Executive Summary

Safe Harbor of Grand Traverse is a Non-Profit Corporation formed in the State of Michigan. It is comprised of approximately 450 volunteers that are organized through a collection of over 20 churches located in the Grand Traverse region. We are a volunteer corporation with a three-tier management structure; Executive Board, Steering Committee, and contracted Goodwill Supervisors. In 2021, we added paid Safe Harbor staff. Each tier has its own leadership structure. This structure has been in place since 2006, with the exception of the Executive Board, which was added in 2014.


The Executive Board is comprised of 9 members and includes a Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, Fundraising Chair and 4 at-large members. The Executive Board is responsible for the operation of the building, management of the corporation and community partnerships, and the finances of the organization. Each executive may assemble a committee to assist them in their work. The committee members generally come from the Steering Committee. The Executive Board is nominated and elected by the Steering Committee and may include church representatives or community members at-large.


The Steering Committee is comprised of a representative from each participating church as well as up to three voting representatives from the community at large, and is responsible for the operation of the emergency shelter. Each participating church has a representative on the Steering Committee. Each church also has an alternate representative. The Steering Committee has a leadership board comprising of a Chair (also the Vice-Chair of the executive board), Nominating/Elections, Scheduling Manager, Supplies Manager, Secretary, Health and Safety Leader, and Training/Policy Leader.


The third tier of management is our professional staff. Safe Harbor contracts with Goodwill Industries of NW Michigan to provide a trained shelter management team. The Goodwill Supervisor has several roles during a shift: A) To control the “check in” process (including background checks and bag searches); B) To make decisions on guest behavior issues and policing of policies; C) To work in an Outreach role to help guests access services available to them (including housing and support opportunities); D) Maintain the security of the medical lock box; and E) Coordinate smoke breaks. In 2021, we added a full time paid Operations Manager to the professional team.


Our season runs from November 1 through April 30. The emergency shelter operates in a decentralized structure, with a host church leading on a weekly basis. Each hosting church has a coordinator and a volunteer leadership team. Occasionally, the lead church may receive help from a supporting church. In these cases, the lead church’s coordinator is still in charge of the weekly operation. A software program is used to allow volunteers to sign up and exchange shifts 24/7. Each volunteer must complete a volunteer form that allows Safe Harbor to perform background checks. Volunteers come directly through the churches or from the community-at-large.


Each day of operation, the shelter is broken into shifts: Morning volunteers, Evening Leader and volunteers, Dinner Leader and volunteers, and Overnight volunteers.  Often, volunteers will serve in several shifts in their hosting week. The staffing may be adjusted based on the number of guests.  Additional volunteers may be added from the community-wide “call in” list at the discretion of the Operations Manager.


Training of volunteers is conducted at the facility on an on-going basis by the Safe Harbor and Goodwill teams. Each church coordinator is responsible for their volunteers to complete the 3-hour training program. As policies are adjusted annually, every volunteer is required to update their training.


2021 – 2022 Executive Board Members

  • Mike McDonald – Chair
  • Christopher Ellalasingham – Vice Chair, Steering Committee Chair
  • John Daniels – Secretary/Training Chair
  • Joshua Brandt – Treasurer/Fundraising Chair
  • Susan Arnold – Building Committee Chair
  • Dan Buron – Outreach Liaison/Neighborhood Relations
  • Donna Olendorf – Communications Committee
  • Lynn Swan – Health Committee/Medical Advisor
  • Rich Duell – Member at large
  • Goodwill Community Engagement Officer – Ryan Hannon, ex officio member
  • Operations Manager - Brad Gerlach, ex officio member

Other Committees

  • Wayne Sterenberg – Fundraising Committee
  • Mary Ellen Sanok - Kitchen Committee
  • Nan Niewiadomski – Supplies Committee
  • Brad Gerlach – Scheduling
  • Teresa Norris – Donations


  • Brad Gerlach – Operations Manager
  • Aimee Palmateer - Guest Relations