January 4, 2022
We’ve been lucky to welcome many new team members to 826 Boston over the past year, including several folks who believed in the work of 826 Boston so much that they found themselves going from service members/interns to permanent members of the team.
Let’s get to know two incredible 826 Boston staffers, Sabrina Diaz, 826 Boston’s Administrative Assistant, and Ariel Heim, 826 Boston’s Community Engagement Coordinator, a bit more!
What led you to 826 Boston?
Sabrina: My amazing literature professor at UMass Boston. She insisted I sign up to volunteer for 826 Boston as I was wrapping up my undergrad. I applied to be a service member and unfortunately couldn’t because I had exhausted my AmeriCorps commitment. Yet, there was a need for interns and I applied as an intern and got in. More importantly, I interned in the same elementary school I once attended as a child. I always loved working with students, but there is a special thing about working with students being a part of the 826 Boston team. The mission and their passion to serve students like me is what keeps me here.
Ariel: My love for reading, kids, and working in and around stories. I found the AmeriCorps position first, with the interest and intention of working with volunteers to help students tell stories. Through my service year, I got the opportunity to be able to become a part of the 826 Boston team permanently and work with the community and local partners to further continue that mission.
What’s one piece of writing that really resonates with you right now?
Sabrina: George Orwell’s 1984. I read this book as a freshman in college and it blew my mind. Reading this book felt so relevant to things that go on today and the idea behind the right of freedom/voice.
“Always in your stomach and skin there was a sort of protest, a feeling that you had been cheated of something that you had a right to. It was true that he had no memories of anything greatly different… Why should one feel it to be intolerable unless one has some kind of ancestral memory that things had once been different?”
Ariel: Safia Elhillo Home Is Not A Country.
“a different country a different
life the henna since faded
& the story hushed to memory
to old bits of song from oceans away
we are no longer back home
the headdress has been sold & my mother
is alone is at work is rushed
in her headscarf & blue jeans
& it hasn’t been her wedding day in years.”
What are you listening to?
Sabrina: When I am not listening to our amazing collaborative 826 Boston playlist (thanks, Jhona!), I am slowly dancing to some salsa or humming to some Alejandro Fernandez.
Doing any writing?
Sabrina: I’m currently working on my capstone for my graduate program in Special Education. When I am not writing assignments, I like to do some creative writing.
Ariel: Yes! I am working on a few manuscripts for picture books I want to write, and outlining a chapter book series.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned through your work with 826 Boston so far and how has it impacted you?
Sabrina: Expect the unexpected and always be ready for change. Knowing this and making sure I am always welcoming to change has made work more enjoyable and at the same time a learning experience (for many things.)
Ariel: It’s okay to fail, just name what that failure means and how to adapt to it, so it doesn’t happen again. Failure is something that is so ingrained in work and in society and is often the result of shame/guilt, but here I have learned that it is okay to fail. And with that failure, be ready to name it, and dissect it, so that you can adapt the process to match your own work.
Why do you think the work of 826 Boston is so important today?
Sabrina: Writing is such an important tool, not only for publications, but as an outlet for many other reasons. 826 Boston is giving students the opportunity to be who they truly are and enjoy writing the way they want to see it. It is giving them a chance to feel a part of something bigger and at the same time know that their voice is the most important piece behind all the work.
Ariel: Whenever someone asks me what my goals are for my career, I always say the same thing. To tell as many stories as I possibly can. Those stories won’t always be my own, sometimes they will be someone else’s that I have helped shape and find focus. I think of 826 Boston the same way—it’s so important for children’s stories and stories about children to come from children. Everyone’s story has a right to be heard and shared, and that is one of the foundations of this program and why it’s so important, especially because there are times where not everyone is willing to listen, and we make them.