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Author: Amanda Loveland

Brooklyn Based Naughty Candle Business Turns One

Let us introduce you to Ron and Amy Proffitt, proud Founders of Come to Your Effin Senses, a Veteran built, woman-owned family business that began in 2021 in the heart of Brooklyn, Michigan. They combine good smells with bad words to create unique, handmade candles that you can find online, at markets throughout Michigan, at retail partners throughout the country, and at their brick & mortar located in Brooklyn, Michigan.

Chamber staff got to talk with the Effin Team to learn about their business, as well as what they plan for their brick & mortar’s one year celebration.

When did you start Come To Your Effin’ Senses and why did you start the business? We started Come to Your Effin Senses three years ago out of our home during the middle of the pandemic. We originally started making the candles as gifts and were encouraged to sell them. We listed our candles on Facebook Marketplace and within 15 minutes, we had our first wholesale order. Three months later, we moved into a production site, which is now connected to our storefront.

When did you open the brick and mortar, and what have you learned since opening your doors? We opened the brick and mortar in April of 2023. Since opening our doors, we have learned how to curate items from other artists while staying true to our vibe. Something else we have learned is how to create an inventory system and become efficient with production, since a lot of the products in our store we make ourselves. There is a lot to having a brick and mortar, so we have a lot to still learn.

If you were giving advice to a business owner going from e-commerce to brick and mortar, what advice would you give? Get engaged in your community because the relationships you build are just as important as the products that you make. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and if there are things you don’t know, don’t be afraid to lean on someone who does. Also, remember to have fun. Brick and mortars are a great avenue for creativity.

How about advice for someone running a business with their whole effin’ family? Don’t do it…just kidding. Communication as business partners is very different from communication with family. We have had to learn our lanes and stay in them (yes, we are still working on this). Making sure everyone feels valued and heard is extremely important. Making time for team meetings helps ensure everyone is on the same page.

What’s your favorite product in the shop, and why? Amy’s favorite product in the shop is any shirt with words. Whether it’s our own merch or an artist who shares a similar sense of humor. Mads’ favorite product is the sugar scrubs. They not only feel amazing, they make a great addition to care packages. Ron’s favorite product is our candles. He handmakes all of them with pride, science and care. It makes him happy to see others love and appreciate the product he works so hard on. 


What can we expect in the next 1-3 years? Lots of growth! We are branching out to different areas with our vendor shows, we have built up a robust offering on Faire for our wholesale customers, and are collaborating with more businesses throughout the US. We hope to become a destination storefront for Michiganders and beyond.

When you stop into Come to Your Effin Senses at 124 S. Main Street (Brooklyn, MI), you’ll find far more than just their naughty candles. According to owners Amy & Ron Proffit, “we are more than makers or creators. For us, it’s about the relationships we build, and the experience customers have with our brand. Life is too short to be taken seriously, and we love to make people laugh!”

Join the Effin Team and the Chamber of Commerce on April 11, 2024 to celebrate one year of the Come to Your Effin Senses brick & mortar location! Store opens at 10am, ribbon cutting occurs at 11am with Irish Hills Chamber of Commerce, and late night shopping is available with snacks and drinks starting at 4pm.

Flagstar Bank Unveils A New Brand!

Following the acquisitions of Flagstar Bancorp, Inc. and Signature Bank by New York Community Bank, the three banks have unified under the Flagstar name, showing their commitment to helping customers, clients, and communities to take charge and thrive.

Flagstar Bank also unveiled a modern new visual identity and logo combining the best elements of the three legacy banks. Thomas R. Cangemi, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Energy and movement are a constant in today’s world and vital to financial success. That’s what our new identity is centered on—creating an energy from the strength of our people, expertise, and acumen. The star in our new logo stands for customer-centricity, the bedrock of our new identity. It’s symbolic of a multi-dimensional financial journey, the relationships we foster, and the unique energy we share in working together to thrive.” The new brand delivers a fresh look and symbolizes strength, stability, and confidence. It’s a sophisticated yet human brand that aspires to energize clients and communities and align Flagstar’s capabilities and expertise with their goals.


