Top Dog: Traverse City’s D.O.G. Bakery Celebrates 10 Years

True dog lovers regard their pets as family members–and Karry Barolo from Traverse City, Michigan is among these ranks. She felt guilty leaving her two dogs — Daisy, a Lab-Chow mix, and Oscar, a Beagle mix — when she went to work every day. “Dogs have such a pure love for their owners. And I was missing out on that relationship,” said Karry. So in 2004 she quit her corporate job to work full time alongside her dogs  at the business she and her husband Chris had started in their spare time: D.O.G. Bakery.

Hand made dog treats by D.O.G. Bakery

Last year, dogs everywhere gobbled up almost 8 tons of treats made by D.O.G. Bakery.


At the beginning, the Barolos’ new venture faced a skeptical audience. The media and potential wholesalers didn’t take the “dog bakery” concept seriously, doubting that such a niche business could survive. “In our early years, the articles written about D.O.G. Bakery had a silly angle that seemed to make fun of us,” Karry said. “Now we’re portrayed as a legitimate business and a resource for dog owners. It’s one thing I’m very proud of: the value is real.”

10 Years: Can you say “Dog Party!?”

To celebrate 10 years in business, the bakery planned a huge outdoor party for the community’s dogs and their owners, complete with games, dog treats, popcorn and grilled hot dogs. To top off the event, “Bisquit,” the ‘human’ dog, led a parade from the bakery to the local dog park.

Chris and Karry Borolo, founders of D.O.G. Bakery, sitting on bench at dog park with their 'human' dog Bisquit

D.O.G. Bakery founders, Chris and Karry Borolo, with their ‘human’ dog Bisquit celebrate at the dog park


Once at the dog park, the Barolos held a raffle for a year of free dog treats. Proceeds from the raffle were donated to a fund that helped provide landscaping and running water to the dog park. “We are so grateful for our supportive community. Donating the raffle funds to make the dog park better was the best way we could thank them,” said Karry.

From Simple Beginnings to Wow!

D.O.G. Bakery officially opened on May 1, 2004 in a small space in back of a retail strip mall. Low visibility prompted a move to Traverse City’s main street downtown in 2006.

“That’s when things really took off,” Karry said. The uptick in business led the bakery to expand: its original space now houses the bakery operation, and an adjacent space is used for retail.

D.O.G. Bakery Storefront in Traverse City, Michigan

In 2006, the bakery obtained retail space with a storefront on the main street in downtown Traverse City.

The boost in foot traffic is only part of the story behind D.O.G. Bakery’s growth: building a website their first year in business helped the operation develop a national customer base. The Barolos not only provide products to individuals with dogs, but also sell wholesale to stores and businesses across the country–including Hawaii. All this growth required employees, and D.O.G. Bakery currently has nine.

The Bakery

As the pet industry continues to grow, D.O.G. Bakery stands out for its focus on dog health and nutrition. “We want what’s best for the dog,” said Karry. “So we’ve worked very hard to come up with recipes that have no preservatives but have a longer shelf life.”

Frosted, baked dog treats in shape of bones

All treats are handmade, touched by loving hands as if they were being made especially for one’s own dog.

All treats are handmade without any machinery. “We bake 7 days a week, from 7 am in the morning until 9 pm at night,” Karry explained. “Our saving grace is that we don’t bake at 2 am like traditional bakeries!”  And of course there is R & D. With the aid of Karry’s current ‘spoiled rotten’ Tibetan Terriers, Rags and Lucy, the products–including gluten free dog treats, decorated treats, and cakes–receive a rigorous taste-testing so their canine friends can be assured of ultimate flavor in every treat. Last year, dogs throughout the nation gobbled up nearly 8 tons of D.O.G. Bakery treats.

Two Tibetan Terrier dogs with Halloween hats on in front of lit pumpkin

Rags and Lucy, official R & D case testers of the bakery’s dog treats

The Retail Store: Dog Heaven on Earth

D.O.G.’s retail space has never been just another store: it’s become the ultimate destination for dogs (and their human friends). For starters, not a dog enters the door without getting a free sample. Discerning dogs can even enjoy individual servings of dog ice cream (current special: peanut butter banana), made with low fat yogurt, local honey, and peanut butter and topped with sprinkles and crumbled cookies. While Fido savors his treat, owners can shop a complete line of dog and cat food, toys, and supplies of all kinds.

