Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.

by Jess Wolfe

Students at Grandville High school collected over 200 hats, gloves, and blankets to be handed out in Detroit and Grand Rapids by High Hopes Hammock Co. CEO Connor Moynihan and myself. As a High Hopes Hammock Co. sales rep, I traveled downtown to Degage Ministries. It was an eye-opening experience and my perspective is forever changed.

Degage is a safe place for individuals living without a place to call home. They allow homeless people the opportunity to buy a low-cost meal, no more than two dollars. If an individual can’t afford a meal, they have the option to work a small task at Degage such as sweeping or wiping down tables. This gives them a sense of dignity when purchasing the food because they know they’ve worked for it. This program is a great way to keep individuals off the streets. Degage serves 400-500 people every day.

In addition to the winter gear, I also handed out bracelets donated by Cornerstone Church of Grand Rapids. The bracelets which read ‘Live Grateful’ serve as a constant reminder of the importance of living our lives with an attitude of gratefulness. 

During the time I was handing out winter gear and bracelets, I had the chance to catch some of it on video. Check out what these individuals would like to say to the world…

When Robert saw a new jacket on the pile of winter gear, he was so excited. After putting the new one on he placed his old jacket on the table saying,

“I don’t need this, somebody else can use it. I can only wear one coat.”

Another man by the name of John was walking out when he turned to me and said,

“It’s better to give than it is to receive. It says that in the Bible!”

These interactions were so humbling and changed my perspective on how I perceive homeless individuals.


One woman didn’t want to be on video but allowed me to capture a picture during our conversation about life and what she is going through.

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Regina explained to me that she reads the Bible every day and wants other people to know about the Lord but when she tries to tell people, they never want to listen to the good news she has to offer.

When I asked Regina what she’s most thankful for in life, her answer was simple.

“I’m thankful that I’m livin’.”

Later I asked her what she wanted to tell the world and she responded with a confident answer.

“Praise the Lord.”

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It doesn’t get much more humbling than this.

When a homeless person values faith and hope so highly, it changes your perspective immensely. It was in this moment I realized I needed to break down the barrier of stigma between myself and those who are less fortunate.


“A lot of what life is about is just a balance of how I find the proper perspective on what’s going on, to step back and see a different picture.”

says Cornerstone Pastor Marcus Schmidt in an interview surrounding homelessness and living grateful.

“I think a general stigma with a lot of it is that, they’re lazy, that they have no desire to work hard, to pull themselves up and make something happen and in many cases that’s not true.”

Continual judgment forms stigmas. As a society, we need to break down these barriers built on our judgment and realize that homeless individuals are humans just like the rest of us. They aren’t helpless they just need a little help getting out of their circumstances. It’s not always their fault that they are down in their luck.

“I think in most of our society, we put this divide between those who have and those who have not. Most of us are just thinking we will stay away from those who don’t have what we have because they’re not worthy of our love or not worthy of our attention. I think it’s sad because these people want love, they want attention, they want somebody to care, they want to know that they’re not alone.”

This is a huge issue all throughout society. They’re just trying to make the best of their circumstance and live life to the fullest. Aren’t we all? 

“The housing crisis in this area is a challenge as well because there’s not enough affordable housing. This creates a cliff effect that a family finds themselves homeless because they can’t afford to live where they’re living and they can’t find a job that is going to pay them enough to afford what their needs are. The supplemental help from the government helps them along but if they make too much money they lose the government aid so now they’ve taken five steps backwards and it’s a huge cycle that’s deeper than what we ever realize it could be.”

This is the cycle which often pushes homeless individuals down a path of depression and anxiety which is why it’s so hard to break this cycle of homelessness. 

“I have become friends with a lot of people who were homeless and I wanted to fix all of them and you can’t, you can’t just do that because if I want it more than they want it, then it’s not gonna work.”

The best option is to help someone along the way, not to push them or to pull them, but to walk side by side supporting the homeless individual. This is what Degage and several other organizations around Grand Rapids are working to do. The homeless individuals have very little yet in the midst of their circumstances they are thankful for so much.

“Every time I’ve sat down to pray with them, the things that they pray for were like “God I just thank you for the air that I get to breathe today. I thank you for the fact that I had a meal.” And those are some of the things that I hardly ever pray for. The little things that I take for granted are very important to them.”

With a mindset of thankfulness, positivity moves to the forefront of your life, overpowering and outweighing adversity. Often times the things we take for granted in life are the most important things in which we should be most thankful for.

“God is working in every moment of every day in small ways that we just take for granted because of how blessed we are. This is something I’ve learned from my friends who are in poverty, that they don’t take things for granted that I do, so it’s helped me to change that perspective.”

Life is what you make of it. It’s not about the circumstance in which you’re living in. It’s about the way in which you’re living in the circumstance you’re given. Perspective can be altered. Sometimes you just have to see what it’s like to live in some else’s shoes.

Live Grateful.

Most anticipated movies of 2018

by Brandon Matzke

Happy 2018 everybody! New year, new films, same old me. To kick off the new year, I decided to look at the films I’m looking forward to this year. Obviously, I can’t predict if these will be good or not, but these are just the ones I’m looking forward to. Of course, we have different tastes; I’m not looking forward to Continue reading →

Beyond Rap’s Bad Rep

by Mitchell Karcher

Many people hold strong opinions on rap/hip-hop music, whether they love it or despise it, it is one of the biggest music genres to date. However, due to its vulgarity, several people refuse to listen it and group it all in the same category as what they consider “garbage rap.”

