What do a Philanthropist, Navy Seal, and College Student all have in Common?

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One has helped countless students earn credentials in order to fulfill their career dreams.  Another has risked his life to keep our country safe and preserve freedom.  A third was inspired by KidWorks to pursue a fit and healthy lifestyle—and then share his passion with others.

You’ll have a chance to be uplifted as you hear from each of these three at KidWorks’ 11th annual Foundation for Success Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Santa Ana.

David A. Pyle, is a philanthropist, Founder/Chief Executive Officer of American Career College and shareholder of West Coast University.  At the luncheon, he will be honored with our prestigious 2017 Dan Donahue Leadership Award. 

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“This very special award recognizes David’s fervent support for KidWorks’ youth and families,” said David Benavides, KidWorks’ Executive Director.  “For decades, David has been a leader and innovator in the private, postsecondary education community, and he is as passionate about the community as he is about supporting health care and educational programs that aid underserved children and families.”

“I have been a supporter of KidWorks because these young men and woman are being developed as our future leaders and will be making a difference in our communities,” David Pyle said.  “Seeing firsthand the interaction of the kids, family members, staff and volunteers as they grow is inspiring and something I am proud to be a part of.”

Chad Williams is our keynote speaker.  He is author of the bestselling book, “SEAL of God.” He shares his journey through the grueling Naval Ops training, illustrating the SEAL mindset and ethos that revolve around leadership, teamwork, integrity, safety, mental toughness, discipline, overcoming adversity and grit. 

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Chad entered the military's most difficult and grueling training known as BUD/S. As one of 13 out of a class of 173 trainees, Chad climbed the mountain and earned his Trident, which signifies he had become a Navy SEAL.

According to his website, “Serving his country proudly through multiple deployments on SEAL Teams One and Seven, Chad continued to hone the technical skill, tactical proficiency and attention to detail that our nation's best warriors adhere to.  In an ironic final operation in Iraq, Chad's shares the story of how his SEAL Team was set up on a premeditated ambush similar to the location and scenario that took the life of his mentor Scott Helvenston.  But on that occasion Chad and his Team were victorious, overcoming the enemy and odds set against them.”

Alfredo Padilla is one of KidWorks many amazing student success stories.  He is a recent California State University, Northridge graduate, where he earned his degree in kinesiology. 

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Alfredo was part of KidWorks programs from age 11 through high school, and credits our team with helping him to learn healthy eating and exercise habits.  Alfredo turned this passion towards helping others, including serving on the KidWorks’ staff during high school and college.

He organized KidWorks-sponsored fitness and Zumba classes for the moms in the community, managed our gym, led weight training classes for the youth, coached our baseball team and helped manage and train the KidWorks running club for youth and parents. 

This event sells out every year so purchase your ticket early so you don't miss out! 

St. Andrew’s ‘serves up’ special blessings for KidWorks’ students

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St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Newport Beach truly reflects the “servant’s heart” described in the Bible.

Longtime and dedicated supporters of KidWorks, the congregation came together once again in late September as part of St. Andrew’s “Serve Day.”  During this event, 18 volunteers—spanning in age from eight to 60—spent about 100 cumulative hours cleaning, painting, repairing and beautifying our Dan Donahue Center.

Our licensed preschool particularly benefitted from the sprucing up.  A bulletin board was added, the playground pathway was replaced and a mural was repainted.

The St. Andrew’s team also prepared care packages for the KidWorks graduates now attending colleges and universities.

“St. Andrew’s continues to enjoy a multi-faceted ministry partnership with KidWorks,” says Kyle Team, a church leadership elder and member of our board of directors.  “The importance of Serve Day is to send our church members out of the pews and into our communities to become the hands and feet of Jesus.  Not only do the nonprofit partners benefit, but our members experience the joy of true selfless service.”

