referral center for over 37 counties in Michigan, caring for over 190,000 children from Western and Northern Michigan. Proceeds from this event will help ensure world-class pediatric care is available to all children and families right here in West Michigan.
The 14th Annual Michigan International Auto Show is presented by the Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association and is one of 16 consumer expositions produced by ShowSpan Inc.
Michigan International Auto Show runs from January 26-29, 2012
Thursday, January 26 3:00pm – 10:00pm
Friday, January 27 11:00am – 10:00pm
Saturday, January 28 10:00am – 10:00pm
Sunday, January 29 10:00am – 6:00pm
Admission: $10 adults, $4 children aged 6 to 14. Kids 5 and under are admitted free.
The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce held its 124th Annual Meeting in the Steelcase Ballroom of DeVos Place on Tuesday afternoon, and it was truly a celebration of Grand Rapids businesses.
The theme of the event was “2012 is gonna ROCK.” Before the meeting officially kicked off, the hundreds of chamber members in attendance networked while 80s and 90s cover band Rocket 8 played on the main stage. The music set the tone for the rock and roll themed meeting, and really helped to create excitement before the main event began.
Outgoing Chamber Board Chair Meg Goebel began the meeting by highlighting some of the Chamber’s successes in 2011, including the role this organization played in the repeal of the Michigan Business Tax. The Chamber, which now has 2,700 members, held over 80 events and programs attended by 9,200 people; celebrated 65 business openings; and hosted “East Meets West” with the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.
2012 Board Chair Richard Pappas, President of Davenport University, introduced Rick Baker, President and CEO of the Chamber. Rick Baker began as President and CEO nine months ago and has worked with the Chamber Board to develop a plan for a “new Chamber.” There are many exciting changes on the horizon for this organization that has been in existence for 124 years.
Other speakers included Bing Goei, Owner of Eastern Floral and the Goei Centerfor Entrepreneurship; Fred Keller, Chairman and CEO of Cascade Engineering; Stacie Behler, Vice President of Public Affairs for Meijer, Inc. Each talked about the importance of the Chamber and the role it plays in the growth of Grand Rapids businesses. The face of Grand Rapids business has changed greatly over the years, and much of this change has occurred because of an increasingly diverse population. Fred Keller noted that the business community has the biggest opportunity to make an impact in this area, and the Chamber is helping with that through its Institute for Healing Racism program that had 147 participants in 2011.
The Chamber also welcomed Penny Lewandowski, Director of Entrepreneurship Development at the Edward Lowe Foundation. She had done her research on Grand Rapids businesses, and was very excited about what she had discovered. Lewandowski said that there is a revolution happening here, and that business owners must keep pushing ahead because this city is on the right track.
Another big fan of the Grand Rapids business community? Governor Rick Snyder, who joined in on the meeting via Google Hangout and was very excited to hear about the Chamber’s plans for 2012. He said his goal is to create an environment that allows businesses to continue to grow and be successful, and encouraged everyone to work together to move the city forward.
This was a great event with so many positive messages. Thank you to the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce for a fun afternoon…and here’s to a great 2012! Rock on, Grand Rapids!
Monday brought more dreary winter weather to West Michigan, but hundreds of people escaped the cold by heading into the B.O.B. to taste the wonderful soups prepared by local restaurants for the Soup’s On For All! 2012, benefiting God’s Kitchen, a program of Catholic Charities West Michigan.
God’s Kitchen has been providing meals to those less fortunate for more than 40 years. Each day, God’s Kitchen provides free meals for homeless, working poor, underemployed, and disabled individuals in Belding, Greenville, Big Rapids, Muskegon, Wyoming, and Rockford. Last year over 200,000 individuals in West Michigan benefited from their various programs such as Meals on Wheels which delivers food to the homebound in Grand Rapids and the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Muskegon.