“The merging of NYCB’s and Flagstar’s operating systems—soon to be followed by Signature Bank—and national rebranding is an important inflection point in our history. It signifies the coming together of three philosophies, heritages, and brands, committed to growing stronger as one company aligned under the Flagstar name,” said Sandro DiNello, Executive Chairman. “We’re excited for our communities and stakeholders to fully realize the benefits of bringing our companies together. We remain confident in the strength of the Bank, and believe we are well-positioned to deliver the full range of our products, services, and expertise under a single foundation.”

DiNello added, “I want to give a special thanks to our talented teammates—9,000 strong—who have spent many months working toward this important moment and rose to the occasion to make today happen. Every decision that went into launching the new brand and integrating the companies, including a new website, logo and signage, and an elevated customer experience, was centered on a singular focus—aligning for our future as one bank.”

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce celebrated this unification and rebranding with the local Flagstar Bank branches with ribbon cuttings at all locations on Tuesday, February 27th.

Community Choice Gives $100,000 in Scholarships

The Community Choice Foundation is excited to fulfill its mission to award $100,000 in scholarships to 25 outstanding students who Give Big in their community. Students applying for in state colleges, universities, or trade schools can apply for scholarships through February 29, 2024.

In the credit union spirit of “People Helping People”, Community Choice Credit Union wants to see how applicants volunteer in the community. Students can submit their volunteer work with a thoughtful essay and video (video editing, music, people, and creativity is allowed)! It’s encouraged that students explain how they plan to give back and have an impact on their community after graduation.

“Our goal is to make education accessible for these young minds, igniting the spark of potential that will shape the future of Michigan,” said Marketing Campaign Specialist, Ashley Chynoweth.

Applicants must commit to staying in Michigan, which positively impacts our workforce and ensures a growing pool of qualified employees in our future. Community Choice Foundation will be accepting Scholarship Applications from January 1-February 29. 

Jackson Launches 100 Homes Program to Provide New Housing for Residents

100 new homes will be taking shape on vacant lots across the City of Jackson in the coming years,
providing affordable housing for residents and rebuilding neighborhoods. The 100 Homes Program is now launching from the City of Jackson Community Development Department after seven months of planning. The program intends to construct 100 single-family houses on vacant lots for qualifying home-buyers, along with providing down-payment assistance.

Seeing a need for more single-family housing in Jackson, the City Council allocated $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds to the newly created 100 Homes Program in March 2023. The initiative is using vacant City-owned residential lots for the new home construction. There are three plans buyers can choose from, which are a mix of one and two story houses, with up to three bedrooms and one and a half baths. All home prices will be capped at $175,000 to make them affordable for residents. There are income requirements to qualify for the program. The homes will be built in established neighborhoods all over the City of Jackson, bringing residents closer to essential services like businesses, education, parks and health care.


The City of Jackson is offering $25,000 in down payment assistance. Some buyers may also obtain an additional $10,000 in down payment assistance from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The 100 Homes section of the City website, cityofjackson.org, guides participants
through the application process. Prospective buyers will work with a mortgage lender of their choice to buy the property. After a participant is pre-approved for a mortgage, construction will begin. Home selection and location will be determined in collaboration with builders and buyers. City Grant Coordinator Cory Mays is leading the 100 Homes Program. Mays says the program is already attracting lots of interest. “We’ve seen around 90 potential buyers apply through the soft opening of this program, so it’s encouraging to see people excited to take advantage of this groundbreaking housing effort,” Mays said.


City Manager Jonathan Greene thanks City officials and staff for launching this monumental program. “It’s important for the City to be a leader in the community for providing affordable housing for our residents,” Greene said. “Using American Rescue Plan funds, this program shows that we’re using our available resources to improve the community. The 100 Homes Program will further strengthen our neighborhoods by filling in empty spaces and bring new residents to Jackson.”


Construction on the 100 Homes is expected to start in late 2023 and take place through 2026. Housing efforts from the City are furthering a housing boom in Jackson. So far in 2023, private developers have bought 12 vacant lots for new home construction. Half of those lots are seeing new home construction, with several already completed and occupied with new residents.

To learn more about the program, visit the City of Jackson website, or apply using the online portal.

World-Class Indoor Pickleball Court Opens in Jackson, Michigan

A brand new, world-class pickleball facility recently opened its doors in Jackson, Michigan. Located at Keeley Park in the American 1 Community Recreation Center (200 W. Ganson St., Jackson, Michigan 49201), this unique Jackson experience offers exactly what beginners and seasoned players need to enjoy the game.

