Last spring, Equity Education & Action Committee (EEAC) members conducted a survey of St. Clarians to determine what initiatives resonated with St. Clarians. An idea that resonated with those surveyed was the creation of a partnership between St. Clare’s and Perry Early Learning Center in the Ypsilanti School District, the school at which Debra Stevens teaches. People liked the idea of finding an additional way to engage with the community outside of our doors, and they liked the idea of finding common threads between communities that were diverse in some ways.

The Perry staff was very receptive to the idea and, when St. Luke’s in Ypsilanti heard about what we were doing, they immediately asked to join the partnership. So, the Perry Partnership is also a great way to develop a relationship with another Episcopal church.

The following Q&A section will help to explain the partnership in greater detail. It’s something that the EEAC is very excited about, and we hope you feel some of that excitement as well.

Can you provide some information about Perry Early Learning Center?
Perry ELC, located in Ypsilanti, MI has over 300 students in classes that range from Pre-K through 1st grade. The school ranks among the top 20% of elementary schools in Michigan for diversity of the student population, and the largest % of students who qualify for free lunches.

What kind of activities would the volunteers be engaged in?
Debra Stevens surveyed the Perry staff, and they were clear on their ideas of where volunteers would help the most.

  • One activity that they’d like to be able to offer on a regular basis is Popcorn Fridays. Volunteers would pop the popcorn (Perry has a lovely popcorn-making machine), bag it, and distribute it to the classrooms. This could be a monthly, every two weeks, or weekly activity, depending on the number of volunteers. This is a relatively low effort/high reward activity – the students love it. They simply haven’t had the resources to do Popcorn Fridays on a regular basis.
  • The staff would also love to have volunteers who would interact with the students in a number of ways:
    Reading buddies
    Guest readers
    Lunch buddies
    Classroom support (e.g., individual student attention, one-on-one tutoring)

Do I need any special skills to work with the children in the ways listed above?
All you really need is a love for children and a willingness to show them how valued they are. If there are special instructions for a specific activity, the teacher would provide them. So, volunteers should simply come prepared to have fun and engage with the kids, who thrive when they get extra attention.

When would the activities take place?
Obviously, the activities involving students would take place during school hours, so that would be sometime between 7:30 AM – 2:30 PM on a weekday. The particular days of the week and the times of the day would depend on a combination of teachers’ schedules for various activities and the availability of volunteers. (No one will have to sign up for a shift starting at 7:30 AM! 😊)

I’d be interested in being part of the Perry Partnership but I work during the day. Is there any way for me to be involved?
If we can make this partnership work, there will be ways to participate in special projects held during a weekend or on an occasional evening. For example, there might be a project to spruce up the Perry Playground in the spring, to host a picnic for Perry families and staff, or to provide support for an evening event, like a Friday movie night. If you’re interested in helping out but work during the day, there will be a way for you to be involved.

I’m really interested in volunteering but would like to have some additional information before signing up. Who should I contact?
Just contact Ann Putallaz (, 734-827-4443).

I want to volunteer. What’s the next step?
Just click on the this link and you will be taken to a survey that will ask for your name and email address, availability, and what volunteer tasks you are willing to do and prefer to do.

Is there anything else I need to know?
That’s really all for now. We’re hoping that we have enough volunteers to move this partnership forward. One important takeaway from the EEAC conversations with St. Clarians is that people want to engage in action. This is a perfect opportunity to share our resources – our time and attention – with a community outside our doors.

Ann Putallaz, EEAC Chair