From the Portuguese Cabbage and Potato soup from Rockwell’s and Republic to the Celery Root Puree with Truffle Oil made by the chefs at One Trick Pony, wonderful aromas filled the B.O.B that evening. Warm soup, Panera Bread, Cabot Cheese, and desserts from the Amway Grand Plaza and MiraBella Confections were the perfect comfort food, and each floor provided lively entertainment from several local bands. This event was staffed by over 200 fabulous volunteers including media personalities and members of the Grand Rapids and Wyoming police and fire departments.
One of the highlights of Monday night’s event was the bowl giveaway. Throughout the year, students, families, church groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and local businesses volunteer their time to create beautiful bowls for the event. In fact, many of those who painted the bowls were serving as volunteers Monday night. The bowls are given to event guests as a keepsake and a reminder of the need for organizations like God’s Kitchen in the community.
Guests also had an opportunity to purchase bowls from Gallery 303, located in the God’s Kitchen facility. Gallery 303 sells hand-painted pottery created by local artists who have given their time to support the organization. Anyone can visit the gallery and for $10 create a bowl to take home or donate to God’s Kitchen for the next Soup’s On For All! If you are interested in painting a bowl for the 2013 event, email Julie at email@example.com or call 616.224.1294 ~ you can paint a single bowl or get a group together for a bowl painting party!
Congratulations to all those who planned, organized, and volunteered their time to make this a terrific night, and thanks to those at God’s Kitchen for all of the wonderful work you do for our community!
contributing writer: Danielle DeWitt : photography: Tim Motley
Meet Dr. Randall R. Carpenter of Family Friends Veterinary Hospital and Pet Care Center. When you talk with him, you begin to see why the practice is aptly named. He is about family with all its members and once you’re there, you are a family friend too.
The practice itself has a warm, friendly vibe as you are greeted and offered a beverage while you wait with your furry family members for one of the wide variety of services ranging from traditional veterinary medicine with state- of-the-art equipment to total pet care and daycare. As you travel down the hall for consultation and services, the evidence is abundant that the individuals working there love animals. On one designated wall there are the “family” portraits, where all of the employees are pictured with their “family friends”. Special attention is given to seating areas, including a room they refer to as “comfort” with cushy furnishings for the humans and tile floors for their furry companions—just in case.
There is the treasure chest filled with an assortment of toys given out as parting gifts to the children, or maybe a good dog or cat. This is assuredly why the practice’s name Family Friends makes sense. The name is based on the concept of what the veterinary practice is all about: family and friends in all its forms.
Just as the Carpenter family members work together, there are 34 staff members who are a part of the practice’s family. And of course, there are the animals! You feel at home while Dr. Carpenter regales you with one of his wonderful stories not only about the animals that are in the practice’s care, but also stories from his own life. It is in these moments, much like when sitting with family or close friends that you being to know who Dr. Carpenter and his family are through the stories they tell.
For Dr. Carpenter, there has been a love for animals throughout his life, from the plethora of hamsters as a youngster to the breeding of Bernese Mountain Dogs which are his favorite breed. He currently has three Bernese dogs: Marzi, Poppi, and Maddie whom he brings to work with him. “The love of animals is innate—you’re born with it”, says Carpenter when asked what led him to veterinary medicine. “I volunteered at the local vet and later went on to study veterinary medicine at Michigan State. I was always wanting to be around animals. I just loved working with them.”
With a career spanning 37 years and counting, this legacy of caring for animals began in Charlotte, then moved to Greenville at Town and Country Animal Clinic before coming to Grand Rapids where he started this practice with his family four and a half years ago. Here he specializes in canine reproduction and with an emphasis on bulldog medicine and surgery. Dr. Carpenter asserts that all three of his children have had a love for animals. “When the children were little and I would have to go out on emergency calls, they would rather come with me on a call rather than stay home or play with their friends. I think that they actually enjoyed those trips more that hanging out with their buddies. I never had to ask them to come.”
Of the three children that he has, two work in the practice, Dr. Kathryn Sutphin and Dr. Ryan Carpenter, and their sister Kristine, works in veterinary pharmaceuticals. Each member of the Carpenter family has a special story connecting them to the animals that they care for. Dr. Kathryn Sutphen has had numerous animal stories that exemplify her love of animal and her desire to nurture them. Perhaps the most touching deals with her care of young bulldogs with cleft palates. This birth defect prevents the puppies from being able to nurse and ultimately survive.