Interior of D.O.G. Bakery’s Retail Store

The retail store carries a complete line of dog and cat food, toys, and supplies of all kinds.

Rich With Experiences

Over the past 10 years of business, the Barolos have shared in the lives of their customers. On any given day, a visitor to the store might be over the moon introducing a new puppy, or overcome with sadness due to a beloved dog’s passing. Karry considers it a privilege to be part of her customers’ lives. “They know we get it,” she said. “They trust us with their real feelings without having to worry about feeling embarrassed.”

And that, ultimately, is the big payoff. “We’ve been a part of the journey with these animals,” Karry said. “I’m not rich making dog treats, but I’m very rich with experiences.”

Celebrating a dog’s birthday with birthday cake, ice cream, party hat

D.O.G. Bakery’s product line includes decorated treats for special occasions, cakes, and even dog ice cream!

Macatawa Resource Center Celebrates 15 Years with Ribbon Cutting Celebration

The Macatawa Resource Center is a facility thThe Macatawa Resource Center Signat rents space for non-profits to run their organizations in Holland, Michigan. This year, the center celebrated 15 years of helping community organizations, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and anniversary celebration!

In 1999, founder Leroy Hernandez opened the doors to the Macatawa Resource Center with a mission of helping non-profit organizations to succeed, even if they may not have the funds to rent their own office space or facility. The center began with just a few organizations taking advantage of this opportunity. Over time, MRC has expanded its facilities, and is currently home to over 13 non-profit organizations.

Some of these organizations include:

  • The Arc Advocacy and Resource Center - Providing support and resources for children and adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities, and their families.
  • The Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance – Promoting racial equality and the active inclusion of people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds through workshops, seminars, and other advocacy services.
  • The Community Action House – Helps area families and individuals by providing food, clothing, and shelter, as well as education and training to sustain these basic necessities on their own.
  • The Thrift Boutique – A functioning thrift shop with clothing, shoes. books, accessories, and more – the proceeds from which go towards Community Action House Programs.
  • Building Men For Life – A community living program to help men reshape their lives after recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction, by providing support and local housing.

In celebration of the Macatawa Resource Center’s continued growth and service to the community, the center held a West Coast Chamber ribbon cutting event. After an informative and gracious speech from Hernandez, the ribbon cutting kicked off the event, and 15 doves were released as a symbol of 15 years.

The Macatawa Resource Center Ribbon is Cut as 15 Doves are Released into the Air

15 doves were released as the ribbon was cut in celebration of the Macatawa Resource Center’s 15th Anniversary.

After the ribbon cutting, guests were given an extensive tour of the facility. Groups were led through the different non-profit organizations housed in the Center, as well as the common areas of the facility, like conference rooms and kitchens for the organizations to utilize.

The food pantry at the Macatawa Resource Center

The food pantry at the Macatawa Resource Center is just one of the ways the organizations it houses give back to the community.

As groups toured the facility, refreshments provided by Boar’s Head could be enjoyed. There was also live music, and even free chair massages.  The event was a true celebration, and everyone in attendance seemed to enjoy themselves and learn a lot about the various organizations housed at the facility.

Live music at the anniversary celebration

Live music set the tone for a true celebration of community spirit.

Congratulations to the Macatawa Resource Center for 15 years of serving the Holland community!

Afton Apple Celebrates 25 Years

A good pick: Afton Apple celebrates 25 years

Welcome to Afton Apple

When September comes around, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more telling sign of the season than the ubiquitous trip to the apple orchard (the Pumpkin Spice Latte might be a close second, but that’s a story for another day …). And as urbanites and suburbanites alike prep for their annual orchard outings, it seems that everyone has a favorite.

Afton Apple is one of the orchards in the Twin Cities Metro that’s gotten it right. Located a few miles north of Hastings, MN, the orchard celebrates its 25th season this year. Owners Frank and Cindy Femling purchased over 190 acres of unmaintained farmland in 1989, steadily transforming the property from a modest pick-your-own apple orchard to a well-known landmark that welcomes over 50,000 visitors during apple season.

