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When Maureen Moore arrived at KidWorks to tutor second graders each Monday and Wednesday afternoon during the 2021/2022 academic year, she knew that each session began with a prayer led by one of the young students.
Those prayers always included thanking God in ways only a second grader can.
After giving thanks for such wide-ranging blessings as the classroom chairs, their family pets and even crayons, you’d often hear this refrain: “And thank you, Jesus, for Ms. Maureen.”
That would be Maureen Moore, our August 2022 “Volunteer of the Month.”
Maureen was a volunteer tutor in Jacky Hernandez’s second grade class. (Jacky has since been promoted to Program Administration Lead.)
“I chose KidWorks because of the children,” Maureen says. “I love how their eyes light up when they accomplish something on their own or learn something new.”
Adds Maureen, “I was very impressed by how all the children behaved with courtesy and respect. They were happy, energetic and eager to learn.”
Maureen is also drawn to KidWorks’ faith-based foundation.
“I hope that all the children come to know God as their personal, loving Savior and friend,” Maureen says. “Having lived my school years in Santa Ana, I hope the community continues to strive for unity.
“Maureen has been such a wonderful addition to KidWorks this school year, in the classroom and also during summer break activities,” Jacky says. “She brought a warm and kind presence to all environments she was in.”
Adds Jacky, “Maureen always gave her full attention to each student, making them feel special. The students really responded to her because she was so intentional with them and made them feel seen and heard.”
Rachel Cervantes, our Volunteer Coordinator, describes Maureen as “kind and caring.”
“Maureen is always in high spirits and spreads that to our students,” Rachel says.
She adds, “Maureen is always willing to jump in wherever she is needed in after school programs.”
The second graders she tutored also appreciate Maureen. One even called her his favorite volunteer of all time.
Maureen asked why.
“Because you’re so funny,” he explained, identifying the criteria by which a second grader might rank order the attributes of his or her tutor.
Maureen is no stranger to volunteering or working with children and youth.
She’s a retired accountant, who most recently worked at Orangewood Foundation, a Santa Ana-based nonprofit that provides services to youth.
“I’ve volunteered in various ways, such as helping prepare meals for the needy, sifting through ashes to help fire victims find any remaining possessions, helping with repairs in Ensenada, assisting with a Christmas party for the homeless and working in the office for several nonprofits,” Maureen says.
It was at Orangewood Foundation about two and a half years ago that she saw a pamphlet about KidWorks in their lobby and decided to see if it would be a place to fulfil a desire to work with younger children.
“I volunteered at the KidWorks’ Thanksgiving Feast for kids and their parents,” Maureen says. “I wanted to volunteer in other ways at KidWorks, but within a few months COVID-19 hit and spoiled all the fun.
Eventually, in-person after school sessions resumed at KidWorks and Maureen volunteered in Ms. Jacky’s classroom one or two days a week.
“It’s amazing how these young students treat us like friends,” Maureen says. “It’s so enjoyable to have the kids trust and even confide in you.”
Over the school year, Maureen grew more and more confident as a tutor.
“I put myself at the students’ level by leaning down or sitting down beside them so we are face-to-face (or should I say, mask to mask),” Maureen says.
She adds, “I ask them questions about their school, family or daily events and would tell them about my family.
“I was able to get most of the children focused on their homework by helping them with a few problems or telling them that they were smart and can do it.”
Maureen encourages other adults, semi-retirees and retirees to consider volunteering at KidWorks, just as she did.
“Volunteering is very rewarding when you see a child’s face light up when they see you arrive at their classroom,” Maureen says.
She adds, “It’s uplifting when you see the excitement in a student’s eyes when they’ve figured a problem out by themselves or when you are chosen by a quiet child to help with her or his art project.”
Maureen recently moved to Ohio, where her brother lives, and will not be able to join us for upcoming after school programs.
We’ll miss the way Maureen bonded with the second graders and helped them to grow spiritually, academically and as leaders.
And we wish her every joy as she settles into her new home in Ohio.
“I’ll miss the children tremendously,” Maureen says. “If I’m in California, I’ll come to visit.”
KidWorks will be delighted to welcome you any time, Maureen!
By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer