Meet our May Volunteer of the Month

We’re  happy that some things, despite the huge changes that have happened in our world, have remained comfortingly the same. One of those things is the strength, fortitude, and support of our volunteers — like our May Volunteer of the Month, Niketa. Niketa has been a strong and helpful presence at our Mission Center Sunday Tutoring for a long time, helping students tackle their homework. To hear some of Niketa’s sage advice on tutoring, and what brought her to 826, read on!

Meet our May Volunteer of the Month1. What is one of your favorite moments (memories, experiences or anecdotes!) from volunteering with 826 Valencia?

It’s very hard to choose! When I first started volunteering with 826 Valencia, I helped in the field trips for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. Their creativity and humor know no bounds. Some of my favorite titles from the stories they wrote are “Tales of the Candy Jewels in the Grape Juice Ocean” and “Out of This World with the Donut Alien Animals.”

2. What led you to become part of our volunteer community?

I moved to San Francisco in 2018. It’s my first time living on the West Coast. I volunteered as an elementary school tutor when I was in college. When I learned that 826 was nearby, I decided to get back into it and hopefully learn more about my new home.

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

I’ll go with pufferfish! They have incredible strength for pretty small creatures — the spikes, the beak, the poison. What’s not to love?

4. What would we find you doing when not you’re not volunteering at 826?

Right now, it’s a lot of cooking, reading, painting, and taking safe walks in the neighborhood. I work at a public foundation that works on freshwater policy and advocacy. When the public health emergency ebbs, I’ll hopefully get back to exploring different neighborhoods in SF and throughout the Bay Area.

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

Be kind with yourself and be open to continuously learning from the students and 826 staff. Value the process of working closely together with students as much as, if not more than, you value any outcomes. Be brave and share some of your own vulnerabilities, and you’ll be welcomed as a student’s co-conspirator — the highest praise.

Thank you, Niketa, for supporting our students in so many wonderful ways!