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Summer Essentials in Battle Creek

Summer is halfway over. Can you believe it? Neither can we! That’s why our team put together our list of Battle Creek summer essentials. You can’t let the season end without checking these four things off your list. Check out our suggestions, and then go get started!

take a trip

…to the farmers market! If you haven’t been there yet, what are you waiting for? You can stock up on all of your food needs for the week while supporting local farmers. The farmers market runs through October and is open on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. Head down to Festival Market Square to get your locally sourced, delicious food!

dance with…

… the Post Band! Every Thursday in the Summer at 7 p.m., you can hear the band playing live music from Festival Market Square. This music is family friendly and free. We promise you’ll be dancing in no time.

exercise by…

…taking a bike ride on a BCycle! When you’re exploring downtown, you can rent a bike at one of four convenient locations. Just look for the BCycle logo at Kool Family Community Center, Kellogg Community College, Riverwalk Centre, and the Old Lakeview Neighborhood to find a station. Simply hop on the bike and see the city, all while getting in a good workout.

say hi…

… to your favorite animals at Binder Park Zoo! Summer isn’t complete without a trip to the zoo. With more than 600 animals and a tram to help you see them all, there’s no reason not to go. Plus, where else can you feed a giraffe?

Our team is dedicated to making Battle Creek a community where everyone can live, work, and play. We are here to create a place for everyone through our dedicated leadership teams and our community events. Want to help us move Battle Creek forward? Reach out to a team member today!

Focus On: Larry Bales

Battle Creek is filled with community members who are committed to creating a city where we can all live, work, and play.

This month, we’re focusing on two Battle Creek veterans who are committed to helping other vets in our community. Without the help of these two, local veterans may not have access to basic resources and necessities for their everyday life.

meet larry bales

Larry Bales served in the Armed Forces for 24 years before retiring as First Sergeant in 1993. He is also the founder of Veterans Helping Veterans West Michigan (VHVWM). Larry runs VHVWM with Sarah Pauley, who served in the Army from 2005-2018 while stationed Afghanistan and Iraq.

Although they served in different wars, one virtue that stuck with both of them was the concept that service people always help comrades in need. In fact, this concept is what motivated Larry to help veterans in the Battle Creek area when he started VHVWM seven years ago. Although the organization is less than a decade old, VHVWM was able to help over 2,500 people in the Battle Creek area in 2018 alone.

creating a culture of vitality

Seven years ago, Larry was walking with a friend who served with the Marines at a Veterans Affairs office (VA) when the two saw a flyer on the ground. It read, “Our vets need help.”

This one simple sentence inspired Larry. His 24 years of service taught him that he should al-ways help a comrade in need, so that’s what he started to do.

From that day on, Larry began collecting useful items and donating them to the local VA. It didn’t take long for him to realize that as soon as items arrived, they were gone. Clearly there was a massive need in his community. To help out, Larry purchased two semi-truck trailers. The extra space allowed him to store and offer more items than when he’d simply dropped them off at the VA in the past.

However, it wasn’t long before the two trailers became cramped with items. Luckily, Larry was able to find a small building with warehouse space. With help from the Sunshine Rotary Club, he leased the building until it was up for demolition.

Although VHVWM didn’t have a building anymore, that didn’t deter Larry. The organization operated out of a few storage units Larry was able to rent another space through a member of the Burma Center.

Now, Larry and Sarah run the operation together. First, they connect with various organizations to learn who needs their help. Then they talk to the veteran to learn what they can do to help. Once VHVWM knows what items will be most beneficial to the vet in question, they load them into their truck and deliver them to the veteran’s house.

keeping the momentum going

VHVWM has been doing a lot to help Battle Creek veterans in the last few years. However, they need your help to continue their work. The easiest way to give back is by donating items or volunteering with VHVWM. You can call them at (269) 420-7638 or visit their website to learn more.

Please remember that all items must be clean, serviceable, and have no rips or tears. All donations are appreciated. After all, every item helps out veterans in our community.

We love sharing the stories of those in Battle Creek who are moving us forward by creating a culture of vitality. These leaders commit to creating spaces in our community where every-one can live, work, and play. Do you know somebody who we should Focus On? Click here to send us their name, contact information, and to tell us what they’re doing to make a difference.

Want to help us move Battle Creek forward? Join us! Click here to get involved!

Simple Things You Can Do Every Day to Improve Battle Creek

Battle Creek is a beautiful city! We have great parks, wonderful trails, and a booming downtown. We’re proud of our welcoming community, and we want to make everyone feel appreciated. That isn’t a one-person job, and it doesn’t happen overnight, either. We need everyone in our community to work together to make our city a fantastic place to live, work, and play.

