Volunteer of the Month

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

TuesdayApril 2015


If you’ve been to Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair, you have likely encountered—perhaps even interacted with—the art of Elaine Reed, April’s Volunteer of the Month. RightBot, our human-sized robot not only displays faces of our students and recites the digits of Pi every five minutes*, it also provides endless delight to robot lovers of all ages by playing a variety of robot sounds and songs,** ending always with a belch.*** It also provides some legitimacy to our storefront as our biggest and coolest functioning robot. Elaine’s Lost Bots photo collages and gorgeous oil paintings of 3D robots experiencing different subtle shades of confusion and curiosity, grace our walls and humanize our automated friends.

We love working with visual artists, and Elaine Reed is one of our very favorites. Artist in Residence for the Bedside Art Program with the Gifts of Art Program at the University of Michigan Hospital, Elaine has shared her talents and teaching expertise with 826michigan since 2007. In her wildly popular Robot School 101 workshops, Elaine teaches our students how to draw a 3D robot and then asks them to imagine what life must be like for this school-aged bot. Does a robot school day include lunch and recess? What kind of workout do bots get during gym class? And what kinds of tests (the BEEP test instead of the MEAP?) do they take? By asking the students to sketch their robots before they write, Elaine gives our students a new way of imagining a world and entering a story. The class has been so successful that Elaine has taken her show on the road, delighting classes at Perry Elementary and the campers at Camp Michitanki. In light of Elaine’s love of robots and creativity, it’s only fitting that over the years, her workshops have produced a countless army of newly imagined bots with incredible abilities and helpful powers (see chapbooks My Robot Eats Pie and My Robot Eats Pudding for evidence of this). Elaine is a champion of our students and their work, always seeking new ways for their voices to reach new audiences. This spring, she’ll be helping us with a new project of recording students reading their work and creating polished podcasts from these files.

*Anyone who has spent some time working in the robot shop, knows about an amazing phenomenon that occurs, wherein you actually stop hearing the RightBot reciting Pi after some number of hours or days

**For example, The Price is Right theme song, R2D2 beeps, and the theme from Knight Rider.

***RightBot accepts any form and denomination of currency for this audio service, ranging from a coin, to a dollar bill, to a joke written on a slip of paper.

WednesdayMarch 2015

“I’ll be cold for you.” These five words effectively sum up the amount of dedication and eagerness to help that our Volunteer of the Month, Cat Batsios, offers to the Detroit team. When it was uncertain if there would be enough support during a volunteer orientation session on a treacherously…

WednesdayFebruary 2015

  While a lot of 826 volunteers participate in many different programs, it seems that most have a favorite program, that is near and dear to their hearts. I think it is safe to say that Abby Ruehlmann, February 2015′s Volunteer of the Month, has found her favorite program at…

WednesdayJanuary 2015

One of the magical things about Lucy Huber (and trust us, there are MANY) is that she first came to 826michigan by way of another incredible 826er, Katie Jones, who left Michigan to pursue her graduate degree in writing in North Carolina. We had no idea how we would carry…

FridayDecember 2014

All sources agree: Pat Gold is PURE GOLD. True to her name, she really does seem to have the Midas Touch (in the good sense); everything she touches turns to sparkles and magic. For the past two school years, Pat has been a fixture at our Creative Writing Club at…

WednesdayOctober 2014

Since October 2013, Barb has been a model Robotier in our store on weekday mornings. She brings the words reliable, friendly, and helpful to new heights. Sometimes staff pause what we are doing on the other side of the curtain to listen to Barb greet customers and families, because it…

ThursdayOctober 2014

Sarah is a rock star student in the School of Education at the University of Michigan. Last spring, she held a store shift and served students in the Adams Creative Writing Club as a volunteer. This summer, she took her commitment to 826michigan to the next level, as an intern. This…

MondaySeptember 2014

Christopher Ankney is a phenomenal part of the 826michigan volunteer team. For nearly two years, he has served in our robot shop as a robotier, treating the store as if it were his very own–during his TWO separate store shifts. He is so dedicated in fact, that he spent his…

MondayAugust 2014

A Force of Goodness: August’s Volunteer of the Month is Megan Gilson! We have so much to say about Megan Gilson. When Megan began her undergraduate journey at the University of Michigan, she planned to study neuroscience. Very quickly, however,  she realized that the way she most wanted to help…

TuesdayJuly 2014

A Weekly Wonder: July’s Volunteer of the Month is Robyn Charles! Since Robyn Charles joined our volunteer corps last December, she’s been consistently amazing us by jumping into a wide variety of tasks with remarkable alacrity. This reporter had to Google what that meant for sure before putting it into…

115 East Liberty Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-3463