Updated Playgroup Schedule

Playgroup meeting time for Hart has changed. Please see the most updated schedule for all Great Start Playgroups below:

Playgroup Flyer 2013-14

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Parent Info Night to cover Bullying Prevention

The Mason-Lake-Oceana Great Start Parent Coalitions will hold a Parent Info Night on Thursday, February 13th from 5:30- 7:30 pm at the United Methodist Church- 5810 Bryant Road in Ludington.

The speaker for the event will be Lori Cargill from the MSU Extension Office speaking on their Bullying Prevention Program- “Be S-A-F-E: Safe, Affirming, & Fair Environments.”

Dinner and Childcare will be provided but space is limited so pre-registration is required. Register by contacting Lexi Alvesteffer at 231-425-7768 or mloparentliaison@gmail.com.

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Welcome Kelly Omness!

The Mason-Lake-Oceana Great Start Collaborative would like to welcome the newest member to our staff, Kelly Omness, who will be working as the Oceana County Parent Liaison!

Kelly was Kellyraised in Holland, Michigan, and graduated from Black River Public School, a charter institution. She attended Grand Valley State University until she married Damian Omness in 2004. Kelly and Damian have three children: Isabel is 8 years old, Cael is almost 5, and Mia is 2.

After Kelly was married she worked primarily in the hospitality industry and after Cael’s birth, she became a stay-at-home mom. Over three years ago, the Omness’ moved to Shelby from Grand Rapids. Although Damian is originally from Oceana County and transitioned smoothly, Kelly found the move from the city to a rural community to be a culture shock. She states that she struggled with feeling isolated, especially in the winter, but found that getting involved in community activities helped her to feel a sense of belonging. She joined the Oceana County MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), took her children to story time at the local library, was active in the county’s La Leche League, and went to playgroup at Shelby School with her kids. Kelly also represents Shelby Head Start for the Policy Council through the Muskegon ISD and was recently elected their Chairperson. She became involved in the Oceana County Parent Coalition about two and half years ago and just this past year was appointed a Parent Member of the Mason-Lake-Oceana Great Start Collaborative.

All of us at the Great Start Collaborative are excited to add Kelly to our team and look forward to the great things she and the Oceana County Parent Coalition will continue to accomplish!

Kelly can be reached by calling 616-240-5495 or by e-mail at oceanagspc@gmail.com.

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Please click here for the most updated playgroup schedule!

To see the list of dates on which there will be no playgroup for each district, click the “Parent Coalition” tab above, and then click “Playgroups”

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Please click here to see a schedule for all playgroups in Mason, Lake, and Oceana Counties!

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Help Wanted!

Great Start Parent Coalition

Parent Liaison

The Mason-Lake-Oceana Great Start Collaborative has an opening for a 10 hour/week Parent Liaison in Oceana County.  Applicants must reside in Oceana County with at least one child under age 12.  For a complete description including responsibilities and qualifications please click here. EOE

Submit a cover letter, and resume before January 3, 2014 to:

Lindsay Sichta

Great Start Collaborative Co-Director, West Shore ESD

2130 West US 10
Ludington, MI 49431



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Please Welcome Our New Co-Directors!


The Mason-Lake-Oceana Great Start Collaborative and Parent Coalitions would like to welcome the newest additions to our team, our new co-directors Lindsay Sichta and Kathy Kovalchik-Lacko! Continue reading for an introduction by each director!

I would like to introduce myself as one of your new co-directors for the Great Start Collaborative.  I will be spending approximately .5 of my time working with you all, and I am so excited to be able to work with such a dynamic team. I am really looking forward to diving into my new role both with the GSC and GSRP and getting back to my roots in Early Childhood.  I come from a long history of experience in the early childhood field ranging from child care provider to educational researcher, literacy coach, community college instructor in child development and child care licensing consultant.  I have earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and hold a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood.  One of my passions has been focusing specifically on literacy development in preschool.  Most recently I have been working as the Youth Coordinator for West Michigan Community Mental Health where I have worked closely with various groups and organizations (including the Great Start Collaborative) to better our communities for children and families.  I have coordinated the summer and school year programs for WMCMH and have really worked on community partnerships.  I am looking forward to working with Kathy Lacko as co-directors and working with the collaborative to fulfill our work plan this year, ultimately leading to meeting the goals set up in our strategic plan.  Please feel free to call, email or stop by after October 1 for introductions.  I am excited to meet each of you personally and get to work!
Please feel free to contact me at gscdirector@wsesd.org
-Lindsay Sichta, M.A.
Early Childhood Coordinator, WSESD
I am excited to introduce myself to all of you as one of the new co-directors for the Great Start Collaborative!  Many of you have known me for years, from my early days as a Wraparound facilitator and subsequently the lead statewide trainer for Wraparound, or perhaps as a Family Advocate for the Association for Children’s Mental Health (ACMH) and subsequently the ACMH Director of Advocacy and Family Support…or perhaps as the Director of the West Michigan Child and Family Leadership Council  (covering Lake, Mason and Oceana Counties)…and more recently, as the Coordinator for System of Care for Youth. I am a Registered Nurse (some of you may even know me from my years working as an RN at Memorial Medical Center!) with a B.S. in Psychology.  I look forward to getting acquainted with those of you I have not yet met, and to renewing and strengthening friendships/partnerships with the rest of the group. I remember, years ago,  attending a training session with Stephanie Wagner where we learned about developing a Great Start Collaborative, and I have been involved with our GSC ever since.  You are a great bunch of dedicated people, committed to the GSC Vision for Early Childhood. I look forward to teaming up with Lindsay Sichta, and working in partnership with all of you to help  our little ones and their families receive all the supports they may need (from us as a community) to reach their potential , be prepared to learn and to thrive.
Please feel free to get in touch with me at any time at 231-843-5421 or kathyL@wmcmhs.org.
Kathy Kovalchik-Lacko
Great Start Collaborative Co-Director
System of Care for Youth Coordinator
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Here’s a wonderful opportunity to honor someone you love with a community gift of early childhood learning!!!  Visit the Children’s Desk at the Ludington Library to fill-out a dedication slip and make your donation before SEPTEMBER 7, 2012.  Or you can  download the flyer below, and mail it with your check made out to the GREAT START COLLABORATIVE to Paula Jarvis, 2130 W. US 10, Ludington, MI 49431.

Sponsorhip flyer – discovery kits

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Parent Coalition participates in Hart’s Asparagus Festival Parade!

Thanks, GSPC – Oceana members, for helping to hand out crayon packs at the Asparagus Festival parade on Saturday.  What a lovely day!

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Congratulations Family Friendly Business CHAMPIONS!!!

from left: Tonya Ransom & Dan Bathrick of Snyder's Shoes, GSC Director Paula Jury Jarvis, Dr. Jennifer Branning of West Shore Eye Care, Kathy Maclean with the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, GSC Parent Liaison Lexi Alvesteffer (not pictured: Pizza Barn Plus of Scottville)





Congratulations to our premiere CHAMPIONS for Families!

These businesses and employers exemplify keeping families first in how they do business and treat their parent employees.  Way to Go Champions!!!

Click on the Family Friendly Link above to nominate your favorite Family Friendly Employers and Businesses.

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