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SPARK! Program Receives Funding from Muskegon County Senior Millage

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

Grant writing is commonplace at the ACWL-Nuveen, but this year we took on a new challenge: applying for funding through the Muskegon County Senior Millage.

The millage, which is administered by Senior Resources, awards $2,000,000 each year to area organizations that run programs benefitting residents age 60 and older. In March we submitted a letter of intent to begin a SPARK! Program - an interactive arts engagement program serving people with early to mid-stage memory loss and their care partners - and in May we were invited to submit a full proposal. On September 9, we received the good news that the Senior Activities Committee had recommended funding our new program! Thanks to the support of the Muskegon County Senior Millage and the Lothmann Family Fund of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, we will be able to offer SPARK! programming for FREE to Muskegon County residents.

The idea for this new programming was initiated by Nancy Armitage who had been a SPARK! facilitator for ten years in Wisconsin where the program originated in 2009. When Nancy and her husband relocated to Whitehall she knew she wanted to bring her passion for SPARK! to the White Lake area which led to Spark! White Lake a new collaborative program between the ACWL-Nuveen and The Playhouse at White Lake. SPARK! White Lake will be the first of its kind to be offered in the State of Michigan.

Facilitator Nancy Armitage filming a SPARK! Session

The initial 2020 SPARK! White Lake program will start this October and run thru November with different themed sessions offered at 1:00 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. Classes at the ACWL-Nuveen will feature visual art and offerings from the Playhouse at White Lake will be theatre-inspired. Although SPARK! sessions held in 2020 will be virtual via Zoom, participants will still get hands-on experience with themed take-home art kits prepared by Nancy, ACWL-Nuveen staff, and SPARK! White Lake volunteers before each session. Kicking things off on October 14 will be a visual art session at the ACWL-Nuveen, using the theme of self-portraits as an ice breaker. Nancy will share samples of the rich historic tradition of portraiture to promote dialogue and encourage participants to create their own self-portrait using supplies and instructions from their take-home art kit. On October 29 the second session of the month will focus on storytelling with a virtual, behind-the-scenes tour of the Playhouse at White Lake, led by Director Beth Beaman. As part of the theatre session, attendees will respond to a Timeslips prompt and discuss how to write and perform a story using props and costumes. Each participant will also be given supplies and encouraged to put together their own story in a "zine" - a small, folded book.

We are very excited about starting SPARK! White Lake this October and look forward to further development of the program in January 2021. If you are interested in participating in SPARK! White Lake 2020 or more specific information, please email Nancy at Space is limited so reserve your spot today! To learn more about the national SPARK! programs, visit

This program is made possible with the support of the Muskegon County Senior Millage and the White Lake Lothmann Family Fund of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County.


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