You might think that such a large operation would give the orchard an overly commercial feel. Yet the Femlings have carefully maintained the orchard’s rural charm and down-home atmosphere. Top of the List staffer Audrey Flack discovered this firsthand when visiting the orchard with her family on a sunny September weekend. In addition to picking apples, her young sons took full advantage of the unique “retread hill,” petting zoo, and playground:

Afton Apple Kids' Activities

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Afton Apple held a weekend-long extravaganza in mid-September. The event featured the famous Dock Dogs, music, face painting, and a beer tent, in addition to giveaways and a 25 percent discount on pick-your-own apples. It also designed its 15-acre corn maze to commemorate the event. The design theme, “Ears to 25 Years,” incorporates an anniversary cake and even the faces of the Femlings themselves.

But perhaps the best way for visitors to celebrate Afton Apple’s milestone anniversary is in the traditional way: with delicious goodies freshly made from the orchard’s harvest!

Enjoying a doughnut from Afton Apple

House of Flavors Celebrates 66 Years

House of Flavors HistoryHouse of Flavors Sign

Park Dairy’s House of Flavors is one of Michigan’s original ice cream manufacturers, as well as an ice cream parlor and restaurant. They are independently owned and operated by the Neal family. Bob Neal Sr. purchased 50% of Miller Dairy in Ludington, MI in 1948. Miller Dairy was then renamed Park Dairy.  Today, the company is run by Bob Neal Jr. and his son Barry Neal.

House of Flavors Today

Park Dairy’s House of Flavors is Michigan’s largest ice cream manufacturer under one roof, as well as Michigan’s biggest private label ice cream manufacturer.  House of Flavors produces over 2 million gallons of ice cream per month, and creates over 3400 different ice cream recipes for customers world-wide.

Claim to Fame

House of Flavors’ claim to ice cream fame is creating the Midwest favorite:  Blue Moon ice cream. They began making this signature flavor in 1935, when House of Flavors was then Miller Dairy. Today, the Blue Moon ice cream ingredients remain a secret, but the flavor is deliciously distinct and iconic.

Ice Cream Parlors / RestaurantsHouse of Flavors Decor

House of Flavors also has 2 ice cream parlor / restaurant locations. The original location is in Ludington, MI, right in front of the ice cream factory; the second location is in Manistee, MI along the Riverwalk.  The parlors have a 50’s diner theme, and the décor includes a jukebox, retro bar stools, and record albums covering the walls and ceiling.  Their goal is to “bring back family style dining the way it was intended, by providing quality meals and desserts, a fun family style environment, and superior service”.  They specialize in roast turkey, specialty sandwiches, and homemade soups, in addition to their delicious ice cream.


House of Flavors is commemorating their 66th anniversary with a banner hanging in their restaurant as well as with staff t-shirts marking this important milestone.  And, starting in mid-October and running for a limited time, they will be giving diners a free scoop of ice cream with a meal purchase as a way to say “thank you”.

Join us in congratulating House of Flavors on a deliciously successful 66 years, and be sure to stop by on your next visit to Ludington or Manistee, Michigan!

Beltline Bar Celebrates 60 Years

Beltline Bar


The original Beltline Bar was founded by George Wilkinson in 1953. In the beginning, the restaurant served popcorn, beverages, and chili dogs, which were the house specialty at the time.  Then, in 1964, Tony Rutkowski acquired the restaurant, and his son Jerry developed many of the secret recipes for today’s Mexican specialties.  As a result, the Beltline Bar became the Beltline Bar Famous Mexican Café.



Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan the Beltline Beltline Bar LunchBar is likely the most well-known Mexican restaurant in all of West Michigan. It has become famous for its wet burritos and margaritas, winning multiple awards throughout the years. In addition to burritos, the Beltline Bar carries an array of delicious appetizers, salads, sizzling fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, chimichangas, house favorites, burgers and wraps, and desserts.


This summer the Beltline Bar is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday you can get a “Famous Wet Burrito” and draft beer for only $7.99.

In addition, the Beltline Bar is participating in the 4GR8 Beltline Bar Drink2014 Passport – Eat Local Challenge. The Passport Challenge features restaurants which are locally based, Michigan owned and operated, and strive to support local suppliers and local food growers. The challenge is simply to dine at the local restaurants and receive a stamp in your passport when you spend at least $10. You can then redeem the stamped passport for gift certificates.

