Throughout the years leading to our tenth anniversary, a number of phenomenal community partners have aided us in our mission to support students ages 6 to 18 in developing their creative and expository writing skills and helping teachers inspire their students to write. Two offices at Eastern Michigan University–the Office of Academic Service-Learning and VISION (Volunteers Incorporating Service Into Our Neighborhoods)–have assisted us in elevating the level of our programming by providing us with top-notch and dedicated volunteers, talented graphic designers, and an overall enormous amount of general support.
It is no surprise to us then, with these two offices leading the way, Eastern Michigan University recently earned the Carnegie Foundation’s designation for exceptional community engagement. We are delighted to congratulate Eastern Michigan University, the Office of Academic Service-Learning, VISION, and the terrific individuals who comprise the teams producing transformative community service day after day.
Below, you can read a few brief profiles of the tremendous leaders who make the work of the Office of Academic Service-Learning and VISION happen each day. Click here to link to the shining announcement from the Carnegie Foundation regarding Eastern Michigan University’s receipt of this prestigious service award: http://www.emich.edu/univcomm/releases/release.php?id=1420648337.
A Few Outstanding Partners in Service
Jessica “Decky” Alexander: Director of the Office of Academic Service-Learning
First and foremost, we must express our deep and abiding appreciation of and love for Decky, for facilitating ALL of the amazing relationships 826michigan has at EMU, and for providing the infrastructure and support for them to be successful. Decky is a miracle-worker, match-maker, mover, shaker, and inspiration to us all. She has enabled a deep community connection between the EMU campus and the wider community. Her work makes our community a more vibrant, creative, intelligent, interconnected, and brighter place.
Xavier Kimbourgh: Xavier is an ASL work-study student who has spread the word about 826michigan as a volunteer opportunity and to kept our information updated throughout the year. He also directly supported our tutoring program in Ypsilanti last spring and brought his improv skills to bear in his service as an incredible tutor.
Ramona Caponegro, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of Children’s Literature
- Controversy in Children’s Literature (2 semesters): As part of a course requirement for Winter of 2014 and 2015, students in this class must complete 16 volunteer hours with 826michigan. The students have been delightful to work with and the partnership has been an incredible asset to our programs. Students helped in many programs (most notably field trips) and with important behind-the-scenes work, such as library cataloguing and more.
- Multicultural Children’s Literature (1 semester): Students in the class spent the semester researching the excellent book selections for our library to expand our offerings along six axes of diversity and used a $500 grant from the Office of Academic Service Learning to purchase books for students to access in the 826michigan writing lab.
Ryan Molloy, Associate Professor in the Art Department
- Graphic Design Practicum: During the Winter 2014 and Fall 2015 semesters, we have had the amazing luck to partner with Ryan’s graphic design courses. His students are beyond talented, professional, and have created the design for some of most beautiful publications of student writing. Just look at those chapbooks to the right!
Melissa Jones, Assistant Professor in the English Department
- Senior Literature Seminar, Winter 2014: Students in this class had the option to volunteer with several community organizations, and we were able to engage a large percentage of the class at 826michigan. The students helped in a variety of capacities. One student from this class, Paula Porter, has become a staple in our storefront, Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair, volunteering weekly for over a year.
Sadaf Ali, Assistant Professor in Communication, Media, and Theater Arts
- Studies in Electronic Media: This winter, we are piloting an ASL partnership in the Communications Department. Select students from this course will work at either 826michigan or with our friends at Bright Futures to help students in our Ypsilanti-based programs write positive news stories about the city. These stories will be posted on a Good News blog at the end of the semester.
George Cowen, Computer Science Lecturer
- During the Fall 2014 semester an incredible team of software engineering students, under George Cowen, worked to create a beautiful user-friendly iPhone app, so that volunteers could more easily sign up for programs from their smartphones. Unfortunately, due to complications with our database, we were not able to put the app into action, but it was an amazing learning experience all-around.
- Becca Timmermans, Director of VISION Office
- Jasmina Camo-Biogradlija, former Director of VISION Office
- Michael Anthony, VISION Graduate Assistant
- Haley Moraniec, VISION Graduate Assistant
- Kelli Dowd, Vision Graduate Assistant with America Reads
- A crew of incredible America Reads Work Study tutors