Jesse Meria of, January 2015 Supporter of the Month

January 9, 2015 | 826 Blog Post

Jesse Meria is an invaluable part of the 826michigan community. As an 826michigan parent, he trusts us with his children several days per week, as they participate in our tutoring and writing programs. He is also incredibly supportive of our mission and acts as an unofficial 826 ambassador, constantly encouraging others to visit Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair.

Jesse works as a full time Video Production Specialist for University Musical Society at the University of Michigan. He shared his video production talents with us to create this short film, in which we encourage the world to #WearTheShirt.
We asked Jesse if he would allow us to honor him as Supporter of the Month because of his tremendous contributions to the 826michigan community.  True to form, he insisted that we not allow this to be a platform for his services. Instead, he wrote a few words about why he chose to work on the #WearTheShirt campaign and what 826michigan means to his family.  You can follow his work at where he keeps an up to date log of all completed projects.

Helping to produce this video for 826 Michigan was a great collaborative experience. This was a team project which included 826 Michigan Executive Director, Amanda Uhle, Lacie Sandstrom of Google, and Jim Ottaviani. Video is a powerful tool but unfortunately it can be expensive for an organization to produce. By collaborating, and being extremely sensitive about time, we were able to create something that 826michigan deserves. I hope to see a lot of colorful 826michigan
t-shirts when walking the streets this summer!

Our family has been involved with 826michigan since 2011. We received a flyer that was passed out at our elementary school which mentioned, “Free Tutoring”. The mention of “free” and the downtown location were enough to intrigue us into checking it out. When we first walked into 826 and the Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair Shop, my immediate reaction was that it was magical.

I see 826michigan as a magical place, in the heart of the hustle and bustle of downtown Ann Arbor; the kind of place that puts a twinkle in a child’s eye. Entering the robot store, you hear robots talking out loud, “1,2,3,4…..” and see things like “astronaut ice cream” and “robot brains.” Your imagination automatically kicks in, and any worries you might have, are left outside the door. I wanted my kids to have this magical memory in the city, and to learn to communicate, complete their homework, and improve their writing skills by working with the several volunteer tutors that 826 has each semester. When my kids are dropped off at 826, I have a great sense of well-being; I know that they are going to have a great time, they are going to get some work done, and that they are going to be happy when I pick them up. Parents would happily pay money for their children to take advantage of 826michigan tutoring, but if it were not free, my children would not be able to attend. I am thankful for the service that 826 has available for anyone.

What I enjoy most about the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Detroit area is the noticeable strive to continually do better. There are many motivated, caring people in our community who are driven to make change and take the steps necessary to make things happen. It’s been exciting to watch 826michigan grow into Ypsilanti and Detroit so quickly, and I enjoy being able to relay the message to families that I bump into about the tutoring that 826 offers. It’s easy to be a helpful community member when I can simply tell a friend, “There’s free tutoring available and it’s from 3:30-5:30 here and 5:30-7:30 there”, and I know that if they just try it out, it will impact their family in a positive way, at no cost.

Free tutoring is near impossible to come by; 826michigan is a program that fills a huge gap in after-school education. Homework is difficult without support, and a child that can’t complete their homework will lack confidence in school. I know that many students will become important community members because of their experiences at 826michigan. Completing this one video for 826 is only the beginning. I’m in debt for the invaluable service that we’ve been able to take advantage of over the years.

Thank you to every current and former 826 employee, thank you to every current and former 826 tutor, and thank you to everyone who helps or has helped support 826!

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