Category Archives: Advocacy


Students from Fruitport High School recently took part in Disability Network West Michigan’s Career Exploration Camp! The eight-day camp, supported through the partnership with Michigan Rehabilitation Services, culminated in a community car wash designed by the students.

From budgeting and marketing to cash control and community outreach, the students were able to build a successful business that took in over $350 in just two hours! (A huge THANK YOU to Tiki Boiz for donating lunch to everyone who bought a car wash!)

In addition to building a successful business model, students learned valuable work, life and self-advocacy skills. These skills, along with the Social Coaching curriculum facilitated by Pioneer Resources, provide the necessary building blocks for becoming ready to work in the community….and spend money in the community! Enjoy back-to-school shopping with your Walmart gift cards, campers!

LET’S DO LUNCH! Oceana County

CEO Diane Fleser Gourp shot of those who attended

Thank you Oceana County residents, businesses and service providers for a “full house!”

Disability Network West Michigan recently held our LET’S DO LUNCH series in Hart at the Hart Community Center where we invited Oceana County residents, businesses and service providers to meet adminstrators and board members and to discover who we are and what we do in your communities.

We were so pleased to have such engaging conversations while presenting valuable information during a delicious lunch provided by Soup Of The Day Cafe!


Our Network News Quarterly Newsletter (October 2018)

Check out our latest issue of Our Network News! If you are having trouble viewing, please click HERE.

2018 Newaygo County Summer Transition Youth Camp (STYC

Summer of 2018 kicked off with a Career Exploration Camp. This Summer Transition Youth Camp (STYC) is designed to be the participant’s first real introduction to potential employment opportunities. The camp is intended to offer behind the scene information and first-hand communications from current employees and/or business owners on how to obtain employment; this includes daily tasks, education and any previous experience needed.

The goal is to explore first job options and help decipher the “dream job” verses the realistic job. In addition, the participants received health and wellness coaching from professionals in the field and hands-on volunteer time.

In helping this all come together and promoting community inclusion, Disability Network West Michigan would like to thank the following contributors:
Fremont Public Library for use of space,
Admiral Gas Station in Fremont, Michigan for their on the spot willingness to participate,
Pizza Hut for taking the time to answer questions,
Walmart Fremont – W 48th St and the individuals who researched answers they did not have,

A very special thank you to the following:
Tamarac, The Center for Health and Well-Being for planning three incredible sessions along with the working professionals for taking time from their schedules to accommodate our group.
Dr. Russell at Fremont Animal Hospital for a full tour and Q&A forum,
Andy at The Original Print Shop for the detailed explanation, tour and the new appreciation for things, we many times, take for granted.
Congratulations to Family Video in Fremont, Michigan for providing the very first volunteer/work experience for these youth!


Final Summer Transitioning Youth Camp (STYC) Comes to an Amazing End in Newaygo County!

Wow! The final Summer Transitioning Youth Camp (STYC) in the Fremont area of Newaygo County came to an end last week with resounding success thanks to the youth who participated, their counselors and the community who supported them in attaining more knowledge and skills through work-based experiences. Again, we can not thank everyone enough for their support, generosity and kindness! A special shout-out to Danielle Bennett our Youth Transition Specialist and Benjamin Post, Youth Counselor with MRS for making the inaugral STYC camp in Fremont such a hit!

We would like to acknowledge once again those who made such a significant contribution and making it possible to complete objectives and goals our youths set for themselves!
McDonald’s– For allowing us to crowd their picnic tables and consistently fill our water bottles and empty our bladders…again!
Tractor Supply Co.. – Volunteering their business for our youth to explore and develop work-based learning opportunities
Tamarac, The Center for Health and Well-Being – Providing information on Nutrition, Health & Wellness, Physical Fitness.
ChoiceOne Bank – Budgeting and money management
Michigan Secretary of State’s Office – The processes and establishing state ID’s (they were also open for questioning and provided drivers training manuals to our youth)
Fremont Public Library – For providing their conference room, Community Room and private interviewing rooms for mock interviewing.
Alpha Family Center of Newaygo – DISC personality testing/ healthy relationships
Bill’s Shop N Save – Providing space and water for car wash
Sweet Tire – Promoting car wash to customers and continued support
Empowerment Network & FCS Nest Resale – Thrift shop fashion search for interview clothes
Elsie’s Ice Cream Station – Last day fun and games and of course Ice Cream!
Michigan Rehabilitation Counseling and Education Association – Self-directed career assessments and results.
NC RESA Advanced and Accelerated Services – For graciously completing mock interviews and videotaping for review and discussion.

