Weekend events raise funds for two worthy causes

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By Cynthia Price

The Y’s Club White Elephant Sale and the ForeShore Adventure Run both took place this past weekend, and each raised money for a excellent local causes: Camp Pendalouan, a part of the YMCA’s community endeavors (which continue despite selling their building, and the Muskegon Rescue Mission.

Both causes have been around a long time – the Rescue Mission since 1907, Camp Pendalouan since 1923 in one form or another (and the YMCA since 1871) – and so  has the White Elephant Sale, but the ForeShore Adventure Run is just a baby, having started in 2015.

This is the 56th year for the White Elephant Sale, which has seen a number of changes over those years, especially the venue.

“We really didn’t know what to expect this year,” said John McFadden (last seen in these pages in a wizard costume), who co-chaired the sale along with Gerry Nehra and Pete VanHoesen. “We weren’t sure because we had it in a different area and we thought people might have a hard time finding it, and we weren’t even sure how many donations we were going to get and whether we were going to have the staffing.

“But in the end we were happy because the gross sales were over $30,000, unofficially. That’s more than we’ve gotten the last several years, so we’re just very happy about it.”

The Y’s Club, which used to be called the Y’s Men’s Club, was actually instrumental in the establishment of Camp Pendalouan on Big Blue Lake, way back when. It was first known as the YMCA Camp and then Camp Williams. The years 1929 to 1934 saw a lot of improvements and expansion, and the change of name to Camp Pendalouan in honor of a local Native American chief.

The sale, held May 17 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and May 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., took place at the large former car showroom on the corner of Third Street and Merrill near downtown Muskegon. The building's owner, Steve Carey, made improvements specifically for the event (including roof repairs, added lighting, and window replacement); he plans to continue improving the building with the eventual intention of renting it to a retail business or businesses.

The event was packed with merchandise, with an emphasis on office supplies, furniture, fixtures, and cleaning supplies. McFadden says that Nichols Paper delivered five truckloads this year, more than twice what it has done in the past.

All of the proceeds after expenses go to Camp Pendalouan, though the Y’s Club members have some discretion about what specifically is funded.

Lately, they have put their money towards adopting cabins and buildings in keeping with the wishes of Camp Pendalouan staff – which consists mainly of Executive Director, Bruce Spoelman (shared with the YMCA), Assistant Executive Director Gabrielle Gerlach, and Camp Director Matthew Abel.

But, McFadden says, “The majority of the money we collect is designated for scholarships for deserving students in the area that wouldn’t otherwise be able to go.”

At either overnight or day camps, as well as at retreats and shorter-term events, Pendalouan offers character development lessons and outdoor education.

McFadden emphasizes that the Y’s Club, which meets every first and third Thursday of the month at Joe Chan’s Bistro (usually at lunchtime), is looking for more members or for limited-time volunteers to do such things as the set-up of the sale, hoping to involve younger people. To explore this, email  j.mcfadden@comcast.net.

The primary function of the Muskegon Rescue Mission is providing shelter for the homeless, with a men’s shelter on Laketon and women’s shelter on Peck.

The organization also provides meals, a food pantry, other physical needs (furniture and clothing), and faith-based programs that help the homeless get at and resolve the root causes of their homelessness.

“We’re able to provide a lot of services based on our fundraising, and help our guests exactly where they’re at,” says Emily Umstead, the Rescue Mission’s Volunteer and Event Coordinator.

The Rescue Mission also helps children. “Our children’s ministry provides a combination of curriculum, activities, summer camp programs, Bible study, mentoring, recreation and academic support,” says the website, https://muskegonmission.org

The ForeShores Adventure Run is one of several ways the Rescue Mission funds its activities; they hold the annual Soup for Suits and operate thrift stores, among others.

But this past Saturday, it was the ForeShore that brought out folks looking for a challenge. The event had over 700 participants, which, at about 20 meals per event entry, equates to 14,000 meals provided.

There were over 20 obstacles on the 5K course, which is also run on sand and through the water. Umstead explained that there are three categories of run: one just to challenge oneself individually, one an individual competitive run, and one a team event.

The winners of the overall race were (under-40) Adam Wolffis and Veronica Wilson, (40-plus) Matt Jones and Leticia Ponce.

“We’re already getting started on 2020,” says Umstead. The date next year will be May 16.

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