Maple Grove Volunteer Gives Back ‘One Day at a Time’
Maple Grove’s Mike Raven started volunteering after retirement in the school where his wife worked.
“She said maybe you should come over to the school and do some work,” said Raven. “It’s just evolved and evolved.”
Today he’s a fixture at Elm Creek Elementary, volunteering everywhere from the school cafeteria to the classroom to the grounds crew. He helps put up a display on kindness every year, and he also builds a four-foot-tall paper mache cartoon character to celebrate ‘I Love to Read’ month.
“It’s truly amazing, the energy he brings to the classroom,” said second grade teacher Angie Paige. “He reminds me every time he comes in that kids should have fun learning and he brings that every time.”
Raven says he enjoyed volunteering in the same building where his wife worked.
“We were a great couple. We did a lot of things together and had a lot of fun,” said Raven.
Continuing to Volunteer
Jodean Raven was diagnosed with cancer in 2020 and then faced two years of treatments. Raven was by her side, except when she sent him to school to volunteer. For Raven, it was a way to get respite.
“I didn’t stop volunteering, I just cut back. And she insisted on me getting out of her hair and letting her rest,” said Raven. “It gave me an outlet, a release too. Being a caregiver is very important but also very hard.”
Jodean Raven died on Valentine’s Day 2022, and her family misses her terribly.
“I’d give anything to have her back,” said Raven. “We just got along. We did everything together. Rarely would you see us apart for a long time.”
On the first anniversary of her death, Raven knew the perfect place to honor her would be at Elm Creek Elementary.
“It’s where she was happy,” said Raven.
He purchased a bench that will be placed outside of Jodean Raven’s classroom where she worked as an Educational Support Professional, or ESP.
“In my mind, it’s Jodean’s hall,” said Raven. “Jodean thought the world of the students she worked with.”
There’s a piece of diamond art that Jodean made with the school’s mascot, an eagle, in the hall. Family and friends were there when a memorial bench with her name was unveiled on Valentine’s Day. The bench also has a saying that Mike and Jodean used often.
“It says ‘One Day at a Time’ and that’s how Mike and Jodean faced the journey they had together, with grace and love,” said principal Elizabeth Ness. “Jodean and Mike epitomize community.”
Mike Raven spoke at the bench unveiling, talking about Jodean’s legacy for doing a job well and for volunteering. He will continue to volunteer at the school, keeping her–and his–legacy alive.
“It’s been one year. Someone recently told me, ‘grieving is kind of like picking up glitter. No matter how hard you work, you never get it all done.’ I guess that’s pretty true,” said Raven. “We’ll move it forward. We’ll move on–one day at a time.”