Volunteer of the Month

Care to meet the elite team of supervolunteers whom we’ve honored over the years?

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FridayApril 2016

Claire Stano visiting 826 Valencia

For the past year, magical Claire Stano has created a wondrous space in our writing lab on Wednesday evenings for our 6-8 year old writers. Each week, Claire thoughtfully selects a children’s book to read during a Wee-Bots Drop-in Writing session and builds a lesson plan around the story. Claire is a researcher by profession, and this is clear because of how carefully Claire chooses great books to inspire our bots, books that celebrate diverse main characters and cultural traditions, books that delight our students with onomatopoeia, rhyme, and collective nouns, books that encourage our students to write about characters who change and grow, and that introduce our writers to new genres (Letters! Weather reports! Bedtime stories! Informative texts! Poetry! Collaborative stories! Magical realism!).

watchdogClaire — like our founder Dave Eggers — comes from a family of educators and librarians; her lifelong love of learning and genuine enthusiasm for books and for writing cannot be — and should never be — contained! Claire takes great joy in hearing each bot share their work at the end of the session; she creates special sharing ceremony at the end of the hour every week, with each reader having their own turn to read from the big comfy chair to the audience. Whether we have one bot or a full gear (the collective noun Claire created for a class of Wee-Bot writers), Claire’s deep investment in the program and the writers is felt by all in her encouraging comments. This winter, Claire channeled her amazing sense of humor and experience as Editor in Chief of The Every Three Weekly, to develop and lead a fabulous satire workshop for our high school students. These are just a few of the many things that make Claire a spirited, dedicated teacher and a pleasure to collaborate with on lessons and writing workshops.  

Not only does Claire create a magical, inclusive space for our students, but she makes volunteers feel welcomed and appreciated—from talking about podcasts and American Girl dolls before Wee-bots to inviting volunteers to gather for dinner after (most often, pizza or burritos).

When Claire, the resident children’s book trivia champion, shows up at Board Game Night with CPyawvuWIAAtJyhher Boston terrier Dot (short for Dorothy Parker—-I know) in tow, hearts melt and there is audible excitement in the room. Claire has a natural ability to make friends and have thoughtful, engaging conversations with everyone she encounters. Dot is also VERY good at making friends everywhere she goes—when the duo wear their matching Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair t-shirts, our delight-processors short-circuit.

It makes sense that Claire is so excellent at developing rapport, because by day she is a psychologist at the VA. Our gratitude is magnified knowing that she makes volunteering a priority while holding such a demanding job.

Claire Stano, just like Mrs. Twinkle,* you help our students and all those around you in the best ways, empowering others to feel good about themselves, excited about ideas, and at home in the wonderous world.

*a teacher who is character in one of Claire’s favorite children’s books, Chrysanthemum

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MondayFebruary 2016

Cool, Creative Carman “I cannot believe my eyes!” -Jason, tutoring student, upon seeing the pencil cups that Carman (VotM March ‘16) sorted and filled with sharpened, eraser-ed pencils. -How we feel every time March 2016 Volunteer of the Month Carman Judd is helping with a project or program When Carman…

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MondayFebruary 2016

It is pretty rare that someone becomes Volunteer of the Month at 826michigan before being here at least a year. Occasionally, though, someone comes on board and knocks our socks off immediately in a way that makes the whole staff take notice. (And feet our cold.) This month we would…

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WednesdayJanuary 2016

Mirella the Fantabulous In December of 2014, a warm Oakland breeze brought Mirella Villalpando into our lives. Mirella, a Cali native, was working toward her Dual Degree in Social Work and Public Health University of Michigan. Her social work focus was on community organizing and nonprofit management, and it was quickly…

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TuesdayDecember 2015

Matt Beyersdorf, our December 2015 Volunteer of the Month is a robotier extraordinaire (a.k.a. robot shop volunteer) who has been holding down a tricky-to-fill Saturday store shift for over a year. He knows our line of Kikkerland wind-up bots better than anyone and quickly helps visitors feel welcomed. His store…

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FridayNovember 2015

Beth Fowler, A Fan Favourite When you hear the explosion of children’s laughter in a classroom, you know you’re having a great workshop. When you hear an explosion of laughter from volunteers alongside those students, you know that something truly inspiring is happening. That’s how it feels every time November…

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FridayOctober 2015

The 826michigan Education Advisory Board This spring we piloted a new project, based on the trailblazing efforts of intelligence at 826CHI (no wonder their theme is espionage)! We assembled an all-star A TEAM of educators to help advise us on programming decisions and best practices when working with students and volunteers…

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WednesdaySeptember 2015

Alyssa Lopez asked us something during her internship in the summer of 2014 that stopped many a heart mid-beat: I love doing data entry–are there any other projects like this I can do? There are many important roles that 826michigan volunteers take on when it comes to our programs, and…

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SaturdayAugust 2015

Jeff is a scientist and a musician, but it’s impossible to label him with just a few words, or for that matter, with just a few 826michigan programs.  For example, while he has taught multiple STEM-based writing workshops for us (Busting Bat Myths, Do You Dig It, and Sound and…

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WednesdayJuly 2015

Noelle Sciarini, Volunteer Extraordinaire We often have folks come to us, wondering if there are volunteer opportunities for those who work nine-to-five, full-time-style jobs. We show them a picture of Noelle Sciarini, our July Volunteer of the Month.Okay, we don’t actually do that, but we COULD, because Noelle has found so many…

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