Volunteers of the Month: August 2016

Kenta PicFrom 826LA in Mar Vista: You might notice something different about Kenta Kagan’s biography. Typically, we have Volunteer of the Month bios written in the third person, but this month we wanted to make sure we shared with you what one of our former students, now star volunteers, wrote about his journey. Kenta was a student in our English Language Learner (ELL) Camp when 826LA was in Venice, and now volunteers for ELL Camp in Mar Vista. We wanted to share his story in the best way 826LA knows how—by using his own words:

Hello 826LA parents, students, volunteers, and staff! My name is Adam Kenta Kagan and I am proud to be the 826LA Volunteer of the Month this August! Thank you very much for choosing me!

Now a little bit about myself. I am seventeen years old and am about to go into my senior year at LACES (Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies). I am half Japanese and half Caucasian. I first came into this program five years ago as an 826LA student.

Although I was born in Santa Monica, my first language is not English, it is Japanese. From the time I was born until the first grade, I couldn’t read, write, or speak in English. It got to a point where my grandparents and teachers couldn’t understand what I was trying to read, write, or say. Because I couldn’t converse in English, I mostly made Japanese friends; this limited my academic skills in the field of English as well as my social interactions. I was officially labeled at my elementary school as an ESL student up until the fifth grade. During that time, I went to various after school interventions and other programs to work at being able to communicate with other American students. It was very tough for me.

826LA was one of the few programs that was able to help me get through my challenges. Through the fun activities and rigorous writing exercises, as well as the interactions with the staff, volunteers, and students, I pulled through. I made numerous connections and broke out of my shell. I enjoyed the program so much that I came back to volunteer, and now I have been helping out this wonderful organization for two years!

Thank you so much for all of your support! I really appreciate all that 826LA has provided me.

P1110277From 826LA in Echo Park: Peter Lee loves all things 826LA, because: a) it’s totally free for kids, b) mega-educational, and c) disguised as a Time Travel Mart! He especially enjoys volunteering in the After-School Tutoring program, English Language Learners Camp, and Personal Statement workshops.

For most of his life, Peter had a pair of perfectly good arms, but then lost one, instantly making the other twice as useful. His favorite color is baltic blue, like the Scientology headquarters in Hollywood where he was born (back when it used to be a hospital). He is a writer, Disney nerd, and recovering toy collector.

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