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Stories to inspire you.

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.

Jazz vocalist Edye Evans Hyde is passionate about music in general, but jazz is her go-to, all-American, art in the form of music genre. From traditional to smooth to funky to improv, Edye knows jazz provides freedom of performance and freedom of the soul.  

According to 2011 surveys, annually there are 1.6-2.8 million runaway children in the United States. In Michigan alone that year, there were more than seven thousand runaway children. Muskegon County runaways numbered 460. Julia Koch of The Hope Project says these numbers, "aren't small potatoes," especially considering the percentage of runaway children who become exposed to human trafficking. "According to the National Runaway Hotline, one in three runaway (children) will be approached by a trafficker within forty-eight hours of leaving home," Julia said. 

Veronica Ramirez Garcia is a full-time mom. And for the past nine months, she's also been the full-time executive director of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Her focus on minority business growth and developing core values for local entrepreneurs and employees is the driving force behind the chamber's impact in West Michigan. But the chamber doesn't just touch the Hispanic community. Veronica emphasizes integration between other local chambers, "and various other organizations that are focused on helping businesses and the growth of community." 

The digital age of photography makes just about anyone with a camera a photographer. But it takes someone special to create images, and Christine Gribble of Grand Rapids takes it one step further as a photographic artist for children and families with special needs. Christine's skill set, lifelong experiences, and her extra dose of compassion are prerequisites in her niche. 

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