About the Foundation

Dedicated to facilitating sustainable wellness in our community.

A Coalition of Community Leaders

The North Ottawa Wellness Foundation began as a coalition of community leaders, convened in January 2017 by North Ottawa Community Health System, to bring awareness to the disconnect between our physical and emotional health, and further educate our leaders about the debilitating consequences of this disconnect to our long term health and well-being.

The NOW Foundation Goal

The goal of this coalition was to bring together these local leaders representing business, medical, philanthropic and wellness sectors to explore ways to incorporate Mindfulness into their everyday lives. By introducing these key leaders to simple practices such as taking a few deep breaths and a more natural diet, the coalition sought to align medical sciences and emotional strength to better shape our productivity, our outlook, our health and our longevity.

Participants were offered a two-part educational series:

  • The First Session – Stress Response and Mindful Breathing
    Offered leaders insights into the neuroscience and physiology of the stress response, as well as simple techniques such as taking five deep breaths to activate the relaxation response over the stress (fight or flight) response.
  • The Second Session – Healthy Eating, Quality Sleep
    Focused on the emerging field of epigenetics, the micro biome (gut health) and the critical importance of quality sleep to overall health, vitality and well-being.

The NOW Foundation is Formed

Our community leaders convened for a third session to debrief and share the implications of these critical wellness topics for the clients, customers and employees they serve in Northwest Ottawa County. In an effort to enable these busy leaders to efficiently & effectively share the numerous activities, projects and programs they subsequently designed to incorporate sustainable wellness and improve the well-being of those they serve, the North Ottawa Wellness Foundation was formed.

Core Beliefs

"As our community’s local health system, we have a personal commitment to the family, friends and neighbors we serve.  We have seen troubling trends in our Emergency Room, on our hospital floor and in our physician offices that compelled us to look at things differently.  For too long, the health care industry has focused on treating disease and illness instead of preventing it.  This has created a costly and unsustainable situation for communities across the country. Mindfulness puts the focus where it belongs, on prevention. Moreover, it puts control back in the hands of the patient.  That combination is a powerful tool in fighting chronic disease, as well as fostering healing and longevity. NOCHS and our physicians are proud to bring this science to the forefront through practices that integrate physical and emotional health." - North Ottawa Community Health System

"Since it's founding, the Tri-Cities Family YMCA has offered programs that promote a healthy mind, body and spirit for all. In our fast paced world, tools for managing stress and well being are of increasing importance for individuals and families. We recognize that mindful parents are better able to raise mindful children and that employees who are better able to manage stress perform better and maintain a healthier work life balance. Increasing accessibility to these valuable tools through the North Ottawa Wellness Foundation is a positive step for our community.” - Tri-Cities Family YMCA

Healthy Lifestyle. Healthy Community.

Advisory Council Members

Our advisory council members are proud to have collaborated with other vital partner organizations within North Ottawa County.

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Shelleye Yaklin

President Trinity
Health Grand Haven

Traditional medicine takes care of your body when it is sick. Based on the trends we see in how our community consumes health care, we know we need to promote comprehensive wellness rather than simply treating sickness. If we are going to ask the community to change its approach to wellness, the hospital needs to be at the forefront of the work. 

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Mark Allen
The Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg

Chambers are membership-based business organizations.  We strive to give members and their employees the tools and opportunities to improve health, because the people who live and work in our community drive the health and welfare for all.  If we don’t have a healthy community, we are not going to attract the residents, businesses and investments that we need.  Being a part of this collaborative provides us a way to connect with the community as a whole. 

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Hadley Streng
Grand Haven Area Community Foundation

Community Foundation: The Community Foundation is interested in helping all people learn to do life better.  It funds initiatives that create data all can share, react to, and build upon.  The subject of wellness resonated across and was already percolating in all strata of the community because it was a global unmet need. The collaborative made sense as a way to organize and continue the work already being done.

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Greg Coil
Tri-Cities YMCA

YMCA: Mental health is just as important to well-being as physical health and the Y portfolio should support both.  Internalizing wellness knowledge in our staff equips them year after year to help children, parents and adults build a foundation for success.

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Holly Severance
Wellness Manager
Shape Fitness Factory

Shape Corp: Business exists for people and for community.  As an employer, we have a responsibility to give back to our community and to lead. Belonging to the collaborative helps us learn about and leverage what already exists.  It also pays dividends to the company by reducing healthcare expenditures.

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Scott Grimes
Grand Haven Area Public Schools

GHAPS: a school’s job is to educate. But kids can’t learn if they are not well. Participating in NOWF gives us qualified, reputable resources for student wellness that we don’t have to research or create.  In the process, we build a healthier environment so kids can achieve.

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Jason Shamblin
Ottawa County Parks and Recreation

Ottawa County Parks: Participating in the collaborative gives us access to a new set of networks that reaches more people and furthers our mission.  Nature is a good place to help people find ways of adapting to the stresses of life.  Parks occupy a special niche because they provide access and opportunities to all.  The trick is reaching people so that they know about the resource.

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United Way of Ottawa and Allegan Counties

United Way: People are not always interested in their own health, and that’s an unsustainable paradigm for individuals as well as communities.  The more health intelligence we have at the community level, the fewer problems we will have that require funding to solve, and the more we will have improved life outcomes for all members of our community.

Monica Verplank
Wellness Advisor
North Ottawa Wellness Foundation

Embarking on a Community Wellness Journey

The North Ottawa Wellness Foundation began as a coalition of community leaders, convened in January 2017 by North Ottawa Community Health System.  Its purpose was to bring awareness of the disconnect between our physical and emotional health, and further educate our leaders about the debilitating consequences of this disconnect to our long term health and wellbeing.

Since 2017, we have worked together through our member organizations to improve health in the overall population.  Our collaborative members have implemented many programming changes to help move the health needle in their own constituent groups.  Over time, that work is having an impact.

We are often asked, “How did you do it?” That seems like a simple question, but it’s not.  We cannot stress enough that your community’s wellness journey will be unique.  It will not look exactly like ours.   Therefore, “what we did” may not be what you need to do.

Although the journey will be different for every community, we have gathered our collective wisdom to provide insights, inspiration, and a shared vision for better health that will help you move ahead with confidence.

  • If you’re looking for some basic information about how we approached our work, please download and read this one-page FAQ.
  • If you’re looking for a more detailed roadmap, please download our 17-page Getting Started Guide, which includes basic steps, examples, and lessons learned.

We hope this information inspires and encourages you as you consider ways to improve community health and wellbeing.

Your Donations in Action


Thank you for considering a donation to support the mission of the North Ottawa Wellness Foundation. The North Ottawa Wellness Foundation is a component fund within the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation. Donations to the North Ottawa Wellness Foundation will support programs in our community that align with our mission and address one or more of the four wellness areas of

Effective Stress Management & Emotional Balance, Exercise, Movement & Quality Sleep, Real Food & Nutrition, Helping Self, Helping Others

Please see our Programs & Projects page to see activities supported by the North Ottawa Wellness Foundation.

Our Mission

Facilitating physical, mental and emotional wellness in Northwest Ottawa County through research-based strategies to increase vitality and life balance while decreasing stress and inflammation in the bodies and minds of local residents.

Our Vision

Northwest Ottawa County residents are self aware individuals who consistently self regulate in the midst of stress-producing situations with co-workers, fellow community members and beyond. Our residents conscientiously nourish their minds and bodies with nutritious foods, movement and quality sleep.

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