Recently featured in Mackinac Island’s local newspaper Town Crier, one of Grand Hotel’s most recognizable employees Glen Bulgin receives acknowledgement and celebration! Following his 25th year of serving and befriending countless Grand Hotel guests as a server in Grand Hotel’s Main Dining Room, Glen has received three special awards. Grand Hotel awarded him for his 25 years of service, friends Bill and Camille Leibold awarded him another, and the Jamaican government and Western Union named him an ambassador for Jamaica. Read the Town Crier article below to check out more information about our dear friend.
For 25 years, Glen Bulgin has been a fixture at Grand Hotel, serving guests with his warm, kind, and compassionate spirit. It is often joked that he is the recipient of the most hugs, and Mr. Bulgin knows many on Mackinac Island from serving diners in the dining room’s first section and his extensive charitable efforts, which includes his establishment of a non-denominational weekly church service at Ste. Anne’s Catholic Church.
Having grown up in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Mr. Bulgin is the youngest of eight siblings. Serving others has been a constant facet of his life, and he has helped his family and community since childhood.
“I started serving from early days,” he said, “and I grew up with some of the older folks in the community. We would help at the church and we would always go there and serve them meals at the care center. From there, I developed that attitude of service, and I loved to serve.”
Working in the hospitality industry takes on a profound meaning for him, being deeply rooted in his spirituality and religious beliefs.
“I believe in serving God, and I believe in serving humanity,” Mr. Bulgin said. “I’m a people person. I have always liked to meet and greet and serve people. I love that.”
Before coming to Grand Hotel, Mr. Bulgin worked at a small hotel in Montego Bay, and he was invited to come to the United States for work in the 1980s. It wasn’t until 1990 that he took up the offer and began working for Grand Hotel.
Two years after he started, Mr. Bulgin was promoted to the prominent first station in the dining room. The first section is closest to the entrance and is an area reserved for the hotel owners and other special guests like dignitaries, celebrities, and politicians. Many people make reservations up to a year in advance to sit in his section.
“I take care of the owners, and the dignitaries, and the stars, and the celebrities,” he said. “Right there, I have a number of persons who come back year after year and make requests to sit with me.”
Over the years, he has developed friendships with many of the guests, and each time they return is like a warm homecoming.
“It’s like a family affair at the Grand Hotel,” he said. “We have just one, big united family and then when you come back, we hug each other and we greet each other.”
During his first year on the Island, Mr. Bulgin started the interdenominational church services that are hosted at Ste. Anne’s, recognizing a need to create a community for the international workers on Mackinac Island.
“When I first got here,” Mr. Bulgin said, “people were just sitting at the bars and just wandering around. Some people were lonesome and people were feeling frustrated knowing that they missed their families. So I thought it was a good idea for us to have someplace to worship, where they can come and they can go have fellowship together and worship the Lord.”
The interdenominational services are attended by many and are held Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. in the lower level of Ste. Anne’s. The services continue until October 7 this year, and will end with a large concert, when many seasonal workers from all over the world will perform traditional music from their home countries. Other services are held on the Fourth of July and on Jamaican Independence Day, August 6.
The services and concerts are open to everyone, and, in addition to the international workers, many members of the Mackinac Island community attend.
“We come together and we magnify the Lord,” he said. “We talk about the love of God and things that we can uplift each other.”
Spending half the year away from home for so many years has been difficult, Mr. Bulgin admits, but returning to Montego Bay each fall is always a special occasion. Mr. Bulgin and his wife, Ivy, have been married for 35 years. When he returns to Montego Bay during the winter, he helps out around the house, cooking, cleaning, and surprising her with flowers. Mrs. Bulgin works as a psychologist, school and community counselor, and high school English teacher. The couple have two children, Glendon, Jr. and Dana Barret, and one grandchild.
Mr. Bulgin will stay on Mackinac Island until early November, when he will return to Jamaica. After spending six months at home, he will return to Michigan again next spring.
Coming back to Mackinac Island is like a reunion, Mr. Bulgin explained, when he can reconnect with other international workers, the rest of the hotel staff, church members, and returning guests. While it is difficult to be away from home, Mr. Bulgin is willing to make the sacrifice to support his family.
“We can come here, and we can touch lives,” Mr. Bulgin said. “Not just only to make money, but to touch lives. You see the fulfillment and you see people uplifted. Then you feel proud and you know that your work is not in vain.”
In addition to providing church services, Mr. Bulgin is also committed to other community service endeavors, such as the Food for the Poor initiative, which has built 32 houses in Jamaica and the Caribbean in the past 25 years.
“Whatever we can do to help, I am willing to do, to go the extra mile,” he said. “It’s a great sacrifice leaving the family every year, and that motivates us and inspires us. Even my wife will say, ‘It’s difficult in a way, but because I know the work you’re doing, helping others, touching lives, so I’ll hold on, I’ll push along, I’ll send you to go.’”
Each night, he also makes sure to call home to check in and see how things are going, even for a few brief moments, to know everything is all right.
“It is hard,” he said, “but it’s with mutual understanding. And it’s a sacrifice that we will make just now. The time will come when we can’t make it anymore, so we’ll do what we have to do.”
In recognition of his 25th anniversary at Grand Hotel, Mr. Bulgin was honored with three awards this year. Grand Hotel gave him an award for his years of service, and his longtime friends Bill and Camille Leibold and their family gave him another. He was also named as an ambassador for Jamaica through an award given by the Jamaican government and Western Union.
Mr. Bulgin feels “Joyful and all humility,” he said, to be considered a Jamaican ambassador. “I feel so humbled and elated to know that, yes, I can do my part to make our country proud and our government proud.”
During the off-season in Jamaica, Mr. Bulgin also works in local schools, assisting his wife and providing guidance to others interested in pursuing a career in the hospitality industry.
Fortino, Stephanie. “For Glen Bulgin, Life Is Lived In a Spirit of Service.” Town Crier [Mackinac City] 05 Sept. 2015: n. pag. Print.