Volunteering with Pongo


Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Pongo. Pongo relies on adults who mentor youth in deeply felt personal poetry. We're a volunteer-based organization, and we need you!

As a Pongo volunteer, you will be trained in Pongo's techniques for teaching writing to distressed teens. You will be well supervised and will work on a close-knit team of four to six people, under the direction of an experienced Pongo project leader. You will meet with your adult peers for 1 hour each week to write poetry, read poetry, create writing activities, and learn about distressed youth. But mostly, you will work for 1.5 hours each week with a wonderful, changing group of young writers. As a Pongo mentor, you will help the teens to write about their difficult experiences; and you will experience writing that is sometimes sad, but also a source of excitement, pride, and healing for the youth. Our volunteers find the work touching, enlightening, and enlivening -- and a benefit to their careers in counseling, teaching, and community service.

Each year the application process begins in late May and runs through July. You might want to contact us, even if you can't contribute now, but think you'll want to participate at some future time. Also, if we can't place you in a Pongo-run project, we might be able to place you at another writing project that Pongo supports, a Pongo-inspired project that is using the Pongo Method.

What is the process for becoming a volunteer?
  • We send out our Call for Volunteers in late May or early June each year. We interview candidates in June and July. Candidates may have to attend an orientation in August.

  • If you are reading this information in June or July, please complete a Pongo application as described on the page How to Apply.

  • If you are reading this information in August-May, please email us today and ask to be on the Pongo email list! Tell us that your particular interest is in volunteering. You will receive the next Call for Volunteers. The email address is info@pongoteenwriting.org .
What is the volunteer commitment?
  • Our projects meet weekly, from mid-Sept through April.

  • Our projects meet at specific weekday times for about three hours each week. (For example, the psychiatric hospital project meets on Monday afternoons, the juvenile detention project meets on Tuesday afternoons, and the homeless residence project meets at a time to be determined, but probably on Friday late morning to early afternoon.)

  • Volunteers must make a commitment to attending the Pongo sessions, being on time, and staying with the program until its completion.

  • Volunteers must be willing to do homework assignments, including writing their own poetry.
What is Pongo looking for in a volunteer?
  • We are looking for mature individuals who have a clear understanding of personal boundaries and an ability to adapt to institutional rules.

  • The ideal Pongo volunteer will write poetry, have education as a teacher or counselor, and have experience working with distressed youth. This is just an ideal scenario. We have volunteers who are students or are inexperienced in some areas.

So, please write to us today to apply or to join our email list. And include a note about your interest, experience, and questions for Pongo. 

Again the application is on the page How to Apply . And for a deeper understanding of the Pongo volunteer experience, please watch the in-depth report about Pongo prepared by KING5 News, and also read the essay by Ann Teplick, The Quieter We Become, the More We Are Able to Hear.