Meet the Board! An interview with Michelle!

  | Board of Directors

Michele Meulendyk is a recent arrival from Alaska.  She was elected to the Co-op’s Board of Directors in November.  Michele has much experience from being on other Boards, and has already been very active on ours.

Why were you in Alaska?

I had initially lived in Skagway, Alaska for the summer season (6months) in 2004, and returned a couple of times to visit friends.  I loved the extreme beauty of the place and free spiritedness of the Alaskan lifestyle.  In 2008, following several changes in my fortunes, including financial challenges as the recession hit my business, I decided it was time to take the leap.  I lined up a summer gig in Halibut Cove and then moved to Seward, where I had some friends.  In my time there, I filled many roles while re-establishing my massage business: waitress, bartender, working with special needs kids and even cleaning.

What brought you to this area?

I was looking to increase my opportunities for professional and personal growth.

I may be the only person who relocated to Bratt in search of a larger city, haha.

I was curious about New England, as one of the few parts of the country I’d not explored.  It checked a lot of boxes for me.  Relatively accessible to airports and big cities.  Immediate access to outdoor activities.  A reputation for being a fairly welcoming place.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a massage therapist and wellness coach.

How long have you been a massage therapist and coach? 

I’ve been a licensed and certified massage therapist since 2004 (whew), and embarked on my training as a coach during the pandemic, doing my coursework and practicum in 2021 and taking the national exam in 2022.  I love this additional way of facilitating growth and positive change with people.  While just beginning, I have clients from Alaska and Oregon to Vermont and even Australia!

How do you like being in Brattleboro, and Vermont?

I’m loving Vermont.  It’s a little gentler and more accessible in a lot of ways that Alaska.  The “mountains” are easier to climb, the waters’ not cold enough to kill ya and in the 2+ hours it would take me to get to a city in Alaska, I can get to hundreds of little towns or to Boston for a quick flight somewhere fun.  I love kayaking, hiking, foraging, camping, and gardening.  I’ve taken a few woodworking classes at Hatch Space and a few art classes at River Gallery School. I’ve found people here to mostly be friendly and welcoming, in spite of the overwhelming influx of people.  I see many more opportunities for service in Bratt than I’m able to give.

When did you become a member of the Co-op?

While I shopped at the co-op, I didn’t become a member until I decided to run for the board.

What drew you to serve on the Brattleboro Food Co-op Board of Directors?

I chose to run for the board, in part, due to the co-op’s needs and my prior board experience.  When I agreed to run there weren’t quite enough people to fill the seats.  I also thought it might be a way to gain more connection with my new community.

What do you like the most about being on the Board of Directors?

Being on the board allows me to gain a deeper understanding of how our co-op fits into our community and allows me to develop my skills in supporting such community endeavors.

What do you like most about our Co-op?

Small town Alaska could make finding fresh produce a challenge.  I love not only the selection, but the local-ness of much of the produce and dairy.  Additionally, I truly find the staff there to be friendly and helpful.  Each shopping trip is a little bit of a field trip looking for what’s on sale that week.

How do you like to spend your spare time?

When not working or volunteering, I like learning and reading, camping and hiking, foraging and gardening, kayaking and swimming, bonfires generally, small music venues, time with friends and family and a frothy, cold Vermont beer.