September 2009 – Peter Stern

September 1, 2009 | 826 Blog Post

Peter Stern

Peter Stern!

Volunteer of the Month for September Peter Stern deserves the recognition based on sheer volunteer hours alone. And, truth be told, we had been holding off on making him Volunteer of the Month despite this (and despite the obvious fact that he’s really GOOD at what he does), because he is working on a Big Project for us, and we thought the commendation might be that much sweeter once the Big Project was finished. But the Big Project has recently become the Big and Pretty Frustrating Project, so we made the executive decision to honor him NOW (not QUITE preemptively, really), in the hopes that this burst of positive energy might make the BPFP that much less PF.

Still with me?

Peter Stern has been volunteering with us since the beginning of the year, working untold hours in the Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair. We liked him right off because he looks, for lack of a better word “science-y.” (Exhibit A: the picture. He’s reading a book about Unix with a smile on his face!) He’s got a bit of the mad scientist in the gleam of his eyes, and he looks truly at home in a lab coat. In fact, we always feel a little off when we see him NOT in a lab coat, that’s how natural he looks in one.

Peter continues to work three shifts a week in the store, and he’s great at it. He welcomes people, he tells them all about 826michigan, and he knows when to play it straight (ie pretend the store is not an elaborate hoax but an ACTUAL robot store).

Furthermore, Peter:

  • Donated a killer stool to us, AND it’s got a back!
  • Spent countless hours tallying sales and receipts for a Different Big Project.
  • Dressed in a robot costume during Art Fair of his own free will.
  • Got prizes for our annual volunteer appreciation party.
  • Is one of few store people who have tutored and participated in in-schools.
  • Lets us know his overall energy level with the music he plays in the store (folk on mellow days, zydeco on high-energy ones).
  • Biked to West Park in the rain to post a sign that we were moving our annual birthday picnic to 826, and then:
  • Brought cider to our annual birthday picnic. YUM.
  • Is reliable AND punctual! (This is a BIGGIE.)

It should be mentioned that, if memory serves, in nine months, Peter has only called in sick one time. For someone who works three shifts a week, that’s phenomenal!

We know you are all DYING to know about the Big and Pretty Frustrating Project. Well, about a month ago, Peter came to us and basically offered to INVENT a point of sale system for us. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but to us, it’s HUGE. You have to understand, our “high tech” system for tracking what we sell is handwritten on paper receipts, and “stored,” largely, in Amy’s head. A horrible business model to be sure. So when Peter approached us and offered to do a bunch of stuff we could only partly understand (it involved words like “code” and something about pearls?), well, we’re pretty sure we saw a bit of a halo.

So THIS Volunteer of the Month write-up, then, is unusual. It is, as ever, a big, public THANK YOU to someone who has proven themselves, time and again, to be a stellar volunteer. But it’s also a big, public THANK YOU for the Big and Pretty Frustrating Act of Volunteerism he is about to undergo. THAT, my friends, is an impressive level of commitment.

Thank you, Peter, for everything you’ve done for us. You’re the best!

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