826michigan staff members agree: One of the greatest joys of our jobs is the opportunity to work closely, over the period of months, with the volunteers who pass through our doors. Some of these volunteers, dear souls that they are, decide to join us as interns. Interns are in many ways the engine of the majestic steamship that is 826michigan as a whole! Although internships can take many forms, one long-running position that has been held by MANY MANY super stars in its time is that of the Workshops Intern.
If you have volunteered at or attended an 826michigan workshop, you’ve met the Workshops Intern. Because — yes, that’s right — the Workshops Intern agrees to attend Every. Single. Workshop. in a given session. What’s more, they also take on the many administrative tasks that accompany workshops — from calling parents to remind them about the workshop, to distributing and collecting end-of-program surveys, to handling the FLURRY OF ACTIVITY that is the workshops registration process.
This means, all in all, that the Workshops Intern spends at least 15 hours a week, every week, helping 826michigan function on a day-to-day basis.
To say we are grateful for the Workshops Intern does not even begin to scratch the surface! And to say that Elissa Zimmer, the current holder of the title, is doing an EXCELLENT JOB is to not even begin to begin to scratch the surface.
As Workshops Intern this winter and spring, Elissa has calmly, ably, and wonderfully performed the many tasks required of her. She’s also just FUN to have around — she’s one of those people who inevitably brings color and laughter into the 826michigan lab when she enters. Although we’ve all grown fond of Elissa in these past months, she has developed a particularly warm professional relationship with our Program Coordinator, Catherine Calabro, who oversees 826michigan’s workshops.
So when we asked Program Coordinator Catherine Calabro to share with us a few words about why Elissa deserves to be Volunteer of the Month, this is what she returned:
Since you’re the person who oversees our writing workshops, and we know that you also love to write, we thought about penning some super stellar workshops intern fanfiction for you. Imagine it: Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, and Legolas all as students in our next workshop on, say, the heroic couplet. But then we remembered the advice recently discussed in a fandom workshop: never include fantasies — no matter how well-intentioned — in fan mail. And this post is, truly, a giant piece of fan mail to you Elissa, star of the workshop universe!
Elissa, you’re one of most organized people we know: you’ve never missed an email or phone call reminder, you’ve never been late (!!) and you’re so on the ball that it’s like your one human-sized Trapper Keeper of Goodness.
My favorite things about you, Elissa — in addition to you energy, pizzazz, and nail polish — is your passion for our students, your tendency to get emotional about most of said students’ writing, and your ability to make me feel special each time you come into 826michigan (for one thing, you stop, point, and say “YOU” each time you see me for the first time in a day), and I know that you do the same for our students and volunteers (well, not the pointing, but the feeling special). Your talents are unmatched; you listen, encourage, and inspire at every workshop.
I’ve seen you completely transform students’ experiences at our workshops: you helped a reluctant writers to feel included and this job is the most important of all. Don’t think that your championing of our students goes unnoticed — you change lives every day.
Elissa. Gurl. You keep Catherine organized, you keep our students and volunteers comfortable and you do it all with poise and a lovely sense of humor. We couldn’t be more pleased to have you on board for three all-star workshop seasons! Thank you for all the good you do!
Yes, thank you, Elissa! We are fortunate that you joined us this winter and spring and DOUBLY fortunate that you will stay with us for the summer! 826michigan is a sunnier, funnier, sweeter, better-organized place with you around.