Celebrating our October Volunteer of the Month: Kate Brock!

October can be a scary month, but here at 826, we have nothing to fear! Thanks to amazing folks like our October Volunteer of the Month, Kate Brock, we entered this month feeling positive and well supported. Kate is a champion of our work and a regular presence at the Buena Vista Horace Mann after-school program. She is patient, kind, shares her experiences with other tutors, and inspires her fellow volunteers each day. Keep reading to learn what makes this gracious volunteer such a gift to our students.

What is one of your favorite moments (memories, experiences, or anecdotes) from volunteering at 826 Valencia?

Last year I was an intern at 826, and one of my favorite memories stems from an afternoon where I worked with a student on her poetry. She read a book about Frida Kahlo before our session that day and decided to set the piece around her newfound role model. To listen to her talk about the possibility of an azure house and the strength and determination of this woman was moving. I have a number of memories similar to that. The students’ fascination with characters, real and imaginary, is awe-inspiring.
 

What led you to become part of our volunteer community?

After working three days a week last school year with our students, I couldn’t bear the thought of missing those opportunities again. I came back to volunteer because I believe that reading, but more specifically writing and composing, are positive influences on children and can encourage them to push beyond obvious and imagined boundaries to grow.
 
Do you prefer pirates or pufferfishes, and why?

I must say I prefer pufferfishes. It might have to do with the fact that, historically, they’ve caused less damage. Also, they’re kind of cute in a spiny way, like an underwater porcupine.
 
What would we find you doing when not volunteering at 826?

When I’m not volunteering at 826, I’m studying Irish myths and folklore, both past and present, and learning to speak Irish Gaelic. I’m currently preparing for a masters program at Berkeley that would allow me to study Irish Folklore and learn Modern Irish. I’m a poet and a scholar primarily.
 
What is a piece of advice you would give a new 826 volunteer?

To new volunteers, I would suggest settling in a bit and remind them to always ask questions, both to the 826 staff and the students. Our students want and need people who will be fairly consistent and sources of inspiration and encouragement in their lives. That being said, it’s necessary to get to know the students and to get to know the staff. If you feel uncomfortable, ask about the best way to handle a situation in the future. If you feel excited or observe a student’s excitement and engagement with materials, ask why something triggers that elation, that sense of pride maybe. We have a responsibility to be present and expect the best of our young authors.
 

We’re so grateful for volunteers like Kate. And with the opening of our third center (spring 2019!) we will need even more amazing people to join our family. Spread the word!
 
Read more about our previous Volunteer of the Months.