Once you create a profile and sign the release at crossroadspickleball.com, you’ll get mobile app for easy scheduling and building access. Through the doors, you’ll find professional courts, tournaments, leagues for all skill levels, and open play daily. There are also private instruction options, individual & family memberships available, and courts can be rented through the mobile app.

The Jackson Chamber sat down with Crossroads Pickleball partner, Stu Kail to learn more about the new facility:

Why did you open Crossroads Pickleball?

We have played pickleball for some time and dreamed of an indoor, dedicated pickleball space to play. Ironically, one weekend we independently all had the idea of inquiring about the facility at Keeley Park (formally known as the American 1 Center). Over the course of meetings with the Parks Department leadership and board, as well as other boards and committees, we were able to finalize a 5-year agreement to lease the space from the County. We have six courts inside the building, all accessible through an app to reserve a time to play.

Who owns Crossroad Pickleball?

There are three partners involved; Brent Hall, John Butterfield, and Stu Kail.

What if someone doesn’t know how to play pickleball yet, but wants to learn. Do you have resources available?

Yes! We were all beginners at one point so we’re excited to teach the community about this contagious, fun sport. We will have multiple options for people to learn the game. These options can be found on our website at crossroadspickleball.com.

What leagues do you have available, and how does someone join?

We will be launching leagues soon! To learn more information about our leagues, please follow us on Facebook or Instagram (@crossroadspickleball). Leagues will be for both individuals as well as teams.

What if I don’t have a partner – can I find one on site?

Yes! A significant amount of our programming will be “open play”, meaning you can just show up and play!

Are there any special instructions needed to access the mobile app?

Before you can play at Crossroads, you’ll need to go to crossroadspickleball.com and create a profile. By creating a profile, you digitally sign our release form as well as understand the rules for the facility. Once you’re signed up, you can choose to reserve a court, signup to play or to join a league (when available). Additionally, we have multiple membership levels available that give you access to open play options as well as discounted play. More information on pricing can be found at our website crossroadspickleball.com.

To learn more about Crossroads Pickleball, visit crossroadspickleball.com.

A Look into Experience Jackson’s 2023

Year after year, Experience Jackson maintains a jam-packed schedule full of activities for the community. Experience Jackson is Jackson County’s official tourism and visitor’s bureau, vital in boosting tourism, developing local pride, and driving economic development. They have had a remarkable year so far, involved with a multitude of events that have captivated locals and visitors alike. From the highly-anticipated Art, Beer, & Wine festival to the thrilling Aviation Day, there has been no shortage of entertainment in our community!

Additionally, Museum Day provided an opportunity for culture enthusiasts to explore the rich history and artistic treasures of Jackson. Let’s not forget the Downtown Jackson Cruise-Ins, which brought together car enthusiasts for an unforgettable showcase of classic and vintage automobiles. These are just a few examples of the fun events that Experience Jackson has sponsored this year. Experience Jackson continues to build partnerships with local businesses, organizers, and venues who work to draw visitors and stimulate growth.

As we look ahead to the rest of 2023, many are curious about what lies in store for Experience Jackson. Rachel Buchanan, Marketing & Development Manager, reveals exciting updates and anticipated returns to the City of Jackson. “We are very excited to be partnering with Under the Radar Michigan, a television show on PBS,” Buchanan said. Under the Radar is about discovering the people and places of Michigan and a travel series available to watch on PBS Thursdays at 8:30PM or streaming. “Experience Jackson is set to release an exciting new episode soon – through a Pure Michigan partnership highlighting Jackson.” 

This year, Experience Jackson will sponsor the first-ever Rockin’ the Tee Box, a music festival with Chamber member Apex Sports & Entertainment. Prepare to be transported back in time as you immerse yourself in the nostalgic sounds of the 90’s. The event will be on August 19th and features no less than four major bands from the era. Hit makers – The Verve Pipe, Marcy Playground, and Wheatus, are just a few of the great bands that will be there. In addition to the captivating music, there will be an array of other fun activities for the whole family to engage in, such as sand volleyball and mini-golf.

