My son has been attending 826Chi / The Boring Store in Chicago, for the past five years. He will continue to attend until the cut off age, which, I believe, is 18 years old. At which time, my son will be a life-long volunteer at 826CHI. It has been here at 826CHII that my son has learned to fly !! He is now able, thanks to 826CHI and the beautiful people who work here, past and present, to write ANYTHING at the drop of hat. Whether it be peotry, documentary, fiction, comics, interviews, you name it, my son now has the ability, knowledge, and confidence to successfully complete any writing that he sets out to do. We are both very grateful and blessed to have found 826CHI when my son was a young boy. It has made all the difference for him with his school work, too. He is now able to write anything without feeling frustrated or intimidated.
I am absolutely floored by the work 826CHI does for the community. And the way they do it. Barely out of adolescence and childhood myself, I understand how difficult it is to keep a child's attention and make something interesting. 826 does this, and executes it to perfection. I've only ever been a part of their field trips, but even those are very productive and amazing. My experience this past Friday showed me how enthusiastic and engaged they get the children, and how the energy you give, you get back in tenfold. The staff here is so sweet and always willing to help you out in a bind. And the interns here are great with kids! Watching them work always astounds me, because I'm shocked that they can get to 826 by 9:30 in the morning and suddenly charge it up for the kids!
As an English teacher, I value the many efforts 826CHI takes in achieving its vision of providing creative literacy instruction and homework help to students who need it most. They make learning fun for students by fostering a friendly environment that encourages creativity, and they make volunteering a great experience by treating volunteers with respect and throwing great fundraising events. I highly recommend donating your time to helping out students in Chicago by supervising the writing table in the Boring Store, working with students in their schools, or by editing student essays with their new Virtual Tutoring program. 826CHI is easily one of the greatest non-profit organizations I've ever worked with.
826CHI is one of those amazing nonprofits that has found the perfect way to combine doing very important and much-needed work with a sense of humor and some fun. After all, what kids wants to read if they feel like it's something they have to do because the school says so? And given the way words and grammar are dying a slow death to texting, what kid is going to think it matters if they know how to write well? I've been an admirer of the way 826CHI presents the service that they have to offer for a while now, but what I like most is that 826CHI doesn't just make reading and writing fun, they make it fun with application -- meaning kids who work with 826CHI don't just read a goofy storie or write a silly paragraph that makes them giggle, but then forget about the experience by the time they get home ... kids who work with 826CHI get to have fun in a way that they can take seriously. There is still silliness and laughter, but that's not the reason that kids genuinely love going there. It's because they also are given opportunities to understand how the ability to express themselves and the ability to read about the experiences of others is the first step in learning how to collaborate and work together to make the world a better place.
826CHI is one of the most impressive organizations I have ever seen in action. The staff are some of the hardest working and enthusiastic people I have ever met with the added bonus of being funny, inventive and just plain unstoppable. The volunteers are a class by themselves in their dedication and versatility. The organization works with thousands of children each year during after school tutoring, in-school sessions, field trips to the 826CHI center itself and writing workshops on weekends. The student written publications are great reading for all ages - hilarious, surreal, touching and sometimes wise beyond the author's years - and are a tangible accomplishment for the young writers who are included. Also, using the TOWL, 826CHI has evaluated its programming and shown that what 826CHI does makes children better writers, period.
My child has been attending 826CHI for the past three years. The workshops have been wonderful for him. He has learned to become a very good writer thanks to 826CHI. His works have also been published. Furthermore, the volunteers hosting the workshops are very professional and nurturing with the students, always guiding them in doing their ultimate best. As a parent and an occasional volunteer, I have been very happy with being a part of the 826CHI community. It is one of the best opportunities that my child has ever had. My child will continue to attend workshops until he turns 18- another six years ! Lastly, the Boring store ROCKS with creative ways to earn money for the students while "showcasing" their creative writings, at the same time. THANK YOU 826! You guys have been the greatest to my family!
826 truly is a special place. On Tuesday at tutoring my student & I (after finishing his homework of course) read about the poet e.e. cummings and then he wrote a poem about the Sears Tower. It's t a l l & BIG I thought I might cry a little and Juan was just excited he got to trace it in permanent marker. When he was leaving he made fun of me for not speaking Spanish and then asked me if he could write another poem tomorrow. This is the kind of thing that makes me love this place and why I always beg to DJ their annual fund raising prom for free.
I've been volunteering at 826 for a few years, and I've enjoyed seeing kids of all ages discover their writing voice and the fun that can be found in writing. I've learned a lot myself, about life and writing, from working one on one with students during in-school visits. And my kids always look forward to the warm and creative atmosphere at 826 workshops.
A fresh immigrant arrives in Chicago in the middle of an economic crisis and realizes her work permit is useless. Lacking both network and local friends she walks into the intriguing Boring Store. Not long after she felt not only part of her community but also contributing to it. That's my story. Though being a tutor is sometimes difficult - not every kid gets excited over homework and I was recently informed by a 7 year old that my multiplication skills are outdated - it is rewarding every time and often involves laughter and always a snack. Seeing the children grow in knowledge, confidence and size is inspiring. Equally stimulating is the creative, supportive and dedicated league of volunteers. I am honestly proud to be part of that group. When my mother came over to see what I had been so enthusiastic about, I could not get her to leave, she kept raving about how they have to do this in the Netherlands and spent all her souvenir money in the shop to support the cause.
My two boys have received tutoring services at 825chi ever since we moved to Chicago three years ago. At first we were primarily motivated by the cost of the service (free) and the proximity to our boys' school. It didn't take long for us to learn that the real benefit of the program was engagement with adults who would show individual interest in the boys and their development as thinkers, as writers, and as creators. Both boys have taken pride in their written works published by 826, and they count the staff as adult friends who are both fun and challenging. The love of creativity is evident in all of the program's activities.