From deli clerks to health care professionals, we are thankful beyond words to ALL of our frontline workers in Northern Michigan. Their unwavering hard work, sacrifice and bravery during the Covid-19 pandemic does not go unnoticed by our communities. You voted for the Top 7 Front Line Workers in each region, here are your winners!

A record-breaking 16,000 people voted in MyNorth’s 2021 Red Hot Best Awards, recognizing winners from across seven regions and 46 different categories in Northern Michigan. The categories include everything from healthcare and frontline workers to takeout and hiking trails. This is how we celebrate Northern Michigan!

Searching for the full winner’s list? Here are the Red Hot Best Winners 2021: The Best of Northern Michigan.

Above the Bridge

Sam Barnwell, Mackinac Marine Rescue

Mackinac Marine Rescue was presented with many unique challenges over the pandemic, but nothing could slow this team down! Made up entirely of trained volunteer personnel, the team spent over 650 hours from May – October of 2020 on the water; fulfilling 911 calls, emergency medical transports, and search and rescues. Thank you to Sam Barnwell, commander of the Mackinac Marine Rescue, and the entire team for your continuous hard work. 

View the full list of Above the Bridge Red Hot Best winners to find the best outdoor eating spots, beaches and much more.


Benzie & Leelanau 

Danny Albarran, Deli Clerk, Hansen Foods

Representing the beloved Hansen Foods, a family-owned market in Suttons Bay, is Danny Albarran! Hansen Foods was consistently praised by its surrounding community for making shopping for groceries just a little bit easier during Covid-19. Danny consistently greeted customers at the deli counter with a positive attitude and a smile – even if it was hidden under his mask! Frontline workers are in a range of occupations & can certainly be found at your local grocery store! Thank you to Danny and Hansen Foods – we appreciate you! 

View the full list of Benzie and Leelanau Red Hot Best winners to find the best breweries, events and more.


Cadillac, Manistee & Ludington 

Eric Soneral, Mason County Sheriff’s Office

Correctional officers had their work cut out for them during the pandemic, putting their lives on the line to battle the spread of Covid-19 within the close quarters of prisons. Thank you to Sgt. Eric Soneral and the rest of the Mason County Sheriff’s Office for continuing to do your job and saving lives during such uncertain times! 

View the full list of Cadillac, Manistee & Ludington Red Hot Best winners. 


Charlevoix & the Chain of Lakes 

Andy LaPointe, Traverse Bay Farms, Elk Rapids

Traverse Bay Farms is the #1 award-winning super fruit company in America, and the pandemic couldn’t stop their cherry farming or outstanding customer service. Thankful to be representing Elk Rapids and Traverse Bay Farms, Andy Lapointe continues his passion of offering fresh, local produce and sharing the health benefits of cherry juice. Thank you to Andy and the entire staff at Traverse Bay Farms! 

View the full list of Charlevoix & Chain of Lakes region Red Hot Best winners.

Kalkaska Gaylord and Grayling 

Kendra Churches RN, Otsego Memorial Hospital

Kendra Churches is often recognized by her patients at Otsego Memorial Hospital for being kind, thoughtful, and always helpful. During Covid-19, Kendra served as an exemplary role model for nurses by keeping a calm and positive demeanor, even through peak infection rates. Kendra’s hard work and compassion for helping others is appreciated – thank you and all of the staff at Otsego Memorial Hospital for all you do!

Petoskey, Harbor Springs & The Straits

Emilee Kennedy MSN, Little Traverse Primary Care

Dedicated to her role as a certified nurse practitioner at Little Traverse Primary Care, Emilee Kennedy continued to greet her patients with compassion and understanding throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Thank you to Emilee and the entire staff at Little Traverse Primary Care for all your incredible hard work and compassion in working with patients! 

Looking for the best beaches, breweries and more? View the full list of Petoskey, Harbor Springs and The Straits Red Hot Best winners.


Traverse City 

Munson EVS 3rd Shift Covid Team *The entire Munson Staff received high praise*

During the pandemic, Munson’s EVS Covid team was needed more than ever to disinfect and eliminate pathogens from every surface in the facility. No small feat! To those who continued to come into work day after day, risking daily exposure to save lives – thank you. Your selfless hard work and bravery does not go unappreciated! 

Searching for more of Traverse City’s top beaches, breweries and more? View the full Traverse City Red Hot Best winners list.


Photo(s) by Munson Healthcare