This unfair description is a gross generalization that cuts down what this form of art truly is.

“There’s Alot Going On” by Vic Mensa is a gem that represents rap as a true form of poetic of speech. Flowing with the background music Vic backs his speech with genuine emotion as he raps about his starting phase of addiction and partying while writing his music. He then dives into his troubled relationship with his girlfriend at the time, Natalie. He abused her and proceeds to explain he was in the wrong as he was taking all of his aggression out on her after his band broke up, which let him down from high expectations.  He continues with explaining his serious drug addiction and recovery stating he moved back home to his mom’s basement before he made it big in the rap industry.

With research focus in urban arts, Dr. Emery Petchauer, an associate professor and coordinator of the English education program at MSU, speaks more in depth about hip-hop as a genre and culture.

When asked why hip-hop has surpassed other music genres, he said, hip-hop music appeals “to diverse experiences among people,” and “music with heavy drums (like hip-hop) has a really broad appeal to people because drums are universal. Hip hop may “speak” to some people because of the beat alone, or the beat at first. That’s why we dance to hip-hop music sometimes and are not even thinking about the words!”

Speaking on this level, it is perfectly understandable why music like Vic Mensa’s has become so mainstream.


I speak Spanish because I CAN.


by Lexie Zuno

I speak Spanish because I CAN. I come to school because I CAN. I am Mex- I- Can but I can also call myself American because I AM.

Someone once told me, “be proud of who you are and always stay true to yourself.” Honestly, I didn’t know what that meant until my junior year of high school. The matter of the fact is, the more I have progressed, the more I have seen how ugly the world can be. High school is a rollercoaster, and sadly as great as it might be, the downs can be horrid- especially when it comes to features given to people during the time of conception.

Never did I think that my brown skin would be so bothersome to others.

Never did I think my ability to speak another language would make others upset.

Never did I think I would be expected to be a Sophia Vergara or a walking Selena.

Not once did it occur to me that people would have such stereotypical assumptions of my future, like being a stay at home mother with a lot of children, or a maid at that. They say I look and act a certain way because I’m Hispanic.

That’s offensive. Can you tell me what I am for what I am? I am a nice person.

I’m more than what I seem. I’m a 17 year old hispanic girl and senior student at Grandville High School. I am the oldest daughter of Isela and Jose Luis Zuno. I am a role model for my two younger siblings.

My parents were really young when they had me. My dad barely had a stable job when he came here before I was born. But I was born here.

I belong here.

My grandparents took care of me and raised me in Spanish. When I got to Kindergarten, it was evident I had issues with English. I was taken to different rooms to improve my languages, but my teachers made sure I was not an outcast, and I learned.

My dad was not so fortunate. I struggle to teach him things just so he can pass his citizen test. I have to teach him things we didn’t learn in American history class. What the heck? My teacher barely touched on these subjects. If a current student in school and the average American isn’t expected to know these things, why does he?

The test wants you to mess up. Unfair testing did not end a long time ago. It is still happening. Those limitations still exist. My dad pays taxes. He follows the law. But he cannot be a citizen yet. He wants our family to prosper here without fear. But the reality is we are afraid.

My family belongs here. We belong here.

I once saw this post on Instagram that says “I will raise my kids to speak Spanish like my parents, I don’t want no frijole looking kid who can’t speak Spanish.”

You’re looked down on in our culture down if you can’t speak Spanish.

I don’t want my kids to not speak Spanish. I am giving them half of me, and Spanish is a big part of that.

A guy told me I should teach my future kids only English because “we’re in America and we speak English here.”

That made my stomach hurt. Made me feel icky.

I told him “Well, Spanish was my first language and I’m pretty sure were conversing in English just fine.”

In a Spanish class I am obligated to know what the heck I am talking about.

After an AP Spanish exam people said “That was easy for you.”

Would you get 100% on an AP English exam? No. It’s dialected. We don’t come to school speaking perfect English. Should I be expected to know “perfect” Spanish?

Being in an English classroom teachers ask me to relate to the books, but all I have ever read is white women. Princesses. Even the culture and how people are raised is white. They had slaves and my people cleaning their houses. Housekeepers, maid, gardeners, etc. All hispanic.

The books that we do read that are connected to my culture are all struggle stories.

We are successful too.

My dad has always said he wants me to take my education seriously. At one point putting food on the table was hard. He worked two jobs. The Spanish idiom “pa que no trabajes como perro” (work like a dog) says it all.

He said “I don’t want you to kill yourself at a job for a meal. Nothing comes easy in life. Take it seriously. Go to college. Get a successful career.”

He didn’t have that privilege. Would he like to go to school right now? Yes but he can’t. He dropped out of school in Mexico to come here. I WILL forever be proud to get that diploma on graduation day. My dad doesn’t have that to show off. My aunts don’t. My uncles don’t. My older cousins don’t. All they have is a card that says they can work here.

America is a great place. The pros are bigger than the cons. We strive for the American Dream, but my family knows it’s limited. But I have the power to do what I please. I come to school trying to fulfill that dream, but the books never have my background. Where are the families who came from a different country to succeed here? The ones who had to learn English to READ A BOOK or do anything here.

We have to learn or we are stuck in a ditch.

No one is holding your hand.

You need to do it yourself.

You need to work for yourself.