Meet Kenny Kruse – Our March Volunteer of the Month!

Meet Kenny Kruse - Our March Volunteer of the Month!

Share a favorite moment or experience from your time volunteering with 826 Valencia.

I love supporting the 826 Valencia staff! They are magicians when it comes to bringing creativity out of the students. I was ghostwriting for a class, and a student shared an idea for a story that was super creative and also a logistical challenge! Rather than dismiss the student’s idea, the 826 staff (Lori!) included the student’s idea and helped elicit additional ideas from the rest of the class that made the student’s idea quite successful. The student had a huge smile, knowing that her idea shaped the story for the whole class. It was a moment where I saw how validating and creative the class field trip experience can be for students.


What inspired you to join our community?

I have long been inspired by the work 826 Valencia does! I moved to the Bay Area right before the pandemic, and I was so excited to get involved. 

I worked on a summer service learning program for teenagers for six summers, and one summer, when we were living with the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, one of the students, shared a copy of an 826 Boston anthology that included his work about his experiences in Sudan and as a refugee in the US. He was so proud of his writing and couldn’t wait to share with our whole group. I am a writer and was already teaching college writing, and I wanted to get involved when I saw how awesome his and all the other students’ writing was and also how beautiful and moving the book was. 


What hobbies do you enjoy when you’re not volunteering at 826?

I am training for my first triathlon, which will be in April! I’ve recently fallen in love with open water swimming in the Bay. I love being outside and anything involving the arts.


Any advice for new 826 volunteers?

Lean in to it! Be curious. Ask questions. Allow yourself to be as creative as a student, and help facilitate their own creativity.


If you could transform into any literary creature for a day (dragon, unicorn, traveling pufferfish, etc.), what would it be and why?

I would definitely want to be a merperson. The ocean is so complex and beautiful and there is so much that we still don’t know about sea creatures and ecosystems. I would want to hang out with octopuses and whales and sea turtles and dolphins and kelp and sharks and not have to worry about the cold or microplastics or oxygen!