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Why Neighborhood Mentors Make All the Difference Why Neighborhood Mentors Make All the Difference

Why Neighborhood Mentors Make All the Difference

by Amanda Uhle
April 25, 2013


Some say that Mister Rogers was the ultimate neighbor. He was always kind, saw the good in all children, and inspired everyone to think beyond the realm of their own imaginations. Also, he didn’t wear his outside shoes in the house. At 826michigan, we take that ideal to the next level, and it's only possible because of our remarkable neighbors.

826michigan serves over 2,500 students in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and Detroit, teaching creative and expository writing skills. Our students conquer tricky homework in our tutoring programs, impress Dr. Blotch, our in-house crotchety publisher who drives our Storytelling and Bookmaking field trips, and find their voices through our publications projects. With so many students and a staff of seven (we have big hearts but work in small numbers), it's our volunteers who are the true backbone of 826michigan. We have more than 2,000 on our volunteer mailing list and are consistently awed by everything they do.

826michigan's volunteer corps consists of professionals, educators, university students, and many more like-minded people who come together for the purposes of making their communities better. Our volunteers know what it means to live in these cities, whether it's spending a lazy summertime afternoon at The Arb, celebrating history at the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival, or hopping over to Belle Isle, the extent of their local pride is boundless, and it's celebrated with each student served. For our students, there’s nothing better than working side-by-side with someone who knows the same streets they do, can pinpoint the cities' hidden gems with ease, and, most importantly, recognizes what it means to truly be home.

826michigan has a long-standing history of hard work and dedication to our students, but we know how to throw a party, too. We can't think of any better place to kick back and meet your fellow community members than in your own neighborhood. Every December, local musicians and bands take over Woodruff's bar in Ypsilanti for Mittenfest, a five-day music event that’s about good tunes, good people, and giving back. All proceeds from Mittenfest, which has cumulatively raised $75,000, go directly to our programs that serve Ypsilanti public school students.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: we simply could not do the work we do without the dedication of our volunteers, our friends, our neighbors. At 826michigan, we see the good that happens when community members unite over a common goal, and for us, it's about helping our students recognize the potential in themselves and in their communities. Neighbors of today, meet the neighbors of tomorrow.

Celebrate Neighborday with 826michigan on April 27th from 2:00-3:30 PM ET. Flex your creative writing muscles, learn about their programs, and connect with your neighbors over button making within Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair at 115 E. Liberty St. in Ann Arbor, MI.

Hang out with your neighbors on the last Saturday of April (a day we're calling "Neighborday"). Click here to say you'll Do It, and here to download GOOD's Neighborday Toolkit and a bunch of other fun stuff

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