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Amid Talent Gap, Eight West Michigan frontline workers recognized for going above and beyond

Amid Talent Gap, Eight West Michigan frontline workers recognized for going above and beyond

West Michigan Works! recognized 8 area frontline workers with Beverly A. Drake Essential Service Awards. Honorees were recognized at The Economic Club of Grand Rapids February 27 meeting and presented with a $100 Meijer gift card. The Essential Service Awards recognize frontline workers who go above-and-beyond their daily responsibilities and display integrity, passion and commitment.    

2022 Essential Service Award honorees are Ruby Alvarado, Paws With A Cause; Bayard Brooks, Grand Rapids Community College; Gordon Burnham, Comcast’s Xfinity Store in Muskegon; Tyler Eickhoff, Creative Dining Solutions (LG Energy Solutions Michigan); Julie Ellsworth, Laurels of Carson City; Michelle Huerta, Ottawa Department of Health and Human Services; Dreama Parker, D.A. Blodgett - St. John’s; and Ronald Vanden Toorn, Perrigo Oral Care.

"As we all know, frontline workers have always been the foundation of any business, and as businesses continue to operate at less-than-optimal staffing levels, it's more important than ever to celebrate dedicated employees who go above and beyond and exhibit exceptional integrity, passion and commitment in their work," Mark Bergsma, chair of the West Michigan Works! Workforce Development Board, shared at the Economic Club meeting.

Ruby Alvarado was recognized in the cleaning and maintenance category. Ruby has been with Paws With A Cause for five years and is known for providing extra love and care for assistance dogs being trained at PAWS.

"I love working for this team and company so much. The first month I was here, I was so nervous because I don't speak good English, but I'm learning more because of the people are so nice. They don't care that my English isn't perfect," said Ruby. "That's why I love working with all of these people; they're not just people; that's my family." 

Essential Service Awards categories include administrative/office worker, cleaning/housekeeping/groundskeeping, childcare, food service, government, health care/elder care, hospitality, nonprofit, retail, skilled labor and transportation.

Gordon Burnham, recognized in the retail category, has been with Comcast's Xfinity Store in Muskegon for over 36 years and is known for providing the utmost quality of service to customers.

"I get emails almost weekly from customers saying how great of a job Gordon did, which shows how committed he is to the company. He takes care of customers, team members and anyone who comes into the store to the best of his abilities," said Kaelton Heil, West Michigan Market Manager, Comcast Heartland Region.

To be eligible for an Essential Service Award, individuals must have at least two years of employment with their current company; hold a non-managerial position; and exhibit pride in their job, a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and effective time management. Additionally, the nominee must work within the West Michigan Works! service area of Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Ottawa counties. Winners are chosen by a committee of the West Michigan Works! Workforce Development Board.  

After being hired as a student employee, Bayard Brooks has worked at Grand Rapids Community College for more than 20 years. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the Applied Technology Center (ATC), which includes the set up and tear down of a lot of events and meetings. He's the primary point person for any external clients who are hosting events at the ATC. 

“I just take pride in my work and I want to make sure everything goes as well as it can. I just love to make sure things are right,” said Bayard. “It just makes the whole experience a lot easier and smoother for everybody. I enjoy it; doesn't feel like it's a lot of going above and beyond for me. I'm just being me and I enjoy what I do.”

West Michigan Works! provides a network of employment and training programs and services for employers, employees, and job seekers in Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Ottawa Counties. Through its programs, West Michigan Works! is helping to build a more skilled and diverse workforce that will drive economic growth and opportunity in our region.

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