Sofia De Jong, our Awesome Field Trip Illustrator

I volunteer at RAWK because it allows me to take a break from the stress of my jobs. I get to interact with kids and encourage their imaginations.

- Sofia D.J.

 Sofia moved to Kalamazoo in 2017, after graduating from Calvin College in Grand Rapids with her bachelors in psychology and studio art. Now she works in the domestic violence shelter at the YWCA in Kalamazoo, and as an EMT for Southwestern Community Ambulance Service down in Niles, MI; she also has an art studio in the Park Trades Center where she makes books and does illustrations. Since she grew up overseas, she has really enjoyed living in a city and being surrounded by so many opportunities. Sofia plans on going to grad school for her masters in international psychology, and hopes to one day work on policy making and advocacy to improve mental health awareness and services.  Sofia is an amazing addition to our volunteer hub, we appreciate everything she brings to the table every time she joins us! Sofia also got to illustrate during our field trip with Peace House earlier this month, creating a phenomenal piece that students adored!

Sofia moved to Kalamazoo in 2017, after graduating from Calvin College in Grand Rapids with her bachelors in psychology and studio art. Now she works in the domestic violence shelter at the YWCA in Kalamazoo, and as an EMT for Southwestern Community Ambulance Service down in Niles, MI; she also has an art studio in the Park Trades Center where she makes books and does illustrations. Since she grew up overseas, she has really enjoyed living in a city and being surrounded by so many opportunities. Sofia plans on going to grad school for her masters in international psychology, and hopes to one day work on policy making and advocacy to improve mental health awareness and services.

Sofia is an amazing addition to our volunteer hub, we appreciate everything she brings to the table every time she joins us! Sofia also got to illustrate during our field trip with Peace House earlier this month, creating a phenomenal piece that students adored!

 "The “yes and” rule makes me find creative solutions so that everyone’s ideas are heard. I especially like to sketch out the characters they come up with. Its challenging, but fun."

"The “yes and” rule makes me find creative solutions so that everyone’s ideas are heard. I especially like to sketch out the characters they come up with. Its challenging, but fun."

Colleen Richardson & Summer Drop-in Writing

The best part about volunteering at RAWK is getting to hear all of the crazy, unique, and creative ideas the students come up with. I leave every workshop with a smile on my face and and a happy heart.

-Collen Richardson

  Colleen Richardson is a student at Western Michigan University studying secondary education with majors in English and Spanish. She will be interning at Portage Central High School in the fall and cannot wait to get started with this new and exciting chapter of her life. In her free time, Colleen can be found reading pretty much anything she can get her hands on (currently a collection of Edgar Allen Poe stories and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak), or playing soccer with her friends in the park!     We had the pleasure of working with Colleen through a service-learning requirement. She facilitated one of our Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips and it went amazing!  " I started working with RAWK as a requirement for a class at WMU and I immediately fell in love." Colleen has been working with us ALL summer at our Music Mondays drop-in sessions with an enthusiastic attitude every morning. I appreciate how involved she has been this summer and how much her heart is invested in every youth she works with. It is truly an honor to work with such a beautiful and devoted individual!     "The staff, programs and students all make the RAWK experience unlike anything I have ever experienced."

Colleen Richardson is a student at Western Michigan University studying secondary education with majors in English and Spanish. She will be interning at Portage Central High School in the fall and cannot wait to get started with this new and exciting chapter of her life. In her free time, Colleen can be found reading pretty much anything she can get her hands on (currently a collection of Edgar Allen Poe stories and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak), or playing soccer with her friends in the park!

We had the pleasure of working with Colleen through a service-learning requirement. She facilitated one of our Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips and it went amazing! "I started working with RAWK as a requirement for a class at WMU and I immediately fell in love." Colleen has been working with us ALL summer at our Music Mondays drop-in sessions with an enthusiastic attitude every morning. I appreciate how involved she has been this summer and how much her heart is invested in every youth she works with. It is truly an honor to work with such a beautiful and devoted individual! 

"The staff, programs and students all make the RAWK experience unlike anything I have ever experienced."

From RAWK Student to RAWK Supporter, Foster Neve Jones

When I signed up for volunteering I didn’t know what was in store for me. Once a week, for about 3 hours, I would sit behind the counter of the storefront and serve our customers. Now that I volunteer I want to continue to be a part of the ever growing RAWK community.

- Foster Neve-Jones

 

 Foster and his dad Ben Jones

Foster and his dad Ben Jones

“I started with a summer workshop where we basically got to free write within certain parameters. I loved it. It was a way of expressing myself without the use of my emotions or my body. I could write down my thoughts and experiment with new things."

