Know a frontline worker who goes above and beyond? Nominate them for an Essential Service Award

Do you know a frontline worker who goes above and beyond? Here’s your chance to spotlight someone who goes the extra mile.

West Michigan Works! is accepting nominations for its 2021 Beverly A. Drake Essential Service Awards. The annual awards program recognizes frontline workers for going above and beyond. 

Honorees will be announced in November, recognized at an upcoming meeting of The Economic Club of Grand Rapids and presented a $100 Meijer gift card. The nomination deadline is Sept. 21.

“The past two years have shined a light on the significance of hardworking frontline workers, and they undoubtedly deserve to be recognized,” says Mark Bergsma, chair of the West Michigan Works! Workforce Development Board.

Award categories

Essential Service Awards categories include:
  • Administrative/office worker
  • Skilled labor
  • Nonprofit
  • Cleaning/housekeeping/groundskeeping
  • Child care
  • Food service
  • Government
  • Health care/elder care
  • Hospitality
  • Retail
  • Transportation

“As we continue navigating the pandemic, we need to recognize the countless behind-the-scenes essential workers who keep our businesses and communities strong,” Bergsma says.

A recent winner was Carolyn McNeil, a catering captain with On the Border restaurant in Holland. She was nominated for rising to the challenges that came in 2020. 

“I take pride in the work that I do. I want to know that I’m doing the best that I can. If, at the end of the day, I know that I gave 100%, then I’ve done my job,” McNeil told The Lakeshore earlier this year after receiving her award. 

Award eligibility

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, 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.

To learn more about the Essential Service Awards or to nominate a frontline worker, visit
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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.