Momentum Center to celebrate 1-year anniversary

Tribune Staff • Apr 19, 2018 at 11:00 AM

The Momentum Center for Social Engagement and Just Goods Gifts and Café are concrete evidence of what caring, determined people can accomplish.

Both are the result of community feedback at the first Town Hall on Mental Illness as well as a Community Mental Health (CMH) grant from the 2016 millage vote to support mental health issues. Thousands of Ottawa County residents saw the need, and hundreds of dedicated, hands-on people made it happen.

A celebration of the center’s one-year anniversary will take place Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Just Goods Gifts and Café, located in the Momentum Center at 714 Columbus Ave. in Grand Haven. The public is invited.

The Momentum Center provides a variety of activities, classes and outings for adults who have disabilities, addictions or mental illness. Monthly meetings allow the nearly 120 members to share their ideas with staff members. Those ideas have led to cooking and baking; craft classes; life skills classes about such things as social skills, boundaries, budgeting and healthy food choices; and recreational and leisure opportunities. Computers, pool and air hockey are available to members.

Annual dues are $1.

Outings have included Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Muskegon Lumberjacks hockey games, John Ball Park and Zoo, ArtWalk, Tri-Cities Historical Museum and West Michigan White Caps baseball games. Members had a float in the 2017 Coast Guard Festival Parade. They’ve formed walking groups and gone snowshoeing, bowling and grocery shopping.

Momentum Center manager Jenna Vipond sees more opportunities in the future.

“We’d like to be open seven days a week, and we’d like to offer social and recreational opportunities for teens who have disabilities, addictions or mental illness,” she said. 

Everything that happens at the Momentum Center, according to Executive Director Barbara Lee Van Horssen, is geared toward creating a safe, nonjudgmental, inclusive space for members to meet and socialize.

Member Cheryl Brinks agrees.

“We’ve never had a place like this to go to before, and we needed one really desperately,” Brinks said. “I’m just really glad we’re here.”

Just Goods Gifts and Café sells fair trade goods as well as local pastries, coffee and tea. All profits return to Extended Grace, the non-profit parent company, and help to fund the Momentum Center. Handcrafted fair trade gifts come from Ghana, Kenya, Ecuador, El Salvador, the Philippines, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Honduras, Nepal, Israel, Guatemala, Cambodia, West Bank/Palestine, Cameroon, Haiti and Tanzania.

Locally produced gifts come from the students at Community-Based Instruction (CBI), artisans with Humanity for Prisoners and students at The Wesley School in Muskegon.

Fair trade ensures the people who create the products receive a fair price for their work and helps to provide them higher standards of living.

“Everyone is welcome at Just Goods Gifts and Café’,” said Manager Cali Caluza. “It’s a great place to stop for coffee and to find gifts you likely won’t see anywhere else around.”

In addition to the Mental Health Millage, Extended Grace has received grants and donations from foundations, companies and individuals. A current crowd-funding campaign enabled Extended Grace to purchase a handicap-accessible van that will be unveiled at the anniversary celebration.

With only three paid staff members, Extended Grace relies on a small army of volunteers, including Anthony Anastor, Shelbee Axsom, Haley Baxter, Joyce Borst, Nancy Casady Bowen, Kylee Buchan, Sue DeRuiter, Ann Donlin, Corie Dubridge, Hannah Everett, Connie Farell, Jane Fuetz, Justin Gargano, Mckenna Grennan, Ryan Huber, Carey Korpi, Leijhi Koval, Nicki Kubec, Karla Nelson, Erin Nienhouse, Miranda Piekarski, Ako Poel, Deb Schubert, Kristin Start, Mary Switzer, Deann Vanderjagt, Kristi VanWeelden, Richard Watson and Jacob Wencel.

For more information, visit extendedgrace.org.

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