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Meet the Perham Bridge Pantry's new executive director

Previous Executive Director John Leikness is retiring in October, and Nichole Huebsch will be taking his place as director of the Perham Bridge Pantry.

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Nichole Huebsch, the new Bridge Pantry executive director, smiles in her new position.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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PERHAM — After 12 years with the Perham Bridge Pantry, well-known Executive Director John Leikness is retiring and passing the torch to a brand new director of the area food shelf: Nichole Huebsch. A member of the Perham community for just over two years, she's excited to be in her new position.

She’s been passionate about the Bridge since her move to Perham, when she originally grew curious about volunteering.

"I had a lot of experience working with people who may need to access food support services previously, but I'd never really had a lot of experience with volunteering with an organization," Huebsch recalled her curiosity. "So, I started volunteering and then really liked it. There's really just a lot of camaraderie between the volunteers, and it's a really fantastic environment. All of the volunteers do a great job making it feel like a real shopping experience for people to hopefully help alleviate some of the stress of needing to access a food pantry."

Always drawn toward helping people, Huebsch has a history of community service work. She has experience licensing adult foster care homes and helping people facing resource insecurities, which also led her to her new position with the Bridge. She likes being present for her community and helping them access food in a hands-on environment, especially in a time of need like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the past two years, she's also fallen in love with the Perham community since moving here with her husband, who also serves the community through volunteer firefighting. Though they enjoy spending their free time in the outdoors with their kids, most of their passions lie in giving back to their community.

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Together, they've seen the way the Perham community supports those in need. Huebsch herself has witnessed how the community supports the pantry and emphasized how amazing that's been to see.

"I just feel really passionate," Huebsch said about her time with the Bridge. "A lot of families are facing more insecurity than they ever have before, and so we really just help to make asking for help an easier experience."

Because of that love, when she found out Leikness was retiring, she knew she had to jump in and apply for the executive director position. Before she knew it, she was offered the job, and they planned out a three-month transition period together. Leikness will officially retire in October.

"He's been great to learn from and has been a fantastic mentor," Huebsch said. "We just want to let people know that we are happy to help and willing to connect with people. (We) want to help people get through tough times."

The Bridge Mobile Pantry has locations in Dent, Ottertail, Richville and Vergas. To find its schedule or more information, go to bridgepantry.org .

If you are interested in donating or volunteering, the Bridge Pantry can be reached at 218-346-6181 or bridgepantry@arvig.net. Its Perham location is open every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to noon, as well as 3–5 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month. Food and monetary donations can be made at those times or mailed to 501 4th Ave. NW, P.O. Box 7, Perham, MN 56573. Donations may also be made on the pantry's website, bridgepantry.org .

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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