Beverly A. Drake is being remembered as a champion for those in need and a mentor to community leaders across West Michigan.
Drake, a Grand Rapids Junior College alumna and a member of the GRCC Foundation board of directors for 27 years, passed away Saturday. She was 80.
“Bev was such a phenomenal person,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Mullins, GRCC’s vice president for College Advancement and executive director of the GRCC Foundation. “She devoted her life to helping others, caring deeply about helping people overcome obstacles to success, especially through education – and GRCC. So many people in our community respected her, and sought out her friendship and wisdom. She touched the lives of many and will be missed.”
Drake was the executive director of Area Community Services Employment and Training from 1985 to 2011. The organization creates opportunities for economic self-sufficiency for low-income, economically disadvantaged, elderly, disabled, unemployed and underemployed people and dislocated workers.
“My life’s work reflects helping those who were not ordinarily able to access opportunities, be that education, training or jobs,” she said in a 2015 interview. “I like to think that I was able to open doors for people and to help others because I had been helped.”
Prior to working with ACSTC, Drake served in various positions with the Grand Rapids government and Grand Rapids Area Employment and Training Council.
Drake was a graduate of Grand Rapids’ South High School, attended GRJC, and Michigan State and Grand Valley State universities.
She served on the GRCC Foundation board starting in 1994. Among her many honors is being named GRCC’s Distinguished Alumna in 1995.
“We will miss Bev tremendously,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “But her influence on this community will long be felt through the people she helped. She was all about helping others as seen through her work with the workforce investment board as well as her commitment to our GRCC Foundation. She created opportunities that changed lives, and inspired many others to do the same. That’s a legacy they will be with us for many years to come.”