Mirella the Fantabulous
In December of 2014, a warm Oakland breeze brought Mirella Villalpando into our lives. Mirella, a Cali native, was working toward her Dual Degree in Social Work and Public Health University of Michigan. Her social work focus was on community organizing and nonprofit management, and it was quickly clear that 826michigan would be great orgnanization match for Mirella to complete her field work and gain the skills she hoped to develop.
Since then, Mirella has completed over 650 hours at 826michigan—yes, you read that right! Her work has been instrumental in getting long-needed, long-desired projects off the ground, including our Education Advisory Committee, a strategic volunteer & outreach calendar, and the development of diversity initiatives.
Mirella possesses an awe-inspiring ability to bring the abstract theories and tools of academia into on-the-ground, real world applications. In this way, she has helped us to be more organized, reflective, and evidenced-based in our approaches to data collection, training, and volunteer recruitment. Her commitment to social justice is at the core of who she is and underlies all of her work.
She has also played a major role with development efforts, helping with grant-writing and research. In addition to writing successful grant applications and researching others, she support a major effort to update and re-organize our grantwriters’ tool kit. She pulled samples from a year’s worth of grant applications and proposals, helped organize and streamline them, and select updated quotes, anecdotes and statistics to make our grants as informative and engaging as possible. This resource, which is now a folder FULL of grant writing goodies, is the go-to tool for both new and seasoned writers.
Beyond this, Mirella has filled in as a pinch-hitter, helping as a volunteer countless times in every program that we offer. She also held down a steady Saturday store shift and picked up additional shifts on a regular basis.
As she heads back to Oakland with two master’s degrees in tow (and folks, she is only 24!), we are deeply sad to see her leave but cannot wait to see all the amazing work she takes on and positive change she creates. Watch out world, here comes a newly minted superhero of social justice, Mirella Villalpando!