What CIS Volunteers are Reading in 2021

While March may be recognized as National Reading Month, it’s always reading month for Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo volunteers. Here’s what some of them are reading …

[Note: Like our last post in which CIS staff shared what they are reading, book titles link to the Indie Bookstore Finder. Should a book peek your interest, this allows you to learn more and easily obain the book from one of our fabulous independent bookstores.]

 

I am reading (recently finished):  Tecumseh and the Prophet, The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation by Peter Cozzens. Why this book?  I grew up near Battleground, Indiana, and as a youth on multiple occasions visited the Battleground memorial, which honored Willian Henry Harrison, as well as ‘Prophet’s Rock’ which was reputed to be the site of a rousing speech by Tenskwatawa (The Prophet) to his followers. Having learned the ‘traditional’ history, I was interested to read about the perspective of the Shawnee brothers. It was illuminating to say the least! The Shawnee and other tribes were pawns, allied and abandoned on multiple occasions, in the efforts by Great Britain and the nascent United States to dominate North America. Spoiler Alert:  It did not end well for the brothers and their followers.

Paul Runnels

 

I’ve been busy reading a lot of interesting books: Caste by Isabelle Wilkerson, Walk in My Combat Boots by James Patterson, Know My Name by Chanel Miller, and You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar. All very different and eye-opening in different ways!

Susan Einspahr

 

I just finished (for the second time) Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. It is a fascinating account of our history when the Osage Indians were systematically killed by whites in their Oklahoma town, circa 1921-? Highly recommended.

Karen Tinklenberg

 

Book I just finished: Skin In The Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Book I am reading: 7 Men And The Secrets Of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas.

 Chris Werme

 

I’m reading The Giver of Stars, a novel by JoJo Moyes. Set in Depression-era America, it’s based on a true story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky. A team of women delivering books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. They’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Also reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a novel by Gail Honeyman … the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes the only way to survive is to open your heart.

Holly Wohlfert

 

I just finished reading My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem – and I highly recommend it.

Ineke Way

 

I recently read The Vagabond: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s Ten-Year Road Trip by Jeff Guinn. It was informative of the culture and politics of the time.

Marti Terpsma

 

In the new year…

I highly recommend ALL of them!

Martha Beverly

 

Transient Desires by Donna Leon — An Inspector Brunetti mystery set in Venice (a series)
The Women of the Copper Country by Dorian Russell
The Fleet Street Murders by Charles Finch (a series)
A Brave Day for Harold Brown by Mishana Shot
The Soul of America by Jon Meacham
To name a few…

Jim Cupper

 

I am currently reading The Gown by Jennifer Robson. Enjoyable so far. Relating to the wedding gown worn by Princess Elizabeth when she married Prince Phillip. Women and their friendships and their backgrounds as they relate to the past history and current times in their lives.

 Nancy Laugeman

 

We’re reading A Promised Land by former President Barack Obama.

Nanette and Jack Keiser 

 

Midnight Library by Matt Haig and This is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism by Don Lemon. Also,  Darby’s (dog) Mom by Anita Lawson. I am currently reading The Innocent Classroom by Alexs Pate.

Deborah Yarbrough

Chris Werme: Giving Back and Giving Grace

CIS volunteer Chris Werme

Welcome back to the POP QUIZ! This is a regular, yet totally unexpected, feature where we ask students, parents, staff, our friends, and partners to answer a few questions about what they are learning, reading, and thinking about. Today we feature CIS volunteer and 2018 Champ recipient, Chris Werme. (We popped this quiz on him at the end of the 2017/18 school year.) If you missed the post about his 2018 Champ award, you can find it here.

Chris grew up in Portage, Michigan and earned his degree in accounting and management from Nazareth College. An employee benefits advisor at Rose Street Advisors, Chris has been a CIS volunteer since 2016, when CIS senior site coordinator at Loy Norrix High School Montrell Baker connected him to two young men.

CIS senior site coordinator Montrell Baker, DeAndre, and Chris

Chris also serves on the CIS Volunteer Leadership Advisory Council (VLAC), advising CIS on such things as volunteer recruitment and retainment.  Most recently, Chris joined the CIS work group on Engaging Male Students. As part of this all male workgroup, Chris meets monthly with other CIS volunteers, partners, staff, and community members, to review data and develop initiatives and strategies for CIS to better engage our young men and support them in academics, behavior, and school attendance.

Alright, Chris Werme: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.

Pop Quiz

You are a busy guy. Yet, you carve time out of your schedule to work with students. Why? And why CIS?

