While my work schedule doesn't allow me time to volunteer, I am proud to be a donor to 826 DC. Creative writing and self-expression are key for young minds to tap into their talents and dreams, and 826 DC provides an unparalleled service to kids in this city that frequently feel like they don't have a voice, and that no one wants to hear it. 826DC encourages students to speak their truth and to spare what will hopefully be a lifelong affair with words and storytelling.
I've had a great experience in my 2+ years' volunteering for the Washington, DC branch of 826. I was able to begin when the branch first opened in 2010 and have been coming in once or twice a month ever since to work with students in the after school tutoring program. The staff is very welcoming and personable and the kids always amaze me with their creativity. It has been great seeing how far the students have come in such a short period of time. I've also enjoyed seeing the impact 826DC has made in the larger literary and non-profit community of DC. Everywhere I go in the area I find people who have heard about 826DC and the good work they are doing through their after school tutoring sessions, in-house field trips, and outreach efforts to local elementary schools. It's hard to imagine the city without them!
One sunny Saturday in early October, I volunteered at Personal Statement Weekend at 826 Valencia, in San Francisco. During the training beforehand, the volunteer coordinator told us we'd have two hours to work one-on-one with a high school student on his or her college entrance essay. I had to stop myself from asking, "Isn't that a little long?" I'm glad I did, because the two hours flew by -- and we ended up working for longer. I haven't had an experience so rewarding, creative, challenging, and inspiring in a long time. Tutoring made me seriously reconsider what I want to do with my life. It made me realize that I want to find a job that makes me feel the way tutoring at 826 makes me feel -- like the world can be a good, happy place, and that I can be a contributor to those things.
826 National is a tremendous network of nonprofits. I've volunteered at three different centers, and not only is the impact on the kids tremendous - you can see the confidence instilled in them from the one-on-one volunteer attention and from the emphasis on publishing their writing - the staff is excellent as well. They go out of their way to make sure volunteers are appreciated, and they create a fun and supportive atmosphere that makes you want to return, week after week, year after year.