KidWorks deeply thanks the church volunteers, Kyle and the church leaders who worked with her on the event, Dan Wendell, Minister of Missions and Outreach and Julie Wood, Minister of Missions

Chad Williams Flexes His Muscles For KidWorks

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Days before Chad Williams was to report to military duty in Great Lakes, Illinois, he turned on a television and was greeted with the horrifying images of his mentor, US Navy SEAL Scott Helvenston, being brutally murdered in a premeditated ambush on the roads of Fallujah, Iraq. Steeled in his resolve, Chad followed in Scott’s footsteps and completed the US military’s most difficult and grueling training to become a Navy SEAL. One of only 13 from a class of 173 to make it straight through to graduation, Chad served his country on SEAL Teams One and Seven for five years, completing tours of duty in the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Iraq.  While the taste of success is great, Chad learned the SEAL Team motto of "earn your Trident everyday" which means the SEALs don't rest on their laurels, the training is never really over because they always strive for better! 

Serving his country proudly through multiple deployments on SEAL Teams One and Seven Chad continued to hone the technical skill, tactical proficiency and attention to detail that our nation's best warriors adhere to. In an ironic final operation in Iraq, Chad's shares the story of how his SEAL Team was set up on a premeditated ambush similar to the location and scenario that took the life of his mentor Scott Helvenston but on that occasion Chad and his Team were victorious, overcoming the enemy and odds set against them in a gun battle to the death.   

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Today Chad is a bestselling author of his book, SEAL of God and will be speaking at our FFS Luncheon on November 2nd.   Drawing from his experiences as a SEAL, Chad grabs hold of his listeners, illustrating the SEAL mindset and ethos that revolve around leadership, teamwork, integrity, safety, mental toughness, discipline, overcoming adversity and grit. 

For the past three years, the Orange County Business Journal has listed the Foundation for Success event as one of the top five fundraising luncheons—and we expect that trend to continue in 2017.

The Foundation for Success luncheon would not be possible without the generosity of our presenting sponsors:  American Career College, Balboa Bay Club, Caribou Industries & Michael F. Harrah, West Coast University, Heidi & Ruben Mendoza and Toyota Financial Services.  Other key sponsors include Bank of America, Steven L. Craig of Craig Realty Group and Donahue Schriber Realty Group.

"The event sells out each year, so we strongly urge everyone interested in sponsoring the event at the various available levels to act right away so they can be recognized in our promotional materials,” says Lisa Gels, Manager of Partnerships and Donor Relations.

 

KidWorks students expand their faith and life experiences during a week at Forest Home

KidWorks students expand their faith and life experiences during a week at Forest Home

KidWorks students expanded their faith and life experiences while attending Forest Home. Our students had plenty of time to enjoy the blessings of God’s creation.  At the lake, they hiked, kayaked, tried out the water slides and swam.  Soccer, basketball, tree climbing, obstacle course, pool, archery and slingshot swing were also on the menu.

KidWorks to Honor David A. Pyle on November 2nd at our 11th Annual Foundation For Success Luncheon

KidWorks is delighted to announce that we will present our prestigious 2017 Dan Donahue Leadership Award to David A. Pyle, philanthropist, Founder/Chief Executive Officer of American Career College and shareholder of West Coast University at our 11th annual Foundation for Success luncheon, taking place on Thursday, Nov. 2 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Santa Ana. 

Pardon Our Dust: The expansion of KidWorks Will Allow 200 New Students To Join Programs

KidWorks Grand Re-Opening and Dedication

Dreams really do come true.  The “Building Dreams” initiative launched in mid-2015 to fully renovate and expand our Dan Donahue Center becomes a reality next month when we celebrate the Grand Re-opening and Dedication on September 13th.  An additional 10,000 square footage will be added to our site and allow 200 new students to join the KidWorks family over the coming year.   This expansion wouldn't happen without the generosity of our partners who have walked alongside us to develop our capacity to serve more children and youth in Santa Ana. 

“By doubling the size of the Donahue Center, we will be able to welcome hundreds more children, youth and families into our programs,” says David Benavides, Executive Director.

