Creating Heroes Stephen’s Way is a comic book shop in Lansing, Michigan that provides kids with a safe place to play games, learn to read and draw from comics, and get mentoring from enthusiastic volunteers. All profits from their comic book sales are dedicated to helping children. In this charity spotlight, I spoke with the Director of Creating Heroes Stephen’s Way, Monica Jahner.
Monica’s brother, Stephen, used to run Capital City Collectibles, a comic book and hobby game shop in Lansing, Michigan. When he passed away in 2010, the business was left in Monica’s hands. After learning about all of the work Stephen had been doing to help children in the area, she decided to carry on his philanthropic efforts. She made the decision official by reinventing Capital City Collectibles as the charity, Creating Heroes Stephen’s Way.
Creating Heroes Stephen’s Way continues to sell comic books at the back of Everybody Reads Book Store. All profits go to mentoring and other youth programs. These programs include literacy through comic books and drawing lessons through Rick & Joe’s Comics Crash Course for Kids. Creating Heroes Stephen’s Way also offers children a safe place to play games such as Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and HeroClix. Regular tournaments are also a big hit. Creating Heroes Stephen’s Way also participates in Free Comic Book Day, encourages kids to get involved in cosplay, and they even got one of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man costumes for one of their events!
Each child she is able to help is a big win for Monica, but it’s also not uncommon that she is able to help the parents through her work at the NorthWest Initiative. The NorthWest Initiative is a nonprofit dedicated to helping build and sustain healthy communities in Lansing. When Monica meets new children, sometimes she also discovers parents who need help getting back on their feet. If she can help those parents get the right experience, education, and licensing to get back into the workforce, she can help a whole family. Those wins are huge.
If you want to start a nonprofit or charity, consider the misery you have experienced in your life. “Make that your mission and save someone from the pain you’ve experienced.” Monica also advises that nonprofits are not the place to make a lot of money.
Kids are always looking for love and family. Monica would like to find more opportunities to bring kids together and keep them engaged. Expanding the literacy program, introducing new subjects, and tutoring are great ways to do this. Creating Heroes Stephen’s Way regularly holds Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and HeroClix tournaments, but they would also like to include more volunteers to help with other games.
Monica has this advice to give to donors: “Run with your passions. Put yourself out there and the energy will come back to you.” Find something you love to do and do it for a good cause. Do you like drawing, reading comics, or playing games? Creating Heroes Stephen’s Way is looking for volunteers like you. Share those interests with children. You’ll change lives.