Volunteer Highlights

This year at RAWK has been an EXCITING experience, with all of the ups and downs, twists and turns, and we wouldn't have made it here without the support of the Kalamazoo community and our passionate volunteers. Not only are volunteers diligently working behind the scenes and at the forefront of RAWK's programs but they are living outside the realm of RAWK as well. Take a peek at all of the cool things our community members are involved in!


Learning about RAWK and finding a perfect volunteer fit for me personally after becoming an empty nester has been the highlight of my year. - Julie Wheat

Lincoln Readers' Room

  Julie has lived in Kalamazoo for 25 years after moving back to Michigan from the west coast. Her husband Tom is a Civil Engineer and they have two kids who are super fortunate Kalamazoo Promise recipients. Their daughter is in the Nursing program at Western Michigan University and their son just finished his freshman year at the University of Michigan . Julie has  been in marketing her entire career, spending nearly 18 years at Biggs Gilmore, an awesome advertising agency downtown Kalamazoo which is now VML, and for the past three years she has been freelancing in our great community. She loves to walk her dogs, spend time outdoors in our beautiful state and she loves to read! “I primarily work at the RAWK Readers Room at Lincoln Elementary and I look forward to it every week. The kids are amazing and I love listening to them talk and telling me stories that we eventually weave into their own piece of writing. I have participated in a few of the RAWK field trips as well, and I can only say it is an incredible two hours. Everyone should witness the creative stories that a group of kids can collaboratively write in two hours.”

Julie has lived in Kalamazoo for 25 years after moving back to Michigan from the west coast. Her husband Tom is a Civil Engineer and they have two kids who are super fortunate Kalamazoo Promise recipients. Their daughter is in the Nursing program at Western Michigan University and their son just finished his freshman year at the University of Michigan . Julie has  been in marketing her entire career, spending nearly 18 years at Biggs Gilmore, an awesome advertising agency downtown Kalamazoo which is now VML, and for the past three years she has been freelancing in our great community. She loves to walk her dogs, spend time outdoors in our beautiful state and she loves to read!
“I primarily work at the RAWK Readers Room at Lincoln Elementary and I look forward to it every week. The kids are amazing and I love listening to them talk and telling me stories that we eventually weave into their own piece of writing. I have participated in a few of the RAWK field trips as well, and I can only say it is an incredible two hours. Everyone should witness the creative stories that a group of kids can collaboratively write in two hours.”

A New Chapter for RAWK

Dear RAWK families, youth, volunteers, partners, donors, collaborators, friends,

Way back in 2011, Anne and I began dreaming of RAWK. We had high hopes for what could be, and now (with hard work and unequivocal support from our community over the past 6 years) we’re living in what is as we celebrate milestones: a writing center, a storefront, a publishing center, expanding staff, growing programs and partnerships. 2018 marks the beginning of RAWK’s 7th year as an organization. We continue to dream big, to set high goals to better serve youth in our community.

It is with a grateful heart, swelling with pride and hope, that I share this news. I will be stepping away from RAWK in my role as executive director. It’s an exciting time for both me and for RAWK, as I leave to pursue opportunities as an author/illustrator, and RAWK begins a new chapter here at 802 S. Westnedge. RAWK’s transition moving beyond our co-founders began last year when Anne stepped away from RAWK. Let me assure you it is a sign of a healthy, sustainable organization, that this is happening. I keep saying we’re stepping away, and that feels misleading. Really, we’ll never step away, as Anne and I will always have the honor of being RAWK’s co-founders. Our board of directors has assembled a transition committee to ensure a seamless process as we look for someone to take over the reigns who is devoted to RAWK’s mission, vision, and place in our community.

It has been a privilege to lead such a remarkable group of people who enthusiastically show up to do the work—our board, staff and volunteers know the power and importance in valuing youth voice. Through RAWK, I have met so many inspiring people in our community, committed to literacy, youth, and equity. Anne and I often gush about how we are forever changed by this work—by knowing all of you and seeing youth voices celebrated and amplified in our community.