  • $10 gift certificate for redeeming 3 stamps
  • $25 gift certificate for redeeming 6 stamps
  • $50 gift certificate for redeeming 9 stamps.

You can double the value of your gift certificate by redeeming a catering stamp which is earned by having one of the participating restaurants cater your event.

Beltline Bar Chimi Cheesecake DessertLastly, this summer the Beltline Bar is partnering with WOOD Radio for “Burrito Tuesday”; to nominate a friend or co-worker to be a “Beltline Bar Burrito Buddy of the Week”.  Winners are announced every Tuesday morning between 5am-9am, and will receive a $25 gift certificate to the Beltline Bar.

Please join us in congratulating the Beltline Bar on a deliciously successful 60 years!

Hastings, MN’s Rivertown Days celebrates 35 years!

Rivertown Days Anniversary Celebration in Hastings MNAsk residents what words come to mind when they think of “Hastings, Minnesota,” and you might hear a few frontrunners: Historic. Friendly. Scenic. It’s true; the town of 22,000 on the Mississippi, Vermillion and St. Croix rivers is well-known for being all of those things.

But this year, you might hear a few more…less conventional terms: Creative. Artist-friendly. And maybe even….Neon?

With the newly-completed Highway 61 bridge, a downtown redevelopment plan recently approved, and a burgeoning theater and arts community, Hastings has a new energy that blends the community’s historic charm with the anticipation of a bright future. And nowhere was this energy more evident than at Rivertown Days, the town’s annual celebration.

You might even say it was “glowing.”


Glow Run at Rivertown Days

Yes, you read that correctly. 2014 marked the first year that the traditional Hastings River Run was revamped as the Glow Run and the official kickoff to the late-July Rivertown Days extravaganza. With a 2K fun run, 8K race, food trucks, children’s obstacle courses, face-painting, and a DJ, the Glow Run attracted a wider audience than the typical road race. Top of the List staffer Audrey Flack couldn’t resist bringing her family to enjoy the festivities—and from the look of things, they enjoyed themselves!

Family and Kids’ Activities

As a mom of two young boys under three, Flack sought out events suited to short attentions spans—and she wasn’t disappointed. “Sometimes I think twice about going to large events with kids this young because it’s so difficult to keep them safe and entertained,” she said. “But I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get around Rivertown Days.”
Most children’s and child-friendly events centered in Jaycee Park, which lines the Mississippi River and offers a scenic view of the town’s new bridge—and a welcome breeze. A special performance by the Emmy-award-winning Zinghoppers was the highlight of the boys’ trip—rivaled only by the ongoing DockDogs Northern Stars competition!

Kid Friendly Activities at Rivertown Days Festival in Minnesota, including the Zinghoppers

Flack’s boys had so much fun, they couldn’t stay awake for the multitude of other family-friendly options at the park, including carnival rides, a BMX and skateboard stunt show, demonstrations from the Hastings Police Department’s K-9 Unit, waterski shows from the Shockwaves, and other children’s activities—all on the list for next year!

Painting the Town

Even while celebrating the new, Hastings hasn’t forgotten its rich history. With 63 nationally-recognized historic buildings and a bustling downtown district, Hastings blends the old and new in creative ways—and Rivertown Days is no exception. Levee Park, adjacent to the river and downtown, hosts an artists’ bazaar where passerby reflect on a riverside Veterans’ memorial and purchase goods from local artists. Downtown’s many clothing, gift, and specialty stops hold epic Sidewalk Sales, while bars and restaurants bring live music to the streets:

Live Music and Sidewalk Sales Lined the Streets of Hastings, MN at the Rivertown Days Festival

The annual Rivertown Days parade is an extravaganza of classic cars, local businesses and bands—and, of course, candy and treats for the kids!

The Rivertown Days parade included Fire Trucks, Local Businesses, Classic Cares and More!

Flack’s advice? “Set up camp early!” she said. “Preferably somewhere shaded!”

After Dark

Lest you think that Rivertown Days is just for kids, Flack is quick to note the many activities she “would have loved to attend, but just weren’t feasible for the toddler set!” A riverside beer and wine garden, concert by country super group Hitchville, and Gal Pal Soiree were only some of the festivities best left to the adults.

“Next year,” Flack said, “We’re getting a sitter!”

