Collaborative Name:

1 in 21 Healthy Muskegon County

Wellville Coordinator:

Jamie Hekker

Backbone Organization:

1 in 21 Healthy Muskegon County

Leadership Committee:

  • Chair: Jeff Fortenbacher, CEO, Access Health
  • Vice-Chair: Susan Crain, former president of the Muskegon Rotary Club
  • Dan Gorman, Food Service Director Whitehall and Montague Schools
  • Jim Fisher, founder, 1 in 21
  • Jamie Hekker, Community Engagement Coordinator, Public Health Muskegon County
  • Dr. Joel Jarvis, Retired Family Physician
  • Linda Juarez, CEO, Hackley Community Care
  • Lauren Meldrum, System of Care Project Director, HealthWest
  • Kathy Moore, Public Health Director, Public Health Muskegon County
  • Cyndi Powers, Community Health Improvement Coordinator, Health Project
  • Stevi Riel, Executive Director, Health Project / Mercy Health Muskegon
  • Julia Rupp, Executive Director, HealthWest
  • Bruce Spoelman, CEO, Muskegon YMCA
  • John Severson, Superintendent, Muskegon Area Intermediate School District
  • Ashley Westerlund, Prevention and Education Program Coordinator MAISD

Community Snapshot
Muskegon County sits on the western side of Michigan, about halfway up the eastern shore of Lake Michigan across from Milwaukee. Muskegon grew up around the fur and lumber trades, later attracting foundries and other manufacturing concerns. In the early 20th century, it was home to more millionaires than any other town in America.
Today its largest employers are healthcare, local government, and manufacturing firms including GE Aviation and Arconic, a specialty materials manufacturer. Local higher-education options include Baker College and Muskegon Community College. The county is a destination for summer tourists, who visit the county’s 27 miles of beaches and Michigan’s Adventure, the state’s largest amusement park.
Overall, community health metrics reflect unfavorable and unevenly distributed social assets. Muskegon Heights, for example, has a much higher percentage of poor and minority residents: 77 percent African-American and 2 percent Hispanic, with an overall median household income of $22,000 (vs. $44,000 in the county). County-wide, key health and well-being issues include obesity and diabetes, tobacco and drug use, limited access to healthy food, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and racial inequity.
Population: 172,344
  Non-Hispanic black: 14.1%
  Non-Hispanic white: 76.4%
  Hispanic/Latino: 5.6%
  Other: 2%
Area: 499 square miles
Median Household income: $43,920
Poverty rate: 15-20%
Child poverty rate: 27%
Unemployment rate: 7.4%
High school graduation rate: 91%
College (BA) grad rate: 19%
Diabetes rate (adult): 11%
Obesity rate (adult): 34%
Infant mortality: 9%
Low birth weight: 9%

Areas of Focus and Work


1 in 21 is the umbrella organization for Muskegon’s community-health initiative sponsored by the Muskegon Rotary Club.

Current Initiatives

Diabetes prevention: In partnership with Trinity Health, the Muskegon YMCA won secured $1.2 million, part of a 5-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control to scale the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program and earn certification for Medicare reimbursement. The Y enrolled 167 participants during the first grant year (2018) and plans to have an additional 310 enrolled by October 1 of this year.  To fuel the expansion, it has set up electronic referral systems with its physician partners at Mercy Health and its partner Affinia Health Network of doctors, Muskegon Family Care, and Hackley Community Care, among others. In addition, it is getting referrals from local Walmart stores.

Resilience and Trauma-Informed Care: Led by HealthWest, the Resilience Muskegon action team is in its third year. Its trauma-sensitive schools initiative runs quarterly professional learning events and a school leadership roundtable for its trauma-sensitive schools initiative. On May 31 last year it held ReCon: A Veteran’s Resilience Summit, with Dr. Vincent Felitti (co-principal investigator of the original [Adverse Childhood Experiences [ACEs] study) as keynote speaker. The team also has ongoing efforts to train community members in ACEs and resilience. Future plans include trauma-sensitive organizational assessments and planning – and a focus on measurable outcomes.

Community health: 1 in 21 relaunched its Champions program, for local employers or member organizations to commit to becoming champions for health. A Champion must establish a wellness team, set from three to seven goals for health outcomes in its organization, help another organization become a Champion, and report back to 1 in 21.

The Community Health Improvement Region (CHIR) operates under a multi-region (Michigan) State Innovation Model grant for community health delivery to Mercy Health. The project is now in its last year of current funding…and working on renewing that funding! The CHIR also oversees the Resilience Zone in Muskegon Heights, an intensive community health project focused on responding to locally defined needs.