Thursday, February 24, 2011

Community Spotlight: Nanny on Demand service offers solutions for busy parents

Published February 23, 2011 by Advance newspapers

By Matt Marn

Nanny on Demand, a franchise started in Caledonia, is now coming to the rescue of parents on the southwest side of town.

The staff at Nanny on Demand’s Wyoming location, at 5783 Byron Center Ave. SW, will watch young children for up to 4 hours while parents switch shifts at work, travel to medical appointments, or even get away for a much-needed break.

Children age 1 through 7 are welcome at the facility.

“I love this age,” said Shannon Schut, owner of the Wyoming facility. “My kids are all teens. Seeing them learn something new, their laughter, the convenience... I wish I had this service when my kids were this age.”

Since the Wyoming facility opened, they have been featured in newspapers and on local news programs, but most of all, they have grown by word of mouth and by handing out flyers around the community.

“People are starting to get very excited and pick up on the idea,” Schut said. “We are the only drop-off facility for short-term day care in Michigan.”

Schut said there are different areas of the room for a variety of activities the children participate in, from crafts and puzzles to reading and learning numbers.

“We just try to give them a new experience every time they come in,” she said.

The staff is also setting up specific times for larger playgroups, which will focus on more group interactions as well as helping build stronger friendships between the children.

Schut and the two other staff members all have backgrounds in child development or teaching. Schut said getting the children off on the right foot with the right influences is critical at this early age.

She encourages parents in need of short-term day care to come in and give it a try.

“Just bring your kids in here, and you’ll be so much more relaxed,” she said. “Let them enjoy the crafts, and have fun. Give them a break from traveling to all the appointments.”

Kim Jackson, of Grand Rapids, has children 1 and 2 years old. Jackson had never left her kids alone with anyone besides her husband before she walked in to Nanny on Demand.

She was nervous at first, having never left her kids with another person. When she came in the first time with her children, she conducted a “two-hour interview,” she said, but when she left, Jackson was satisfied that her kids were in very good hands.

“I have been bringing my two kids here for about a month now, and I hope that speaks volumes,” Jackson said. “I enjoy it. I love the people. I love the security about this place. After you bring them back time and time again, they get so comfortable, it’s like a second home.”

Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturdays by appointment. Rates are $10 per hour, and packages are also available at $90 and $150 which offer lower hourly rates.

For more information about Nanny on Demand, call 608-6623.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Community Spotlight: Art show at West Godwin makes teacher's heart smile

Published February 14, 2011 | Advance Newspapers

By Matt Marn

Students at West Godwin Elementary school, 3546 Clyde Park Ave. in Wyoming, will get to flex their artistic muscles at their annual student art show from 6-8 p.m. this Thursday.

The show has been put on for the past few years by the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, and Principal Phil Haack said the PTO takes pride in “going all out” for the event.

Erika Redrick, the art teacher at the school, said it was a great thing for the PTO to organize for the kids. While there was a districtwide showcase earlier in January, Redrick said the show at West Godwin has more of a competition feel.

“They enter their own ideas, their own concepts,” she said. “They have some freedom in art class, but in essence, they are all working on the same general project. Here, it’s really great they can express themselves, and feel comfortable doing it.”

Redrick said students all have a favorite medium through which to express themselves. She introduces them to many varieties of media in art class, and the competition is the open forum in which they can completely direct their own artwork.

“We don’t always get to fit their favorite works into the class,” Redrick said. “Now is the perfect chance for the kids to express themselves. They come and show me, they take what they learned in my class and make it their own. It makes my heart smile. It shows me I’m doing this right.”

Haack said the organizers have printed out ribbons for the winners, and arranged for a student piano player to come from the high school to play for the evening. All entries will be on display during the show, and winners, judged ahead of time, will be announced at the end of the evening.

“Everyone can enter whatever they’d like,” Haack said. “They work on it at home, using whatever medium they want, from coloring pages to clay to beads glued together... whatever the kids want to do.”

Haack said classrooms have been encouraging kids to enter.

“Many entries have already been from kids not always as active in class,” he said. “Parents have always played a key role. I’m impressed. Especially in a time where we push kids academically, it’s a great way to blend art and academics.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

Community Spotlight: Gaines gets ready for first Community Expo on Saturday

Published February 03, 2011 by Advance Newspapers

By Matt Marn

The Cutlerville-Gaines Chamber of Commerce will host the inaugural Gaines Community Expo on Saturday, Feb. 5. The free expo, which will run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., is an experience for the whole family designed to encourage community pride.

The expo will be held at the newly built gymnasium at Providence CRC, 7730 Eastern Ave. SE.

The expo is designed to help showcase all that Gaines Township has to offer, from businesses and industries to organizations. The expo is a chance to see a sampling of those businesses, and see firsthand how they impact the community.

“Gaines Township has a ton of businesses and local opportunities people may not even know about,” said Robin Halsted, executive director of the Cutlerville-Gaines Township Chamber of Commerce. “I hope it’s a great way to learn about the businesses in our community.”

Local schools will help provide entertainment, and there will be other events throughout the day to enjoy, including karate classes and the awarding of the 2011 Dutton Snowman Festival Awards.

In addition to the vendors, organizations and businesses, expo visitors can shop at the “Business Garage Sale,” which will showcase items from those businesses available for purchase.

“The business garage sale is a good opportunity for the businesses to bring in overstock items,” Halsted said. “It’s always good to shop locally. It builds the economy, it supports your community. So come by and see what local businesses have to offer.”

For more information on the Gaines Community Expo, contact the Cutlerville-Gaines Township Chamber of Commerce at 890-1378 or at

Community Spotlight: Wyoming Senior Center ready to step up its game

Published: January 24, 2011 | Advance Newspapers

By Matt Marn

Later this year, Wyoming area seniors will be enjoying more space in the game room at the Wyoming Senior Center.

Bids were recently submitted for a project to expand the room, and city staff will now review the bids and present their findings to the City Council at a Feb. 14 work session.

Molly Remenape, recreation programmer for the Wyoming Senior Center, said about seven years ago the center started the Senior Visioning Initiative (SVI), in which they had hoped to redo the whole center. But the funding was not available to revamp the entire senior center, so the staff decided to move forward with smaller projects as money presented itself.

When the opportunity arose from Community Development block grants (CDBG) and other sources, they decided to work on revamping the game room. Remenape said the project, which should be started by early April, should last about three months.

Remenape said they plan to expand the center’s game room to the north, keeping the four current pool tables but also improving the card player seating area and creating a specific area for their Nintendo Wii game system. Overall, Remenape said, they want to improve the programming, and make it easier for the seniors to relax.

“The seniors are very excited,” Remenape said. “We get so many card and pool players, and they are all excited to have more room. They appreciate us improving on aspects of the building. This is their second home – they spend as much time here as they do at home.”