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 to reflect on the wonderful ways Keith has contributed to our programs.
Keith, who graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Neuroscience, began volunteering with 826michigan the summer of 2020. This fall, he became a regular tutor with VSS. VSS works with students ages 7-18, offering individualized support on school assignments in all subjects. Keith maintained a consistent, reliable commitment to volunteering with VSS throughout the entire fall semester.
One of our favorite memories of Keith was when he was working with his student on one of our writing prompts. In typical 826michigan fashion, we decided to ask students to be creative; our prompt was to create a useless invention. Keith and his student dove right into the challenge. Keith enthusiasm, curiosity, and genuine interest was contagious. He asked questions to prompt his student to reflect on the purpose of inventions, and his warmth and supportiveness made brainstorming out-of-the-box, whimsical ideas feel stress-free and fun. Keith and his student worked together to come up with the idea of The Card Spitter, an invention to accompany the game of Monopoly. As Keith and his student wrote, “Don’t you love it when your money and cards are organized neatly? Neither do we. Introducing ‘The Card Spitter.’ This machine spits out your money randomly, making it so much harder to play.”
Because his student mentioned that he enjoys drawing, Keith encouraged him to create a drawing to showcase their useless invention. The pair agreed to share their idea with the large group of VSS tutors and students at the end of the session, and Keith made sure his student got some shine for his artistic rendition of The Card Spitter.
Keith’s kindness, enthusiasm, respectfulness, and approachability enabled him to make authentic connections, even in the somewhat new virtual space that we’re all still learning to inhabit. He embodies a successful approach to volunteering with 826michigan programs, and we’re looking forward to working together again this semester!