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Announcing the 2020 Volunteers of the Year

April 22, 2020

At 826 Boston, we like to think of volunteers as individual puzzle pieces who each play an important role in creating the big 826 Boston picture. They serve as writing coaches, academic tutors, storytellers, and in-house illustrators anywhere from once a year, to a couple of times a week, and everything in between. We would not be able to work with close to 5,000 students a year without the help of these dedicated volunteers.

Thanks to their support, the 2019-2020 school year has been filled with many new programs and publications: 

  • We opened our sixth Writers’ Room through a joint partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers and Northeastern University. The Writers’ Room is housed in Holmes Hall on Northeastern’s campus, right next to the English Department’s Writing Center, so EMK students get a joint 826 Boston and college academic life experience every time they visit the space.
  • We continued publishing students across Writers’ Rooms and After-School Tutoring, with more publications set to be released this summer. This includes our annual Young Authors’ Book Project, a guide to Dorchester’s cultural and geographic landmarks written by students from the Lilla G. Frederick Middle School—with a foreword from U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley!
  • To date, 826 Boston has supported 4,193 students with 27,169 hours of tutoring–and we’re not stopping yet! Our team continues to provide remote individualized writing support and real-time tutoring to students across Boston Public Schools.

It is our tradition to celebrate exceptional volunteers at our annual appreciation event, Interrobang?!. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we had to cancel our in-person celebration, but we still want to virtually highlight the outstanding volunteers whose contributions rose above the crowd! These volunteers bring their own quirkiness and zeal into our spaces by engaging in thoughtful conversations with students and sharing their specialized skills in an impactful way. They are the final puzzle pieces who bring the full 826 Boston picture together!

Without further ado, we are excited to announce 826 Boston’s two 2020 Volunteer of the Year recipients and 826 Boston’s 2020 Volunteer Superlative Winners (in alphabetical order):

826 Boston’s 2020 Volunteers of the Year

Claudio Ribeiro is one of this year’s Volunteer of the Year. Claudio is a very dedicated tutor and service learner—the sheer amount of hours he has completed with 826 Boston really speaks to that! Claudio consistently goes above and beyond in After-School and Evening Tutoring in our main center, not only in the academic support he offers the students, but also in the relationships he builds with them. We often think of Claudio when discussing a potential tutor pairing for a student who may be struggling academically or emotionally. Way to go, Claudio!

Sabrina Diaz is also one of this year’s Volunteer of the Year. We honestly don’t think of Sabrina as a volunteershe’s truly a part of our Writers’ Room family. Whether it’s coordinating food for the Blanca Burgos Bilingual Writers’ Room’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Rafael Hernández School or giving students thoughtful, autonomy-providing conferences on their writing, she consistently goes above and beyond. Sabrina is an alum of the Hernández, and embodies the definition of giving back to the community. We cannot praise her, or the impact of her work, highly enough. Way to go, Sabrina!


826 Boston’s 2020 Volunteer Superlative Winners

Abby Jiminian is Most Likely To Be Complimented By A 5th grader. Students LOVE her—she is friendly, approachable, and a clear role model to all the 5th grade students she tutors at the Boston Teachers’ Union School Writers’ Room.

Antoinette Czekanski is our Most Charming Volunteer. She is an active and committed volunteer who tackles a challenge head-on in the gentlest and wisest way possible. She is such an incredible presence at the Boston International Newcomers Academy Writers’ Room each week—Thursdays wouldn’t be the same without Toni.

April Wang is the All-Around Volunteer. She is a multi-talented volunteer who is always down for proofreading, event planning, room maintenance, as well as tutoring. We love having her support in the Boston International Newcomers Academy Writers’ Room!

Beth Hester is this year’s Ms. Versatility because she is dedicated, talented, and flexible! We really appreciate her versatility and willingness to participate in our team planning and trouble-shooting at the John D. O’Bryant High School Writers’ Room.

Bill Stephenson is this year’s Calm, Cool, and Collected because he always brings such a level-headedness to the After-School Tutoring program in our main center. We are always impressed with Bill’s ability to bring a sweet calmness every week.

Claire Brislin is this year’s All Star because she comes every week without fail to both the Jeremiah E. Burke High School Writers’ Room and the After-School Tutoring program in our main center. She always has a smile on her face and a positive attitude. Her mere presence in the room makes the space brighter and warmer. 

Daven McQueen is receiving the Lightyear Award for going out of her way to be helpful and for offering to volunteer without being asked. She is hardworking, enthusiastic, and her help is really out of this world—like Buzz Lightyear. We really appreciate her help with After-School Tutoring and Evening Tutoring in our main center!

Derek Miller is our Most Earnest Volunteer. He is a present, calm, thoughtful, and dedicated After-School tutor at the Boston Teachers’ Union School Writers’ Room.

Finn Craddock is the Most Patient Volunteer. Finn has demonstrated patience, thoughtfulness, hard work, and adaptability this school year in the After-School Tutoring program in our main center. Finn is the kind of tutor that we feel comfortable pairing with any of our students because she is able to work effectively with all of them. She regularly demonstrates strong critical thinking skills, reliability, and kindness.

Haleigh Roy is the Best Jester because she always brings the MOST energy and enthusiasm to Storytelling and Bookmaking field trips! She is here rain or shine to bless us with beautiful field trip illustrations. When she’s not illustrating, she works with students to ensure they have the best possible experience on their field trip.

Jill Gallagher is our Star Supporter because she has been instrumental in the Young Authors’ Book Project—attending volunteer sessions at the school and even joining us on a field trip to the Boston Public Library and map center. We couldn’t have supported the students as much as we did without Jill!

Juan Molina is Mr. Versatility. This semester, he inspired one of the Jeremiah E. Burke High School students to begin writing a novel–hearing that really warmed our heart! He also regularly volunteers at the Rafael Hernández School and the Jeremiah E. Burke High School Writers’ Rooms, where his calm presence really keeps the students at ease.

Leonidas Acosta is the Most Compassionate Volunteer. Over the course of this year, she has been very versatile in our After-School Tutoring and Evening Tutoring programs in our main center. Leonidas has helped with things like family communications, Tutor Tips, and she has even led a debrief meeting with other volunteers. Leonidas is thoughtful and empathetic, and it shows in the strong student relationships that she has built. 

Lexi Frost is BTU Students’ Biggest Fan. She is not only a favorite tutor of many students at the Boston Teachers’ Union School Writers’ Room, but she is enthusiastic, relatable, multifaceted, and so so cool.

Lisa Pred-Sosa is the Most Likely To Teach Us A Thing Or Two. Lisa’s expertise and aura of calm is always highly appreciated in the Boston International Newcomers Academy Writers’ Roomwe could all benefit from learning a thing or two from her!

Matthew Tung is Bigfoot’s Number One Fan because he is a very enthusiastic volunteer! He bought a Bigfoot shirt after his orientation and wears it almost every shift that he’s working in the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers Writers’ Room.

Queen Wade is Most Inquisitive. While new this semester, she brings an incomparable perspective to the Boston Teachers’ Union School Writers’ Room. She is attentive, warm, and curious about students and programming. She brings expertise and a justice-focused lens, and lightens our space with her presence!

Tom Gagen is the Super Trooper. Tom embodies the growth mindset and is committed to going over and beyond his call of duty to help Boston International Newcomers Academy Writers’ Room students. Tom often stays on after his shift is over and is happy to take up more shifts to help the students. He is a trooper and inspires all of us to do our best and be our best.

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