Nearly 20 area youth introduced themselves during the 1st Public Media Network Teen Storytelling Camp. Each was asked to say their name and something they liked to do.

The students laughed when Dawn Bass introduced herself and said, “I like to have fun!” Bass is shorter than most of the students in the room, however, the sassy grandmother made a huge impression on the new producers. As they prepared to produce their own video production during the week-long camp, Bass, a community producer for Public Media Network, volunteered to help. To her, it was the least she could do.

“(PMN) is like family to me,” said Bass. “When I moved here two years ago, the staff became my first friends.”

Bass, a native of Charleston S.C., came to Kalamazoo to escape an abusive marriage. A friend from Detroit recommended the city for a fresh start. While living in a hotel, she saw a commercial for free video production classes at PMN and decided to sign up. She had a background in filmmaking and felt it would be a great way to refocus her life, and possibly produce a local program.

However, after the second day of class, she came home to a son who was unresponsive. He had attempted suicide.

“I got my son to Bronson Hospital for treatment,” Bass recalled. “But, while he was still there, I walked the few blocks from the hospital to PMN class. I had to. It was the one thing that got me through.”

Over the past two years, she also had her own struggles as she recovered from a stroke, heart attack, and diagnosis of early stages of dementia. But, she keeps going.

“God’s got me,” said Bass whose contagious smile lights up a room.

She has helped produce and edit a PMN show called, “Alternative Medicine and You,” hosted by Michael Steffers. In addition, she has participated with the PMN parade crew, volunteers her time at PMN as a receptionist, and helps with the youth media camp, of which her granddaughter is a participant. Her contributions to PMN are her way of giving back.

“They saved my life,” Bass said of the organization’s way of giving her a new “place” in life. “It’s a friendly, family-oriented place. They do a lot and they care for you. It’s just awesome. “