Editor’s note: We are proud to introduce our latest blog series, “The Women of KidWorks.” We celebrate the tireless women who generously serve at our centers each week. Some of these women also happen to be the mothers of our students! Their humility, perseverance and love touch our students, staff and volunteers each day. This week, we highlight one very special mom!
Over a decade ago, Monica Contreras looked out the living room window of her Santa Ana house and asked herself, “I wonder what they are building across the street where the old tortilla and taco shell factory used to be?”
Soon, she learned that all the hammering and painting would lead up to the opening of KidWorks' main hub, the Dan Donahue Center.
When KidWorks held an open house, Monica stopped by to see what services were being offered.
She soon enrolled her then four-year-old son, Miguel, into the KidWorks preschool program.
Since that first introduction to KidWorks, Monica has been one of our most dedicated and steadfast volunteers. She didn't just enroll her children, she became part of the family, and has worked hard to make her community better from the inside out.
She began her volunteer duties at our preschool, washing dirty dishes, picking up stray toys, helping the teachers put together learning packets and raising her hand to volunteer for anything else that was asked of her.
Eventually, all of her children enrolled in our preschool program and now continue with our after school program. That includes, Maria, now in ninth grade, Miguel, sixth grade, and Jimena, first grade.
“At the KidWorks preschool, I really enjoy reading to the kids and helping out with field trips,” Monica says. “Me, my husband and our kids have received so much from KidWorks, that volunteering for me is a way for me to give back at least as much as we’ve received.”
Monica also serves on our Parent Advisory Council, which is a way the KidWorks’ team receives valuable feedback and ideas about how to continuously improve our programs and services.
She’s also become a resource to other parents seeking advice about raising their children and helping to direct them to available community resources.
“I often say to them, ‘Now that your kids are involved with KidWorks, why not get involved yourselves as volunteers?’” Monica says.
You’d think that all this volunteering would tire a person out. Not Monica. She’s also been a longtime member of the KidWorks running club, and now has 16 half marathons to her credit.
Sonia Rios-Guzman, our Parent Engagement Coordinator, says Monica has the perfect temperament to work with the kids and provide leadership on the parent council.
“She’s so good at making others feel comfortable,” Sonia says. “We love her sense of humor. During Monica’s more than 10 years as a KidWorks volunteer, she has been able to win many hearts. She’s definitely a top mom!”
By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer