Leaders As Planters

At the 12th Annual Champs Celebration, presented by Kalsec, the Volunteer Leadership Advisory Council (VLAC) was honored with the Gulnar Husain Volunteer Award, a recognition established last year by the Husain family to honor Gulnar’s long-time contributions to Communities In Schools and the community.

Gulnar immigrated from Pakistan in 1981 and for more than 38 years, she dedicated herself to volunteer work throughout the community of Kalamazoo.

The award recognizes a CIS volunteer who emulates Gulnar’s desire to serve children with a consistent and unflinching passion. [To learn more about Gulnar, read this post, “A Good Life.”]

Gulnar Husain and Principal Socha

Arcadia Elementary School Principal Greg Socha and CIS Volunteer Services Coordinator Nicky Aiello presented the Gulnar Husain Volunteer Award, sponsored by the Gulnar Husain Legacy Fund.

Presenting the Gulnar Husain Volunteer Award to VLAC at 2019 Champs

Principal Socha: I had the honor of working with Gulnar Husain for the last six of her 14 years with CIS. As the CIS Site Coordinator at Arcadia she worked persistently, quietly, often invisibly behind the scenes for children. So too does this team of 11 CIS volunteer leaders who make up the Volunteer Leadership Advisory Council.

Meeting monthly and working closely with the CIS Volunteer Services team advising CIS on such things as volunteer recruitment and retainment, this group of volunteers has helped transform the volunteer process. Because of their collective work, the on-boarding of new volunteers is smoother and new volunteers feel more supported throughout the entire process.

In addition to their advising role, the council members have taken on additional responsibilities such as mentoring new volunteers, assisting and leading volunteer orientations, shoring up recruitment efforts by representing CIS at various recruitment opportunities, and planning volunteer events.

Nicky: The 11 VLAC members are: Jeme Baker, Chartanay Bonner, Jashaun Bottoms, Pam Dalitz, Theresa Hazard, Moises Hernandez, Dedrenna Hoskins, Rollie Morse, Richard Phillips, Howard Tejchma, and Marti Terpstra.

They have taken up this advisory work while continuing to remain committed and passionate about their own volunteer work in various CIS sites throughout the Kalamazoo Public Schools. Each of these individuals shares their gifts and time in a variety of ways. And each, in their role on the council is truly a leader. Among other things, these leaders are planters. As a collective, the Volunteer Leadership Advisory Council plants ideas and seeds of change. They help CIS serve children more effectively by helping to plant volunteers in the paths of our children. And then they help CIS figure out ways to nurture, grow, and sustain these volunteers.

Principal Socha: Gulnar Husain’s vision stretched beyond a lifetime. She was one of the best “people gardeners” I’ve known. Throughout the school day and often well into the evening she was busy planting seeds of hope, love, and justice. She would be delighted that you are receiving this special recognition.

Volunteer Leadership Advisory Council, thank you for helping kids stay in school and achieve in life.

Each volunteer received a flower pot handcrafted in Kalamazoo by Grayling Ceramics. Inscribed on the pot is a quote which reads: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

What are CIS volunteers reading in 2017?

 

National Reading Month has us wondering, what are Communities In Schools (CIS) volunteers reading? Here’s what a few of these wonderful volunteers who share their time and talents to benefit students throughout the Kalamazoo Public Schools told us. (We note what school they volunteer at within the Kalamazoo Public Schools.)

 

 

Troublemaker by Leah Remini and Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg (and often Little Blue Truck and a Llama Llama with my littles at bedtime).

Theresa Hazard, Milwood Magnet Middle School

 

I have recently finished reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and James Madison by Lynne Cheney. I am currently working through The Federalist Papers by Hamilton and Madison as well as Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville. I say ‘working through’ because these latter two are not easy reads due to somewhat archaic prose and the fact that, as a scientist, I am not a traditional reader of political history!

-Paul Runnels, Edison Environmental Science Academy

 

I just finished, Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter. It was a very interesting read about the Kennedy family. The book was about Rosemary’s disability and how the family dealt with it. Her disability eventually led the family to seek out medical advice. Unfortunately, the wrong medical advice.

-Sherry Garrett, Hillside Middle School

 

I am reading Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. It is about his unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show that began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison.

More about the book: “[A] compelling new memoir . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah’s] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother.”Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

-Nanette Keiser, King-Westwood Elementary School

 

I just finished True South:  Henry Hampton and Eyes on the Prize, the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement (2017). The book is by Jon Else, a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer who writes about both his experiences as a young man working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the South in the 1960s, and his roles in making the famous documentary Eyes on the Prize in the 1980s.

-Denise Hartsough, King-Westwood Elementary School

 

I just finished reading Margaret Verble’s Maud’s Line and Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm XI’m now reading Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s Writings on the Wall, this year’s Reading Together book with lots of special programs in Kalamazoo and an author visit coming up in March.

Like crime fiction? Read my son’s book, Dodgers, by Bill Beverly. It’s winning lots of awards and is available at local libraries and bookstores.

-Martha Beverly, Lincoln International Elementary School

 

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate, by Peter Wohlleben

-Sherry Brodock, Spring Valley Elementary School

 

I have just finished reading Simon Winchester’s Map That Changed The World, the story of William Smith and the birth of modern geology. A very interesting account of one man’s curiosity about the landscape of England and what was under it in terms of geological strata. I have just started Desert God by historical novelist Wilbur Smith.  It is a fictional story of ancient Egypt and it’s too early yet to know where it is going but the characters and historical setting are interesting.

-Bob Spradling, Woods Lake Elementary School

 

I am currently reading Inside the O’Briens and Wonder, which the fifth graders I work with turned me onto!

-Katie Weirick, Lincoln International Elementary School

 

Thank you all for sharing!

Keep checking in with us at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids as, in the weeks to come, we’ll find out what some of our CIS partners, staff and board members are reading.