Bill Poole learned about 826 Valencia from a coworker at a large national conservation. The coworker raved about the 826 experience. Bill thought, if I ever have the any free time, I want to do that.
So when he began cutting back on his professional work last year, Bill decided that the time had come to follow up on that impulse. He started by volunteering for grade-school Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips at the Pirate Store. But in the summer of 2014, he volunteered at the Exploring Words Summer Camp, and was reminded how much he enjoyed being around students of high school age. These days he concentrates much of his volunteering in programs at Mission High School, helping students put together Mission Magazine and working with them on other essay projects.
Bill grew up in New England and spent ten years as a registered nurse—working mostly with children and adolescents—and came to San Francisco in 1980 for a job at UC hospital. But as a former English major, he had always fantasized about being a writer, and after publishing a first-person essay in the San Francisco Examiner, he launched a freelance career with a concentration on medicine, nature, travel, the environment, and pretty much anything else anyone asked him to write about.
For several years in the 1990s, Bill drove around California, researching and writing stories for his Detours column in the San Francisco Chronicle magazine. In 1998, he stopped freelancing to take a job as a writer, editor, and general in-house scribe for The Trust for Public Land. He remained with the conservation group for 14 years, eventually editing their magazine, Land & People.
These days, Bill is working less, which means he can spend more time tutoring, working at his photography, and taking long walks across his adopted and ever-changing city. He lives in San Francisco with his wife of 40 years and their aging and arthritic cat. Bill appreciates the way his experience at 826 draws on the various periods of his life, putting him back in touch with young people and letting him share something of what he’s learned in his career as a writer and editor. (Although, of course, he learns as much or more from them as they do from him.)
To read about all of our featured volunteers, visit the Volunteer of the Month gallery.