Danish Festival 50th Anniversary


DF 50th2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Danish Festival in Greenville, MI.  The festival’s mission is to celebrate the homecoming of family and friends and Greenville’s Danish heritage. The Danish Festival has grown exponentially throughout the years and now draws over 80,000 people annually. The festival traces its roots back to 1964, when a contest was held to come up with an idea to promote the town of Greenville. The winning idea, from Dorothy Oliver, was that a day be set aside to honor Greenville’s Danish heritage. Thus, the Danish Festival was born, and the first festival was held on August 18, 1965.

About the Danish Festival

Danish Festival mural

Each year the festival has a theme, based on a Danish fairytale written by Hans Christian Andersen.  2014’s theme is ‘The Red Shoes’.  The annual theme is represented in a poster contest, parades (Grand Dansk Parade, Fairytale Parade, and Fireman’s Parade), as a play at the Greenville Community Center, and as a mural hand painted on the side of a business in downtown Greenville.

In addition to the annual Danish Festival theme, thousands come to enjoy the traditional Danish treat of Aebleskivers! Aebleskivers are pancake-like balls of dough cooked in a special aebleskiver cast iron pan, served with powdered sugar and raspberry jam.  Legend has it that after a battle and with nothing to eat, the Vikings mixed flour with milk and poured the batter into their dented shields which resulted in “bumpy pancakes” or aebleskivers.


The Danish Festival is a family friendly event, with plenty of activities for everyone. Highlights of the events being held at the Danish Festivals 50th Anniversary include:

  • Danish Festival Open Air Breakfast – Official Annual Kick-Off Event
  • Unveiling of the Danish Festival Mural
  • Danish Festival Queen’s Pageant and Prince & Princess
  • Danish Festival Young Miss and Jr. Miss Pageant
  • Daily Hot Air Balloon Flights
  • Greenville Glows – Hot Air Balloon Illumination
  • A Fireworks Celebration
  • Lake of Illumination at Baldwin Lake
  • Daily Stage Performances
  • Arts & Crafts Fair Downtown
  • Used Books and Bake Sale
  • Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale Parade
  • “Princess and the Pea” Bed Race
  • Auto Shows
  • Fireman’s Parade
  • Grand Dansk Parade
  • Han’s Christian Anderson Theater at the Greenville Community Center
  • Art @ the Green – Publicly Voted on Art Contest
  • Nightly Concerts
  • Softball Tournament
  • Danish Family Fun Day

For a full schedule of events or for more information on the Danish Festival, please visit

Please join us in congratulating the Danish Festival on their 50th Anniversary!

Avast! Celebrates 25th Anniversary!

Avast! is perhaps the most popular and trusted, free antivirus com25 yearsputer program available, with more than 219 million users world-wide, which is more than any other security provider. They are dedicated to being the best at saving the world’s computers.

Avast! is based in Praque, Czech Repulic, and was started by Eduard Kucera and Pavel Baudis in 1988. As a result of an unpleasant encounter with the Vienna Virus, Kucera and Baudis set out on a quest to create a better antivirus program. The result: an award-winning antivirus program with global popularity.

Over the past 25 years, avast! has received numerous awards and accolades. Most recently, they have been ranked as the most-downloaded product on several major global software portals, received a 5-star Excellent rating from Softpedia, were awarded the VB100 Award from the independent testing firm Virus Bulletin, and received the “Advanced+” rating from independent testing firm AV-Companies. They were also named as Czech Republic’s best company to work for in 2013.

Avast! 2014 has several options for personal use. The hugely popular avast! Free Antivirus protects computers from malware and viruses. Avast! also offers paid upgrades in addition to the free antivirus:

•avast! Pro Antivirus has the added protection for secure payments and banking
•avast! Internet Security protects online banking, has a silent firewall, and an anti-spam feature to protect users from phishing and scam emails
• avast! Premier includes all of the previously mentioned features plus includes a data shredder for military-grade permanent data erasure, an automatic software updater for your other programs, and even allows you to securely access your computer over the internet from anywhere.

New releases include avast! 2014, SecureLine, and GrimeFighter. Avast! 2014 is the latest and greatest version of the antivirus program which is available in more than 40 languages, and streams hundreds of micro-updates daily to ensure you have the best protection possible. The avast! SecureLine VPN protects user activity done over WiFi. It encrypts browsing and communications, making you invisible to anyone trying to spy on your internet activity. Lastly, the avast! GrimeFighter program is the first PC cleaner to detect and remove files that can’t be found with Windows running.