He adds, “This major milestone in KidWorks service to central Santa Ana is possible because of the remarkable generosity on the part of supporters who believe in our mission to transform the lives of individuals and the community they love.”

Our fall programs launch on September 5th.  KidWorks has also already begun accepting applications for additional students to join our academic, leadership and spiritual development programs, and they will fold into the KidWorks Donahue Center activities over the next few months to facilitate a seamless transition.

Farm Fresh Fun at the OC Fair

KidWorks at the OC Fair

If you happen to be a fourth grader, you’re probably very astute when it comes to evaluating field trips.  So it’s definitely a ringing endorsement when our young students give such high marks to their recent complimentary visit to the Orange County Fair.

“This was the best field trip I’ve ever been on!” says Zuleima.

Added first grader Ashley, “My pizza was so good!”

In late July, 200 of our students in kindergarten through fifth grade spent the day at the fair, joined by staff and 22 volunteers, including several of our older students.  Several of the older students served as a buddy to a younger students during the day.

For some of the kids, this was their first time going to a fair or amusement park so this outing was a special treat. The students also got to pet farm animals, dance to music, visit Centennial Farm, and learn through exhibits including a salute to the military at the Veterans.  These and other similar experiences are some of the special features provided by our summer programs with support from our community partners.

“We are so grateful to the Orange County Fair officials for providing the tickets at no cost to our students and for giving each of them a $30 credit for games and food,” says Rachel Cervantes, a Program Leader at our KidWorks Dan Donahue Center.  “Each child was also thrilled to receive a pass valid for three rides.”

Rachel says the kids’ day was packed with fun from start to finish.

“They rode a roller coaster and sky lift, won plush toys and cooled down in a water fountain--all while keeping their energy level up with pizza, and ice cream!” she says. 

KidWorks extends a big “thank you!” to the Orange County Fair for making the day so special for our students.

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church blesses KidWorks—again!

For the past 50 years, the congregation of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach has held an annual rummage sale, with proceeds benefiting the church’s Missions Department.  KidWorks is one of three mission partners receiving a donation.

 

The church estimates the June 8-10 event sale raised $50,000.

 

We are very grateful for the many ways St. Andrews has supported KidWorks over the years.

 

The church put it best on their website: “This year’s Rummage Sale…created space for over 300 volunteers to belong and live out our mission of following Jesus Christ to lead lives that reveal God’s goodness.  A huge thank you to those who served! It could not have been the success it was without you.”

 

As part of this year’s event, three KidWorks staff members joined with the church’s Missions Department for group worship, including music led by Joe Cristina, a St. Andrews staff member who began a KidWorks music program in 2012 called Avanti Music

 

We are very thankful for our partnership with St. Andrews, and congratulate the entire church for over five decades of successful rummage sales.

Celebrating our ‘star’ students: Liliana Ledezma has a heart for music—and justice

This April, our KidWorks blog series will highlight two extraordinary students.  All of our students are “stars” in our humble estimation, and the two we’ll introduce you to this month are examples of how your support develops them in ways that make them contributing members of society throughout their entire lives.  In this installment, we are proud to feature Liliana Ledezma.

 

When you’ve been in the music industry as long as KidWorks volunteer Joe Cristina, recognizing exceptional talent almost becomes instinctual.

 

When he first met Liliana Ledezma, he knew there was something special about this 18-year-old Mater Dei High School student.

 

She was one of the very first KidWorks students to enroll in Avanti Music, founded by Joe in 2012 to help our students learn from a professional musician with 37 years of experience in composition, arranging, orchestration and production.

 

“Lili’s a gifted musician,” Joe says.  “She has what we in the music industry call ‘chops.’  Her proficiency includes the flute, piano, ukulele and vocals.  She’s also been a big part of live performance musical events hosted by KidWorks.”

