Our appreciation goes out to the October Volunteer of the Month!

Smiling female volunteerElizabeth Kert, in her own words:

I have been an 826 tutor since 2011. My first project was working with high school students at June Jordan School for Equity. The students had a wonderful teacher, Olive Mitra, and his class wrote essays about the role of myths in their lives. This 826 book project was very rewarding, and I was honored to meet my student’s families — and Dave Eggers — at a reception for the project. I am also a writer and working with these students to tell their stories was remarkable. Everyone has a story — many stories — to tell, and I loved helping these young people develop the confidence to find their own voices.

The following year I started tutoring in the after-school program at BVHM. I was inspired to join this group of tutors for several reasons. My 22-year-old son is a graduate of Buena Vista, and the school holds a special place in my heart. The school had also moved from its original site to Valencia Street, just 3 blocks from my house and across the street from Arizmendi bakery!

It has been very gratifying to work with some of the same students as they move from 3rd to 4th to 5th grade. With all of the students, there is so much growth between their September assignments and those they write in the spring. I love seeing how proud they are to present their finished chapbooks, and to read aloud to the families who attend the book launch parties.

We often don’t get to see the positive impact we have on other people. Sometimes it is very subtle, or years before such help is recognized or acknowledged. In this world of sound bytes and an over-abundance of technology, there is deep satisfaction in helping a young person to spell a word correctly, write an exciting sentence, and create an imaginative, unique story. To help them communicate their unique way of looking at the world! There is great joy and humor, even when students struggle to feel confident and move ahead.

I grew up in Southern California and graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz. I created my own major encompassing American history and literature. I also did a lot of dancing! I have an MA degree in journalism from the University of Michigan. I have worked in public relations for a community college, taught magazine writing, and written freelance articles on a range of subjects. I spent many years performing with small, Bay Area dance companies and later teaching dance to children. My focus now is on writing, and I am working on both a novel and a second memoir. Stay tuned as I hope to have a book published someday.

I am devoted to my family and my dog, Cinnamon. I love to cook, dance, read, hike, spend time at the beach, and travel. I also love attending films, dance concerts, plays, and live music. I feel lucky to live in this beautiful city!

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