Anne’s 826DC Volunteering Experience

Volunteers like Anne help 826DC make magic happen every day! Anne’s longtime commitment to our After-School Writing Lab students, her writing talents as a journalist, and the enduring kindness that she brings to the writing center are all part of what makes this a truly special place.

We asked Anne to share a little bit about her volunteer experience:

How long have you been volunteering with 826DC?

“I have been an After-School Writing Lab tutor at 826DC every Wednesday afternoon for eight years. I’ve seen a long line of students grow tall—despite me asking them not to grow older—and smarter in what feels like no time at all!

“Because 826DC is in my neighborhood, it’s not a strain for me to go there. I do sometimes find myself rushed at work or too tired on some Wednesdays, and feel tempted to play hooky. However, just like when I go to the gym, I’m always game once I show up. There may be thousands of volunteers at 826 chapters across the country, but I feel unique because the students greet me with “Hi, Anne” and smiles. They seem genuinely glad to see me.”

What’s your favorite part of volunteering with us?

“One of my favorite parts of volunteering is witnessing both the students’ academic progress—seeing those brain wheels get greased and churning—and their devotion to the center and its community, which they also rightly demand from me!

“The students once chided me for missing a Wednesday session when I was out with the flu.

“‘That’s no excuse,’ they said. ‘We were here. We expected you to be here too.’”

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow! Tough audience!’”

What’s kept you coming back over all these years?

“The students are the draw, even when they test my patience.

“One student had a particularly difficult time focusing. He jittered as if he had ants in his pants! He misbehaved for weeks, until one day he suddenly stayed on task and was a perfect angel, in keeping with his name, Gabriel.

“‘What happened?’ I asked him.

“Being bad wasn’t working for me,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone. ‘I figured out it’s a lot easier to just do my work.”

“So simple. So wise. And he continued to work like that for the entire year.

“But perhaps the best comment was from one student who said, ‘I feel best when I do the right thing when no one is watching.’ Amazingly profound advice from an eight-year-old!’”


If you would like to join Anne as an 826DC volunteer at our After-School Writing Lab, in our storefront, or in any of our other programs, you can get started here.

Giving November 2018

You don’t have to wait until #GivingTuesday to make a difference! We’re excited to share that all gifts made this #GivingNovember will be matched—up to $15,000—by our generous Board of Directors.

However much you decide to give, your impact on our free writing programs will DOUBLE.

Will you help us meet our #GivingNovember Challenge?

[upgm type=’progressbar’ unit=’currency’ symbol=’$’ total=’15000′ current=’18173′ color=’#831268′]

Make a worthwhile investment in DC’s young people and donate today.

Update: We did it!

Not only did we meet this year’s #GivingNovember goal of $15,000, we actually surpassed it. The $18,173 raised by the community, paired with the Board of Director’s $15,000 match, came out to a whopping $33,173 raised!

Thank you so much for supporting us, our students, and their teachers this month and this #GivingTuesday.

Volunteering at 826DC’s Store Could Be the Best Part of your Saturday

If you’ve ever visited Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Co. on a Saturday, you’ve probably met Cedric Brown, our awesome Deputy Store Manager!

Cedric Brown, Deputy Store Manager

Here are 12 reasons why volunteering at the 826DC storefront might just be the best part of your Saturday, according to Cedric:

  1. 1. You have a reason not to make it to brunch.
  2. 2. You don’t care about college football anyway.
  3. 3. You get to hang out in the heart of DC without talking about politics.
  4. 4. You like the thought of getting some retail experience.
  5. 5. You get a quiet place to get some of your extra work done.
  6. 6. Writing fortunes for our Clairvoyant Vending Machine is the perfect procrastination activity.
  7. 7. As a volunteer, you get a rare chance to save money in DC: a 25% discount at our store.
  8. 8. You get to spend time in CoHo.
  9. 9. You can play your own (family-friendly) music.
  10. 10. You can finally realize your dream of being a magician—for 2-3 hours.
  11. 11. You can read all of 826DC’s student publications.
  12. 12. You love DC and you get to help make it a little more magical.


If you aren’t an 826DC volunteer yet, you can get started here.

If you’re already a volunteer with us on the programs side, that’s great! We’d love to have you join us in the store, too. Sign up for your first store shift and then email Sarah, our Development and Communications Manager, at She’ll make sure that someone is on site to train you.

We can’t wait to work with you! Let’s make some magic happen.




826DC’s Michelle Obama Surprise Featured on WUSA9

Michelle Obama surprised some lucky 826DC students with the opportunity to join her at her #IAmBecoming book tour stop here in Washington, DC! We’re incredibly grateful to Mrs. Obama and to the wonderful Reach Higher team for making this possible for our students.

Thank you, Lorenzo Hall and WUSA9, for shining a light on 826DC and for sharing this amazing story with our community!

Here’s the segment, in case you missed it:

Writing with Generation Hope

Families from Generation Hope, a DC nonprofit dedicated to setting up teen parents and their children for success, gathered in our writing center just before Halloween to explore self-reflective writing in a comfortable space.

The two-hour community workshop began with a pizza party. Excited toddlers, students, parents, and grandparents settled in—laughing, making small talk, and getting ready to celebrate one other and explore through writing.

Before long, we traded in pizza for pencils. While grandparents and volunteers read to and played with the youngest children, the rest of the students and their parents started in on various writing activities at stations set up around the 826DC writing center.

The activities included six-word memoirs, letters to their future selves, personal narrative writing, writing about favorite summertime activities, and writing about childhood memories. Everyone worked at their own pace, earning a sticker on their activity “passport” with every station they visited.

“The room’s atmosphere was warm in that tender way that only a community of those who truly enjoy each other’s company could be,” said Izzy Perez-Lugones, the 826DC intern who designed and facilitated the workshop’s writing activities.

“Our goal with this workshop was to foster a comfortable environment for these families to explore their writing in, and from the feedback I think we were successful. There was no rush to produce a product like a chapbook, just ample time to share, talk, and create.”

As the workshop drew to a close, we came together to share our writing and to reflect.

One mother shared that, as a child, she used to write with her own mother, and that this workshop had re-inspired her to continue that tradition.

With encouragement, a young student shared her six-word memoir: “‘Life is hard, but keep going.’”

We ended the workshop by distributing a packet of reading and writing resources for students, as well as kindergarten readiness resources, to all of the families present. That packet is also available for download here.

All of us at 826DC would like to thank Generation Hope for a truly magical afternoon!

To learn more about them and their work, you can visit their website here.