Say Hello to our Dedicated Staff
Executive Director, Gerri VanAntwerp
Operations Director, Michelle Northrup
Program Coordinator, Alicia Rusch
Fundraising Coordinator, Kelly Ottinger
Bookkeeper, Brooke Trentham
Volunteer Coordinator, Sally Bobek
WOW Facilitator, Hope Kochis
Gerri VanAntwerp, Executive Director
231.882.9544 ext. 237
Gerri was selected as the Executive Director for Benzie Area Christian neighbors in 2011 She is the second director for BACN and drawn to the organization because of her calling for ministry work and the philosophy that we are all “Neighbors”. In this position Gerri is oversees the efforts of BACN to improve the quality of life for the people with limited resources in the community.
Gerri is a transplant to the area and has grown to appreciate the place where her children grew up. She is a board member for the Manistee Human Services Collaborative and works on the Steering Committee of the homeless prevention efforts for the 10 county NW Michigan area. Gerri holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Grand Valley State University has participated in the Executive Coaching program through North Sky and is a recent graduate of Leadership Grand Traverse. Gerri’s favorite quote is “Today is a good day for a good day.”
Michelle Northrup, Operations Manager
231.882.9544 ext. 232
Michelle has been working as Director of Operations at BACN since January, 2012. Michelle is also in charge of the food pantry on goings as well as the building repairs and supervision. She works behind the scenes to make sure that BACN is ready to go when the doors open for the public. She keeps everything running smoothly.
Michelle joined BACN after a hiatus out of the workforce, during which she raised two wonderful children. Previously, Michelle had been in warehousing, but knew that when she returned to the workforce she wanted to do a job that had meaning and that would positively affect people’s lives.
Alicia Rusch, Program Coordinator
231.882.9544 ext 222
As BACN’s Program Coordinator, Alicia oversees all BACN Programs and Services. Alicia also identifies opportunities for program development which can help BACN reach out to further assist underserved residents of Benzie County.Alicia oversees all the Coordinators and Reception volunteers. Alicia also identifies opportunities for program development which can help BACN reach out to further assist underserved residents of Benzie County.
With nearly 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector and state and local government, Alicia says about BACN, “Returning to Benzie County and working for the organization has been one of my biggest desires and achievements. The organization is a valuable asset to Benzie County.” “Helping to improve quality of life for so many, BACN uses a unique but simple approach; treat your neighbors with dignity and respect. It’s an impressive organization that leads by example.”
Brooke Trentham, Bookkeeper
231.882.9544 ext. 226
Brooke has been working at BACN since September 2013. She came to BACN as a bookkeeper part-time, while also keeping books for an area church and various other non-profit while also maintaining a position as treasurer of a township.
“BACN fills a need, fills a void. It’s so great that one organization is so multi-faceted. They touch on different things: the food, the clothing, and all the education services they provide. It’s a wonderful place.”
231.882.9544, ext. 227
Kelly hails from northern Indiana, and fulfilled a many-years’ dream of moving to Benzie County by beginning work for BACN in October, 2015. Before coming to BACN, Kelly worked as the grant writer/administrator for Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County for several years. She finds Benzie County to be not only beautiful in landscape, but also in the generous spirit of the community.
Kelly has three grown children, one granddaughter (Logan Annalise), and 3 border collies. In her spare time she drives back and forth from Indiana to visit Logan, makes soap and writes things other than grants.
Sally and her family built a home in Benzie County in 1989. It was intended as a vacation retreat, and according to her husband a retirement home. Sally wasn’t as sure – until she retired and came up north for three weeks – she decided then she didn’t want to go home! So, they sold their downstate house to a son and moved up north permanently – and have never looked back.
Sally spent several years as a coordinator for a volunteer social organization of over 4000 members. Her work experience included over 20 years in various doctors’ offices as a medical biller and office manager. She and her husband also had 6 kids, so she has a variety of multi-tasking skills! Sally came to BACN as a volunteer, she says she came with a desire to help the members of the community, but she also found a great group of volunteers at BACN and wants to encourage others to join the BACN “family”.
Hope Kochis, WOW Facilitator
Hope was born and raised in Benzonia, one of six children. Her parents still reside in her childhood home 2 miles out of town, on a country road. After a very adventurous move to North Carolina she has returned to Benzie to help support the women in this community to reach for their dreams. Now that Hope has obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Family Life Education, she also is employed with the Women’s Resource Center as a client advocate helping women who have experienced domestic violence. Hope is happily encouraging her 18 yr. old son, who is currently a senior at Benzie Central, to pursue his College plans of attending Grace College in Warsaw Indiana for a bachelor’s in Exercise Science. Her younger son, age 12, has plenty of time to decide what to do with his future. On the weekends Hope and her boys enjoy biking on the local Betsie River trails and swimming in Lake Michigan.