A Message from Your Director (February 2014)


When I think February, I usually think of Valentine’s Day and all of the lovely things that go with it; this year, I sat down to write this article and couldn’t think about anything other than generosity and compassion – let me tell you why….
You may have heard about a local family that has gone through several devastating events in the past few months, the Beagle family. Their story has been in the Pioneer and their church organized a benefit to help them with medical expenses. Jon and Shawna Beagle own and operate Beagle Fit, a 24-hour gym in Big Rapids. In July, while the couple was expecting their third child, doctors discovered that Shawna had a brain tumor and she immediately went in to surgery to have it removed. The night after her surgery, she suffered a stroke that took the ability to speak from her, to make matters worse, the test results showed that the tumor was a rare form of cancer. Jon and Shawna welcomed their baby boy to the world on December 27th and discovered that he needs heart surgery within his first six months of life.

It seemed that this family has had their fair share of hardships so when their insurance company told them that they were required to have an automated external defibrillation (AED) machine, and needed it ASAP, people started talking. There was a buzz amongst a few of the regulars at the gym, this was something that they could help with. Because of the high cost of the machine, I was approached with a request to see if I could find a place that would offer a machine at a discount so everyone could pitch in and make this one less thing that the Beagle’s needed to worry about. I contacted Tom Hogenson from Spectrum Health Big Rapids and asked if he had any thoughts, he immediately started asking around and got me the contact information for a few companies that sell the machines.

I called the companies and explained the situation and just like that, Curt Zondervan from Physio-Control out ofGrand Rapidsreturned my call and said that they would be happy to donate the machine to the family and that they did not seek any recognition for their donation. Curt said that if any recognition was to be given, give it to the Emergency Medical Technicians – they are the real heroes! Dan Grabill and Tim Guild even showed up to present the machine and offer training assistance (pictured). These are the types of things that make this community such a great place to live and work!

I thought this story was a great example of kindness, generosity and the power of networking; I hope it warmed your heart on this cold winter day. If you are ever in need of anything, please do not hesitate to ask – there is great power in working together!

In other news, Plans are currently underway for the Taste of Mecosta (March 4), The Community and Family Expo in conjunction with The Great Start Collaborative and Big Rapids Public Schools (April 26), The Pioneer Chamber Golf Outing (May 21) and The Dam Festival (July 19), if you are interested in joining one of these or any other of our other committees, volunteering, becoming a sponsor, reserving booth space or would like more information, please let us know.


A Message from Your Director (January 2014)

As we move in to 2014, I am proud to look back on all that we have accomplished in this past year! We have implemented a three-year strategic plan for the Chamber, partnered with Connect Michigan to earn designation as a ‘Broadband certified’ community, developed “A Taste of Mecosta” cook book, advanced our members accessibility through the use of Mychamberapp, held the first Easter Egg drop at Robin Hood Airport, held water safety assemblies (in conjunction with the Sherriff’s Department) in schools throughout the county, offered several educational opportunities for businesses, assisted with the development of the Community Garden project, revamped the Chamber newsletter, hosted several successful community events and improved referral services for our members – just to name a few of our successes. We would like to sincerely thank everyone that contributed to all of these events and activities! We could not do it without your support!

We have undergone many changes in the past year and feel that our Chamber is stronger for it. We have got an enthusiastic staff that is always looking for ways to improve our organization. Loretta Heiney, my executive assistant, is very dedicated and is always available to discuss any needs that may arise and our newest employee, Alicia Moreno, had been serving her internship with us and has officially been hired on as our administrative assistant; she is also happy to help with any ideas or concerns! If you have not met Alicia yet, please feel free to stop in and introduce yourself, you’re going to be seeing a lot more of her! Looking forward, we will continue to create programs that will benefit our members and serve as an innovator for the business community. If you have any ideas or suggestions that you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact us, we are always here for you!

We are excited to see what 2014 has in store for us! Let us know if you are interested in participating in any of our programs and/or events and as always, please let us know if there is anything that we can do for you!

We wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!