826LA at Largo
It’s easy to forget that there’s a thriving literary scene here in LA. It’s also easy to lose sight of the fact that there are people who are committed to doing good, making change and making the city a better place for the next generation. 826LA manages to combine all of these things at once.
The brainchild of hipster deity Dave Eggers, the family of non-profits now known as 826 National was originated in San Francisco as 826 Valencia, with the goal of helping kids ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills. They now have seven locations nationally, including local chapter 826LA.
Volunteers at the organization provide one-on-one after-school tutoring every day, morning field trips for students, and tutoring help in classrooms throughout LA.
Located in Venice (and soon to be in Echo Park as well), the folks at 826LA make the trek to Hollywood each month to hold a benefit called Book*Smart Nightclub at Largo, a restaurant/bar on Fairfax.
As a (ahem) somewhat low-profile volunteer, I got the email about Wednesday’s Book*Smart from Co-Director Amy Orringer. Wanting to do something to show support, I headed down to Largo for the event at around 8:45pm.
The place was about three-quarters full when 826LA Co-Director Mac Barnett took the stage. He introduced the evening’s program by reading an amazing story by an 826LA student named Eric, a kid who apparently shows up for tutoring in his pajama pants. The story told the tale of two dinosaurs, T. Rex and Greg, who in the end fought the age-old battle of good vs. evil. Not bad for a 9-year-old.