Volunteer of the Month

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

MondayJune 2019

“Can I work with Chris?!”


In our Ann Arbor After-school Tutoring Program, this is a common greeting shortly after students sign in for the day. Our June 2019 Volunteer of the Month, Chris Engers, is a beloved student favorite.

Since January 2017, Chris has been an after-school tutor at our Liberty Street location. In 2018, Chris upped his volunteer commitment to TWO days each week (we are so lucky). Chris is known by students, staff, and volunteers as a go-to reliable math tutor, and he gladly takes on that title.

We also value Chris’s willingness to be a team player, to support the tutoring program as a community of learners. On any given day at tutoring, Chris can be seen floating around the room, assisting other tutors with math strategies, ideas, and lighthearted jokes.

Chris goes above and beyond as a tutor, building relationships, getting to know students as individuals, and attending supplemental trainings, volunteer dialogues and social events, and family engagement events (like last spring’s first-ever Family Board Game Night).

As a writing organization, we attract a lot of literary people: volunteers who love writing, and reading, and everything English Language Arts. But every so often, we get a volunteer who comes in and asks, “Do you tutor in other subjects too? I have a degree in Math!”

OH YES WE DO, friends. All three of our tutoring programs (at our Liberty Street location in Ann Arbor, the Detroit Robot Factory in Detroit’s Eastern Market, and the Michigan Avenue Branch of the Ypsilanti District Library) offer cost-free tutoring in ALL subject areas. This means that whatever homework or study materials our students bring in, we’ll be available to work with them to get a grip on Geometry, master metaphors, simplify Spanish, and more.

But back to Chris and math. His 826michigan stats are impressive–after much adding, we found out that he has volunteered an impressive TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY THREE POINT TWO EIGHT HOURS.

Chris, we appreciate your dedication to our tutoring community, your patience and calm presence, your math strategies, and your great jokes.

Need further convincing of Chris’s skill? Check out our end-of-year tutor appreciation video, where Chris receives several enthusiastic shoutouts from our students.

SaturdayMay 2019

Elizabeth Bihary is one of our newest volunteers. She has jumped right into building wonderful relationships with weE-Bots at the Detroit Public Library’s Redford branch. Although she’s not studying anything connected to education at Oakland University , she has an amazing knack for releasing our young authors from writer’s block….

TuesdayApril 2019

Genevieve Jones is a long-time roboteer, having started volunteering with 826michigan in Ann Arbor, she has continued to bring her passion for working with young people to our Detroit space this year. Her consistency and calm has been anchoring to our tutoring space at the Detroit Robot Factory. As we…

TuesdayMarch 2019

Josi Ezinga was an essential and indefatigable part of a small team of volunteers that hosted two classes of Erickson Writers Club in the fall. She is a super-volunteer for five classes of Writers Club this winter—two at Erickson Elementary and three at Estabrook Elementary. That’s a lot of work!…

FridayFebruary 2019

Tom Arata is a tutoring all-star! Such a bright and caring beacon in the after-school universe that we couldn’t believe he had not yet been named VOTM (or, as we thought more about it, VoTOM!). Tom has been tutoring with our program in Ypsilanti since mid-academic year 2018, when he…

WednesdayJanuary 2019

Our January 2019 Volunteer of the Month, Beverly Manko, first came to 826michigan to attend one of our Courageous Conversations dialogues. In these sessions we talk with volunteers about creating space in our programs to have conversations about identity with our students.  Beverly is a docent at the University of…

SaturdayDecember 2018

Hatt Merlino has been such a welcome part of the Detroit After-School Tutoring volunteer roster. Their calm demeanor has helped set such a good tone in our tutoring space in Detroit this year. They have a unique way of engaging students in a warm and attentive way, with a sensitivity…

ThursdayNovember 2018

Sandy Karolak is a retired teacher that spends much of her time working with various schools around the city and their students, Sandy is one of the most caring people we’ve ever met. Last year, when it came to her attention that students who needed glasses in Ms. Lowe’s class…

MondayOctober 2018

Ben Schneedecker is the swiss army knife of volunteers. He magically seems to have all the little tools we need to keep 826michigan up and running. By day he is a coder, debunking and navigating problems into solutions and questions into answers. By night, or rather evening–and even more specifically,…

SaturdaySeptember 2018

  Charlotte Moore began volunteering at 826michigan at the beginning of last school year. Throughout the year, Charlotte has been an all-around MVP for our 826michigan In-residence program at Estabrook Elementary. Over the course of the fall and winter semesters, she worked 1:1 and in small groups with students in…

Liberty Street Robot
Supply & Repair
115 East Liberty Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-3463
Detroit Robot Factory
1351 Winder
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 818-0255