Community support fuels AL!VE expansion plans

The success of AL!VE as a community resource for mid-Michigan residents has created momentum for Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital to move forward with its expansion. HGB opened AL!VE in November 2011. The experience-based destination health park is an integrated array of health and well-being experiences and services.

Some of the most popular features currently used at AL!VE include:

  • Explore, the walking path that sees an average of 150 walkers a day.
  • Relish, the teaching kitchen that offers a variety of demonstrations from diabetes education to healthy cooking classes.
  • Soar, where you can join group activities, such as the popular Zumba or hula hoop, or become one of the 500 visitors who have climbed the 24-foot rock climbing wall.

In addition, more and more patients are coming to AL!VE for HGB’s rehabilitation services in Empower and women’s health services in Journey. Empower, which includes physical, occupational and speech therapy, has seen an increase of more than 30 percent since last year. And mammograms have increased 37 percent over 2011.

"I can’t begin to say what a difference it is to have a mammogram in a warm, inviting atmosphere like AL!VE," said Dot Yoder, Charlotte resident and HGB Women’s Advisory Council member. "Plus I signed up to become a JEM, which gives me access to an annual nurse consultation and bone density screening, and I get discounts on some retail items and women’s only programs."

A Journey Experience Membership, or JEM, is open to women in the community for only $20 a year. In addition to screenings and discounts, JEMs have access to member’s only trips and events.

HGB will continue to expand on these experiences when it adds to AL!VE. It has already raised more than 75 percent of the necessary funding thanks to regional and community support, but it still needs to raise approximately $900,000.

"This is a community facility," said Matt Rush, FACHE, HGB president and CEO. "Our goal is to offer services that benefit every community member in a way that helps improve their health and vitality. If we can reach our fund-raising goal of $4 million we will be able to provide a broad range of experiences for visitors of all ages with all that will be offered when we open this expansion in January 2013."

AL!VE is open to everyone, not just those who live in Charlotte. It offers many free activities like open basketball, open rock climbing, the walking path, access to courtyards; plus equipment for the activity gym, and e-readers and MP3 players. There are also several fee-based features and offerings currently, such as cooking and art classes, spa treatments and group exercise classes. AL!VE also has a healthy eating café and a retail area.

The HGB Wellness Center will eventually move to AL!VE, increasing opportunities for its membership. And there will also be increased programs and experiences for children once the expansion is complete.

In January 2013, new features available to AL!VE visitors will include:

  • The expansion of Explore, the indoor walking trail, which will nearly double in size.
  • Grow, a supervised children’s area offering age-appropriate experiences for learning, creativity and fun.
  • Move, an expanded wellness area and locker rooms, providing multiple venues for activities from areas for peaceful movement to high-intensity cardio areas, as well as group exercise and functional training.
  • Gather, a conference center, including a executive board room, flexible breakout rooms, pre-function area and a separate entrance.


"One of the most common requests we receive today are from businesses and community groups for meeting space," said Patrick Sustrich, executive director of AL!VE.

Currently AL!VE has a few smaller meeting rooms available for public gatherings and events, but the facility isn’t able to accommodate every request because of scheduling and size. The new conference area means the facility will be able to better accommodate those requests.

"We’ve always said that AL!VE can become whatever the community wants it to be," Rush said. "We are only limited by the resources available. We want individuals and families to have the tools and knowledge needed to make their lives all they can be – but we also need the community’s support to make that happen."

There are many ways mid-Michigan residents can support AL!VE as construction begins. If you are interested in sharing your time as a volunteer, talent as a performer, artist or educator, or treasure to help AL!VE fulfill its fund-raising goal, visit myalive.com for more information.