Volunteer of the Month: Chris Eckert
January 6, 2015
As long as there’s been an 826NYC, there’s been a Chris Eckert. Chris is really an 826 renaissance man. He can tutor, he can field trip and he can sell a cape like nobody’s business. Chris is also a trivia master and can occasionally be found at trivia nights throughout the five boroughs, demolishing the morale of rival teams. As our resident master of trivia, Chris is also the power behind the throne at our annual Trivia for Cheaters event. What car bears a hood ornament called The Spirit of Ecstasy? What secretive organization has included both Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner? Only Chris knows.
1. How did you first get involved with 826NYC and why did you decide to volunteer?
I believe the first time I ever set foot in Brooklyn was to interview to be part of an abortive “online intern” program with McSweeney’s. A few years later possibly the second time I set foot in Brooklyn was for the 826NYC launch party in early 2004. A few months later I started grad school and realized the apartment I had found in Brooklyn was a few blocks from the center. I decided to volunteer in the store because I thought it was incredibly cool, and quickly got convinced to start tutoring as well and there was no turning back.
2. What’s your favorite part of volunteering at 826NYC?
My favorite part of volunteering is being consistently surprised by the students, whether it’s the left-field questions they will ask during our programs, their completely original story ideas, or just watching some of the longterm attendees grow into the young adults they are.
3. What do you do when you’re not at 826NYC?
I live in Brooklyn and write and teach. I hope to do more of both in 2015.
4. What advice would you give a new volunteer?
Do not be intimidated by any school subject you may be asked to tutor. You’re an adult, and even if algebra or the Spanish-American War stymied you as a youth, you have the Internet now. Also, run the string out as long as you feel comfortable when people drop into the store and want to know what the heck is going on.
5. What are your super powers?
I’m really good at trivia, which is not a super power as much as some sort of cognitive disorder. I have the ability to look “like I work here” pretty much everywhere I go, and am too polite to not help someone reach a tall shelf or find the section of the bookstore they need. That may qualify as a super-power.