Volunteering with the wonderful women at SOME (So Others Might Eat) in DC
My goal is to provide at least 100 hours of free chess instruction to organizations serving those in need by the end of 2016. (Update: This has continued through 2020.) The struggle for Social Justice will always be in my blood, and I'm very passionate about utilizing chess as a medium to improve communities and bring people together. Chess is a wonderful tool for cognitive development, critical thinking, and pure enjoyment. I strongly believe that it should be available to all, regardless of ability to pay! For the past year, I have made chess my livelihood. So far I have achieved four goals: (1) spreading my love for chess through teaching, (2) securing a solid base of students that will allow me to meet at least basic sustenance needs, (3) taking an entreprenurial route that provides independence and avoids the "rat race," and (4) obtaining the National Master title. My next goals are to obtain the FIDE (World Chess Federation) Master title (ideally by the end of the year) and to make a social impact through chess. Thus, I hope to provide as many free lectures/seminars/lessons as possible to those who would not have access to my lessons otherwise. If I am to make chess my livelihood at this point in my life, then I must carry out my core values through chess. Genuine opportunity for allis a core value of mine. This is not only a Public Pledge but also an Open Invitationto provide this service to organizations in need in DC (and potentially nearby areas as well). Please let me know if you have any ideas for DC (or DC area) orgs that could use this service or help spread the word, thanks!
2018 update: I've been volunteering with the nonprofit Chess Girls DC every week as their coach, preparing them for local and national tournaments. We appeared on the news in 2017 (video below) and it was a lot of fun. The organization is really taking off, growing rapidly and providing a much needed resource for DC girls, helping to close the gender gap in the sport. Please donate to the cause here.
It turned out that there was not only a need to teach chess to girls in DC (thanks to Paul Swaney for making that connection), but also to women in transitional housing. When I reached out to SOME, with whom I had collaborated when I worked with formerly homeless folks in DC, they told me that they had a group of women in transitional housing who wanted to learn chess. I taught them at their residence off North Capitol every Sunday evening and we had so much fun (they really impressed me) until they moved to a different place in the middle of last year. (I hope to resume soon, though.) SOME also connected me with seniors in Anacostia and a I worked with them biweekly for about a year. You can donate to SOME here. I then began volunteering with Blue Star Families and ended up teaching military families on Fort Belvoir. Since 2018 I have been volunteering weekly at Francis Gregory Public Library in Southeast DC. I continue working with Chess Girls DC weekly as well, helping out at tournaments, and providing discounted lessons to multiple students in need. @chessnotes even provided me with some generous funding so that I have been able to more easily offer free 1-on-1 lessons during the pandemic.