Meet Joel Bean, our April Volunteer of the Month

Our Mission Bay After-School Tutoring Program has been growing by leaps and bounds, and this growth has only been possible with the support of committed volunteers like Joel Bean, our April Volunteer of the Month. Joel is a Mission Bay resident who has been showing up at our new center rain or shine to help our students. Programs Manager Karla Brundage praises his flexibility and kindness and also admires how he always find ways to solve difficult math problems. No wonder he is our April Volunteer of the Month! Keep reading to learn more about this gem of a tutor.

Meet Joel Bean, our April Volunteer of the MonthWhat is one of your favorite moments (memories, experiences, or anecdotes!) from volunteering with 826 Valencia?

The greatest moments as a volunteer with 826 Valencia come, for me, when students “catch” an idea or a concept and make it their own, incorporating it into their knowledge and understanding. This moment is often accompanied by a gasp or a quick intake of breath, and by the eyes lighting up and a smile spreading across their faces. It is a wonderful experience and one that makes volunteering with 826 a rewarding process over and over again.

What led you to become part of our volunteer community?

I had been looking for an opportunity to volunteer with an organization in our neighborhood that was working with students. Friends told me about the opening of the new Mission Bay Center, and I found that 826 Valencia’s philosophy of emphasizing writing skills and assisting with homework in a stable, controlled environment to mesh very well with my own philosophy. I met with Karla Brundage, Mission Bay Programs Manager, as she was recruiting tutors for the new center and was very impressed with her experience, enthusiasm, and dedication to the project.

Given a choice of the three, which would you choose: pirates, pufferfish, or woodland creatures? Why?

They are all great but I’d have to choose woodland creatures. Consider the varieties and variations: the clever ones (the fox), the scary ones (the bear, the cougar), the fast ones (the rabbits, the deer), the slow and steady ones (the badger, the hedgehog), and the deliberate and gentle ones (the moose).

What would we find you doing when not volunteering at 826?

My wife and I were lucky enough (or old enough) to retire several years ago, so we spend as much time as possible traveling, working in the community, enjoying music and, of course, reading and writing.

What is a piece of advice you would give a new 826 volunteer?

Not every day will be a good one. There are days when nothing seems to go right—students are tired, there are distractions, or you can’t explain an idea in a comprehensible way. Don’t be discouraged. Roll with the punches, learn from the experienced program staff, and wait for those wonderful successful days!

We’re so grateful for volunteers like Joel. And with the recent opening of our third center, we need even more folks to join our 826 family. Get involved!

Read more about our previous Volunteers of the Month.