“We’re thrilled to have established the new ‘Jackson County Events & Festivals Group’ to encourage and be a resource to those who plan festivals and events,” Buchanan said. The creation of this group signifies Experience Jackson’s commitment to the community and its dedication to promoting a vibrant and thriving event culture, by providing a platform for collaboration and knowledge-sharing. 

Experience Jackson hopes 2023 brings in investment from people locally as well as those coming just to visit. They want more hotel stays, increased business at local eateries, and a continued positive perception of events, festivals, and attractions in Jackson. The Festival for the Arts, a multi-day event showcasing various forms of visual and performing arts, is scheduled to take place in Downtown Jackson in September. Additionally, October will bring the much-awaited Bride of FrankenFest to Art 634, promising “mad, magical and mystical artwork from the area’s most intriguing artists.”

Some memorable events from the past are being revived with greater impact and higher production value. The PBA/50 World Series of Bowling made its triumphant return this year, captivating bowling enthusiasts with its action-packed schedule at JAX 60. The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) continues to hold its position as the leading global organization committed to the sport of bowling and its professional tournaments.

The Hot Air Jubilee, a beloved annual celebration, continues to captivate attendees with its summertime festivities, which are set to take place from July 21st to July 23rd. This year marks the event’s 40th anniversary, and will provide affordable family entertainment including the beauty, color, and thrill of hot air balloons as well as other unique and one-of-a-kind attractions. New this year will be the addition of the National Women’s Hot Air Championships, which has a commitment to continue for the next three years. This competition will invite numerous skilled female pilots from all corners of the country to come together and participate and promises to add even more excitement to this popular event.

The highly anticipated Gus Macker 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament is set to make a comeback on the same weekend as the Hot Air Jubilee. This high energy event is an absolute must-see. “Gus Macker is expanding their festival to be more accommodating and family friendly, with additional events and activities such as a cornhole tournament,” Buchanan said. Both events will feature an appearance by JACK the Elephant, Experience Jackson’s mascot and Director of Historical Importance and Community Fun. He will be competing in the Mascot Game at Gus Macker and greeting families at the Hot Air Jubilee. 

Experience Jackson is gearing up for the continuation of a busy and exhilarating year. In a determined effort to bolster the favorable image of Jackson County as a tourist hotspot, the organization is leaving no stone unturned. Their primary objective is to generate higher revenues and foster economic progress, all for the betterment of the local community. With unwavering dedication, their mission is set to make a significant impact. Experience Jackson continues its partnership with our Jackson County hotels to provide visitors with the perfect stay while they enjoy local events and attractions. Additionally, their membership with the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce allows them to join forces and expose more and more people to everything our vibrant city has to offer. Stay up-to-date on what’s next for Experience Jackson here.

If you’re interested in partnering with Experience Jackson on an upcoming event, fill out the form here.

Automated Logistics Systems Goes the Extra Mile

When you think of an “epic experience,” what do you think of? A luxury vacation? Skydiving? Riding in a racecar?…What about work? Automated Logistics Systems (ALS) strives to provide both their employees and customers with what they’ve coined as an “epic experience.” Nick Schaefer, VP of Operations & Sales, dives deep into the business behind ALS and the company’s core values that are ingrained into each employee’s day-to-day.

ALS began as Parker & Motor Freight, a direct asset freight company. Since its origin, the company has grown expansively in recent years, and its growth is only continuing. They specialize in 3PL Managed Services, Freight Brokerage, Contract Transportation, Mexico Cross Border movement, Specialized Project Management, Consolidation, Warehousing and Supply Chain Network Optimization but there is so much more than getting goods from point A to point B.

ALS is big on its core values, implementing them into its employees day-to-day. Starting as a family-owned business, it continues to stand firm in its values, just as a family would. They prioritize recognizing their teammates as they showcase their core values. For this reason, ALS has over a 90% retention rate. ALS has a goal to add 50 employees by the end of this year, and 75 in the next three years. Roles available will include inside/outside sales executives, account managers, carrier sales, operations, tracking/operations, accounting and more. The ALS team is proud to have such close ties within the Jackson community, with many of their employees originally being from the area. Many of their hires are based on referrals, and don’t always require a degree or experience. There is endless opportunity and size in the freight industry, beyond the sizes of semis. Freight alone is an $875 billion industry.

