To Ken Parsons, business and community are intrinsically intertwined.
A pastor from a local church spoke at a Peoria chamber luncheon years ago that has stuck with Mr. Parsons ever since.
“If your business didn’t exist in the community would anybody notice?”
The intention was that if you don’t have a strong community you won’t have a strong business, and vise/versa.
Mr. Parsons, owner of Westside Signarama, which opened in 2003, takes this to heart in his many business and community endeavors, elevating the city of Peoria across the board.
“My family and I are very fortunate to have many things, so there is a certain willingness and ability to give back,” he said. “We need to be involved in our community. The thing is, you don’t know how things will be impacted, but it often comes full circle.”
Mr. Parsons is well-known and respected in Peoria for his more than two decades of involvement and service to the community in so many different areas, most notably in his contributions to the Peoria Diamond Club, Peoria Chamber of Commerce and the Peoria North Rotary Club as a founding member.
His contributions have earned him the honor of receiving Peoria Independent’s Hometown Hero Award in the category of Community Cheerleader.
Mr. Parsons served from 2010 to 2018 on the Peoria Diamond Club board, which has been raising funds for local youth charities and organizations for nearly 20 years.
Rosalind Shanley, Peoria Diamond Club general manager, said Mr. Parsons is a leader in Peoria and an advocate for working within the community to help businesses grow and prosper.
But Ms. Shanley said he not only represents the small business owners in the community, but takes a genuine interest in the causes and methods that are giving back to those in need.
The title of Community Cheerleader fits Ken Parsons perfectly, she said.
“You can’t go to many networking groups or events without seeing Ken,” Ms. Shanley said. “However, how I best know Ken is through his philanthropy. I have worked at the Peoria Diamond Club in some capacity for 13 years. It was very early on that I met Ken as I was a staff member ... Later, we worked together on the board. He has given much of his time and talent to helping our nonprofit fundraise over the years, to serve our mission of giving back to the youth of our community. I sought his advice as I became the general manger of the PDC, knowing he had valuable knowledge of both the PDC workings as well as how we can better get involved in the community landscape.”
Part of Mr. Parson’s varied repertoire is his ability to give sage advice and sound guidance.
David Mitchell, owner of Ideal Insurance Agency in Glendale and a member of the Peoria Chamber of Commerce, said Mr. Parsons is often at ribbon cuttings welcoming new businesses into the community or encouraging established businesses in their expansions.
He said that during his time as chair of the chamber board he helped shape today’s vision for the chamber.
And when Mr. Parsons left the board, Mr. Mitchell said, rather than simply leaving the chair position, he became part of the search committee and played a key role in the sorting through of 60 applicants and the interview process to select the current director.
His skill at accomplishing tasks is amazing, Mr. Mitchell said.
“I can’t think of a person more deserving of this award than Ken Parsons,” he said. “Ken has a great business mind and has operated a successful business for several years. If asked, he is not shy with lending an ear and providing sound business advice in helping other businesses become successful ... Ken is a man of integrity whose actions speak volumes and earn respect both on an individual and business basis. He is a strong leader in the Peoria community and Ken earned this distinction through being a volunteer in many activities.”
Mr. Parsons was a founding member of the Peoria North Rotary Club in 2005, and has since served the club in nearly every official capacity, including as president in 2010-11.
Rotary members Steve and Maria Matthews said Mr. Parsons has been involved with the Prom Closet, the club’s signature community service project, and has overseen the club’s annual dictionary distribution project that provides dictionaries to every third-grade student in the Peoria Unified School District.
But Ken’s generosity isn’t limited to Rotary, Mr. and Ms. Matthews said.
“Ken has served on several City of Peoria citizens’ committees, and Westside Signarama is a frequent sponsor of community events and often donates its services to assist area charities,” they said. “Ken Parsons is certainly deserving of such a recognition as a Hometown Hero.”
Philip Haldiman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.