Congratulations, Spy! How does it feel?
How did you first get involved at 826CHI?
I was listening to "The Dead Authors Podcast" at work (a now defunct, but still great podcast where H.G. Wells [comedian Paul F. Thompkins] uses his time machine to bring back and interview dead authors; please give it a listen!) and at the end they would mention how proceeds for the show would go to 826LA. I was interested in doing some volunteering, so I started doing some research into it and found out about 826CHI. At that very moment a co-worker walked by and mentioned how she volunteered there and told me all about it. The following month I went to the orientation meeting and here I am.
What has been your favorite 826 experience so far?
I helped a student make an impromptu domino costume for a party and later on she threw a giant paper airplane at me. She told me to open it and it had a drawing of her giving a thumbs up, saying "TEAMWORK!!!". That felt good.
What do you do when you aren't working undercover?
I do comedy all over Chicago. Mostly improv, but also some theater and video stuff. I also work for Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
Our top agents always have the best codenames. What’s yours?
Wreckstad. It's kind of a nonsense name. Again, I was at work filling out the application to begin volunteering at 826CHI and I was wracking my brain for way too long on a codename. I heard a different coworker talking on the phone and always thought he had a cool last name. So I modified it to Wreckstad (wreck as in to destroy; stad, with a "T" at the end, is German for city, but I decided to drop the "T").
Any words of wisdom for aspiring spies of the month?
You're not there to teach, but to guide. But also, some times you got to follow.
Our 826 Day event on the roof of Ace Hotel Chicago was a beautiful celebration of our community from our donors to our students and everyone in between (pictured above is 826CHI supporter TASHA’s performance). Our book P.S. You Sound Like Someone I Can Trust was available in the hotel’s suites, Ace Hotel Chicago has hosted our annual love-themed print show featuring work by local artists inspired by our students writing on love, and their Senior Sales Manager, Tenasha Wilcoxon, spoke to our students in After-School Tutoring & Writing’s Speakers & Snacks series about what it’s like to work at a hotel.
The partnership between East Village Youth Program and 826CHI is a yearly collaboration to help students achieve their goal of being accepted into their college of choice and for many to be the first in their family to attend college. This fall, 826CHI staff and 12 volunteers worked with 13 high school seniors on their personal statements for college applications. The partnership continues in the Spring when 826CHI and volunteers will return to EVYP to support students as they apply for scholarships.