Why do I do it? You could say I felt a calling. Why CIS? A CIS newsletter ended up in my mailbox for no particular reason—I think somebody threw the newsletter in my box, probably because they know I do stuff with my church—and I happened to see a picture of O’Neal Ollie on it. We used to play basketball together. It actually had a picture of Montrell [Baker], too. At the time, I had no idea I’d eventually be working with Montrell!

Well, the newsletter turned up in my mailbox at the same time I had been giving some thinking as to, What am I going to do next? I’d done the board thing. I wanted to be boots on the ground, and work with young men.

So, I called O’Neal up and we met for lunch. I wondered aloud about volunteering and O’Neal said I should do it. So, here I am!

In addition to working directly with young men, you also serve on the CIS work group, Engaging Male Students. When it comes to working with young men, do you have a philosophy?

I believe that young men need to hear from old men how to act in certain situations. Lacking hearing from experienced, more mature men on how to handle things, they will handle things how they see fit.

To be clear, I don’t tutor or teach the young men anything. I talk with them and make sure they are achieving the goals they’ve set for themselves. I try not to make them be my goals.

…I’ve raised four children, two of them boys. I didn’t always do things right. I found I talked to my dad way more later in life than when I was a younger man. I discovered older men have real wisdom—and that wisdom is important.

What are you currently reading?

Nothing at the moment. The book that I’m looking to purchase is Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.

What are some of your favorite Kalamazoo places?

We live in Shelbyville—my wife works in Grand Rapids—and I commute to Kalamazoo for work, so I’d say that it would be the golf course. I’m looking forward to golf season.

Favorite word?

Grace.

That’s a big word.

I’m working on giving it every day.

Behind every successful person is a caring adult. Who has been your caring adult?

My dad. He obviously taught me about growing up, and most importantly, how to deal with people.

Thank you, Chris, for hanging out with us at Ask Me About My 12,000+ Kids.

Come fall, our kids will need many more volunteers like Chris. Go here to consider one of the several ways you can become a volunteer today to help the kids of tomorrow. 

What is it about Werme?

From left: CIS Board Member Steve Denenfeld, CIS Volunteer Chris Werme, Humphrey Products Chairman & CEO Bob Humphrey, and Humphrey Products President Dave Maurer.

At the 11th Annual Champs Celebration, presented by Kalsec, Chris Werme was honored with a 2018 Champ Award which was sponsored by Humphrey. CIS Board Member Steven Denenfeld presented the award.

 

Loy Norrix’s Senior CIS Site Coordinator, Montrell Baker says of this Champ: “Our young men need more men like Chris Werme who’ll step up and be there for them. He’s one of my most consistent, reliable volunteers, always here each week unless a business trip requires him to be away.”

Chris is a health benefits advisor at Rose Street Advisors. Back in 2016, when Montrell connected him to two male students, he was pleasantly surprised. “Usually,” Montrell says, “when you connect kids with a resource or support person there is a grace period. ‘I don’t know about this, Mr. Baker,’ they’ll say, shaking their heads. “In my role as site coordinator, I’m encouraging students to stick with it, to give it time. This didn’t happen with Chris. The students connected with him right away.”

So, what is it about Werme? “It’s about trust,” explains DeAndre, who has been mentored by Werme for the last year and a half. “I can talk to him about anything. He shows me I can trust him…he’s only steered me to make the right decisions.” One example of how Werme’s guidance has kept him on track? “My grades were slipping and he encouraged me to go and meet with each of my teachers after school. It never occurred to me to do something like that. I did it, and I passed my classes!”

“I put a lot of trust in Werme,” he says. “When something comes up that bothers me, I can set those concerns aside and focus on school” because he knows later in the week he can count on Werme to listen and offer sound advice. As DeAndre puts it, “Werme’s kind of old. He’s got a lot of experience built up in his bones.”

Chris Werme imparts that built-up wisdom not only with the young men he mentors, but impacts dozens more by serving on the CIS Volunteer Leadership Advisory Council, advising CIS on such things as volunteer recruitment and retainment.

Most recently, Chris joined the CIS workgroup on Engaging Male Students. As part of this all male workgroup, Chris meets monthly with other CIS volunteers, partners, staff, and community members, to review data and develop initiatives and strategies for CIS to better engage our young men and support them in academics, behavior, and school attendance.

Chris Werme, we thank you for helping kids stay in school and achieve in life.

Al Heilman congratulating Chris Werme on his Champ Award.