The work culture at ALS is evident through their morning meetings, where employees connect with others at the Grand Rapids location, as well as those in Laredo, Texas, and Monterrey, Mexico. In these meetings, they recognize each other’s sales and operations accomplishments, get real-time updates on how they’re doing, and instill a “gladiator” mentality. For ALS, gladiators aren’t reserved just for movies or epic plays. Nick shared that the gladiator mentality is someone who is a lover, hero, and neighbor, and provides an internal ethos that encourages employees to keep persisting and growing in their own areas of expertise, while still being challenged. Each ALS employee works with what is called a performance plan, or epic journey, to ensure that they have goals structured for them, and are set on a path that aligns with company growth.

Joe Parker, President of ALS, expanded on the gladiator mentality. It’s part of their internal brand, rather than something that the community or other businesses recognize them for. A gladiator is something they embody each day they come into work. “There is a natural work ethic found in Jackson,” Joe explained. “Something I like about Jackson is that it a has neighborly feel. Once you come in, it’s a very close-knit community.” He continued to share that the atmosphere is similar within ALS; no matter how shy or closed-off as a person you may be before you enter, you’ll quickly come out of your shell after being surrounded by the team and positive environment at ALS, which boosts your confidence and shows you how much you are capable of achieving.

Incoming and existing employees have a lot to look forward to with the future of ALS. The new headquarters will be located at 3000 Blake Road, at the old Jackson College Maher Campus. Construction is underway, and they’re hoping to have some teammates in the office this summer. They plan to be fully equipped with a café, weight room, and game room. To oversee this fantastic new facility, they are looking to hire a facilities manager.

Joe shared his excitement for the new headquarters, and he explained that this location is symbolic in the state of Michigan. The building is one he always drove past, growing up in Grass Lake and one that he dreamed of filling out. “When you leave Jackson, it’s the last symbol you see,” he said, “It’s like the face of Jackson for people who may normally not drive by.”

Despite their growing size, ALS is known for being highly client-centric. They very much consider themselves to be in the service industry, assisting companies of all sizes with their freight and transportation needs. With their new Jackson headquarters, they hope the future holds more exposure for them within the community. They already actively sponsor, give back and are looking for further opportunities to get involved in the growth of Jackson.

If you’re curious about what is in store for Automated Logistics Systems or hope to join their team, click here to visit their website, or find them on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

Monster Motors Provides Opportunities for Success

After five years of business, Monster Motors owners Chris and Lori Jackson are more enthusiastic about supporting the community than ever. What started out as a wholesale company has expanded to a retail market. Beyond serving the community with excellent prices on excellent vehicles, the team at Monster Motors, including Chris and Lori’s partner, Dan Kidder, is all about the community and giving back. For that reason, they have held a longstanding Membership at the Chamber, at an Executive Level Membership. This allows them to sponsor the Memberships of smaller businesses. Ron O’Rourke, Fixed Operations, explained the importance behind Monster Motors utilizing this piece of their Membership.

Toneka Smith (T. Smith Business Consulting) and Ron O’Rourke

Some past and current Members, sponsored by Monster Motors include DoughNation Bakery, DS Life Coaching, T. Smith Business Consulting, and the U.S. Airforce. The reason they are so passionate about this piece of their Membership is they are able to offer new businesses opportunities to access and connect with the business community and reach new potential clients and customers using the Chamber’s expansive network. Ron shared that the Chamber has been a great resource meeting the unique needs of each, seeing their vision, and helping them succeed. This growing network of businesses, big and small put your business “on the map” in Jackson. “In a small community like ours, it can be hard to stand out. Sponsoring Memberships gives us the opportunity to give back and help businesses in their early stages, just like when we first started,” Ron shared. He continued by saying that the benefits that come from the Chamber stem from a variety of events, where there is truly something for everyone and every business.

Monster Motors has sponsored Memberships for new businesses looking to grow, and businesses that have been around, but are looking to get connected. They look to be partnered with businesses, who are like-minded and want to see succeed and have a hand in that success.

Monster Motors is very hands-on when it comes to supporting their sponsored Members. They don’t just want to pay a bill, they want to be a friend and mentor to business owners who want to be more engaged. Ron invites drop-in visits, schedules lunches, and offers text support just so their sponsored Members know that it matters they’re building businesses here in Jackson.

