Nancy Ware, Volunteer 826 Valencia
It feels like a cliche to say this, but I will anyway: it’s hard to watch the news or read the newspaper without getting depressed by the hatred and violence that seems so prevalent today. The other day I was feeling particularly down by world events, when I jumped on a call with Nancy Ware. And my mood significantly brightened.
Nancy reminded me that each of us has the ability to positively impact the world around us, in our own unique way. And her excitement and enthusiasm, for the volunteer work she is doing, is infectious.
Nancy is a retired middle school teacher of 35 years. For her, teaching wasn’t just a profession, it was a calling. And 826 Valencia, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that encourages under-resourced students to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills, is exactly the right nonprofit for her skills and interests.
Nancy said that volunteering with 826 is the highlight of her week and that she gets so much more than she is giving. While she takes on a variety of roles, her favorite is a mentor for the Young Authors’ Book Project. She brought tears to my eyes when she recalled a particularly motivating moment for her. One year, she was asked to help a young woman craft a 10-page typed essay. At their first meeting, the teen said she had already finished her story in a mere 4 sentences:
Nancy told how through questioning, she was able to draw out greater details to inspire this young writer to tell her story. At the end of the year, 826 Valencia publishes the writings of their young authors, complete with a publishing party.
It was with such passion and conviction that Nancy portrayed, not just how important it is to teach young people how to express themselves, but how empowering it feels for these students to be published authors.
826 Valencia is the founding chapter of what is now a national non-profit called 826 National, with chapters in Ann Arbor/Detroit, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC. 826 is also in the process of expanding 826 Valencia to a second San Francisco location -- in the Tenderloin.
I want to thank Nancy for inspiring me. And as we kick off 2016 with new energy around giving, I encourage you all to think about how you can give of your own time and talents. To learn more about the mission of 826 Valencia, see here. Or to find your local chapter, visit 826 National. If you need help aligning your own passion and interests with a nonprofit in your area, email Give Greatly.