If you have ever talked with Lara Zielin, then you know how enthusiastic she is about writing, about Ypsilanti, about 826michigan, and about living! We are so lucky to have Lara as a long-time volunteer and board member. Many of you will recognize Lara from her recent stint as a caller during 826michigan’s first-ever paddle raise at the Storymakers Dinner this year (more on that in a moment), but Lara has been a supporter of ours from the very beginning. She taught creative writing workshops about how teens can publish their writing and hosted book release parties and YA author panels at our Liberty Street location. She and her partner Rob also worked with 826michigan students in a special ice cream and writing workshop (yes, the dream come true) called The Scoop: Words about Ice Cream through which students called upon their sensory details to describe the smells and tastes of Milk and Cookies and Motor Oil, a special Go! Ice Cream flavor made in 826michigan’s honor (note: She and Rob started Go! Ice Cream in Ypsilanti!). Go! Ice Cream has also generously donated treats to 826michigan release parties and special events, and hosted 826michigan in their amazing downtown Ypsi space for tours, meetings, and celebrations. And they always champion our work and help spread the word about 826michigan student writing through special promotions!
Now, back to this paddle raise! For those of you who missed it, this fundraising effort involves a caller (like an auctioneer) rallying crowd members to raise a paddle to donate to support specific parts of 826michigan programming (think $500 to support a bus for an 826michigan field trip!). Being the caller requires energy, understanding of programs, panache with words, charm, improvisational skills, courage, and, well, magic, basically, all of which Lara rolled out to the extreme. To say that Lara was a fantastic caller is not truly enough …inspired, transcendent, on fire are all words that we heard afterward. This woman was jumping up and down, pretending to be an air horn in front of more than a hundred people on behalf of 826michigan. Her efforts helped 826michigan raise over $25,000 and her willingness to harness all of her superpowers to support our team brought several in the room to tears (of amazement!) and inspired them to join in the fray by jumping up and down (and donating!) alongside her. We cannot thank you enough, Lara, for sharing your brilliant shine and bravery with our team in this important way!
Lara’s superpowers are endless — here are a few more special notes about her:
- She really believes in the power of writing — her latest book, Author Your Life, is all about how she changed her life by writing it into existence (check it out here!)
- She does webinars around this and has a really inspirational newsletter about it as well to help others write themselves into the lives they want.
- She’s written three YA fiction novels, a networking guide for teens, and even published a series of romance novels under a pseudonym!
- She has a dog named Muenster, after the cheese.
- She showed up to Storymakers Dinner carrying an A+ frog-shaped purse.
We love Lara and we are grateful for her support at every level of our organization! Sound that airhorn with pride!