Program Update: Chris Kallgren…Elements of Success

At the January 29th meeting, we welcomed Chris Kallgren as our speaker. Chris is a proud graduate of Michigan Tech and has made a lifelong career at Post as a research engineer. He and his wife Joni are proud parents of two children. Chris has a heart for service and is active as a board member at the
local Food Bank. He is also an avid golfer. Chris shared a variety of inspirational quotes to emphasize three important qualities that any successful person should possess:

1) Hard work;
2) Perseverance; and
3) Have fun along the way – it’s a journey.

His favorite quote is by President Calvin Coolidge who said “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts.”

“How to be Successful” by Peter LaRouech

Peter Larouech has had the opportunity to talk to thousands of elementary students who live in Calhoun County. The topic of his talks was “How to be Successful.” To talk about success, Pete has had some personal success in several different areas. Sports have always been a big part of his life and still are. Some of his accomplishments are: played football at Western Michigan University, named to age group All American teams in triathlon, biathlon and race walking. He was two time age group national champion in canoe triathlon. He has successfully summitted Mt. Rainier. Apart from sports he is a published author, taught special education and now is launching a career as an artist.

His three messages for today’s Rotary’s audience are:

  • Be prepared. Spend more time preparing than what the activity you undertake will require.
  • Always seek the advice of experts.
  • Teamwork is key. Everything that you do requires teamwork.

Program Update: VOCES: Many Voices, One Community

2017.10.9 VOCESJosh Dunn settled in Michigan in 2014 with many years of experience serving immigrant and refugee communities. Josh has worked in Argentina, Texas (along the US/Mexico border), and Clarkston, GA, known as the most diverse community in the nation. Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Spanish from the University of Georgia. He has the knowledge and experience to create meaningful pathways for people to access needed services regardless of language or ethnicity. Since his arrival in BC, Josh has dedicated time to learning about the barriers facing the local Latino community as well as the strengths they have developed since VOCES was created in 2007. He educated the BC Rotary on the
important role that VOCES plays in the BC area, as well as the programs that are offered to help the diverse community in which we live. Please take time to see the power point presentation attached to this email and learn more about VOCES; also see

Program Update: Veterans Helping Veterans

2017.4.10 Veterans Helping VeteransThis week we welcomed Larry Bales from Veterans Helping Veterans. Veterans Helping Veterans is a group of vocal advocates for our homeless and displaced veterans. It serves Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties. They work with veterans who have been referred the the Veteran’s Administration, Charitable Union, Summit Pointe and the court system. They assist veterans in finding an apartment or a home. Once shelter is secured, Veterans Helping Veterans seeks to provide furniture and household necessities.

Items that the organization provides includes couches, chairs, tables, lamps, beds, dressers, night stands and televisions. Smaller necessities such as towels, shower curtains, blankets, pillows, dishes, pans, coffee makers and utensils are also distributed. Personal hygiene products such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap and shaving creme are also made available.

The organization relies upon our community members to donate these goods for distribution. They only ask that all items be clean and in good condition.

Veterans Helping Veterans began as a short-term stop gap measure….but the need is so great that it has continued its active support for our veterans for several years. Its motto is “A Hand Up, Not a Hand-Out.”


Program Update: Mayor Dave Walters

Dave Walters 2017.2.6Battle Creek’s Mayor, Dave Walters – aka Battle Creek’s #1 cheerleader – was this week’s speaker. Dave has spent his life in the Battle Creek community and is serving his 3rd term as mayor. He is a graduate of Lakeview High School and has taught at Kellogg Community College. Dave retired from the Battle Creek Police Department and is a VP and Financial Consultant for Hilliard Lyons. He enjoys mountain biking, participating in martial arts and [Read more…]

Program Update: Senator Mike Nofs

Nofs 2017.1.30Today’s speaker was State Senator Mike Nofs. Mike was re-elected in 2014 by the citizens of the “new” 19th Senate district for his 2nd full term. Before his re-election, Mike served 6 years in the State House of Representatives where his ability to work across party lines earned him the respect of his colleagues and the distinction of having over a dozen bills signed into law.

“We’re coming off a pretty good couple of years, so I thought I’d start” began Mike, “by sharing some good news.” [Read more…]

Program Update: Sheriff Matt Saxton

Sheriff Matt Saxton pictured with President Chad and Rotarian John Godfrey.
Sheriff Matt Saxton pictured with President Chad and Rotarian John Godfrey.

Rotarian John Godfrey introduced Sheriff Matt Saxton. Sheriff Saxton grew up in Homer, Michigan. He graduated from Lake Superior State University. During his time there, he met his wife, Heidi. They are married with three children.

Sheriff Saxton has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a minor in Corrections. He also is a graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, School of Police Staff and Command and a graduate from the FBI National Academy. [Read more…]

Program Update: Joe Sobieralski, CEO – Battle Creek Unlimited

Joe Sobieralski

John Godfrey introduced Joe Sobieralski as today’s speaker. Joe is the President and CEO of Battle Creek Unlimited, a non-profit economic development organization that oversees “Business” attraction and retention, primarily at facilities located in the Ft. Custer Industrial Park. The mission of BCU is “Generating investment and job creation in our community.” BCU came into existence 40 years ago when 3000 acres were donated for the purpose of economic development as the Ft. Custer military presence was downsized. At present there are 100 companies, 25 of which are international, working out of the Industrial Park. More land is currently being developed in the hopes that it will be “shovel ready” in order to attract more business to our community. In addition to the Ft. Custer development, BCU partners with the Chamber of Commerce and other Battle Creek non-profits to help our community grow and flourish.

Thanks Joe for your leadership and we look forward to the future as we share in the development and growth of our Battle Creek community.

Program Update: United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region

United Way 2016.11Monday’s speaker was Chris Sargent, Interim Chief Exectuive Officer for the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region. He was introduced by Rotarian Rob Wagley who serves as its Associate Director of Resource Development

The vision and mission of the agency is based on a partnership. It is a shared effort between United Way, other organizations in the community and individual members of the region.

Chris discussed United Way’s four priorities areas.

  • Education: Improve high school graduation rates.
  • Income: Increase the number of economically stable households in our region.
  • Health: Improve family and infant health. Reduce the infant mortality rate.
  • Basic Needs: Ensure a safety net and family’s access to basic needs.

In addition to funding existing programs in Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs, UWBCKR helps lead, support, manage and/or fund a number of initiatives that help specific segments of our community. These Community Collaborations work with various nonprofit agencies, existing programs and new programs created by United Way specifically to maximize their collective impact. Having measurable outcomes is paramount to evaluate if we are being effective. Visit to learn more about specific programs and initiative.

Program Update: Sprout Urban Farms

Jeremy AndrewsToday, Jeremy Andrews provided a fun-loving discussion about Sprout Urban Farms and its “Sprout Box.” Founded in 2009, Sprout Urban Farms has grown substantially and nearly 50% of their budget is covered by innovative revenue streams. The Sprout Box is one such initiative.

The Sprout Box is a highly customizable box of produce and local products from local farms and producers delivered to your home, or picked up at any of our available pick-up locations. The weekly Sprout Box is available in three sizes: $15, $25 or $100. They contain organic produce harvested just days prior to delivery. You select what produce and products on a weekly basis. Recipes for the boxes are available online.

Sprout Urban Farms also works with local schools engaging students in learning about food sources and eating healthy. They have spearheaded such efforts at school gardens, school markets, fresh produce for school cafeterias and student visits to local farms.