Volunteer of the Month

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

WednesdayMay 2021

Back in the fall of 2018, Allison Beach signed up for a service learning course. The course partnered with 826michigan, and Allie started to volunteer as an after-school tutor. Many service learning students provide wonderful service for the semester of their course, and Allie was no exception. The difference with Allie, though, is that she stuck around and continued to support our programs long after the semester ended. We’ve been so lucky to be able to work with Allie as an 826michigan volunteer over the past several years, and her consistency and warmth during this virtual season have made such a positive impact on our work.

From the start for her volunteer work three years ago, our staff observed Allie’s reliability and dedication as a tutor. She showed up for all of her shifts at the Michigan Avenue branch of the Ypsilanti District Library, and always seemed happy to connect with her students. Our staff was also impressed with Allie’s inquisitive spirit. During debriefs after each tutoring session, Allie’s questions showed her commitment to reflection and intentional action. She was engaged, thoughtful, and excited to contribute. Allie has never given less than 110% of her energy and attention to tutoring; instead, she demonstrates her deep joy and ongoing commitment to serving our students through constantly working to improve her own teaching skills.

During the virtual season, Allie’s dependability has added ease and delight to our work. She always arrives at her tutoring sessions on time and ready to serve. Because of her consistency, at the beginning of Virtual Schoolwork Support this fall, Allie was assigned to be a breakout room leader. Since Allie speaks both English and Spanish, we placed her in a room with a student whose family requested a bilingual tutor. Allie’s position as a room leader gave her the option of taking a bigger picture, more supervisory role, but Allie ended up connecting strongly with this student, and she took on a hands-on approach. Through working with her student in both English and Spanish, Allie was able to make connections and add meaning to tutoring sessions. In fact, our staff once overheard Allie’s student mention how they looked forward to working with Allie all week! This student, like many others over the years, benefitted from Allie’s outstanding tutoring approach.

In a year that has been full of so many twists, turns, and inconsistencies, Allie’s steady presence has meant so much to our 826michigan community. We are so grateful for her work, and delighted to continue working with her this summer as a 2021 Spring/Summer intern!

ThursdayApril 2021

This month, we’re celebrating the work of not one, not two, but THREE amazing humans who together comprise our team of Rackham Fellows! Naitnaphit Limlamai, Rachel Cawkwell, and Lauren Rudewicz have been the brains and the muscle behind this year’s Young Author’s Book Project (YABP), an 826michigan program that, this…

MondayMarch 2021

This spring, as so much of what we knew was crumbling, something beautiful was taking root: our partnership with graphic design student Jessica Pace. In a little under a year, Jessica has taken on several major design and illustration projects at 826michigan, accomplishing each one with remarkable creativity, generosity, and…

WednesdayFebruary 2021

The moment our team observed one of Keith’s Virtual Schoolwork Support (VSS) sessions, we knew. Here he was: our ideal February Volunteer of the Month! Keith embodies the spirit of a VSS tutor. Now, as VSS ramps up for our Winter 2021 semester, we are so thankful to be able…

WednesdayJanuary 2021

Caitlin Koska has seen many sides of 826michigan, and she’s been a superstar volunteer for a while now. In 2015, she designed and co-led a workshop entitled “A Writeable Feast: Flavorful Food Writing,” where writers used all five senses to write odes, reviews, and love letters to favorite foods. As…

WednesdayDecember 2020

826michigan has traversed many seasons over the past fifteen years. We’ve gone from a scrappy startup to a slightly-less-scrappy-and-still-spirited nonprofit, from serving one city to serving three cities, from one learning lab to two. We have experienced periods of growth and months of coalescence, times of joy and moments of…

MondayNovember 2020

Volunteers are the heart and soul of 826michigan, but there are some volunteers who are our heart, soul, and essential organs. They are so deeply a part of the work we do that we can’t imagine life without them. Jim Ottaviani is one of those volunteers. The entire staff was…

MondayOctober 2020

We’re not sure where we’d be right now if it weren’t for Justin Schell and Travis Blake. When they answered our call for video support, we were in the middle of our transition to online programs. What we had: lots of questions, many ideas, plenty of worries. What Travis and…

FridayAugust 2020

Running programs on Zoom can be really different than meeting in person, and our students have handled our transition in various ways. Some students seem more hesitant to speak up, especially in larger Zoom rooms. But when Connie Powers enters the room, everyone lights up. Connie’s warmth, energy, and enthusiasm…

WednesdayAugust 2020

At 826michigan, we begin our volunteer training with a free write, where we ask volunteers to reflect and write for four minutes about a memorable experience that they had with learning as a young person. This memory could be positive, negative, or somewhere in between. We’ve led countless training sessions…

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