Since 2006, Patty Hagge has volunteered with The Telling Room, a nonprofit writing center in Portland. Dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers, it focused on writers ages 6 to 18, from every walk of life, seeking to build confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences for students. Patty, a writer, has mentored students from Maine, as well as immigrant and refugee students originally from Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. She helps to provide basic materials (tables & chairs, pencils & paper) and has risen to the role of lead teacher, and most recently Writer in Residence, in both free afterschool workshops and in-school residencies. Patty has become an indispensable presence at The Telling Room, working with thousands of students over the years, helping them tell their stories.
Through the means of written word, The Telling Room
allows students to experience the world in a new, authentic, and revitalizing way, strengthening not only their own writing, but also their understanding of themselves. Students and other volunteers describe Patty as a teacher, writer, legendary den mother, and arts lover extraordinaire. Whether helping a student on their story or poem, planning a community event, or developing exciting curriculum to be used in local schools, Patty reminds others that there's always more work to do, but in a way that inspires and encourages. Emily Baer, a fellow volunteer, says that "Patty is always looking for ways to better serve the youth of Portland, reminding those around her that there is beauty and merit in pursuing the creative life."