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The Word On The Street Blog

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Why I Volunteer: Uncountable karma points and high fives

June 10, 2014

Today’s guest blog post comes to us courtesy of  Sara Saddington. We’re very happy that Sara is part of  the amazing volunteer team that makes the festival possible each September. We asked Sara what keeps her coming back as a volunteer, and why you should join her this year.

I haven’t missed a festival in eight years. I attended The Word On The Street and volunteered when I lived in Halifax, and I am proud to do the same here in Toronto. For one crisp autumn day, a public space is transformed into a literary playground and the atmosphere is incredible. Publishers, authors, literary critics, and readers of all kinds, all converge in one place to celebrate the value of literacy.

Reading is an essentially private act, and yet, at The Word On The Street, it becomes clear how many of us share this solitary passion. It’s a place to discover new authors, encounter new perspectives, meet your literary heroes, and just be around thousands of other people who think books are as awesome as you do. Other people who have back problems from carrying at least two books everywhere they go, who can be spotted laughing or crying over a paperback on the TTC, or who sometimes prefer sleep deprivation to closing a book at bedtime. My people. And if you’re reading this I bet they’re your people too.

As a festival volunteer last year, I spent part of the afternoon being a stage manager for a series of readings and interviews. I met some amazing authors, critics, and publishing professionals. I’ve always been a bit shy about introducing myself to thinkers I admire, and a volunteer clipboard and t-shirt helped me to get over my anxiety and participate in the conversation. I met intelligent people, listened to moving stories, hugged friends I don’t see enough, and felt proud to know that I did my part to promote a cause that I believe in.

To me, volunteering for The Word On The Street is a no-brainer. The festival is magical, and it feels so good to be a part of it. The organizers are kind, friendly, and effective. They work hard to ensure that you have the opportunity to enjoy the festival, that you will have everything you need to do the job assigned, and that you have numerous opportunities to connect with your literary community. And spending a few short hours to help an amazing festival run smoothly every year will earn you uncountable karma points and high fives.

So go make it happen! Email, and get ready to feel great about supporting literacy in our community. Just don’t forget to pack your layers, and remember to bring your backpack (you’ll be coming home with books!).

Sara Saddington is a writer and publishing professional in Toronto. It is her life’s ambition to read all the books, but she will settle for reading many of the best ones. You can find her on Twitter @SaraSaddington.