On March 24 at 6 p.m. Jon Troast, singer/songwriter, gave a one-hour performance for about 45 residents and family members at Meadowlark Retirement Community. Troast traveled from Nashville, Tenn. to perform this concert. Jon’s website is Jontroast.com. Troast said he used to dislike Mr. Rogers’ song “I Like to Take My Time,” but now has a different attitude. “As funny as it might sound, Mr. Rogers’ message is found in a lot of my songwriting—taking time to notice what’s going on around you, taking time to think about what’s important in life, taking time to enjoy what you have, taking time to ‘do it right.’ It’s been my motto since becoming a full-time musician six years ago,” Troast said. Troast started out playing in coffee shops, bars, churches and other such venues in the Midwest, slowly building his repertoire. He started doing house concerts, such as his visit to Meadowlark, a couple years ago. “You connect with your audience a lot more when you’re singing in front of their fireplace and sleeping on their couch,” said Troast. The idea took off, and Troast has since played in hundreds of homes all over the country, including one extended coast-to-coast tour of 100 concerts in 100 days. He also has performed on National Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” Melissa Chambers, director of Porter Hills Retirement Community & Services and Meadowlark, said the concert was very much enjoyed by those who attended. Porter Hills Retirement Community has been recognized as “West Michigan’s 101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For” eight years in a row.
Challenged students get a little help from a friend by BETH ALTENA A program that pairs successful students and those that face learning differences is so successful that teacher Emily Molesta hopes it will become a model for other schools. “Links” at Appleview Elementary in Sparta is a new program that links children with learning challenges such as autism with their peers, who mentor them and often form special friendships. It is called Links because it links students together like the rings or loops forming a chain. Darby Andreini is one of the links who has several students within her mentorship, and the relationships with her new friends have become a staple of conversation at home. “Not a day goes by without a Ferd story or an Alex story,” said Katy Andreini of her daughter, a fourth-grade student at Appleview. Darby was interviewed by TV ? recently and will be featured in a news segment this week. “She has developed amazing leadership skills,” Katy said of her daughter. More importantly, the relationship between Darby and her links is one of mutual care. “She doesn’t look down on them or patronize them,” Katy said. Katy said her daughter can be frustrated when others assume her role with her links is to discipline or boss them around. “They mentor their link by helping them with their school work or making sure no one is picking on them on the playground,” she described. She gave the example of offering a special toy or incentive to complete tasks. “One of her links loves Thomas the Train, so she found one and said, ‘Do you like this Thomas? If you fill out your planner every day this week, it’s yours,’” Katy described as an example of how Darby encourages her links. The relationships that have become apparent between the 50 or so students who are involved in Links are a secondary result of the program, first developed by Grand Valley State University. The main goal of the peer support program originated as a way for children in the autism spectrum of learning challenges to be more successful at school. Integrating students with developmental disadvantages is a concept that is coming into its own, and Molesta believes other schools can look […]
Sullivan completes basic training Air Force Airman James M. Sullivan recently graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills. Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force. Sullivan is the son of James Sullivan III of Rockford, and graduated in 2009 from Sparta Senior High School.
Sparta Mel Trotter mission gives 100 holiday dinners With Christian-based help all year around for those who struggle, help is perhaps especially appreciated during the holidays, when merriment and gift-giving is not on everyone’s agenda. At the Sparta outreach center and retail store operated by Mel Trotter Ministries, those who struggle financially this year were all smiles as they picked up a grocery cart full of dinner items, from a large turkey to the desserts and toppings. “It’s extremely helpful,” said one of the people waiting to load up the items. “I am a single mom and disabled.” Another who was at the Sparta location prior to putting together the holiday meal, said she appreciated the help as well. “I am always donating items. Now I have had my hours cut at work and my husband’s hours were cut.” She said her job is cleaning houses, and people who have had to reduce their spending often stop that service. “I just learned today I lost a huge job. That’s going to hurt.” Mel Trotter Ministries was founded in West Michigan in 1900 with the mission of helping restore faith and lives. On February 24, 1900, Mel Trotter and a group of community leaders opened a mission at 95 Canal Street in Grand Rapids. Since then, hundreds of thousands of men and women have found Jesus and restored their lives, thanks to the loving support they found at Mel Trotter Ministries. The Mel Trotter store at 538 S. State Street in Sparta, open to the public, had a grand re-opening in November 2010. The store is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shoppers will find new and used items including clothing, housewares, sports equipment, books and more. Donations of gently used items are also appreciated.