I am confident that equity, access, joy, and creativity will continue to be the guiding constellation for our organization. I will forever be involved with RAWK as a cheerleader, a patron, and an ambassador, not only for RAWK but for the youth we serve. Thank you for the love and support over the years. I’m looking forward to seeing what fantastic things RAWK continues to accomplish in our community.

With a heart full of gratitude, 

Emily

 
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RAWK's Summer Intern!

Being a small non-profit organization, we are often in need of help to accomplish the many tasks at hand. We are grateful to the Community Building Internship program through the Center for Civic Engagement at Kalamazoo College. This is our second year working with their program, and benefitting from the help of a summer intern. 

We're thrilled to introduce you to Destine Price, our 2017 summer intern. Working with someone who grew up in Kalamazoo and whose heart is devoted to community and voice has been fun, to say the least. To say even more, Destine is inspiring. She comes to work eager to dig in, happy to take on any and all tasks asked of her, and with an honest desire to learn. She is all about collaboration and open communication. We laugh a lot, too. This summer has been HUGE for us in many ways, and her hands and heart for the work we do (both behind the scenes and with the students we've served this summer) has been essential for us. If you see Destine around Kalamazoo, be sure to give her a high five. Grateful to work alongside such a creative soul.

We asked Destine a few questions (and of course she answered in the most poetic, beautiful Destine-kind-of-way):

How are you today?

Today I am accomplished. I rose from fluffy white sheets at 5 am sharp and transported to work within  warm, wet breezes of countryside dew. I glided into the calm stories of openness at the Reality Factory and was struck with purpose. Today I feel very overwhelmed having worked two jobs and having to prepare for the next. I am thankful however, after shifting and moving this body, I have a grounding space to recoup mentally. So today I am overwhelmingly thankful to being accomplished!

Where'd you grow up?

I grew up in Kalamazoo for most of my life, and for a short period in Pontiac,Michigan.

What do you do now?

I search. I’m currently in the process of searching for myself again in everything that I do. I find happiness in words. I find joy in music. I find peace in water. I see potential in the upcoming school year at Kalamazoo College. I find stability in the work that I do to support my health and my family’s. Right now I am putting much work into myself for positive outcomes in the near future.

Why RAWK?

Why not? Why not be a part of an organization whose mission compliments my desire to see a change within youth in our community? After reading RAWK’s mission statement and purpose, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this in some way. I have the capacity to take in so much knowledge and experience in this point of my life and I felt as if RAWK was the perfect place to begin. Expressing authentic voice holds a large space in my heart and working with RAWK steadily fills that space.

What's your role with RAWK this summer?

At RAWK I help with just about everything! I play a role in organizing, preparation, fundraising, and brainstorming. I help with coordinating workshops before they begin at times, I help to research and draft grants, and help to do needed organizing. In my eyes, I serve as a helping hand to an organization I love to be a part of everyday.

3 important words:

Authentic, Justice, Care

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I see myself doing something that I love. From going from undecided to a decided major at K, to launching projects of my own within my community. I see myself finding the passion that I have been craving and working hard to make that vision come true.

Is it really the end of the summer?

We're still basking in the glow of our RAWK READS! event last night at Bookbug—always proven to be a beautiful reflection of our summer that's filled to the brim with writing, creating, and planning. Our students sharing their work with an eager audience is integral to our core beliefs, as we're always striving to celebrate and amplify youth voices. While last night was the perfect close to our busiest summer on the books, our office is far too quiet today. We want to be congratulating each other and sharing sweet anecdotes from the night, but we're missing one person. Last night also marked the last day for Anja, our summer intern.

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Summer 2016 workshop facilitators

This summer, we are grateful for sunshine, fresh notebooks, summer reading lists, and of course, RAWK summer writing workshops! Our summer programming would not be possible without the energy, knowledge, and commitment of the RAWK facilitators. They teach the power of words and celebrate the voice of each RAWKstar. Meet them here!

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Calling THINKERS, MAKERS, DO-ERS, WRITERS ...

Our growing list of RAWK programs runs rich with opportunities for students (preschool - high school) to exercise their voices, to fall in love with words, to understand the power of writing and reading in their lives. We'd love to share more about what our Thematic Writing Workshops are all about, and how you (or your friends and neighbors) can get involved. We believe an invested community is essential for the success of all students. 

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