Not sure how to get started? Our team has put together a few simple ways you can help us to improve Battle Creek any day of the week:

Clean up

If you’re out enjoying your neighborhood, downtown Battle Creek, or the Linear Park Trail, clean up! Pick up after yourself, and if you see trash or litter on the ground, throw it out in the right can. We need to take care of things that are important to us, like our city, and that includes throwing garbage away instead of on the ground.

prepare a meal

Some community members struggle to find the time to prepare a healthy meal every day. You can help out! Prepping for a meal can take a lot of time, work, and energy, but cooking for a crowd can often be as easy as prepping for just yourself. Make a meal for your neighbor or friend, bring it over, and take one more worry off their plate.

spend time with neighbors

It’s easy to isolate ourselves inside of our houses. Try reaching out instead! Invite your neighbors over to hang out for a game night or even take a walk through your neighborhood. If you’re able to, spend time with your neighbors at one of our local shops or restaurants. By doing this, you’re creating friendships while also supporting local businesses!

volunteer

Cities thrive when everyone gives back. Still, giving back doesn’t have to be the same for every person. No matter what you’re passionate about, you can use that drive to give back. Volunteering is a great way to get involved and make a difference for your friends, family, and neighbors. Contact us to learn how to get involved in our city or visit HandsOn Battle Creek to see what volunteer opportunities are available.

be kind

What’s the simplest way to improve Battle Creek? By being kind! Share a smile with every person you meet. If someone does something nice, make sure to thank them. Even holding the door open for another person sends a message that you care. These are all simple ways to help lift up the community every single day.

Our team is dedicated to improving Battle Creek through job talent and development, creating a culture of vitality, and ensuring that Battle Creek is a city where everyone can live, work, and play. Want to learn more? Visit our website to understand how we are moving Battle Creek forward.

What Being an All-America City Means for Battle Creek

This past weekend, a delegation from Battle Creek traveled to Denver, Colorado to participate in the 2019 All-America City Awards competition. It was a huge honor for the city of Battle Creek to be named an All-America City Finalist, and it was an even larger honor to win the title of 2019 All-America City!

In fact, Battle Creek is the first Michigan city or town to win the All-America City Award since Port Huron in 2005. We are so proud of the people in our community and the work they are doing to make Battle Creek a great place to live, work, and play!

The All-America City Award is more than just a title. This distinction is a huge honor for our community. Here are just a few reasons why.

recognizing important work

The All-America City Awards honor communities from around the nation that have excelled in civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness, and innovation in an effort to address is-sues in their cities and towns.

This award honors the initiatives that are shaping our community and the people that are putting in time, passion, and effort to make them a success.

raising awareness

By the end of the competition, every delegation and judge knew what Battle Creek was doing to help promote a happy and healthy community and knew that “It’s Happening” in Battle Creek.

By winning the title of an All-America City, Battle Creek has achieved recognition for striving to make the community a better place to live, work, and play. Although many locals are familiar with the initiatives that helped win this award, now the nation knows about Operation Fit, the School Behavioral Health Program, and the Crisis Intervention Team so that they can take the successes of those programs back to their own communities.

inspiring collaboration

The delegation from Battle Creek included representatives from Summit Pointe, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Battle Creek Police Department, the Y Center, the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Battle Creek Public Schools, Lakeview Public Schools, STARR, the City of Battle Creek, and BCVision.

An All-America City like Battle Creek works together through organizations like these to achieve real results for the people in our community. After receiving such a prestigious award, it’s only natural that we will continue to collaborate to improve our city and help our neighbors.

continuing the saga

Once a community earns the title of All-America City, they are an All-America City forever. That means that our community will continue to strive to be a place where everyone can live, work, and play.

The National Civic League and communities throughout the nation will know that Battle Creek is a place that is growing instead of looking back. This award instills pride in everyone who contributes to what Battle Creek is today and what it can become tomorrow.

You can read more about the All-America City Awards in our blog and you can view all of the winning cities by visiting the National Civic League’s website. Are you proud of our community? Share the word! Learn more at happeningbc.org.

Meet Israel Flores, Our June “Get Caught” Recipient

BCVision is challenging community members to “Get Caught” moving Battle Creek forward through job creation and training, talent development, and community vitalization.

Meet Israel flores

Israel Flores is a Business Development Specialist at Northern Initiatives, which is a non-profit community development financial institution. Northern Initiatives works to provide loans to small business owners and entrepreneurs in Battle Creek and beyond. In his role at the company, Israel helps grow our community by developing businesses that will stay right here in our city.


Before he had this position, Israel worked for the Calhoun Intermediate School District (CISD). There, he taught English to families who primarily spoke Spanish. Because of his background, Israel knew how many opportunities families were missing out on in the community due to language barriers.

creating a culture of vitality

Israel strives to create access to resources for everybody, and he specializes in helping minorities. His background and knowledge allow him to explain loans and financing with ease and assurance to many different people.


Battle Creek has access to a lot of great resources, but it can be hard for members of a minority community to ask for help. This is often because people don’t know who to ask for assistance. Israel makes it easy for minorities to navigate Battle Creek’s resources and gain access to the funding they desire.

