Volunteer of the Month

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

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 have brought joy and confidence into our virtual programs. Encouraging students to feel comfortable in an online space is her superpower.

We first met Connie in 2012 when she reached out to us about partnering with Wolverine Pathways, another group she volunteers for. Our paths crossed again a few years later at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA). In partnership with UMMA, 826michigan runs a special field trip for Ypsilanti third graders. Through this field trip, students come to 826michigan and create stories and survival guides imagining that they’ve jumped into a piece of art. After writing, the students visit UMMA and see the artwork in real life, guided by highly-trained docents. Luckily for us, one of our docents was Connie. In her second year participating in the 826michigan-UMMA partnership, Connie asked about volunteering during the story-writing portion of the field trip. From then on, she has become an integral and unparalleled member of our volunteer force.

Since going virtual this spring, Connie has volunteered in every single program we offer, from Virtual Schoolwork Support to Virtual Field Trips to Lunch Poems to Writers Club to Writing for Wee-bots. Inspiringly, she shows up with 100% energy, 100% of the time. Her positive attitude inspires students, fellow volunteers, and 826michigan staff members alike, bolstering spirits on the gloomiest days. Connie draws on her background in education to encourage students to talk to each other, not just to the adults in the room. The way Connie asks questions and connects students’ ideas is a beautiful reminder that students learn best when they’re talking to each other. Connie provides space for students to make connections, think in new ways, and feel like their voices are heard.

One of our favorite memories with Connie took place this spring. Connie was working in a breakout room with a student who typically stays very quiet during sessions, and has gotten even quieter during virtual programming. Connie’s gentle and supportive questions eventually encouraged the student to feel comfortable sharing more than they had ever shared in our in-person programs!

Connie has made a huge impact on our programs this virtual season. On behalf of our staff, volunteers, and students, we want to say a huge thank you to Connie for her amazing contributions!

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…

TuesdayJuly 2020

You may not know our friend Albert Charles (you can call him Al) because typically he is content to keep his contributions to 826michigan quiet and out of the spotlight. (We’ve certainly never heard him say, “Why am I short of attention?”) Usually the Charles we are raving about here…

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…

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…

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