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cspWe love our volunteers at SCBWI and couldn’t exist without them! “Volunteer Spotlight” is a great way to get to know them for yourself and learn more about what they do – and how you can volunteer. Now meet Chester Perryess, Central/Coastal CA regional Schlepper and Minion:




narratingI’m an introvert. I’m happiest at home making those characters come to life, or sequestered in my “shedio” narrating audiobooks, or researching etymologies for Wordmonger, my blog about words. Still, I volunteer out in the Big Scary World and encourage my fellow introverts to consider doing the same.

SCBWI volunteers – whether happiest onstage or backstage – can always find a comfortable niche. In our Central/Coastal CA region, Joan Bransfield Graham does what she loves as our historian/photographer, Lynn Becker coordinates our scholarship program and runs our Listserv Book Talk, Rebecca Langston-George keeps unruly ducks in a row and wows us with hysterical games, and more than a dozen other great people do other great things.

I mostly schlep.

longshotsThough I learn a lot as a participant at workshops, retreats, and our region’s annual Writers’ Day, I’m a happier camper when I’m mostly there in a support role. The bookseller needs that extra box of books from her car? A mobility-impaired member needs a hand up the stairs? All those tables need to be on the other side of the room? The guys need to be booted out of the men’s room to shorten the line for the women’s room? That’s my niche.

As an introvert, I function adequately in the Big Group or on the Big Stage, but my “home” is in smaller scale activities: maybe one-on-one, or a small group, or being that invisible person who figures out how to keep the mic stand from going flaccid. I like having small, helpful purposes. Fulfilling those purposes gives me a comfortable and purposeful place to inhabit (in lieu of the introvert’s natural habitat along the baseboards of the giant meeting hall).

InShortI’m absolutely certain I’ve attended a lot more SCBWI events due to my volunteer role as support staff. I’ve never really thought of it until writing this, but the odds of someone appreciating a hand up the stairs or a shorter line to the restroom are much greater than the odds of some editor/agent falling in love with my latest WIP (work in progress).

I’m not exactly sure when I joined up as one of the amazing Alexis O’Neill’s volunteer minions – maybe fifteen years ago? Since then, the marvelous Mary Ann Fraser has jumped in as RA (regional advisor) and in an attempt to recognize all four counties in our region in 40 characters or fewer, we’ve changed our region’s name to Central-Coastal California – a place with varied and multiple volunteer niches just waiting to be discovered.



CS Perryess is a regional Schlepper and Minion, YA writer, audiobook narrator, and blogger at Wordmonger (a blog about words).


Learn more about volunteering with SCBWI, all the great perks and freebies it entails, and what positions are open. We need everything from graphic designers to social media coordinators to event hosts. If you want to give back, we’ll find a place for you!

Los Angeles Region

Central/Coastal California Region

SoCal Region (email for info)