This month, we have the honor of celebrating powerhouse volunteer Jim Emerman! Jim is a former teacher and has worked for many years with Encore.org to tap into the skills and experience of older generations by connecting them with meaningful volunteer work. Since last spring, Jim has been a regular tutor in the Writers’ Room at Buena Vista Horace Mann, where he is particularly adept at meeting students where they are to provide individualized attention. Jim is also a great community builder, forging strong relationships with students and taking the lead as a mentor to newer volunteers within the program. Here’s Jim, in his own words:
“My own story begins in the turbulent 60s and 70s when I became involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement on my college campus. I was a lover of literature (still am) and majored in English. I was drawn to the idea of working with kids and after moving to San Francisco became involved with a group of friends in a progressive alternative school called the Lucy Stone (aka Snoopy Gorilla) School in the Mission.
In 1979, my wife, our three-year old daughter and I moved to LA., setting me on a different career path. That was really the end of my work directly with kids, other than raising my own three kids, and now being a grandparent, until I came to 826 last year.
My current employer, Encore.org, is a national nonprofit focused on creating ways for people of my age—Baby Boomers—to use their life experience in ways that can advance the greater good. In 2005 I created The Purpose Prize, a program recognizing social innovators over the age of 60. I now supervise the Encore Fellowships program, which has placed 1500 corporate retirees in year-long half-time roles in nonprofits around the country. In 2017 I will be launching The Encore Prize, which will support innovative ideas for connecting older adults with the needs of children and youth.
In 2015, Encore.org began preparing a major effort to mobilize a million people over the age of 50 to help kids thrive, the Generation to Generation campaign, which inspired me to return to working with kids. I first heard about 826 Valencia through the novels of its co-founder Dave Eggers, and the idea of developing a love and aptitude for writing struck me as such an important effort to help kids thrive. I’m now in my second year tutoring at BVHM. One of my personal goals is to help more people of my age find purpose at 826.
The unofficial role of older adult mentor feels so important at a time in our country’s history when children of immigrants—many of the kids at 826—face uncertainty in their lives.”
Thank you for bringing your passion and expertise to our students, Jim!
Read more about our previous Volunteers of the Month.