Meet our January Volunteer of the Month: Susan Pelzer


January 2018


1. How did you first get involved with 826NYC and why did you decide to volunteer?

A good friend, who is a reader and follows Dave Eggers, suggested I look into 826 NYC. I remembered a piece in The New York Times about 826 and The Superhero Store and thinking then it was such a cool, intriguing concept. I reread that article–and was sold. I started as a volunteer in the fall of 2016. This year, you’ll still find me behind The Secret Door every Thursday, but now I am also a member of the volunteer committee. We’re a small group of volunteers from various 826 NYC programs who want to keep everyone giving their time as happy as we are.

2. What’s your favorite part of volunteering at 826NYC?

Easy, peasy: the children! There’s no one 826 student, of course. But watching the library room go from the quiet of pre-3pm to the irrepressible vitality that arrives with the rush of incoming students is exhilarating. These children, whether reserved or energetic, are genuinely happy to be in the welcoming environment of 826. Many have come to 826 for years. They feel at home, respected, and they have friends—and in some cases, tutors—they count on at 826.

3. What do you do when you’re not at 826NYC?

After making a late-in-life career switch from editor to reading specialist, I became head of an in-school learning support program at a private school, a job I held for several years. Now I’m often researching a possible education project.

4. What advice would you give a new volunteer?

Volunteering at 826 may lead you to rethink your idea of success. Having a student simply ask you for help, may be a huge step forward for that child. Or watching a child who has steadily declined to write, despite your pulling every imaginative trick from your bag, suddenly respond to a silly prompt like “I’m so strong, I can…” can be a game changer for the student. Both examples would be considered great successes at 826.

5. What are your superpowers?

Being able to catch light and laughter from children, and I hope, pass both along.  826 NYC is just the place for that power!