 

Joe also sees a deeply considerate and caring person in Lili, who believes strongly in justice and searching for truth.

 

“Lili does not settle for the easy answer,” Joe says.  “She asks very direct questions in order to get to the underlying truth.”

 

Another strong trait Joe appreciates in Lili is her encouraging nature.

 

“Although Lili might be tired from a week of school and work, she is always quick to offer help to another Avanti Music student,” Joe says.  “She’s very accepting of new students.  Lili makes people feel welcome.”

 

Joe says there is also a lighter side to Lili that’s just as engaging as her musical talent and sense of fairness.

 

“She’s really funny.” Joe says.  “Her comedic timing is just as finely tuned as her musical talent!”

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

 

Celebrating our ‘star’ students: Maritza Urquiza is setting the table for healthy eating in Santa Ana

This April, our KidWorks blog series will highlight two extraordinary students.  All of our students are “stars” in our humble estimation, and the two we’ll introduce you to this month are examples of how your support develops them in ways that make them contributing members of society throughout their entire lives.  In this installment, we are proud to feature Maritza Urquiza.  

 

No one ever has to tell seventh grader Maritza Urquiza to eat all her vegetables.

 

In fact, she may be the one doing the telling!

 

That’s because this conscientious KidWorks student has made it her personal mission to help fight obesity and bring healthy eating to all residents of Santa Ana.

 

Just ask Emma O’Brien, our Youth & Community Engagement Coordinator for Health and Nutrition.

 

“Martiza is a youth representative for Santa Ana Health & Nutrition Advocates (SAHNA), a youth action team that is part of KidWorks Youth Empowerment Network,” Emma says.

 

In this role, Martiza plays an integral part in our partnership with the Santa Ana Unified School District to upgrade kitchens and cafeterias, while also providing students with nutritional choices that they will find appealing.  As part of that collaboration, our youth are developing a survey that SAUSD can use to help identify and provide healthier breakfast and lunch options.

 

For Martiza, healthy eating habits are just as important at home as they are at school.

 

“Martiza strives to live a healthier lifestyle in her own home, and encourages her family to do the same,” Emma says. “She and the other youth enrolled in our SAHNA program have also set their own personal health goals, including eating a healthier diet.”

 

Emma says that Martiza has really grown in her leadership abilities and self-confidence during the time she’s been part of SAHNA.

 

“I have personally seen Maritza develop as a leader,” Emma says. “She thoughtfully shares her ideas, keeps our team on track and leads by example.”

 

Emma also applauds all the SAHNA students who she says are “changing central Santa Ana from the inside out and in a very positive way.”

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

 

Engage With KidWorks: Take a Tour

Editor’s note:  Our latest blog series is called “Engage With KidWorks.”  We’re excited to share the variety of meaningful—and fun—ways you can become part of the KidWorks experience.  In our fifth installment, we invite you to tour our Dan Donahue Center

Perhaps the best way to get introduced to KidWorks is to take a tour of our main hub, the Dan Donahue Center, in central Santa Ana.

You’ll be filled with joy as you see students from preschool through high school growing in the areas of academics and the arts, college and career readiness, health and wellness, and leadership and spiritual development.

And don’t be surprised if an excited youngster runs up to you to share his or her latest crayon drawing or to just ask, “What’s your name?”

You’ll also have a chance to meet our caring teachers and welcoming staff.  They’re all ready to answer any questions you may have about or mission, vision and values. 

And they would be delighted to share ways you can get involved.

Tours are available Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

To arrange a tour, please contact our offices at 714.834.9400. 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

Engage With KidWorks: The Joy of Serving

Editor’s note:  Our latest blog series is called “Engage With KidWorks.”  We’re excited to share the variety of meaningful—and fun—ways you can become part of the KidWorks experience.  In our fourth installment, we invite you to volunteer with one of our exciting programs and/or help with an event or development.

Our valued KidWorks volunteers know first-hand the joy they feel when they step into one of our four centers and are greeted with enthusiasm by our students in grades preschool through high school.