When Dr. Sutphen was still in college, her father delivered a litter of bulldogs and one of the puppies was born with a cleft pallet. The owner didn’t want it and Dr. Carpenter couldn’t bring himself to euthanize it so he brought home to foster it until he could find a suitable home. Dr. Sutphen, then a college student, instantly connected with the pooch, naming it “Polar” and took on the task of caring for him, sustaining his health with two hour feedings until the puppy was 10 weeks old and strong enough to survive surgical repair. She was devastated to find upon her return from a spring break trip that a home had been found for Polar and since then has rehabilitated—and adopted—several more bulldogs.
The youngest member of the Carpenter family to work with Family Friends is Dr. Ryan Carpenter. His animal story starts at the age of nine when he began negotiations for his first pet. He was in the mood for a ferret and was working steadily towards wearing his parents down for one when he first came in contact with a Bernese Mountain Dog the deal was done. In fact, even Dr. Randall Carpenter fell in love with the breed and have had kept them as family pets ever since.
When asked why he is so passionate about his profession, Dr. Randall Carpenter concluded that “working with animals shows the importance of life. I have a passion for veterinary medicine… for all of it.”
Stop by and see his passion in action at Family Friends Veterinary Hospital and Pet Care Center. Then you’ll be a “family friend” too.
Downtown Grand Rapids officially welcomed nine new tenants to Monroe Center on Monday night. The Shops @ Monroe Center & Division, otherwise known as MoDiv, held a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception to celebrate this eclectic collaboration of businesses.
Mike VanGessel, President and CEO of Rockford Construction, welcomed everyone and talked briefly about those who have made this possible including RDV Corp. and Mercantile Bank. Rockford Construction transformed the historic Peck Building on Monroe into this exciting retail environment. He then introduced Franco Bianchi, President and CEO of Haworth, Inc. to talk about their part in MoDiv.
Haworth |Interphase is the 1,800 square foot showroom for Haworth Furniture of Holland. Shoppers can come see what is available and then place their orders from the local Haworth dealer, Interphase Interiors. Bianchi said the company is “very happy and proud” to be a part of downtown Grand Rapids.
Blake Krueger, President, CEO, and board chairman of Wolverine World Wide Inc. was also there Monday evening. The Wolverine Company Store in MoDiv offers a great selection of shoes, boots, and accessories from brands including Hush Puppies, CAT Footwear, and Merrell. Krueger called MoDiv “another representation of the community spirit and collaboration here in Grand Rapids and West Michigan.”
MoDiv also has flowers with bokay by Eastern Floral, a floral boutique located just inside the entrance. This is a new concept for Eastern Floral that sells arrangements designed with a chic and urban feel. Eastern Floral’s owner Bing Goei pointed out that MoDiv is unique in that it is made up of national and international companies as well as local, smaller businesses working together and learning from each other.
Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell closed with remarks about how exciting it is to see the changes in downtown Grand Rapids with the increase in retail, restaurants, and entertainment. More people are living, working, and enjoying our city than ever before.
In addition to those companies mentioned above, other businesses include Sophia Bella Couture, Kitchen Sinc, 6.25 Paper Studio, Chai Boutique, C-Prime, and Vue Design. If you are in the area, make it a priority to visit MoDiv and support local business. There is truly something for everyone!
Last Friday, we stopped by Creston High School for North American Choral Company’s Second Edition of Michigan Sings.
The North American Choral Company of Grand Rapids has distinguished itself as one of the finest youth choruses. With its commitment to diversity and musical excellence, the chorus has won cheers for its performances on three continents.
NACC’s educational programs include school-based choirs conducted as part of the school day in several GRPS buildings, after-school tutoring, jazz history and music theory instruction, and the summer component of the Believe To Become initiative led by the Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation.