May Volunteer of the Month: Alex Turley

This month we celebrate the many contributions and impending graduation of one of our most dedicated writing mentors. Not only has Alex been an outstanding volunteer, she’s also become a valued advocate of our programs, helping us recruit and retain volunteer support from GW community. We sat down with Alex Turley to hear more about her involvement over the past four years, and what she’s looking forward to now.

How did you first hear about 826DC? What motivated you to get involved?
“During my freshman year at the George Washington University, I joined a program called GW SMARTDC, which connects GW students with non-profit organizations that focus on education and tutoring here in Washington, D.C. I was drawn to the program because I wanted a way to learn more about D.C. and to begin to build a home for myself here. As soon as I learned about all of the amazing programs that 826DC offers, I was hooked! I love that 826DC is a place that students can learn and be as creative and quirky as they want to be! Since I joined 826DC as a volunteer four years ago, I’ve volunteered with After-School Writing Lab, field trips, off-site programs, Newspaper Club, Saturday workshops, and Teen Writing Lab.”

Favorite moment working with an 826DC student. 
“It’s difficult to pick a single favorite moment from my years of volunteering at 826DC. I think that the best part about spending so much time at 826DC is that it has allowed me to build strong relationships with the students who consistently come to site for programs like After-School Writing Lab. I’ve been able to watch these students grow up and help them develop a love for learning, reading, and writing over the years. The best moments are those when I can really connect with the student I’m working with and help them feel excited about their homework or other projects! I love doing silly activities with the students to help motivate them, like doing 25 jumping jacks or practicing their favorite dance move after we accomplish a certain amount of homework.”

What’s one unusual thing on your desk right now?
“On my desk at work, I have a beautiful woven coaster that I bought while studying abroad in Amman, Jordan during the fall of 2016. I lived in Jordan for about four months and was able to practice my Arabic and immerse myself in the Middle East while traveling around the region. I keep the coaster on my desk as a reminder of how amazing my time in Jordan was. The only downside to studying abroad during college was that I didn’t get to volunteer at 826DC during the fall of that year!”

What are you most looking forward to in this moment?
“In a little less than a week, I graduate from the George Washington University. I’ll still be in D.C. for the foreseeable future and plan to continue volunteering at 826DC as often as possible! I’m excited to start this new chapter in my life because I’ll have more time to read for fun! I’m also very excited to have more time to sleep, eat well-balanced meals, and do all of the other self-care activities that tend to fall by the wayside in college.”

Any advice for folks who are considering volunteering?
“Nowadays, it’s easy to find volunteer opportunities but it’s harder to find something that you’ll want to stick with consistently. My advice to anyone considering volunteering is to find something that you’re passionate about (that also works with your schedule!). If you can find an activity that you love, volunteering won’t feel like work- it’ll just be fun! I love supporting young students with their schoolwork as well as promoting their ability to express themselves through their writing, so 826DC is the perfect place for me to volunteer. Whether you’re interested in working with first graders or high school students on projects that range from poetry to science, 826DC has a program that can fit your interest!”