The best part

We asked Israel what he believes is the best thing about Battle Creek. Based on his desire to help others in his community, his answer isn’t very surprising. “The best part of Battle Creek is the community: a community who wants a better and thriving Battle Creek, a community who believes in Battle Creek and doesn’t give up, and a community that values people who try to make a difference.”


Do you know someone who is helping to move our community forward? Learn more about how to nominate someone today. While you’re at it, make sure to read about our past “Get Caught” recipients like Tyler Gilland, Bernie Kerschbaum, and so many more!

Focus On Janene Reichardt: Creating a Neighborhood to Live, Work, and Play In

Battle Creek is filled with community members who are committed to creating a city that we all can live, work, and play in. Without the help of neighbors, moving Battle Creek forward would be impossible.

We are putting the focus on one Battle Creek neighbor who wanted to live someplace that made her proud. When she moved into her home 15 years ago, she made sure to make that happen.

meet janene reichardt

When Janene moved into her home in Kirkpatrick Knolls, at the corner of Capital Avenue SW and Golden Avenue, she continued to drive past the rusted, bent, and fading sign that announced the neighborhood. While the neighborhood and everyone who lives there is vibrant and full of life, the sign “was an eyesore” Janene stated.

To show the rest of Battle Creek just how great their neighborhood really was, Janene and 70 of her friends and neighbors got to work restoring the sign.

creating a culture of vitality

Janene worked with the Battle Creek Community Foundation and the Battle Creek Chamber of Commerce to secure a grant. This funding was used to restore the sign to a true symbol of the vibrancy of the neighborhood.

Janene and her neighbors also sought help from the city of Battle Creek to ensure that the sign followed all city regulations. Janene is thankful to the city staff for helping her neighbor-hood get a new sign.

keeping the momentum going

Janene remembers the joy she felt from gathering her neighbors together as the sign came to completion. She said, “We brought the neighbors together for a meet and greet, garden party and another event to celebrate the new sign installation.”

To Janene, her commitment to make Battle Creek a better place to live, work and play was reinforced through this project. “It was really fun to hear about how other neighbors also wanted a new sign.”

We love sharing the stories of those in Battle Creek who are moving us forward. They do this by creating a culture of vitality and showing a commitment to creating spaces in our city where everyone can live, work, and play. Do you know somebody who we should Focus On? Click here to send us their name, contact information, and what they are doing to make a difference.

Want to help us move Battle Creek forward? Join us! Click here to get involved!

SummerFest 2019

It’s almost time for Battle Creek’s International SummerFest! Every year, our city gears up to celebrate all of the cultures that make up our community. This event is filled with food, fun, and experiences from around the world.

SummerFest is celebrating its 41st year in 2019, so we’re taking a look at SummerFest’s history and what you can expect this year.

The history of summerfest

International SummerFest began in 1978 and is one of Battle Creek’s oldest festivals. The Japan Club was the founding organization of SummerFest and saw the festival as a way to bring together the Battle Creek community with its various backgrounds. Even 41 years later, the Japan Club is still one of the festival’s vendors. They bring both traditional food and a performance for all to see.

The festival offers international foods, as well as on-stage cultural performances. Games, activities, and giveaways are also available for the whole family.

Battle Creek is made up of many cultures, including people from Burma and many Latino backgrounds. That’s why this celebration celebrates all of Battle Creek’s diverse cultures and gives all festival goers the chance to sample and learn about all of them! Last year, more than 30 Battle Creek-area organizations were present.

why we love summerfest

International SummerFest is a cultural and ethnic exchange that enriches the Battle Creek community. The summer festival helps Battle Creek and the surrounding cities learn about the different cultures that make up the rich tapestry that is our city.

This year, International SummerFest has partnered with BCVision because our missions and visions are closely aligned. BCVision is a community focused movement that is committed to transforming Battle Creek into a city where we all want to live, work, and play – and International SummerFest does just that!

why vendors love summerfest

SummerFest is a great way for Battle Creek to learn about and taste the flavors of other cultures. That’s why vendors love the opportunity to share their culture with the rest of the city. We asked 2017 and 2018 vendor, Eli’s Doces, why they love to be a part of the festival.

Owner Elisangela Diaz says, “I chose to be a SummerFest Vendor because this is a way to help rebuild our community by providing a multicultural approach to festivals. It also helps small businesses be known and to get involved in community events.”

Eli’s Doces has been a part of the Battle Creek community since 2016, and Elisangela shares that her favorite part of Battle Creek is that it is a “small community where everyone can feel like they are at home.”

come join us!

SummerFest is free and open to the public. It’s also easily accessible on the north end of town, right on the campus of Kellogg Community College. This year’s family-friendly event will be held Saturday, August 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Join us to sample international foods, enjoy multicultural performances, and participate in other fun activities for everyone in the family.

There is still time to join International SummerFest as a vendor or volunteer! If you would like to get involved with the 2019 festival, you can find more information here or you can contact one of our team members.