Have you walked into the Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair recently and gasped? Have you exclaimed with delight and slight confusion, “This place looks different!”? Thanks to a team of super volunteers, you can now browse 826michigan shirts and sweatshirts on a special built-in rack, try out a laser maze game, walk, glide, or dance around in the space where the old counter used to be, AND press some fun buttons and dials that are now on the exposed back wall! This remodel is thanks in large part to October’s VOTM, who was an important member of the redesign team, bringing tools, materials, and vision, along with his carpentry expertise. Retail Manager Tom explains more: “Whenever we have a project that goes beyond my limited carpentry abilities, I call in Luke. And not just for the actual work; he’s also an essential part of the planning process. I often ask him if this is something that can be done. If it can be done, Luke expertly does it (for both the DRF and LSRS&R).” Our store has undergone a magical transformation — but this is just one example of the magic that Luke Jackson brings to our work.
On the other side of the red curtain, Luke is also involved with 826michigan as a volunteer and parent. He is currently pursuing a degree in Elementary Education, and somehow has made the time to contribute his energy and talents as a volunteer in a variety of 826michigan programs, including Family Writing Labs, In-school Projects, and Drop-in Writing for Wee-bots.
Luke was an important member of our Writers Club last fall at Erickson Elementary in Ypsilanti. This in-school project involved forming a community of writers, where small groups of students joined 826michigan in the school library to write and publish their stories in a book. Luke supported first and second grade students as they brainstormed, wrote drafts, and revised their pieces. Writers Club encourages students to explore different approaches to the writing process to find what works best for them (sharing stories out loud, drawing pictures of scenes before writing, writing on the floor, walking around the library to get first sentence inspiration, and more). Luke’s genuine warmth and calm teacher presence made this happen, creating a stress-free, positive environment that was beneficial for all writers.
In the spring, Luke continued his support of our programs as an 826michigan parent, bringing his daughter Luella to Drop-in Writing for Wee-bots on Liberty Street and volunteering for the program so they could write together. You can hear both of them on the radio describing their experiences writing in our programs when they were guests (together, along with a small group of students and our Executive Director Amanda Uhle) on WCBN’s Living Writers Show (download the 2/15/17 episode featuring Luke, Luella, and other 826michigan student writers here). With his experiences as an educator, a volunteer, and a parent, Luke was able to bring incredibly useful feedback about our program to our Parent/Guardian Advisory Group meeting last spring and continues to provide support and advice in all programs.
Luke, thank you for your support of 826michigan as both a parent and volunteer. We’re grateful for the valuable, incredible help you give to our spaces, our programs, and our students. We can’t wait to see you and Luella back at Wee-bots and other programs this fall!