Back L to R: Riley Frens, Nick Borgman, Sam Sandee, Gordy Bacheller. Front L to R: Laurie Trestrail, Kelle Bergers, Andrea Gafford

On Monday, November 12, West Michigan Works! recognized seven area service workers with 2018 Beverly A. Drake Essential Service Awards for their integrity, commitment, and passion in their jobs. A program of West Michigan Works!, the Essential Service Awards honor non-managerial employees who provide critical services that often go unnoticed and unrewarded.  The seven individuals were recognized at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids meeting at the JW Marriott, which was attended by more than 500 West Michigan business leaders.

“The business community often overlooks the significant contributions that service workers make in our region and economy,” said Dave Smith, chair of the West Michigan Works! Workforce Development Board. “The Beverly A. Drake Essential Service Awards recognize exceptionally hardworking individuals who perform these crucial jobs.”

2018 Beverly A. Drake Essential Services Award Winners

  • Gordy Bacheller, custom furniture assembler, Bold Furniture (20 years)
  • Kelle Bergers, housekeeper, Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan (28 years)
  • Nicholas Borgman, customer service representative, Quality Car Wash (4 years)
  • Riley Frens, nurse technician, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital (3 years)
  • Andrea Gafford, customer service/scheduling, Anderson Technologies, Inc. (20 years)
  • Sam Sandee, employment training program specialists, Wedgwood Christian Services (22 years)
  • Laurie Trestrail, dietary aide, SKLD (39 years)

Employers, co-workers, and the community can submit Essential Service Award nominations in a variety of industries including housekeeping, hospitality, retail, healthcare, transportation, administrative, food service, general labor, childcare, nonprofit and custodial, or government.

Kelle Bergers, Essential Service Award winner

2018 honoree Kelle Bergers is known for going above and beyond. Each day, Bergers ensures that the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan is sanitary for families of children traveling to Grand Rapids for their child’s medical or mental health treatment.

“For 28 years, I’ve made sure the house is clean and safe for our families,” Bergers said. “I’m honored to receive this award, but I don’t need the recognition. I am just doing my part to make sure our guests’ experience is the best it can be.”

Kelle was nominated by her manager Megan Priester, services director at Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan.

“To explain every way that Kelle has impacted our organization would take hours; she is a shining light,” said Priester.  “Our families love seeing her so much that they often come back years later to visit her.  There is not another human being like Kelle.”

Priester recalled a time when a guest room was left in an extremely less than desirable state.  A typical room cleaning takes 45 minutes, but this room took three hours.

“Other staff looked at the room and turned around, but not Kelle. She methodically cleaned the room section by section until it was finished,” said Priester. “After Kelle was finished, she simply let the front office know it was ready, never looking for praise.”

Meet this year’s winners>


Holland Sentinel: Quality Car Wash employee given West Michigan Works! award
Grand Rapids Business Journal: Workers win Essential Service award
WGVU Morning Show: West Michigan Works! Essential Service Awards