Spotlight On Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations are usually so busy with mission-driven work that their stories of successes and challenges are seldom known outside their own organizations. This new series aims to change that; to 'shine a spotlight' on a wide variety of Kalamazoo County nonprofits and the people who benefit from their programs and services.

We'll be adding to the Spotlight On series regularly, so keep checking for new stories. You'll find sometimes amazing, sometimes funny, sometimes tender stories of ways the nonprofit sector helps make Kalamazoo County the very special community it is.

Let us share your success story!

Spotlight On:

Ballet Arts Ensemble

For 30 years, Ballet Arts Ensemble (BAE) has provided educational and performing opportunities for its members while perpetuating the art of dance with an emphasis in ballet.  Founded in 1982 by Jerre James and Bette Joachimi, BAE is the largest youth ballet company in the Kalamazoo area.  Membership in the company entitles dancers to a variety of educational experiences ...

First Day Shoe Fund

While substitute teaching with Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS), Valerie Denghel noticed an alarming number of students who did not have proper shoes to participate in school activities. She took it upon herself to start providing shoes for these children most in need. In 2006, Valerie and a group of passionate individuals officially incorporated as First Day Shoe Fund.  ...

Kalamazoo Bee Club

The Kalamazoo Bee Club is a dynamic group that started with a dozen beekeepers gathering at the Comstock Community Center 2½ years ago—wondering if there would be enough interest to sustain a real club. They soon outgrew the Community Center and moved to the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Both organizations, and active coverage by the Kalamazoo Gazette, have been instrumental in ...

Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center

Straight, gay, black, white and everything in between – these are the young individuals who are the focus of an anti-bullying campaign sponsored by Kalamazoo’s Gay Lesbian Resource Center. During a Gay Pride celebration on June 11 at the Arcadia festival site in downtown Kalamazoo members of the KGLRC unveiled buttons which feature the word “bullying” with a black slash ...

Kalamazoo Junior Girls

Many nonprofit organizations struggle to fill board positions with knowledgeable, committed community volunteers. Passion isn’t enough. Willingness isn’t enough. Governing an organization requires an understanding of the legal and leadership roles Board members must fill, individually and as a team. Developing a strong board is an ongoing process for every organization. ...

New Genesis Education Center

The criteria for admission into an academic after school program operated at the New Genesis Education Center is simple. “We don’t let a child into the program unless the parent knows they also have to be involved,” said Ervin Armstrong, executive director of New Genesis and associate pastor at the Christian Life Center. “Parental involvement is what makes us different. ...

Oakwood Neighborhood Association

On any given Wednesday afternoon Gail Camp may be found inside the Oakwood Neighborhood Center munching on cookies and catching up with her cronies over a friendly game of cards. Camp, 62, is part of a group which has no official name or by-laws other than to be there for each other as much as time and good health permits. This group of senior Oakwood residents is symbolic ...

Public Media Network

Though it lacks the perfectly coiffed anchors and slick backdrops, the Public Media Network provides an important portal for community residents. Located on the third floor of the Epic Center, PMN offers a daily stream of programming that includes city, township and county commission meetings, arts and cultural activities, the voices and stories of local residents, and more. ...