Become a Volunteer Ambassador

Have you met our Volunteer Ambassadors yet? If you’re a longtime volunteer, you probably have! And if you’re just getting started, these are the folks to know.

The Ambassadors are volunteers in our programs who wear a lot of hats. In addition to tutoring and supporting our students, they’re there to welcome and get to know new volunteers and share what’s awesome, challenging, and rewarding about this work.

Keep reading to get to know these fine folks, and keep an eye out for them the next time you’re volunteering! And if you’re interested in becoming an Ambassador yourself, reach out to our Volunteer Engagement Director Anton Timms to learn more.

Susan Susan Birnbaum, Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips
“I’ve been a volunteer for years, seeking out organizations that focus on youth, creativity, and education. I am involved in several nonprofits that support projects created by students, nurturing their ideas and imaginations in the process. These opportunities encourage and validate original thinking and creativity. 826 Valencia is at the top of the list for me, for promoting these crucial aspects through a variety of amazing and well-thought-out programs.”
Nadia ChkinefNadia Chkinef, Podcasting Field Trips
“I volunteer with 826 because their community of volunteers and leaders truly embody genuine compassion and inclusion for every single student who walks through their door. It’s such a privilege to know that you’re creating a safe and welcoming space for students to feel comfortable sharing their most intimate and treasured moments.”
MaggieMaggie Grainger, Mission Center Workshops
Here is Maggie’s advice to new tutors: “Guide the students, but don’t spoon-feed them. It’s amazing what they can come up with on their own when you give them room to fly. Enjoy your time, stay present, and the kids might teach you a thing or two along the way as well.”
Paul Heller Paul Heller, Tenderloin Workshops
“After retiring from a 35-year career teaching at both public and private schools, I wanted to stay active and assist children who are under-resourced and help them express themselves in English. That’s why I began volunteering for 826. I currently volunteer in the Downtown High School’s ACT program where my experience as a theater maker has been useful in helping the students prepare scenes and monologues for their upcoming performances.”
Matt Krieger Matt Krieger, Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips
“It’s very gratifying to be part of a program with such solid evidence of its effectiveness. And it’s so much fun!”
Kavitha Kavitha Lotun, Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips
“I’ve been enjoying volunteering at a variety of programs such as the In-Schools and the Podcasting Field Trips. Having been both a volunteer and a program coordinator means I have the utmost gratitude and respect for our volunteers who are the lifeblood of everything we do at 826. I am proud to continue working with the Volunteer Engagement and Support Team and our Ambassadors to ensure each volunteer is supported as they begin their 826 adventures.”
Henry Roark Henry Roark, Sunday Drop-in Tutoring
“I think writing is one of the most powerful mediums to express yourself and communicate throughout life, and I want to empower everyone to do so. I took a course [at college] that helped me feel more empowered with my writing, and I hope to help others feel the same way through volunteering at 826.”
donna williamsonDonna Williamson, Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips
“I enjoy contributing to 826 Valencia and helping the students from underserved schools. I get so much satisfaction out of dedicating time to a group of students that would not otherwise have those extra activities and experiences in their school. It is also very satisfying to reinvent yourself and exercise skills that you may not regularly get to use.”
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