We are excited to announce Noah Parks as the May Volunteer of the Month. Read how Noah has found the silver linings of virtual tutoring and helping our young authors continue to write their paths forward! Not to mention his handy passive yet helpful superpower.
1. How did you first get involved with 826NYC and why did you decide to volunteer?
I was pivoting careers from a late-night lifestyle of a bartender to a public school teacher. The problem was, I had no experience at all. I’d never substitute taught, been a student teacher, or taken an education class but, I knew I wanted to help kids learn and enjoy life through learning. I sought out programs in New York that have similar goals and found one that had been around the block since I moved to Brooklyn: 826NYC. I submitted to their thorough vetting process to volunteer because I wanted to help and to know what happens behind the secret door! I’d been into the “Superhero Store” many times to peruse. Now, I would go there to help kids write their poems, tell their stories, and discover new ways to express themselves.
2. What’s your favorite part of 826NYC?
After school tutoring in Williamsburg. It is a jumble of emotions: gratitude, humility, and joy. I’m challenged by the kids that need help but, the reward is always worth the effort. The greatest gift was a student identifying me as, “My tutor!”. The Covid-19 pandemic and our virtual workshops have their silver linings too. I enjoy the enthusiastic work kids put into even the simplest prompts. Their positivity is the medicine many of us need right now.
3. What do you do when you’re not at 826NYC?
I’m a housing activist, working with Housing Justice for All. I am calling folks to help them find resources and mutual aid programs to provide the basics. We also call on public officials to address ongoing housing insecurity in New York City. I believe the quality of society I live in is determined by how we treat the less fortunate.
I’m also in love with podcasts. Usually politics or economics, but currently I’ve been listening to “the Dream”. It’s a documentary of pyramid schemes in America and their modern successors: Mid-level Marketing.
4. What are your superpowers?
I’m immune to boredom. No matter where or when boredom tries to strike: I will read a book/comic, I’ll even read the label on stuff in cupboards, tap my fingers on the table to an amazing song, get up and stretch, sing a unique song, write a poem, draw a funny cartoon, yada yada yada. My immunity is a passive superpower that empowers others around me to be free of boredom as well.
5. What advice would you give to a new volunteer?
Hit the ground running. 826NYC provides so many ways to volunteer it’s hard to pick just one. I suggest picking all of them then, narrowing it down. I felt like I’d prefer the tutoring and workshops so I did that. Then, I did a field trip that was different but the result was the same: kids engaged in learning that was fun for everyone. Truly, the worst thing that could happen is that you have a great story to tell.
You can find Noah on all social media platforms including Twitter and Instagram at @noahwparks and @NoahWesleyParks on Facebook!