Amanda Loveland, Marketing & Development Director

Ron expressed that Chris and Lori have set an excellent example when it comes to business practices. Their business has an incredibly high retention rate, and according to Ron, “The way they treat employees speaks for itself.” He emphasized the meaning of the phrase “You’re only as good as your team,” as those at Monster Motors recognize the people who have gotten them where they are. With that being said, they see the importance of supporting those just starting out or looking for further guidance in business.

Ron O’Rourke and Master Sargent John Riggs, U.S. Airforce

Seeing those businesses Monster Motors has partnered with succeed doesn’t only feel rewarding to those at Monster Motors, but the growing connection to their community is what helps make them successful. The exposure they gain is beyond any sort of ROI, it’s about seeing smaller businesses succeed and grow. DoughNation Bakery, as Ron explained, is a great example of this. It’s hard to stumble into a coffee shop or restaurant that doesn’t serve DoughNation Bakery’s products today. Aaron Cole, the owner, has seen great success since being partnered with Monster Motors. Toneka Smith, CEO of T. Smith Business Consulting, is very active at Chamber events and has successfully grown her business since joining the Chamber, thanks to Monster Motors.

Monster Motors is proud to sponsor an upcoming Live at the Lab on June 23, where Ron and some of the Members Monster Motors has sponsored will have the opportunity to share more about their business’ stories live on the air with HOME.fm. As always, Live at the Lab is free to attend for both Members and nonmembers. It’s the ideal setting to introduce yourself to local business leaders, meet the team at the Chamber, and enjoy casual networking. The Chamber and Monster Motors will also be hosting an Off the Clock at the dealership on July 13, where Members will get to see the impressive fleet of vehicles Monster Motors has in stock, as well as enjoy light bites, drinks, and networking.

If you’re curious about how else Monster Motors stays involved in the community, you can visit their website, or find them at an upcoming event.

Jackson Popcorn Depot Keeps Jackson Sweet

In Jackson lies a shop that erases all thoughts you had about popcorn. When you walk into Jackson Popcorn Depot, you can’t avoid the childlike wonder that makes the phrase “like a kid in a candy store” all too real. The walls are lined with colorful treats, bags waiting to be filled, and snacks you can’t imagine beyond your wildest, candied dreams.

To this family business, popcorn means much more than just movie night. High school sweethearts Greg and Becky Vancalbergh went into the popcorn business in 2016. At the time, the shop they had taken over sold popcorn, nuts, and taffy. As the years went on, Greg and Becky started to sprinkle in what now makes Jackson Popcorn Depot stand out so much, like nostalgic or even freeze-dried candies. In February of 2022, they moved into their current location, just across the hall from their old one, but now three times the size. Jackson Popcorn Depot has proven to be such a growing success with a cult following, they will even soon be expanding to the Lansing area.

When you think of popcorn, you’re probably thinking of a giant bucket full of movie theater butter. Jackson Popcorn Depot doesn’t limit your flavor profile to just that; think tutti-fruity, Chicago, caramel, or jalapeno. Their caramel corn is unlike any you’ve had. At 70 years old, it’s one of their best-kept secrets. Despite their both tantalizingly salty and satisfyingly sweet popcorn, Jackson Popcorn Depot is not just limited to popcorn. Oh, no, they have almost 2,000 candies to try. It sounds extreme, but when you walk in the brightly colored doorway, their supply is wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling. 500 of those types of candy can’t be found anywhere else locally.

Their freeze-dried candies (yes, freeze-dried) aren’t intended for astronauts. You’ll be surprised to find your favorite candies like Skittles, Milk Duds, or even gummy worms can be transformed into a fun new candy that’s out of this world. Also unique to Jackson Popcorn Depot are cinnamon-roasted nuts all year round. Think cotton candy can only be found when the fair rolls into town? Jackson Popcorn Depot makes its own cotton candy to satisfy your sweet tooth whenever you please, coming in more than just blue and pink. They also have flavors like watermelon, cherry, birthday cake, and chocolate. If sour is up your street, they are the only place in town with Pucker Powder Bits.