Our students can’t wait to tell our volunteers all about their day and to say “thank you” for the “A” they earned on yesterday’s math assignment because of the tutoring help they received.

There are so many ways to serve at KidWorks.  We invite you to consider any of these opportunities:

UNIVERSITY STARTS NOW

Help K-12th grade students with their homework, academics, computer-based learning, and character development at one of our four learning centers

 

TUTORING

Spend individualized time with one or two students helping them in specific areas such as math, reading, and language development at one of our four learning centers.  

 

WORKSHOPS

Share a special talent and passion with our students by leading them in a fun, energetic, hands-on workshop. Workshops can focus on art, science, music, dance, creative writing, etc. 

 

PRESCHOOL

Assist the little ones in our licensed preschool facility helping our teachers with the preschool daily activities and lessons. 

 

SUPPORT

Share your important skill set with us through administrative, graphic design, party planning, marketing, IT, and other types of support.

 

FUND DEVELOPMENT & SPECIAL EVENTS COMMITTEES

Help us raise financial resources and in-kind donations critical to support the life-transforming work that we do. In-kind donations may include professional services such as advertising, design, printing and more.

 

Interested in learning more?  Please call 714.834.9400 or email volunteer@kidworksonline.org for more information and to sign up to volunteer!

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

KidWorks Teacher puts a stop to bullying

Jacquelynn Hernandez, a KidWorks Program Leader, knew something was deeply troubling Maria, a normally cheerful six grader enrolled in our after-school programs.

 

“One day, I sat with Maria (not her real name) and gently asked her to share about what might be on her mind,” Jacquelynn says.  “I learned that she was being bullied by several girls at her public school; in fact, it turned out to be one of the more severe cases of bullying I’ve seen.”

 

That is when the compassion that fills the heart of each KidWorks teacher moved Jacquelynn into action.  Having had her own struggles with unkind classmates growing up, this KidWorks teacher was going to make sure Maria’s pain would stop.

 

Working with Maria’s parents and school officials, Jacquelynn helped Maria transfer to a new school.  She also enrolled Maria in Global G.L.O.W., a KidWorks partner.  They describe themselves as helping to“transform the lives of strong girls, in grades 5-12, from vulnerable communities around the world, by empowering them to realize their full potential.”

 

 

KidWorks programs include educating all of our students about the devastating impact of bullying.

 

The transition from being bullied to a safe, nurturing environment has had its struggles, but Maria is making new friends and overcoming understandable trust issues.

 

“Maria loves to bake and so do I, so we plan some kitchen time together,” Jacquelynn says.  They also plan outings to Starbucks. 


“Even though this young lady has gone through so much, she is optimistic while learning to overcome her hurt,” Jacquelynn says.  “Maria shows much love and respect to others.”

 

We are so grateful for KidWorks team members like Jacquelynn who show endless love and compassion each day for students just like Maria.

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

Engage With KidWorks: Attend an Event

Editor’s note:  Our latest blog series is called “Engage With KidWorks.”  We’re excited to share the variety of meaningful—and fun—ways you can become part of the KidWorks experience.  In our second installment, we invite you to attend one of our exciting and uplifting KidWorks events.

KidWorks isn't only about homework.  We also like to have fun!

That’s why we’re delighted to invite you to one of the many events we hold each year to raise funds, engage with the central Santa Ana Community and enjoy our students’ many talents.


Check out some of the fun stuff we have planned for 2017:
 

Community Events
The community fairs are much-anticipated events where families from the surrounding neighborhoods come together to share friendship, play games, relax, enjoy snacks and just have fun.  These are the fairs planned for this year:

March 18:  Bishop Manor Intergenerational Health Fair

April 22:  Dia del Niño Myrtle St. Resource Fair

August 19: Townsend-Raitt St. Resource Fair

 

KidWorks Classic Golf Tournament
Whether you’re a scratch golfer or simply appreciate the chance to play a premier course, KidWorks invites you to make your reservation now for our fifth annual KidWorks Classic Golf Tournament, to be held Thursday, May 18 at the beautiful Pelican Hill Golf Course in Newport Beach.

