We’re excited to introduce you to our May Volunteer of the Month, Maddy Holden. Maddy is a UVM student who joined us this year while doing a national exchange semester in New York City, and as she says, “the rest is history”! She’s supported students in Write After School and Write Away Workshops. Hear more about her experience and awesome advice below:
826NYC: How did you first get involved with 826NYC, and why did you decide to volunteer?
Maddy: I came upon 826NYC when I was researching internships in New York using keywords like “creative writing,” “after-school program,” and “youth mentor.” I was already familiar with 826 because one of my friends interned at the Boston location. She spoke so highly of the organization and her time there! So you can imagine how excited I was when I found 826NYC, just in time for my Spring semester in Brooklyn. I reached out to Mandy Seiner, the Programs & Volunteer Coordinator at 826NYC, attended an orientation, got my background check from NYC DOE, and the rest is history.
826NYC: What’s your favorite part of 826NYC?
Maddy: My favorite part of 826NYC has been getting to know the kids over the course of the semester. For example, I know one of them loves unicorns and marshmallows and that I should expect these things to appear at least twice in every story they write. Another kid is an incredible drawer (their favorite subject being Minecraft), but they don’t love to write so you have to brainstorm with them to get the creative juices flowing. The last one considers word searches a collaborative effort, and will help anyone who seems to be struggling. They’re all so unique. It’s been incredibly rewarding to gain their trust and friendship and to see their creativity take them to new heights.
826NYC: What do you do when you’re not at 826NYC?
Maddy: When I’m not at 826NYC, I’m interning for the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, a performing arts center in Manhattan’s lower east side dedicated to empowering minority and underprivileged artists through poetry, jazz, theater, hip-hop, and spoken word. I also really enjoy reading and writing, but this semester has mostly been about spending time with family and friends and taking advantage of all that New York City has to offer (food, drinks, art, fun).
826NYC: What advice would you give to a new volunteer?
Maddy: Be patient not only with the kids but with yourself! It might not come naturally at first, especially if you don’t interact with kids in your everyday life. But if you show up each week, the kids will start to remember you and become more comfortable around you. Getting to know them is getting to know what they need. Over time, you will notice your contributions. You will feel like you belong, which of course, you do!
826NYC: What are your superpowers?
Maddy: I think one of my superpowers is being hyper aware of how everyone in a room might be feeling. I try to act accordingly, whether that means being more inclusive of that person, changing the topic, or addressing them directly. Although it doesn’t always feel self-benefiting, I wouldn’t change it for the world because every day I get to be the person I wish I had around.