February Volunteers of the Month

Sometimes it’s really difficult to pick just one “Volunteer of the Month.” In February, we’re honoring the fantastic team of coordinators behind our Reading All-Stars program. We sat down with Andrew Masloski, Becky Williams, Andrew Gilligan, and Kalli Krumpos to learn more about their involvement with 826DC’s Saturday literacy program at Harriet Tubman Elementary.

Sincere thanks to the ladies and gentlemen who keep our students reading every weekend, including their recently relocated cohorts, Sandra Hinderliter and Noah Drori! Your impressive commitment to 826DC allows us to reach so many more students in deep and meaningful ways.

How did you come to learn about 826DC and volunteer?

AM: I became a volunteer after the election of the president in 2008 when some of us who had already been spending Saturdays knocking on doors wanted to be able to give back to our local community.

BW: I became involved with 826DC after participating in a beautification day activity at Tubman Elementary school that was led by the Reading All-Stars coordinators. It was easy to see that the program involved a wonderful team of volunteers dedicated to supporting the students in the community. I knew instantly I wanted to be part of it!

AG: I learned about it at a volunteer fair in January 2013 (was going down on the National Mall)…826 DC had a table set up, and this seemed like a great program where I did not need to commit to times during the week, which can be tough for me with work. From that, I just emailed the head volunteer at the time, attended a training session, and then started coming consistently.

KK: I learned about 826 Valencia in an English course in college. After graduating, I was able to start volunteering and the program that fit my schedule best was Reading All-Stars.


What is your favorite part about volunteering?

AM: My favorite part about volunteering is being able to share my love of reading with the kids. It’s so critical to their success in the future and it leads to some funny conversations depending on what you’re reading!

BW: There are so many favorite parts!  It began with Allison, the student I started reading with 5 years ago, and now includes each individual student and volunteer that I get to interact with on Saturdays. Seeing the relationships that are built and the progress our students make is amazing!  My last favorite over the past couple years was working with our two superstar coordinators Sandra and Noah. They just moved to Boston, but have left a lasting impression on me, the program, and Tubman community.

AG: Seeing the kids excited about reading and the possibilities it offers. When a kid and volunteer have been reading together consistently for a while, it is great to see the kid come in excited and confident in their ability to read with someone they look up to!

KK: Volunteering with Reading All-Stars ties me to the community. I love that being a part of this program enhances a culture of learning while bringing people together. Not only does it help our volunteers meet other volunteers, it allows us to get to know the families who live in the city. I enjoy seeing the students and their families at the school during our program, but we also see each other at the grocery store and walking down the sidewalk and at the soccer field, and it’s so rewarding to be recognized as someone from RAS.


What children’s book would you most like to live inside?

AM: If I had to live inside a book it would probably be Mo Willems’s “I Am Invited To A Party”.

BW: I’d love to meet the Little Prince (in the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

AG: Good question! I would have to say Dr. Seuss… really any of his books, I am not sure how he does it, but any time a kid or you read one of his books, it makes you laugh and is always clever.

KK: I would enjoy meeting Elephant and Piggie in one of Mo Willems’ books, especially “We are In a Book!”



March lowercase Hits the Road

On Thursday, March 24th the lowercase, 826DCs monthly volunteer reading series, will hit the road, performing at the Shakespeare Theater Company’s ongoing series Happenings Happy Hours at the Harman. Come grab a drink, hear volunteer and student readings, and support members of the 826DC community.

Performances begin at 6pm in the Sidney Harman Hall, Harman Center for the Arts. Admission is free. Guests are welcome to return to the theater later in the evening to enjoy the Shakespeare Theater Company’s performance of 1984. For more information, please email volunteer@826DC.org. See you there!

Announcing Paddlestar Galactica IV

Do you enjoy contests of patience, sweat, and swagger? If so, join us for the triumphant return of Paddlestar Galactica IV: A Ping-Pong Tournament Benefiting 826DC. We need fearless heroes, fabulous fundraisers and Heisman-like athletes.


Paddlestar IV Save The Date



How It Works For the entire month of March we’ll be celebrating Paddlestar Galactica IV, with the main event on Sunday, April 3. Starting on Monday, February 29, our star athletes will gather financial support from family, friends, co-workers and Ping-Pong aficionados all to benefit the free programming of 826DC. On April 3, 2016, contenders will compete. The more money each participant raises, the more money they’ll have to “purchase” cheats on the day of the tournament.

Kick-off Event: Monday, February 29, at Comet Ping Pong (5037 Connecticut Ave NW) at 6 p.m. Participants will generate their own individual fundraising pages. We have reserved the back room and folks will be able to practice/show-off your Ping-Pong skills. We’ll also be taking official participant photos for the 826DC website.

Weekly Practice: Weekly practice will kick off on Monday, February 29 at 6 p.m. and be held Mondays in March (14, 21, 28) at 6 p.m. at Comet Ping Pong (5037 Connecticut Ave NW). Practice is not mandatory, but strongly encouraged! Delightful prizes will be distributed each week to the week’s top fundraiser and the champion of a skill-based challenge.

The Main Event: On Sunday, April 3 at 12 p.m. at U Street Music Hall. Players will compete for a first place trophy and prestige in a bracket-style competition. Prizes will also be awarded for “Best Uniform” and “Bling Pong” (for the individual who raised the most money overall). Spectators are invited to help select the winner for Best Uniform.

Cheats, You Say? All the money raised goes to 826DC, but also to your “bank”. On the day of the tournament, participants can “purchase” cheats from their “bank” to use during the tournament. A complete list of cheats can be viewed HERE.

What about teams?

Everyone who signs up to play will receive an individual fundraising page.

Participants are highly encouraged to get together for fundraising projects like dinner parties and bake sales, then split the proceeds.

On the day of the tournament, if you decide to pool your cheat money with 1-2 other participants and trade off paddles between rounds of play, that will be allowed (but not required). If you win as a team, you’ll split the prize and share the trophy. So go ahead and purchase those matching sweatbands.