The stories below illuminate narratives of a few inspirational, key players across the 826 network who contribute to our mission in different ways. Written by independent researcher/evaluator, Mindy Fried, PhD, of Arbor Consulting Partners, “826 Stories” share perspectives from teachers, students, volunteers, and staff.
JENN DE LEON
TEACHER. AUTHOR. CHAMPION.
Jenn says, “I definitely would say if [826 Boston] were not involved in this. . .there’s no way I could have done it. Maybe we would’ve had a print publication, or had to go to Staples or something, but even that. The life of a teacher, it’s like, all of that sounds good in August, and by February you’re like, a flyer will do! But to have a professional book? No way!”
SLAM POET. ACTIVIST. YOUTH WRITING AMBASSADOR.
Mr. O [Koye Oyedeji, teacher at Duke Ellington School for the Arts] says, “. . . it’s through 826DC that she got that initial confidence to join us, to say ‘hey writing is something that I can do, that I really want to do.’ She'd come in and visit, but I think it was when she started working with 826DC that she crossed that divide. It was a short hallway, but a huge leap for her. 826DC helped her take that short trip across the hallway from the Visual Arts Department to the Literary Media Communications Department.”
STORYTELLER. GENTLE GIANT. CREATIVE SOUL.
Joshua Mandelbaum, the Executive Director of 826NYC, says, “[Miles] loves 826 in its most pure form. He just genuinely believes in everything that’s happening here. . . It is heartwarming to me that we consistently can bring individuals like that into the space to mentor the students and serve as an adult role model for them.”
MARISA URRUTIA GEDNEY
EDUCATOR. LEADER. MENTOR.
Joel [Arquillos, the Executive Director of 826LA and former Director of 826 National] says that Marisa has “the full package.” She is a strong manager and a mentor for those who work under her. “She believes in guiding and supporting, and she really gets a very personal connection to those she manages. She cares deeply.”