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If you've never experienced the West-Michigan Women's Expo, this is the year to go! This year's event at the DeVos Place includes a full line up of exclusive product launches, shopping, networking and seminars is more exciting than ever before. “We change it up every year so we always have something new as far as new products and services. Many people launch products to women because women biggest market, so either women going to like it or not. This is the way to find out,” says Denise Kolesar, President of Kohler Expos, Inc. Stop by and meet the West Michigan… Read more...

LaughFest for the Health of It

Thursday, 23 February 2012 16:03
You'll laugh, you'll cry (because you're laughing so hard), and you'll  boost your health–all in the name of Gilda's LaughFest. The second annual community-wide event is coming to Grand Rapids March 8-18, and Gilda's Club has assembled a cast of laugh-worthy events for the whole family. "We hope to feature in those ten days a celebration of laughter for the health of it," says Leanne D. Arkema, president and CEO of Gilda's Club in Grand Rapids. More improv, sketches, music theater, dance, children's events, and even pet showcases are being combined to create the funniest thing you'll experience all year.… Read more...

Blending Inspiration, Adventure, and Art

Thursday, 16 February 2012 16:17
A lot has changed since a young girl from the Midwest saved up her money to buy her first plane ticket to Italy. Six trips to Ethiopia later, Stephanie Schlatter is decorating the pallet of her life with philanthropy, service, and a little bit of paint. When Stephanie, a former hairdresser, took her first trip to Nepal, she was inspired by the culture of respect and emphasis on communal spirituality. The children there knew how to entertain themselves without iPods and game consoles. But something was missing, and that something was art. "I wanted to help, but I didn't know… Read more...

Advocating One Job at a Time

Thursday, 09 February 2012 15:50
Empty shop windows, scarcely trodden side streets, and defeated, jobless families are icons of Michigan's economic turmoil as of late. But Norton Shores native Amanda Shunta never had plans to leave West Michigan; instead she's making plans to improve it. As the Vice President of West Michigan Jobs Group, Amanda has fought to increase employment opportunities in the Muskegon area, and it appears that her efforts are paying off. Amanda helped to begin the group in 2010 when developers were looking to build an offshore wind farm in a neighboring community. The plans never did pan out, but Muskegon residents… Read more...

All About the Attitude

Thursday, 02 February 2012 13:46
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it's a buyer's market, thus is the daily livelihood of Katie Karczewski. As a wife, mother, business owner, volunteer, survivor and friend, Katie K. embodies optimism and change similar to the city she has called home for 31 years. Business is booming for Katie, who was one of six investors that helped open the Grand Rapids Keller Williams Realty franchise in 2000. Now, with 155 agents in the its Grand Rapids location, the business is number one in closed volume through the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors, and Katie is thrilled.… Read more...

Never a Dull Moment

Thursday, 26 January 2012 14:18
As a mother of three, Melody VanderWeide knows keeping kids active, entertained and stimulated takes variety. She put her multitasking know-how to good use in founding the ever popular, ever updating website for all things kid-friendly, GRKids.com. Melody was a high school chemistry teacher for ten years and juggled her family and career, but after the birth of her second baby, she and her husband decided to make a change of the stay-at-home-mom variety. "When our second child was born, it just seemed like life needed a change of pace in order to see my children. When you're teaching, it's… Read more...

Making Her Mark

Thursday, 19 January 2012 09:17
Deana Brownlow’s journey to becoming a business owner began with a tiny footstep—but oddly enough, it wasn’t her foot. It was her young son’s footprint that was the impetus for Captured in Clay.  “Years ago, when we were living in another state, I knew a potter who made clay tile prints of my son’s footprints. When we moved to Michigan, I hung the tiles on the wall. All my friends loved them and there were no businesses in the area creating them. And I thought it was a great business opportunity.” Starting a business was not a foreign concept to… Read more...

Helping Moms Bloom

Wednesday, 04 January 2012 15:31
When Sara Binkley-Tow had her first child ten years ago, her initial intent was to be a working mother. “My husband and I tried to make it work, with us both working,” recalls Sara. “He even worked from home part of the time. But it just didn’t work for us, so I left an established career to stay at home. And I was horrible at it.” As a first-time mother, Sara was overwhelmed not only with caring for a newborn infant, but also with the adjustment of leaving the corporate world. “Because my career was rather high-paced, I found myself… Read more...
As an entrepreneur, volunteer, and community organizer, Dani Vilella, Public Affairs Manager for Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan, is passionate about the social climate of West Michigan. Community service was a pillar of Dani’s early education. As a student of Grand Rapids City Middle and High School, volunteerism and community service were a natural part of her coursework. “I was really fortunate to attend that school,” says Dani. “It was so progressive. They really encouraged student involvement. If we wanted a program, we were encouraged to start it. We were required to seek out a non-profit organization and work… Read more...
Noddea Moore Skidmore moved to West Michigan in 1997 to attend Grand Valley State University, and had an on-again/off-again love affair with the area for a few years while she studied and traveled. In 2004, Noddea accepted a programming position at Aquinas College and Grand Rapids became her official home. Today, she is the events producer for ArtPrize. Having grown up in the small town of Luzerne, located between Alpena and Traverse City, Noddea found West Michigan to be an exciting change. “A lot of people seem to think this area is not very diverse,” says Noddea. “But coming from… Read more...
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