Restaurant and hospitality workers share a kinship not readily apparent in other professions. Their bond is a solid one forged over staff Christmas parties in January and service industry recognition nights at corner pubs.
This spirit of togetherness and caring goes on display Sunday January 25 at Billy’s Lounge when a fundraiser is held to help cover medical expenses for longtime bar employee Aimee Warren. Warren, on leave from her managerial position at Mulligan’s, is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.
The afternoon will feature live music, a silent auction, and raffles. There is a $10 suggested donation at the door.
“Dennie Middleton is taking care of the entertainment,” event organizer Rick Dion said. “Dennie’s got three different acts he does. He’ll have various guests showing up at different times including some from Papa Vegas.”
“We’re open all day at Billy’s but we start this at 4:00. We’re also having a live auction for a couple of the bigger items.”
Dion says people have been dropping off goods at Billy’s all week. Among the items lined up for the raffle are a new iPad and a yet-to-be-determined amount of cash money to be auctioned off. Prizes so far include a drum head signed by Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, an autographed picture of Conway Twitty, and other music memorabilia.
“So far we’ve got gift cards from several different restaurants,” Dion said of the items donated. “Smitty’s Specialty Beverage is putting together a craft beer basket. Billy’s is doing liquor baskets with various liquor swag included.”
“I think we’ve had a pretty good response so far. Many people have called me out of the blue for this one.”
You might not recognize Warren’s name right off but chances are you’ve seen her working behind the bar somewhere in West Michigan during the past 30 years. Her employment resume reads like a Who’s Who of local dining and entertainment establishments: Tootsie Van Kelly’s, Shout!, The B.O.B, Billy’s Lounge, Elbow Room, Mulligan’s Pub.
“We started planning this around Christmas,” Dion said. “Dennie picked a date that he could make work with his band mates. But it’s been a short process.”
Due to the tight window of time they’ve had to operate under, Dion says he’s hoping word of mouth will help get people in the door on Sunday. All that remains is delivery of the items and services to the donation location.
We all know how life often presents the unexpected challenge however Dion sounds like he’s taking this latest development in stride.
“Never would I have guessed that something like this would come about,” he said. “It was completely unexpected. She’s a vibrant healthy person and all of a sudden this caught us off guard.”
Celebration of Friendship Aimee Warren Fundraiser, 4-9 pm, January 25, Billy’s Lounge, 1437 Wealthy St SE. $10 suggested donation. Bands scheduled to appear include American Heartbreakers, The Hype, Bimini Brothers, plus special guests.
Donations can be made by contacting Rick Dion (616) 293-9352 (email@example.com) and Dennie Middleton (616) 260-8947 (firstname.lastname@example.org)