Company owner praises Lions Club and locals band


BIG RAPIDS – Giving back to a community can be one of the best ways to keep it going, and a Big Rapids organization has been praised by a local business owner for their efforts to help small businesses in the area throughout of the pandemic.

The Big Rapids Lions Club chapter is part of Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.4 million members in approximately 46,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographies around the world.

Carlleen Rose, owner of The Old Pioneer Store and Emporium and Kilwin’s Chocolates in Big Rapids, explained at a recent Lions Club meeting how the organization made a difference by supporting businesses with their struggles last year. Lions Club President Terry Ventocillia invited Rose as the organization’s guest speaker for the evening.

“I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the Lions Club for all they have done for our community,” said Rose. “They stepped up and got involved in things like fireworks at the last minute, and it’s a very hardworking organization, and I wanted to give some background on the local gang.”

Band of Locals is an organization dedicated to helping local businesses build strong communities by supporting cities, connecting neighbors, and building economic and social relationships. Their philosophy is that local businesses put a much larger share of their income back into the local economy and contribute to local causes.


Rose said COVID-19 has had a major impact on the viability of many businesses and community support is vital to their survival.

“When we realized that our world was going to be very different and that it would take a lot for businesses in our community to keep their doors open,” said Rose, “we realized that the only way this was going to happen was if our The community was going to support us through the transition and the new world of what it was going to be like, and it affected every business whether you are a doctor, dentist or retail.

“The creation of the Local Band through community efforts reminded me of how the Lions Club came together when the city needed help with the fireworks,” she added. “The community has been so supportive of businesses during the pandemic, and one of the things we wanted to do was make sure that our initiatives could last for years and keep our community vibrant and growing. We wanted to continue supporting local businesses. and be creative and make our city special, which the Lions Club has helped tremendously. “

The Big Rapids area has over 55 businesses ranging from health and beauty, professional, restaurants, retail and non-profit organizations.

The Band of Locals sells official blue bands that give you discounted savings at participating businesses in Mecosta, Osceola and Montcalm counties. Individuals can purchase a Band of Locals Blue Band for $ 10 at Old Pioneer Store 118 N. Michigan Avenue in Big Rapids and at Mecosta County Convention & Visitors Bureau 127 S. State St. in Big Rapids.

Currently, the Lions Club’s largest fundraiser operates the concession stand on the Top Taggart Field at Ferris State University. The booth is open for all Big Rapids High School, Rocket, and Ferris State University home football games, and funds raised at the various events have enabled the organization to continue its community work.

Some of the services that the Lions Club has provided to the community over the 78 years of organizing the residents of Big Rapids are various eye, ear and diabetes clinics; support for three municipal swimming pool projects; fitting out of a room and equipment at the local hospital; supply of white canes for the visually impaired; eye screening for school students; hearing screening tests for local residents and schoolchildren; and financial assistance for eye exams and glasses for community members.

The Lions Club also provides services and support to youth through initiatives such as welcome boxes for children entering the domestic violence shelter; supplies for students of all levels of public schools and Youth Center participants, with an emphasis on personal hygiene items and clothing needs; dictionaries for grade three students at all schools in Big Rapids; a high school peace poster contest; and cover summer camp costs for students with diabetes.

Rose said one of the goals of community businesses and the Band of Locals is to involve more young people in local life and businesses in Big Rapids.

“We all have to support each other, and a lot of that requires volunteer work,” Rose said. “We want to involve more young people so that we can have more new ideas. Sharing the importance of this was something I wanted to emphasize when I spoke about the Lions Club and the community effort.

“My clients kept me in business, and we wouldn’t have survived if they hadn’t come to our aid,” she added. “I don’t know of any restaurant in our area that has closed its doors completely. I think this town has been extremely business friendly to the town and the Lions Club has maintained that. We could have lost a lot more businesses if it did. there were people and the organizations weren’t supporting each other, it was totally the community that fled. “

Rose said she wanted to see community members come out even more to support businesses and engage in the fun they can provide. Focusing on fellowship is something Rose sees as beneficial to the Big Rapids community.

“I would like the whole community to come together and discuss what kind of businesses we can offer our young people,” Rose said. “We also need housing for young professionals and families, but we cannot ignore a whole segment of our population that needs quality and affordable housing.

“I hope to see more companies able to stay open longer and bring more vs“We need to get our workforce back to work, and I don’t have all the answers to that, but we need to get people to work because we have seen some major challenges that we can not continue to address.

“With COVID-19 it’s frustrating to see cases and cases increase, so hopefully we can all come together and find a way to manage this while supporting the community and local small businesses and having good experiences. “

For more information or to inquire about Big Rapids Lions Club membership, contact CEO Bill Simpson at [email protected] or Lion Bruce Fredrick at [email protected]

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