Foster has been involved with RAWK for about 5 years!  Him and his dad, Ben Jones, works at our storefront once every week with such passion and motivation to spread the word about RAWK. They are always greeting people with enthusiasm every time they walk in and are happy to tell others about all of the cute little things we sell in our storefront. We truly appreciate their involvement in the work we do here at RAWK. 

 

Audrey Negro & The Geological and Musicological Survey Co.

Handing kids a book that they helped create shows them that they don’t have to wait to be “grown-up” to be authors, illustrators, and so many other things that they have the potential and creativity to be.

- Audrey Negro

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Audrey graduated last year from Kalamazoo College and started volunteering with RAWK when we moved into our new space here in the Vine Neighborhood. Right now, she works at the Pedal Bicycle Shop and is an Intern at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center. Audrey has helped us with many of our programs and has helped hold down our storefront extensively. We are so thankful to have such a dedicated volunteer who cares about what we do as an organization and is excited to jump in and lend a hand.

“Volunteering with RAWK allows me to have great community-facing interactions while working in the storefront and leaves me impressed by the imagination of kids in Kalamazoo while helping out with field trips and workshops. I especially love that RAWK publishes student work. "

Judy Fox & Lincoln Readers' Room

I leave each session feeling invigorated.

-Judy Fox

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Judy has lived in the Kalamazoo area since 1968 and attended WMU from 1968-1976 where she met her husband. She has been married for 46 years with her husband Mike. She taught elementary students in Hartford (Van Buren County) for 36 years before retiring in 2008.

Judy works diligently and passionately with second grade students in our Readers’ Room at Lincoln Elementary. She began volunteering for us in February at our Readers’ Room, our Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trip with a third grade class from El Sol, and managed a RAWK booth at El Sol’s Elementary Literacy Night!

Judy thinks others should volunteer with RAWK because,“It’s a rewarding way to give back to the community. It’s an opportunity to offer encouragement to young people who may not realize that a focus on reading and writing empowers them to reach their goals and to achieve their dreams. It’s fun to be surrounded by enthusiastic young people.”

Judy continues to work with us and we are so thankful to have such a dedicated volunteer and community member in our midst!

Sara Wiseman, our "Behind-the-scenes RAWKstar"

We are very lucky to have volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to the work we do. From all of the support put into the forefront of our programming to the background support, all of RAWK's volunteer work never goes unnoticed! Take a look at all of the cool things our Kalamazoo community members are engaged in.

I volunteer with RAWK because I love Kalamazoo. Literacy and education in general are vital to a healthy community and I am so excited to be a small part of of an organization that supports both for our youth.

- Sara Wiseman

  Sara has been working on a team called Customer Engagement Innovations at Stryker for the past four years. Her role is to help coordinate customer visit logistics and create marketing materials (presentations, brochures, handouts, etc.). Her life is mostly defined by her passion for music (“huge concert junkie”), movies, friends/family, and travel. “Fun fact: I was a tour guide prior to my current role!” Sara’s favorite genres of writing are historical and science fiction. “I love being able to take a step back from the world and wonder what could have been or what could be if this or that aspect of society grows or fails.”Her favorite book is  “Fahrenheit 451”, which she tries to read every year. Other than that, she loves a good John Steinbeck or Stephen King book! This year for RAWK, she has helped at the storefront, created a couple of handouts and provided an extra pair of hands at our zines workshop.   

Sara has been working on a team called Customer Engagement Innovations at Stryker for the past four years. Her role is to help coordinate customer visit logistics and create marketing materials (presentations, brochures, handouts, etc.).
Her life is mostly defined by her passion for music (“huge concert junkie”), movies, friends/family, and travel. “Fun fact: I was a tour guide prior to my current role!” Sara’s favorite genres of writing are historical and science fiction. “I love being able to take a step back from the world and wonder what could have been or what could be if this or that aspect of society grows or fails.”Her favorite book is  “Fahrenheit 451”, which she tries to read every year. Other than that, she loves a good John Steinbeck or Stephen King book!
This year for RAWK, she has helped at the storefront, created a couple of handouts and provided an extra pair of hands at our zines workshop.

 

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I think it’s so cool to help a student pull the thread on their ideas and see them light up when they’ve decided where they want to take their story.

Julie Wheat & Lincoln Readers' Room

This year at RAWK has been an EXCITING experience, with ups and downs, twists and turns, 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
  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!

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.