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826 Seattle celebrates its newest book, White House award

(Editor’s Note: Sorry for not posting this sooner; I’ve been sick all week.)
Last Sunday, Greenwood’s nonprofit writing and tutoring center 826 Seattle was packed with authors both well-known and maybe soon-to-be-known, and well wishers, as it celebrated its 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award and the release of its 2012 edition of the anthology “What to Read in the Rain.”

It was a packed house at 826 Seattle and its fundraising front, the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co., located at 8414 Greenwood Ave. N. Photos by Victoria VanBruinisse.
Executive Director Teri Hein said the anthology is the continuation of a project they started a year ago. The first edition of “What to Read in the Rain” can be found in downtown Seattle hotels such as the Hilton, Madison Renaissance, Grand Hyatt, Olive 8, Alexis and Pan Pacific.
Hotels buy the books by the case at a discount, then place them in guest rooms. Guests can read the book during their stay and leave it, or take it with them and get charged on their bill, just like an honor bar item.
“It’s been a fantastic fundraiser for us,” Hein said in a phone interview prior to the party.
Well-known authors such as national 826 founder Dave Eggers sat side by side with young student authors, signing copies at last weekend’s party.

826 founder Dave Eggers, right, signs copies of “What to Read in the Rain.”
Hein and Ballard High School student Meron Kasahun talked about their experience three weeks ago of receiving a national award from First Lady Michelle Obama.
“I have to tell you, it was really awesome,” Hein said. “And it was fantastic to take this student of ours, Meron, with us. She’s been with us since eighth grade and now she’s a senior. She represents the kind of kids we work with here. And Michelle Obama is just extremely accessible. I feel like I would really like her, and she would like me. I was really proud to be able to represent 826.”

Executive Director Teri Hein and Ballard High student Meron Kasahun show off the official White House portrait of them and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Hein said 826 Seattle’s seven years in Greenwood have been a perfect fit, and surrounding businesses have been very supportive. Even their landlord has made improvements to the space above and beyond what would be expected, and has even donated financially.
“I love Greenwood. I love the welcome we received in Greenwood seven years ago when we were looking for a place to be,” she said. “We just felt like this was the place for us.”
And 826 has been expanding, going on field trips and bringing students up from the south end of Seattle. The program is also looking at expanding into other neighborhoods, but Hein said 826 would keep its “world headquarters” right here in Greenwood.
“It really is about creating a place where kids and adults are in this together,” she explained. “We really work hard to create an atmosphere where they want to be. Because, really, everybody wants to learn.”
Update Monday, Nov. 28: Check out the article and photo on Meron Kasahun in this month’s issue of Seattle Met.