We wish Sam Freunds happened a lot more around here. But then, Sam Freund is pretty one-of-a-kind. For example, we can think of no other volunteer who was once published in the 826michigan OMNIBUS, or served on our inaugural editorial board for the Best American Non-Required Reading series. (See picture — which brings us to another point: We can think of no other volunteer for whom we have high-school pictures just laying around the office.) If you haven’t put it together just yet, Sam Freund was once a student here. It is no secret that we LOVE it more than just about anything when students become volunteers. Because, among other reasons, they make volunteers who are tied to our work in a very special way.
We are thrilled, then, to honor Sam Freund, the first student-who-became-a-volunteer to EVER have the honor of Volunteer of the Month bestowed upon him. And — let it be known — the fact that he was once a student is really just the icing on the cake.
First and foremost in our minds, Sam Freund is one of our very most outstanding tutors at Ypsilanti Middle School. He’s been consistently and reliably working with the students there for the last year and a half or so. He has a regular following of students at the middle school who beg to work with him each week. He’s incredibly caring and dedicated to our students.
Says our program coordinator, Catherine Calabro: “One only needs to talk to him for sixty-one seconds to know how much he is invested helping our students to learn (you should definitely talk to him for more than sixty-one seconds if you get the chance, but his enthusiasm shines through very quickly because it’s real and true).
“I leave every conversation with Sam feeling better. Here’s part of an email he sent me about YMS this year:
It feels so good to be tutoring again! I missed all the kids over the summer, and I am simply amazed at the new atmosphere! I can’t wait until we can welcome more students into the program. I have a really good feeling about this school year.
But Sam’s not one to rest on his laurels, as it were. In the same way that it wasn’t enough just to be a former 826 student, he had to volunteer, it wasn’t enough just to be one of our best tutors. Sam had to do more. So he started volunteering with one of the programs he benefited from the most as a student, our workshops. Sam has gone above and beyond as a workshop facilitator, volunteering to wear costumes and stay in character without hesitation. This semester, Catherine worked with him to design his first workshop. Super Origin Stories is the product of months of Sam’s brainstorming and lesson planning and a lifetime of superhero study. The workshop includes superhero show-and-tell and a great lesson on character development. As with any project Sam undertakes for 826, the workshop was planned with extreme care and attention to detail.
Sam! Cheesy as it may sound, we have really enjoyed watching you grow up around here. We can attest to it: Your coolness grows in leaps and bounds every year that passes. Your patience, creativity, and focus have benefited our students immeasurably! THANK YOU so much.