Volunteer of the Month

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

WednesdayJune 2020

When we entered this virtual season, we at 826michigan, like many others, had to think quickly. While we surveyed families, students, teachers, and volunteers behind the scenes to understand what they’d like to see from 826michigan during this time, we quickly produced a brand-new program to keep students writing in the meantime.

Enter Dr. Blotch: a cranky, slimy, nefarious, and misguided editor known to interrupt our field trips programs and offer some kind of challenge to students. No one has ever seen Dr. Blotch in person (that’s for the best), and no one knows of Dr. Blotch’s wherabouts.

Until now, that is. We were contacted by Dr. Blotch when this socially distant season first began in March. Dr. Blotch was feeling a bit under the weather, maintaining social distancing from their mansion in Antarctica. Unfortunately, Dr. Blotch forgot to go to the library before they all closed, and needed some stories to keep themself entertained. Enter  826michigan students, who rose to the occasion and created stories each week for a new member of the Blotch family (there are dozens of Drs. Blotch in Dr. Blotch’s family).

For our June 2020 Volunteer of the Month, we’d like to recognize the individuals who supported Dr. Blotch’s Writing Challenge behind the scenes.

Our most heartfelt thank you to Robyn Charles, who designed the beautiful supplemental materials for the writing challenge each week, making simple idea sheets and graphic organizers come to life with Blotch’s spooky and gross style (Blotch would never say thank you, but did agree that Robyn’s materials looked “surprisingly good.”). Check out one example from Week 3 HERE.

A giant banner of appreciation to Travis Blake, who brought his professional video-creation skills and  worked behind the scenes with Dr. Blotch to create our Friday story review videos starting in Week 2. Each week, Travis received recordings from a reluctant Dr. Blotch (despite a massive time difference between Michigan and Antarctica), and quickly turned them into high-quality videos that celebrated our students’ work and creativity, and matched the look and feel of our current website. Check out one of the videos that he made to highlight student writing HERE.

A medal of honor for amazing work to intern Lauren Morrow, who created a fantastic curriculum for several weeks of the writing challenge to match the whims of Dr. Blotch’s story ideas (like the wacky weather challenge, or the how-to guides for at-home vacations challenge). She also typed up any student writing that was submitted for the challenge (Dr. Blotch refuses to read the handwriting of young people), and made sure that all of the students’ writing was in one place for Dr. Blotch to review. This helped us quickly get the writing to Dr. Blotch so we could have Blotch’s review videos ready by Friday. Occasionally, she also would coordinate the carrier pigeons to send the writing down to Dr. Blotch’s Antarctica mansion.

And extra gratitude to Lucy Huber, Devin Rocco, Brandan Pierce, Ryan Beatty, Cecilia Latiolais, Holly Painter, Charlotte Moore, and Sarah Mills for offering additional miscellaneous video support during this unusual virtual season. Dr. Blotch would never want to express gratitude (I once heard her saying that it was an unnecessary emotion), but the staff at 826michigan is so thankful for your time and support in making this program come to life and celebrating the power of student stories.

Thank you to all of the above volunteers for bringing Dr. Blotch, and all of us at 826michigan, some laughter* and joy during this season. We may have been physically apart, but we were never disconnected from our students’ brilliance and creativity.

*We’re not sure if Dr. Blotch knows how to laugh properly, but once I heard them making fast-paced breathing sounds that I assumed was something akin to laughter.


ThursdayApril 2020

Daniela, one of our amazing interns, has been with us since September of 2019. In short, she has been a reliable, creative, courageous, data-processing, coffee-loving, posing-with-a-pizza-for-a-picture-taking, and important part of 826michigan. In full, Daniela is everything mentioned above and was also a regular volunteer during our Young Authors Book Project…

WednesdayApril 2020

Since the spring of 2019, Sejjad has been an active volunteer in more than one program. From After-school Tutoring in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, to Summer Writers Club, and even field trips, Sejjad always brings his best to the table.  For example, over the summer of 2019, Sejjad worked with…

MondayMarch 2020

This month’s Volunteer of the Month is special and not only because she’s always extremely stylish. This valued Volunteer of the Month is our very own Jenny Howard! Before she was the Director of Planned Giving and Regional Director, Central States, she began here at 826michigan as a tutoring intern back in 2008. Throughout her years here, Jenny has done it all. She worked through algebra formulas with students during tutoring, led whimsical workshops, and so much more. But of course, most importantly, Jenny has worked with so many of our students to harness the power of writing and share their stories with the world. Not only has she made an impact on our students, but to our staff as well.

ThursdayFebruary 2020

  At 826michigan, Savannah Johnson is our first work-study student from Eastern Michigan University and works as our In-school Projects intern! What does that exactly mean? It means that Savannah deciphers the bravest spellings, unmurks the smudgest scripts, or keystrokes students’ writing exactly as they have set it down as…

WednesdayJanuary 2020

Over the past year, JaVaughn Perkins has spent over 80 hours engaging and connecting with our students in Detroit in our After-school Tutoring. He is a volunteer who truly shares the values that we hold here at 826michigan when working with students. JaVaughn always walks into the doors of the Detroit…

WednesdayDecember 2019

  “Where’s Chase?” “Can I work with Chase?” These were questions that were heard frequently during our summer program, Words On Our Street. Chase Wade, one of our youngest volunteers, quickly became popular among the students there. With much calmness and patience, Chase persistently worked with the students, keeping them…

ThursdayOctober 2019

Ninad Ahmed is a spectacular volunteer! For about 18 months, Ninad has been the most consistent retail support in our Detroit Robot Factory (other than our very own retail manager, of course). EVERY SATURDAY, Ninad drives to the Eastern Market from Sterling Heights to run his three hour shift. He…

SundaySeptember 2019

Summer 2019 graced us with the most incredible interns ever! Here’s what makes them special. Olivia Grantham Olivia sought us out from the start. She started volunteering with our field trips program and was a strong presence for the classes of young people visiting here to write fantastic and wonderous…

FridayJuly 2019

If you have ever talked with Lara Zielin, then you know how enthusiastic she is about writing, about Ypsilanti, about 826michigan, and about living! We are so lucky to have Lara as a long-time volunteer and board member. Many of you will recognize Lara from her recent stint as a…

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