Though Jackson Popcorn Depot is the ideal spot for a sweet escape, they can bring their treats to you for any special event. Want to show some staff appreciation? Hosting an office party? Need favors for a private event? Even a shower, graduation, or birthday party? Jackson Popcorn Depot does it all. They even create your own custom label for whatever products you select. Make it popcorn, gummies, cotton candy, Jackson Popcorn Depot offers three different sizes for you to choose from, depending on the scale of your event. If you’re looking for something a bit more personalized and special, like an award, prize, or employee of the month, Jackson Popcorn Depot also offers gift baskets and gift boxes, choc-full of treats that will make anyone’s eyes grow wide.

As a family business, they treat their entire staff like family.” Greg explained that they’re always joking and having fun when they come to work. “You’re at a candy store, it’s meant to be fun and upbeat,” Greg shared. Each of Becky and Greg’s two kids have done their time working at Jackson Popcorn Depot and are excited to keep them involved for years to come.

Whether you need a pick-me-up, are in search of a fun gift for a loved one, or want to order a few gift boxes, pop on over to Jackson Popcorn Depot for nostalgia, snacks, and fun. There will be no shortage of sweet possibilities.

Normalizing Mental Health Diagnoses in the Workplace

May is Mental Health Month. Not that it isn’t essential to acknowledge mental health needs all the time, but we’re currently calling attention to the importance of hiring those with a mental health diagnosis. Ann Monroe, CEO of A.R.E. Inc. gives an in-depth reflection on why normalizing mental health diagnoses in the workplace and how it can benefit your team as a whole.

A.R.E. Inc. is a peer-run nonprofit with a mission to help those in recovery during their mental health journey. Not only that, but they are also known for their drop-in center, support groups, and recovery plans for those with substance abuse. Peer-run means that each person employed with A.R.E. Inc. has a mental health diagnosis. This is not by coincidence; they require it. Everyone who shows up to work each day has overcome some sort of challenge to work there, and there are plenty of reasons why.

Firstly, it’s important for those in recovery to see examples of others succeeding in their own recovery. With about 60 members dropping in each day, it’s essential for them to see examples of hope, strength, and mostly, trust. Those in recovery are more trusting of a lived experience with mental illness. They are more understanding, because of similar experiences and struggles, and a general lack of ego. “Connection,” as Ann described, “is the most important element of life. If we don’t have it, we lose hope.”

A.R.E. Inc. has two locations, one in Jackson and the other in Hillsdale. They have been known to hire within when they see potential in members who come to the drop-in centers. About one-third of their employees are returning citizens, and also aim to include diversity in all respects, including race and the LGBTQ+ community. Drop-in centers are mostly run by certified peer-support specialists. Those who are helping members have once been in a similar position. 

The staff at A.R.E. Inc. is incredibly loyal, according to Ann. They want to give back to the same people who helped them. Mental illness can cause strays from families, and at the drop-in centers, members are able to find their own families. Some of the struggles members face inhibit them from holding down a job, so drop-in centers allow them to socialize with others, talk about their recovery, play pool, relax in the “zen room,” or enjoy a coffee-house atmosphere. Recovery, to those at A.R.E. Inc., means that you’re learning to live successfully with a mental health diagnosis. With A.R.E. Inc, members learn that they can still have a fun, robust life, while being able to love and feel loved by those around them, without allowing challenges to derail them.

But, how can you ask potential employees about their mental health? Here’s the thing: you can’t. What you CAN do as a leader, is let any employees or potential future employees that their workplace is a safe environment. Leaders in business can also encourage people to speak up when they have mental health needs. There are plenty of perks to hiring someone with a mental health diagnosis. Ann shares the qualities of those that she works with on a daily basis are compassionate, tenacious, resilient, creative, and have respect for others’ life experiences. Being an employer of someone with a mental health diagnosis shows value to employees more as a person, rather than just someone they see each day from 9 to 5. Successful leaders are transparent about their struggles and reassure those around them that they are in a safe space. 

Twenty-five percent of the population has a mental health diagnosis. If that’s something that’s avoided, that singles out a huge chunk of potential and talent. By opening yourself up to those with a mental health diagnosis, you’re opening yourself up to a greater talent pool and more diversified options. Ann advised that business leaders hire people for who they are, not by how many degrees they may or may not have. This can include the formerly incarcerated and those with a mental health diagnosis. If you create an atmosphere of transparency, you are going to build a loyal workforce. 

If you need advice or resources on how to create a workplace more inclusive to those with mental health diagnoses, contact Ann Monroe, at a.monroe@arepeerservices.org.