2014-05-22 / Front Page

Spencley Is Ambassador of the Year

By Stephanie Fortino


Brenda Spencley is surrounded by her family after being surprised with the Ambassador of the Year Award at the annual St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce Dinner Thursday, May 15. Pictured are (front, from left) mother Clarann Lambert, Brenda Spencley, granddaughter Krista LaVake, sister Jane Weiss; (middle) daughter Lynann Spencley, daughter Marcie Danielson; (back) daughter-in-law Danielle Savard, grandson Brennan Danielson, son Dennis Savard, son-in-law Eric Danielson, and grandson Bryant Danielson. Brenda Spencley is surrounded by her family after being surprised with the Ambassador of the Year Award at the annual St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce Dinner Thursday, May 15. Pictured are (front, from left) mother Clarann Lambert, Brenda Spencley, granddaughter Krista LaVake, sister Jane Weiss; (middle) daughter Lynann Spencley, daughter Marcie Danielson; (back) daughter-in-law Danielle Savard, grandson Brennan Danielson, son Dennis Savard, son-in-law Eric Danielson, and grandson Bryant Danielson. Brenda Spencley, owner of Bentley’s B-n-L Café, was named Ambassador of the Year at the annual St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce Dinner Thursday, May 15. Known throughout the community as a frequent donor to any cause or person, Ms. Spencley was so surprised at the announcement that she was stunned into silence.

“I couldn’t say anything!” Ms. Spencley told The St. Ignace News just after receiving her award. “I’m shocked, grateful, very appreciative because there’s a lot that goes into it.”


Above: The annual St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce Dinner is a time for business owners and restaurateurs to come together and share in a buffet-style meal. Here, Gangplank employees (from right) Billy Bentgen and Shelly Elliott serve crostini with bean dip to B.C. Pizza owner Rob Aukeman. Above: The annual St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce Dinner is a time for business owners and restaurateurs to come together and share in a buffet-style meal. Here, Gangplank employees (from right) Billy Bentgen and Shelly Elliott serve crostini with bean dip to B.C. Pizza owner Rob Aukeman. “You just do it,” Ms. Spencley said of volunteering. “You don’t need a ‘thank you.’ The only person you answer to is God. That’s what matters. In small towns, you help each other. This [award] is nice, but I don’t need it every day. I’m glad my family was all here” for the presentation.

When choosing an Ambassador of the Year, the chamber of commerce board of directors nominates individuals who have a strong commitment to St. Ignace, often giving of their time and resources to help the community.

At left: Members of the Saints Alive Youth Ministries group of Glen Memorial Baptist Church served water and bussed tables during the annual St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce Dinner. Pictured are (front, from left) Tayler Schnicke, Kristin Lenoir, Elizabeth Lane, group leader Olivia McDonald, Erin Bunker, group leader Heather Moore; (middle) Mackenzie Postma, John Bloswick, group leader Jimmy McDonald, group leader Daniel Moore, group leader Merv Wyse; (back) Josiah Wyse, and Gabe Davis. At left: Members of the Saints Alive Youth Ministries group of Glen Memorial Baptist Church served water and bussed tables during the annual St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce Dinner. Pictured are (front, from left) Tayler Schnicke, Kristin Lenoir, Elizabeth Lane, group leader Olivia McDonald, Erin Bunker, group leader Heather Moore; (middle) Mackenzie Postma, John Bloswick, group leader Jimmy McDonald, group leader Daniel Moore, group leader Merv Wyse; (back) Josiah Wyse, and Gabe Davis. When introducing this year’s Ambassador of the Year, a highlight of the annual dinner, Director Janet Peterson said Ms. Spencley was a “quiet, behind-the-scenes encourager and supporter that everyone knows and she knows everyone.”

“She has worked extremely hard,” Mrs. Peterson told The St. Ignace News. “She’s such a kind person. That’s what it means to live in a small town.”

Ms. Spencley is humble about her work and said her motivation for helping comes from within.

“Some people just need help,” Ms. Spencley said. “A kind word, a cup of coffee, or a bowl of soup. You don’t have to say anything, you just do it.”

“My mom donates to whoever walks in this door” seeking donations, said Ms. Spencley’s daughter, Marcie Danielson, sitting at the counter in Bentley’s Café. “You know, one pie or a couple of dinners, at least.”

“We donate food to any organization that comes in,” Ms. Spencley agreed. It may be a gift certificate for a silent auction, ice cream cones for golf outings, or food for an event.

In addition to donating food and desserts to local events, Ms. Spencley also recalls giving food to nearby workers, whether an extra pie or abandoned food orders. The café donates soup to the Hope Chest at least twice a week for the volunteers and provides food for funerals at any local church.

The staff at Bentley’s delivers food to elderly or disabled community members at no additional charge.

“We’ll run food for whoever needs it,” Ms. Spencley said.

“If we don’t hear from them, we check in on them,” she added.

Bentley’s B-n-L Café is in its 10th summer of operation. Before the restaurant downtown, Ms. Spencley ran the Truck Stop restaurant on US- 2. She also worked at Marshall’s Fudge in St. Ignace, where, she said, she learned to work with people.

Dean and Jeanie Scheerens owned Marshall’s Fudge in St. Ignace and were large influences on Ms. Spencley.

“I learned my work ethic from them,” she said. “Work is work and friends are friends.”

It’s important, she said, to distinguish between professional relationships and friendships to have a functioning work environment.

May 15 was also a special day, Ms. Spencley’s birthday. After she was given the award, her family surprised her and joined in the celebration of her volunteer work. Later that night, they held a birthday party.

Ms. Spencley typically does not attend the annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner and family members who were in on the secret had to convince her to attend.

“You do so much that people don’t know about,” said her sister, Jane Weiss.

Ms. Spencley told The St. Ignace News, “In a small town, a small community, it takes a village to raise a person or take care of a person.”

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