Community Spotlight: Karen Van Kirk

Karen Van Kirk is an 826LA supporter and the subject of our latest Community Spotlight. Here’s how and why 826LA captured her attention, plus some great book recs!

How did you first get involved with 826LA?

Our son Nick introduced our family to 826LA when he did his Eagle Scout project here. I was intrigued as soon as I heard about the mission, and once I saw the energy and dedication of the staff, and the joy in the programs, I wanted to support the organization myself. And this has become even more important with the challenges facing school kids over the last year.

What was your favorite book as a child? What books did you enjoy reading with your children?

I read Little Women and the Little House on the Prairie books over and over again when I was a child. I liked the stories of resilience in the face of challenges.

We read all kinds of books with the kids, but I remember laughing out loud frequently when we read the Ivy and Bean series and the Chester stories. I could read those Chester stories out loud every day if I had a willing audience!

You’ve generously supported 826LA as a donor. What would you say to someone else who’s looking for a way to positively impact youth?

It’s tough to be a kid now, even in the best of circumstances. Everyone needs a different kind of support. So even if our donation or our volunteering only reaches one child, it’s worth the effort.

As you know, 826LA operates the Time Travel Mart. What’s one item you would take on a journey through time?

Either a smartphone, because you could use it to help people in the past or the future understand how we live now, or a snack, because I get very cranky when I am hungry.

Why is writing important?

Writing can be so powerful. It can be used in a totally personal way—to help you work out how you feel about something, for example. Or it can be public—influencing others, generating thinking and emotions, helping people see things in a new way. The discipline around writing is applicable in many other parts of life. And there is something of a life lesson in the practice of writing as well: you need to work with enough structure that you can bring others along with you, but there is also space for creativity and self-expression.

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