Summer Transitioning Youth Camp (STYC) Muskegon

DNWM just finished the 1st session of STYC here in Muskegon. We would like to thank the following people, community partners and Muskegon businesses for supporting our local disabled youth to become more skilled and knowledgeable to lead successful, independent lives!

Community Speakers we would like to thank:
•Corey Davis – Muskegon Area Transit System
•Naomi Hyso – MSU Extension
•Karen Gordon and Melanie Wolters – West Michigan Works in Muskegon County
•Margaret Gulinska – L3 Technologies
•Kim Lilly – Disability Network West Michigan
•Scott Hemmelsbach – City of Muskegon Fire Department
•Tom Korabik – North Muskegon Police Department
•Will Wilson – Disability Network West Michigan

We would also like to thank the following people and and community partners our campers visited for their support:
•Tracy Knight and Olivet Evangelical Free Church
•Stacie Peterson and Dave Eder from HealthWest
United Way of the Lakeshore
Muskegon Farmers Market
Subway Downtown Muskegon
USS LST 393 Veterans Museum
Angels’ Orthodox Community Garden
Top Shelf Downtown
Hackley and Hume Historic Site
Carmen’s Cafe
USS Silversides Submarine Museum
Social Security Building
•Family and Supports of all camp participants
•Everyone at DNWM who helped at some point with camp!

Campers in front of Social Security Office

Campers in front of Michigan Works!

Campers in front of the Muskegon Farmers Market

Campers in front of Muskegon City Hall

Campers at Angel Gardens

Campers gardening

Campers Gardening

Campers Gardening

Camper cooking food from Farmers Market

Nate and camper cooking food from Farmers Market

Camp Newaygo Accessibility Review

Recently, Disability Network West Michigan Newaygo County staff completed an accessibility review at Camp Newaygo. They toured the camp, including the new Craft Shop & the zip line. Unfortunately, It was raining w/thunder & lightening so the zip line was not available for staff to try, and some areas are still “under construction” and will be evaluated at a later date.

Beginning loft of zip line (not accessible)

End of Zip line showing distance between lofts.

Ramp to new Craft Shop.

Accessible bathroom in new craft shop.

Signage for Dark Room

Dark room for developing film

New driveway to craft shop (Wheelchair accessible) in progress.

New driveway to craft shop (in progress, accessible)

Current drive to new Craft Shop. (Steep grade, not wheelchair accessible)

Pottery Wheels (pottery porch & Gretchen’s Deck outside.

“Building Communities that “WORK” so that people with disabilities can lead full and exciting lives!”

The CIL Director’s met in Lansing on June 15 and June 16 to discuss items pertinent to the current landscape of our CIL’s and communities.  Areas of both strength and weaknesses were discussed in regards to collaborating as a Network and ideas were shared on how to achieve goals more effectively. 

One of the most impactful things discussed as a group was around defining Independent Living and talking strategically about weaving IL in our own communities.  The discussion lead to a more effective question around “why?” This offered deeper discussion and resulted in the following impact statement for our Network: 

“Building Communities that “WORK” so that people with disabilities can lead full and exciting lives!”


Summer Transitioning Youth Camp (STYC) Newaygo County


Pic: Group of 7 campers and staff


Pic: Camper moving pallet of lawn care products


Pic: Three campers stocking products


Pic: Two female campers emptying bag into trash container.


Pic: Male camper pulling pallet of products.


Pic: Female camper mopping floor.


Pic: Female camper sweeping floor

Our first STYC camp in Newaygo County has started this week in Newaygo and it looks like everyone is learning independent living skills while have a great time! Our summer program is to offer youth an opportunity to develop their goals and plans for what will come after they complete their secondary education.  Our thanks to the Newaygo Tractor Supply Co. for their partnership! Tractor Supply Co.

Summer Transitioning Youth Camp (STYC)

Check out the personal impact our Summer Transitioning Youth Camp had for a young gentleman that participated this summer!