In addition to personal computer security, avast! is also available for businesses and for Android phones and tablets. Avast! Mobile Security and Anti-Theft protects against malware attacks, has a built in feature to locate your device if it is ever lost or stolen, and allows you to thoroughly wipe or delete the contents of your SD card for security.

To learn more about avast! be sure to visit their website, like them on Facebook, follow their blog, watch informational videos on YouTube, or keep up with the latest via their Twitter feed.

Join us in congratulating avast! on their 25th anniversary!



Batman Celebrates 75 Years

The logo is instantly recognizable. The name is unforgettable. Kids and adults alike look up to the Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader, the legendary Batman. Batman is one of the most popular and successful superheroes in the history of comic books, film, and video games. And he’s 75 years old this year.

Originally called Bat-Man by his artistic creator Kane, Batman first appeared in a comic book in 1939, in the May issue of Detective Comics #27. The storyline of that issue was written by Bill Finger. The character became so popular that he got his own comic book, Batman #1, one year later.

Fast forward 75 years, and Batman has grown to be even more popular than ever before, and DC Comics has a full year of celebrations planned. Highlights of the celebration include:

    • July 23rd: Batman Day - Comic book retailers and book stores nationwide will celebrate the first ever official Batman Day. Fans will receive a free special edition of the Detective Comics #27 issue, in which Bat-Man first appeared, by visiting participating retailers. New collectibles will also be released to retailers, including Batman graphic novels, a 75th Anniversary cape, and four specially designed masks portraying the different looks Batman has had over the years. Batman Day will also be celebrated at select participating libraries on July 26th,  thanks to a partnership with Random House and DC Comics. You can learn more about all of the Batman Day activities in this press release.


    • Gotham TV Series - Warner Bros.Television is currently in production of the new TV series, Gotham. The drama explores the origin of the city of Gotham, and how its super-villain, Commissioner Gordon, rose to be Police Commissioner of one of the most corrupt and evil cities conceivable. The highly anticipated series from Executive Producers Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, stars Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon, and will premiere this fall on FOX.


    • Special Product Releases - The list is extensive, so let’s just say, there will be plenty of new Batman products released this year. This includes a plethora of re-releases of films, comic books, and tv series, as well as brand new animation shorts, collectibles, toy, t-shirts, and much more.


    • New Logo - The commemorative 75th Anniversary Logo features the Dark Knight in black with white numbering highlighting “75” for 75 years.


    • Batman 75 Sweepstakes - DC Comics offered a Sweepstakes running from March 27 through May 7, which awarded one winner with Batman-themed action figures, comics, toys, and more, valued at $2,747.79.


DC Comics will continue to celebrate Batman’s 75th Anniversary throughout the year. You can view the latest celebration details on Batman’s Facebook Page, or

Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan-50 Active Years

Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan (PPWNM) is celebrating a half-century of service this year. Like their 25th anniversary celebration, they have some big-time events —  past and planned — to recognize their achievements and to pump even more motivation into their supporters to accomplish future goals. This years events include:

  • A 50th Anniversary luncheon at Meijer
    Planned Parenthood Leaders: Katherine Humphrey and Cecile Richards

    PPWNM President Katherine Humphrey and PPFA President Cecile Richards

    Gardens. Held on May 6, the event’s speaker lineup included PPWNM President Katherine Humphrey, and a keynote speaker from the national front, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President Cecile Richards.

  • Culmination of StandingTall, a 3-year capital campaign that exceeded its $3 million goal by raising over $4 million. The funds are being used for facility renovations, technology upgrades, and for an endowment fund to ensure sustainability for those who depend on Planned Parenthood’s services.
  • A ribbon cutting ceremony and open house in the Fall to celebrate a building renovation to the tune of $2 million at the Grand Rapids’ Cherry St location

