Cheri Stanard is the kind of person who finds her own joy by giving of herself to others. Her generous energy has been felt by the staff and learners at the Literacy Center, and we are eager to recognize her with this year’s Marshall Pitler Volunteer of the Year Award. “Cheri is one of the kindest people I know,” says Literacy Coordinator, Katherine Payne. “Her warmth and her unwavering patience positively impact the educational success and social engagement of her learners.”
Cheri began tutoring with the Literacy Center in 2009, and she has since worked alongside three different learners: Askalu Kiflesus, Noor Hakim, and Alejandra Guzman. Cheri has been dedicated to all of her learners, and has shared a special bond with each one that goes far beyond the typical tutor-learner relationship.
No example of that bond is clearer than in her relationship with Noor, a 21 year old young man from Burma. Noor has become a part of Cheri’s family, and spends time with her family at holidays and on weekends. He recently texted Cheri in the middle of the night when his first child was born: “Auntie! My Baby!” Their next “lesson” was teaching Noor the proper way to hold his infant daughter.
Cheri’s capacity to give does not end with her weekly volunteer work with the Literacy Center; she also volunteers with the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. She regularly visits “her vets” to provide conversation and companionship to those who may not otherwise get many visitors.
For Cheri, volunteering is more than just helping out a few hours a week, it is a true calling. While she loves her full-time job as a clerk at the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office, and is happy to provide support to her husband’s trucking business, she is really looking forward to the day when she can retire in order to be a full time volunteer.
And there is really no better way to summarize how we all feel about Cheri than with Noor’s comment: “She is a very good person. She has helped me very much!”.