Labor Fest 2017 celebrates the union worker, homeless re-entering workforce

West Michigan Labor Fest 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Labor Day is about honoring and celebrating the laborer, and that wasn't more evident than at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in downtown Grand Rapids Monday.

The event was called, Labor Fest 2017, and it offered a celebration, free to the public, honoring unions and union workings in West Michigan.

"It's a big party," said John Marcusse, organizer of Labor Fest. "We like to remind people that we're still here; we're still fighting and kicking."

►Related: Thousands take part in Labor Day walk on Mackinac Bridge

There was music, food, a beer tent, arts & crafts to peruse and purchase, and many labor booths and exhibits.

"Labor is not dead, and we're not going away," said Marcusse. "More people are joining unions every day."

While the majority of the people attending Labor Fest were celebrating the workforce, there was one exhibit who is on a mission to re-supply the workforce. Guiding Light Mission in Grand Rapids began moving away from being just a homeless shelter in 2011. They're main focus now is getting both men and women off the streets and and back on payrolls.

"In 2016, Guiding Light helped over 700 people find jobs," said Starla McDermott, Development Director at Guiding Light. "With the salaries they're bringing in, about $13.5 million is now being re-spent back into our community.

"It's about work, and that's what we do here at Guiding Light -- we help people get back to work. Labor Day weekend is the celebration of the ability to work, and we are helping those individuals work."

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