To provide a glimpse of how far planned parenting has come, birth control was not even legal for unmarried women in 1964 when Planned Parenthood’s grass roots efforts began. It wasn’t even legal for married women in all 50 states. As a result, it was common for women to have 10 or more children in their lifetime. Following are some other major milestones in Planned Parenthood’s history.
1964:  With the goal of helping low-income women access family planning services, pioneers Mary Kindle (Mrs. Thomas Kindel) and Helen Martin (Mrs. John Martin) worked feverishly to coordinate meetings and community forums, eventually founding Planned Parenthood Association of Kent County (PPAKC). Mrs. H. B. Shaine was its first board president. Mary Kindle, H.B. Shaine, Helen Martin, founders of Planned Parenthood Planned Parenthood founders Mary Kindle, H.B. Shaine, Helen Martin This landmark event required coordination and participation by numerous established organizations and community leaders. United Community Services (now United Way), Detroit Planned Parenthood, Michigan Department of Public Health, Kent County Health Department, Senior Minister Duncan Littlefair (Fountain Street Church) and Dr. James Riekse, M.D. were some of the key organizations or leaders involved. Outreach back then was not privy to the use of today’s technology and speed to deliver the message. Instead, supporters spread the word going door to door, established mobile work units to visit workplaces, promoted their mission on college campuses, and intercepted moms in the hospital shortly after delivery. It was truly a major effort.
1965: The first Planned Parenthood center opened, located at 50 Ransom NE. The center held evening hours only, since it was used as a medical facility during the day. It was typical to see 80 women waiting in line outside to access their services. A second clinic opened that same year at 917 Jefferson SE.
Continuing Years: Numerous developments took place over the years, including moves, expansions, locating clinics on college campuses, and closings of clinics as well. Some highlights, lowlights, and major developments during these years include:

  • 1976 – First Lady Betty Ford served as honorary chairwoman for the local fund drive. The drive surpassed its goal of $67,000.
  • 1980 – A major expansion added three more counties — Lake, Newaygo, and Oceana — to the three counties already covered (Ottawa, Mecosta and Kent). This brought their number of centers to a whopping 86.
  • 1989 – 25th anniversary celebration along with a major capital campaign resulted in renovation of their Cherry St. Building — the same one that is being renovated once again for their 50th anniversary.
  • 2002 – “Gimme Some Sugar” dessert auction for LGBT youth. Grand Rapids is one of the first cities of its size to have had an ordinance outlawing discrimination against LGBT, which helped ensure the success of this well-received event.
  • 2007 – Planned Parenthood of West Michigan merged with Planned Parenthood of Northern Michigan to become what it is known as today: Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan (PPWNM). Their area covers 52 counties.
  • 2007 – A major government funding cut resulted in closing numerous facilities including Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Mt. Pleasant. Both the Oceana, and Newaygo Health centers also closed due to the Title 10 funding reduction. Despite these setbacks, the merger is what allowed many of the health centers to remain open. By consolidating expenses, operating only one board instead of two, and lowering overhead with volume purchases, PPWNM continued on.
  • 2011 – A threatened government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding of $300 million per year. The tactic did not succeed, but was a hard fought issue.

Future Challenges Julie McKeiver, Communications Manager at PPWNM, had a laundry list of challenges she sees in the coming years:

  • Electronic health records – cost and privacy issues
  • Complacency of previous generations – Once Planned Parenthood became a success, women started taking it for granted and many stopped or slowed their efforts. The 2007 reduced funding wake-up call, followed by the 2011 threat has renewed the need for more participation
  • The political climate – especially difficult when conservatives are not in office since their strategies to win the next election often attack Planned Parenthood initiatives
  • Affordable Care Act – getting the word out that Planned Parenthood accepts insurance and offers a top quality standard of care. They also go out of their way to help people not only with medical issues, but also with life issues that affect their medical health.

“There will always be opposition,” according to McKeiver. “I sometimes question why we must fight so hard in this enlightened age though.”  
Educate – Advocate – Provide Health Care

Headquarters of Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan on Cherry St. in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Planned Parenthood Headquarters, April 10, 2014

With a primary focus on prevention of unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases,  breast cancer, and other women’s sexual health issues, the PPWNM of today is targeting teens to educate, advocate and remove barriers to health care. Considering the past political climate, they have their work cut out for them. As Cecile Richards mentioned in her keynote, “I believe we will live to see the day when women’s health is no longer a political issue … but it’s been a really tough time.” She later added words of encouragement, particularly in reference to Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan, “For fifty years, you have been helping women plan their lives and follow their dreams. Today let’s launch the next 50!”