Well, shiver me timbers

Did you know there are currently 1400+ trained tutors in the San Francisco Bay Area who are volunteering their time to help kids tell their stories?

Let me explain.

Two years ago on a trip to San Francisco, I stumbled upon a charming little shop in the Mission called, 826 Valencia – San Francisco’s Only Independent Pirate Supply Store. I was instantaneously transported onto the hull of a pirate ship – one laden with every piece of pirate paraphernalia imaginable. Naturally, it made for a very enjoyable visit and I left with a t-shirt that said: When in doubt, swab.

Two years later (last weekend to be exact), I had the privilege of experiencing the magic once again.  This time, I left with more.  I discovered that at this very Pirate Supply Store, writing classes are held for kids in the back room.  Cool, right?

Wait – it gets cooler.

Eavesdropping on these kids in the back room writing feverishly with several adults at their elbows, peaked my curiosity and prompted me to dig deeper. What I learned is something quite remarkable.

826 Valencia is actually a non-profit organization “dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their writing skills, and to helping teachers get their students excited about the literary arts”.  They offer FREE programs that are run by trained tutors.


The story and inspiration behind 826 Valencia and the Pirate Supply Store blew me away. It is best told by the co-founder himself, Dave Eggers. Take the time, it’s well worth the listen.  (You can also find an abbreviated version of it here.)

… The schools need you, the teachers need you, students and parents need you… your physical personhood… your open minds and open ears and boundless compassion sitting next to them listening and nodding and asking questions for hours at a time. Some of these kids just don’t plain know how good they are, how smart and how much they have to say. You can tell them. – Dave Eggers

So, calling all pirates, superheroes, secret agents and the like:  Let’s start the dialogue. What would it take to bring this support to my city, to your city? Imagine if we all joined forces – pooled our powers, per se – so there was one person to guide each child; to motivate, to inspire, and to meet their unique needs as they endeavored to write.  Just think what we could do…

THAT matey, is golden.


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