The idea guy behind the Fire Hub Restaurant in Battle Creek is being honored with a Volunteer of the Year Award by the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC).

FireKeepers Casino Chef Michael McFarlen, Vice President of Food and Beverage, is being cited by the state commission for his work in the community.    McFarlen was a top five finalist for the award last year.  This year, the 26 state commissioners and Governor Rick Snyder gave Chef Mike the honor, for his work with The Food Bank, Boys and Girls Clubs of Kalamazoo, S.A.F.E. Place, March of Dimes, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Pennfield Elementary School and other organizations in and around Calhoun County.

Chef McFarlen first began volunteering in the Southwest Michigan area after relocating to Marshall/Battle Creek in early 2009.

Photo by Tim Collins/TSM

“Working for a company like FireKeepers Casino Hotel has given me the time and opportunities to pursue a long time passion for giving back,” states Chef Michael McFarlen. “Southwest Michigan has some amazing foundations and organizations that I am excited to help and be a part of. I am honored to have received the Governors Service Award and I will strive to continue to make my community proud.”

Photo by Tim Collins/TSM

McFarlen’s vision for his newest and most impactful philanthropic endeavor, the Fire Hub restaurant, spurred FireKeepers’ owners, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, to make a multi-million dollar investment in downtown Battle Creek.    The Fire Hub restaurant seeks to stamp out hunger in Battle Creek through multiple creative directions while also providing the city with a much needed new commercial restaurant for breakfast and lunch. First, the rear section of the building will house a food pantry in conjunction with the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, distributing food from shelves to those less fortunate.  Secondly, farmable land adjacent to the building will be cultivated and Hoop Houses purchased to grow food, with a goal of providing a free salad bar for downtown schools in Battle Creek!  Third is the creation of a fund to support other local charities, with 80% of all restaurant profits and an allocation of 50 cents from every restaurant check providing the funds. The remaining 20 percent of profits will be reinvested in the property.

Photo by Tim Collins/TSM

“We couldn’t be more proud of Chef Mike here at FireKeepers Casino Hotel,” states President and CEO Brian Decorah. “With all of his efforts to give back to the local communities, while inspiring his team to be active in their own community engagement, I could not think of a better choice, or more deserving person to be recognized for this prestigious award.”

Chef McFarlen will be honored at a special awards dinner on August 30 at the Temple Theater in Saginaw.