As we say around here at 826michigan, behind every great student writer is an army of great volunteers (we don’t actually say that. But we could. Because it is true.). If that army of great volunteers were a real army, Becky Welzenbach would be one of its greatest assets. To put it another way, if we were somehow playing a game of Red Rover with THE ENTIRE WORLD, we would DEFINITELY ask Becky to come over — and then stay forever! Why? Because she has a singular ability to work with even the most rowdy student to produce a delightful piece of writing.
To discuss the finer points of Becky’s tenure here at 826michigan, we went right to the source (yes, I did mistakenly type “write to the source” the first time around), and asked former-volunteer-turned-AmeriCorps-member-turned-staff-member Amy Wilson and former-volunteer-turned-AmeriCorps-member-turned-MFA-candidate-in-another-state Katie Jones.
We were not surprised that they had a LOT to say, nor were we surprised that what they had to say was GREAT. So we’ll just copy it here, verbatim. First up, Amy Wilson:
“In my time in the trenches with Becky teaching Monday night Drop-In, students she was working with wrote the following amazingly hilarious things:
- A world made entirely of candy, where the clouds are made of rainbow sugar (people kept eating them so the clouds had to be put on the Endangered Species list)
- A story about a Super Giant Chicken who wants to buy a pet human
- A planet called “Mixanimals”, where the sky is red and strange creatures roam the earth. Like the Skuck (skunk + duck) and the Squelefant (squirrel + elephant)
- The following acrostic:T hanksgiving Turkeys cry
U nderstanding they have to be eaten
R unning for their life
K icking to get away
E very turkey who has a calendar will leave weeks early
Y elling to get away.
This is quality stuff, and it takes a quality volunteer to make it happen. And if that weren’t enough, Becky is also incredibly reliable, wears very-well coordinated outfits, and is a trivia rock star! We love you Becky Welzenbach! Never leave us!”
SO MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS. But she deserves them, for real.
And now, Katie Jones:
“She is incredibly thoughtful and insightful when working with kids who are struggling to get started on their writing. At Ypsi drop-in, she’d quickly pick up on who wasn’t understanding the project or who didn’t think they could come up with something. She’d work patiently with that person, knowing when to ask leading questions and when to back off and give them some time to think.”
“She’s warmly appreciative about student writing. The kids at Ypsi drop-in always knew that she genuinely loved hearing their work, and they could rely on her to provide great feedback and encouragement. On the rare days Becky had to miss a section, the kids always asked about her.”
“She’s got a great sense of humor, and is always willing to write alongside the kids and to share her clever, creative work. She sets a *great* example.”
“As a drop-in workshop leader, I always felt supported by Becky. She was willing to provide insights, bounce ideas around, and was super reliable. On the last day of Ypsi drop-in, she brought an 826michigan bag to workshop, had all the kids sign it, and then presented it to me at the end as a going-away present. That kind of thoughtful gesture is beyond “above and beyond” for a volunteer.”
“Man, Becky is so great. I’m really happy that she’ll be the next volunteer of the month!”
In addition to being reliable, warm, and all-around great, we were able to dig up a picture of Becky holding a big-pawed puppy (named Daisy, no less) licking her face with almost no trouble at all. If that isn’t the mark of a quality person, we don’t know what is, and we don’t WANT to know.
Becky! You are quietly heroic, and we enjoy that very much about you. THANK YOU so much for all you’ve done and continue to do for us! You may TRY to fly under the radar, but you are so wonderful we spotted you anyway.