Sarah Esmaili is our March Volunteer of the Month!

Last month, we wrapped up this year’s Young Authors’ Book Project at June Jordan School for Equity, where we worked with a class of 10th graders to write speculative fiction. One of the standout volunteers who supported our students? None other than this month’s Volunteer of the Month: Sarah Esmaili! During her time with students, Sarah helped them write speculative fiction stories and provided support in both English and Spanish. Thank you Sarah, for going above and beyond on this project and others! As we wait for our students’ stories to be published, let’s hear more from our Volunteer of the Month!

Sarah Esmaili is our March Volunteer of the Month!What is one of your favorite moments (memories, experiences or anecdotes!) from volunteering with 826 Valencia?
There are so many! But one of my favorite types of moments was during the Young Authors Book Project. It was when students at the table would get really into their story ideas. The enthusiasm was infectious, and the table would buzz with energy. Students would work together and throw ideas into the mix. They took each other’s ideas seriously and wanted to help. I really enjoyed those moments when the students were having fun but were also serious about pursuing their ideas.


When did you first volunteer with 826 Valencia? What led you to become part of our volunteer community?
I joined in 2021. I’m a lawyer, but I love teaching, too. 826 Valencia’s mission and approach resonate with me. I believe every child has an incredible capacity for learning. It’s their superpower!

But many children face persistent societal burdens like poverty, a lack of resources, and racial and ethnic marginalization. These obstacles create disparities in educational outcomes. It’s unfair, and we can – and must – do better for children. As Lila Downs says in one of her songs, “¿Si no peleamos por los niños, que será de nosotros?”

826 Valencia helps to fight against these inequities by providing additional support to students and their hardworking and dedicated teachers. And it creates new opportunities for students, like becoming published authors. (Amazing!) Oh, and did I mention that tutoring with 826 Valencia is fun?


Given a choice of the three, which would you choose: pirates, pufferfish, or woodland creatures? Why?
That’s easy. Woodland creatures. The forest holds lots of good places to burrow with a book.


What would we find you doing when not volunteering at 826?
I love being outdoors. I enjoy running on the Sawyer Camp trail and hiking in some of the open space preserves on the Peninsula (especially Purisima). I also love going to Fort Funston beach with my family and our dog.


What is a piece of advice you would give a new 826 volunteer?
Be open to learning. Because you can learn a lot, too.


We’re celebrating 826 Valencia’s 20th Anniversary this year. What birthday wishes do you have for 826, as we look ahead to the next 20 years?
Happy birthday! Keep fighting the good fight.


Want to join Sarah as a volunteer? Register as a new volunteer here