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Spy of the Month

October's Spy

October's Spy

Spy of the Month

Spy of the Month

Agent Name

At the Snack Table

Real Name

Shawn Cabinian

Agent Name

At the Snack Table

Real Name

Shawn Cabinian

Shawn Cabinian

Shawn Cabinian

Congratulations, Spy! How does it feel?  

It feels pretty terrific with a bit of aw-shucks mixed in!


How did you first get involved at 826CHI?

Oh, it was right after a very chilly November 2016 - there miiight have been a certain election that month. 826CHI was featured on list of ways to get involved and take action following the election. Having been involved in literacy before moving to Chicago, getting involved with 826CHI was a lock.

What brought you to Chicago, and what's your favorite thing about this city?

Tax law program at Northwestern and the love of unpredictable weather. I'll probably regret saying this in January, but I think it's the deep winter, when it takes 10 minutes to put on your coats, all of us huddled beneath that one CTA heat lamp. We're all clearly freezing our bones and yet we still go about our business. Something beautiful in that.

What has been your favorite 826 experience so far?  

I could say it was watching Tasha strum the Ace Hotel crowd into awe during the 826 Day celebration last summer. But really, it's always a favorite seeing customers enjoy themselves inside the store. Gaby and Tyler do such great work curating the Secret Agent Supply with thoughtful items and notes. Also, I think about the gift wrapping paper from last December's holiday sale a lot.


What do you do when you aren't working undercover?

Usually, I'm scoping out donut stops on my long bike rides, reading anything Zadie Smith publishes, and doing tax compliance work for Northwestern.


Our top agents always have the best codenames. What’s yours?

"at the snack table"


Any words of wisdom for aspiring spies of the month?

If you're schedule doesn't allow for mid-week volunteering, consider a store shift! It's a chill way to get involved with 826CHI when your schedule allows it. Most visitors on weekends are unfamiliar with the store, so the potential for you to shine is very high. We all want to shine. And you can attend special events (did I already mention seeing Tasha?).

Our work together

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.

Our Work Together

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.  

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