Hats off to our April Volunteer of the Month!

Karen Wagstaffe, April Volunteer of the MonthKaren Wagstaffe is a cherished member of 826 Valencia’s development team. She’s been supporting our work for years, showing up Monday afternoons to draft grant reports and narratives, input program evaluation data, proofread, copyedit, lend ideas and insights, support the scholarship program, and offer help with whatever development-related tasks that spring up. Over the years she’s cultivated a deep working knowledge of our programs and operations and she puts it to good use every time she lends her valuable support.  She’s a true joy to work with — always bringing in treats for the staff and beautiful roses from her garden. She truly brightens our Mondays and we couldn’t do it without her. Thank you, Karen!

Karen shares her 826 experience, in her own words:
“I grew up in San Diego, went to UCSD for undergrad, and moved to San Francisco to go to law school at UC Hastings, where I met my husband Jim. After a short-lived legal career, I settled down to being a stay-at-home mom of four. That career choice meant a life that was crazy busy, at times chaotic, stressful, and/or exhausting, but mostly rich, rewarding, and a lot of fun.

About ten years ago, when our two oldest were in college, and we had a high school senior and a very independent high school sophomore, I had time to catch my breath and think about what would come next. A good friend introduced me to 826 Valencia. I started out on the Field Trip beat and even did a stint or two as Mrs. Blue, but with four kids and many years of multiple child-centric volunteer activities, I was ready for something different. I wanted a way to stay connected to 826 Valencia and contribute, and the staff and development team found a spot for me.

My very first task was addressing envelopes for a fundraising appeal (legible handwriting is a valuable commodity). In the early, all-hands-on-deck years of 826, I helped out with chapbook editing, reminder calls to volunteers, and brainstorming icebreaker activities for 100 Club parties. Now I’m more often roaming around in Excel spreadsheets, (everything I know about Excel I learned at 826 Valencia), proofreading annual reports, or helping draft an LOI, grant application, or follow-up report.

When I’m not at 826, I’m reading, gardening, seeing movies, helping Jim with a new business venture, spending time with family and friends, partaking in the abundance of cultural and culinary opportunities in San Francisco, and traveling to visit our kids, who have scattered to Los Angeles, Michigan, and New York. Also, doing lots of exercise in order to be able to keep up with two grandchildren.

I am extremely lucky to have had such a long relationship with 826. I’ve met and worked with so many, many high-quality people who are smart, creative, fun and funny, hard working, professional, and utterly dedicated to the mission of 826. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to see 826 Valencia grow from a small, quirky nonprofit to the keystone of a national organization and still maintain its dedication to our students, teachers, families, and community; its core principals; and it’s quirkiness. As is the case with most volunteers, I get much more back from 826 Valencia than I could ever contribute; 826 Valencia has enriched my life immeasurably.”

To read about all of our featured volunteers, visit the Volunteer of the Month gallery.