For more information, please contact Lisa Gels, Manager of Partnerships & Donor Relations: phone: (714) 619-7560 or email: lisa.gels@kidworksoc.org

 

Foundation for Success Luncheon
We invite you to attend our annual luncheon, that for the past three years, the Orange County Business Journal has listed as one of the top five fundraising luncheons.

For each of its 10 years, the event has featured an extraordinary keynote speaker.  It’s also instrumental in helping us raise a substantial portion of the funds for our after-school programs.

This year’s event details are coming soon!

For more information, please contact Lisa Gels, Manager of Partnerships & Donor Relations: phone: (714) 619-7560 or email: lisa.gels@kidworksoc.org
 

Music Concerts Featuring KidWorks Students
Many of KidWorks students have exceptional musical talent.  To experience their gifts firsthand, please consider attending these upcoming events:

Wednesday, March 22, 7:00 p.m.: Concert event at Super Antojitos restaurant in Tustin. The event will feature a short five-song set with students in KidWorks Avanti musical program.  There will also be a set with Avanti founder and professional musician, Joe Cristina and guitarist/vocalist Tiago Costa.  There is no cover charge.

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unday, April 30, 3 p.m. St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach: “Imago Dei” concert hosted by Jenny Park. This event will feature students from Jenny’s music academy, other local musical groups and selected Avanti students.  The concert is free.

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

Engage With KidWorks: The Joy of Giving

Editor’s note:  Our latest blog series is called “Engage With KidWorks.”  We’re excited to share the variety of meaningful—and fun—ways you can become part of the KidWorks experience.  In our first installment, we share research that shows how monetary donations to non-profits like KidWorks not only make a sustained meaningful impact—they also make us feel better as people!

A widely acclaimed Harvard Business School research paper published in 2009 (“Feeling Good About Giving”) concluded that those who give a monetary donation to those in need “reported higher levels of happiness.”

In the words of those researcher:  "Happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop."

And there’s the Gallup World Poll conducted between 2006 and 2008 that found people who donated to charity “reported a greater satisfaction with life.”

Finally, consider these statistics from the Do Good Live Well survey of 4,500 U.S. adults who supported a charity:  68 percent reported that it made them feel physically healthier, 89 percent that it “has improved my sense of well-bring” (e.g., happiness) and 73 percent that it “lowered my stress levels.”

Our KidWorks supporters are among the most generous people we know.  So, if giving equates to happiness, maybe that’s why our volunteers and contributors have such positive outlooks on life.

Need a lift today?  Consider making a donation to your friends at KidWorks!

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

KidWorks Preschool Students Visit La Habra Museum

Our KidWorks Preschool students had a very special President’s Day. Over 40 of our kids spent the day at the La Habra Children’s Museum.

 

We are so greatful to Kevin Watson, owner of JFK Transportation, for so generously donating the transportation for our fun day at the museum.  There were about 6 rooms to explore in the museum. 

 

The children had an amazing time exploring a room with a variety of animal fossils, “you could tell they were amazed to see the following a lion, a grizzly bear, and a hyena, which was perfect since we just learned about hibernation in class,” said Idalia Galdamez, KidWorks Preschool Director.

 

Following the animal fossils, students explored a room with a grand theater and saw different costumes from fireman gear to singers and ballerinas.

 

Next, students visited a room that had a market and an old OCTA bus.  Students were more than glad to pretend to be bus drivers.

 

Lastly, there was a room decorated like the Old Stone Age.  Students were able to pretend to live in that era.  Some of them got to climb on top of mammoths, wear pretend skin clothes, and many of our kids took pictures.

 

We had the best day! Thank you, La Habra Children’s Museum