For my birthday in January, I requested that any gifts take the form of donations to Bay Area organizations that benefit not only writing but also their communities. San Francisco Center for the Book (my party venue), NaNoWriMo (my inspiration), Litquake (my writing community writ large), and 826 Valencia (my aspiration). 

As a thank you for the donations made by friends, I was invited by Elaina Bruna, the Development Coordinator at 826 Valencia to tour their new campus in San Francisco’s Tenderloin at 180 Golden Gate Ave.

I had the great pleasure to spend an hour or so with Elaina, talking about writing, programs, podcasts, and volunteering opportunities. Then she kindly gave me a tour of their fabulous award-winning new space which includes a treehouse and treasure-filled corners for reading and writing.

Photo by: Matthew Millman

826 Valencia’s mission and vision focus on:

1.  Transforming a young person’s relationship to writing

2.  Cultivating wonder

3.  Providing individualized attention and support to students

4.  Partnering with under-served schools and communities

(From their Strategic Plan 2015-2018) 

My hope is that in the near future I will be able to volunteer with the organization in some way, either as a tutor or behind the scenes. Because now, more than ever, teachers and students need a wider community to support them. 

You can find out more about 826 Valencia at You can also find out more information about their national chapters at