Just like the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, we present to you "The Extraordinary Humans Who Run the Show at LIFT." We each come from different backgrounds and experiences but fused over the bond of empowering teens to discover their self-worth.
We figured it was about time you learned more about the people who run the show, so here's a bit of background on each of us. We've included some get-to-know-you questions that are just a little bit wacky… like all of us.
First up, we have Bekah Tenbrink. She's the genius behind the entire operation and the bright light of creativity that we all follow.
Where did you grow up: Holland, MI
When You Began Volunteering with LIFT: 2017, I birthed this baby.
A Hidden Talent/ fun fact: I cannot burp.
Favorite Memory Volunteering with LIFT: There truly are too many to pluck one favorite out. Any interaction I get with the teens is top 5 for me, but I especially LOVE laughing with them. Let me tell you; there are a lot of opportunities for laughter.
Go-to Coffee Shop Order: Decaf Salted Caramel Latte
Favorite Holiday: My Birthday
Favorite Type of Cheese: Brie
Next up is Audrey Sharp. Without her, we would be lost and unorganized, and there would be papers everywhere.
Where did you grow up: Suttons Bay, MI
When You Began Volunteering with LIFT: 2018
A Hidden Talent/ fun fact: I boarded down a live volcano in Nicaragua once
Favorite Memory Volunteering with LIFT: My favorite LIFT memory was a spontaneous car wash outside in Spring 2019. We had so much fun!
Go-to Coffee Shop Order: Just a regular coffee with a little bit of cream!
Favorite Holiday: Halloween
Favorite Type of Cheese: Goat cheese
Our third human in the lineup is Claire Palmer. Dubbed the "social media guru," she's the words behind LIFT and always has something to say.
Where did you grow up: Traverse City/Benzie, MI
When did you begin volunteering with LIFT: Fall of 2019
A hidden talent/ fun fact: I was stranded in Switzerland and nearly was kicked out of a train station by Switzerland police.
Favorite Memory Volunteering with LIFT: Restaurant Night 2020! It was so amazing to watch both the kids having fun and the people enjoying themselves. I grew up serving in restaurants, so it was normal for me, but these kids never experienced something like that, and it was cool to watch them blossom
Go-to coffee shop order: iced oat milk latte with honey
Favorite holiday: the entire Christmas season from Dec 1st- Jan 1st
Favorite type of cheese: Burrata
The next is Ian Grucella. He's the "man behind the mic" in our Generation Perspective Podcast and an all-around epic human.
Where did you grow up: Ypsilanti/ Fife Lake, MI
When You Began Volunteering with LIFT: December of 2020
A Hidden Talent/ fun fact: I can eat an entire box of oatmeal cookies in one sitting
Favorite Memory Volunteering with LIFT: The first podcast. Show up and do something that's brand new that super fun, kicking it with the kids. All I do is laugh.
Go-to Coffee Shop Order: Shot in the dark with a splash of cream or a mocha if I'm feeling fancy
Favorite Holiday: Halloween
Favorite Type of Cheese: Extra sharp cheddar
Introducing, Chloe Kotarak. She's our Summer Programming Coordinator. Chloe has travelled the world & worked with people her entire career, but has always know she belonged somewhere that worked with children.
Where did you grow up: I grew up in a small town named Highland, Michigan
When You Began Volunteering with LIFT: I began volunteering with LIFT February 2022
A Hidden Talent/ fun fact: I speak Mandarin and I have two cats named Quincy and Willow
Favorite Memory Volunteering with LIFT: Going to the after school middle school programs
Go-to Coffee Shop Order: Large Cold Brew
Favorite Holiday: Christmas
Favorite Type of Cheese: Whipped Fromage Blanc
Our last, but anything but least, is Emily Worden. She is The Center’s Program Development Coordinator & is a Suttons Bay, MI native.
Where did you grow up: Per GoogleMaps, I grew up just 501 feet from The Center's front door in downtown Suttons Bay
When You Began Volunteering with LIFT: I never actually had! Bekah and I met years ago through a book club with mutual friends. We got together to talk about the possibility of me joining the team, and the rest is (recent) history
A Hidden Talent/ fun fact: My husband and I have a cat named Captain PicklePaws (Pickles for short) and we just rescued a dog who we decided to name Dilly - so we have Dill & Pickles. It's our not-so-subtle way to force them into a lifetime of friendship
Favorite Memory Volunteering with LIFT: The middle school glow party. The kids had a blast, and it was so much fun to finally be a chaperone (long-awaited dream!). To watch the kids run around, dance, play and just be together in such a fun, out of the ordinary environment was a treat
Go-to Coffee Shop Order: Hazelnut latte with oat milk - hot. There is no other way
Favorite Holiday: I really do love the magic of Christmas. White lights covered in snow just makes me melt, and I love the family aspect of it all
Favorite Type of Cheese: Oh, cheese. I grew up allergic to dairy, soy and egg, but let me assure you, if the allergies ever "go away", my first meal will be an entire family-sized box of feta crumbles