Editor’s note: We are pleased to introduce our latest blog series, “A Closer Look: KidWorks’ Programs.” We offer a full range of programs for children, youth and adults. In this series, we focus on several of aspects, giving you a peek into what makes these programs tick—and sharing a few “little known secrets”!
“They’re definitely fired up.”
That’s how Frank Bejarano, our Director of Youth and Family Engagement, describes the KidWorks Community Parent Council.
The Community Parent Council is a group of eight women from the neighborhood that’s nearby KidWorks’ Dan Donahue Center. Over the past eight-plus years, they have turned fear and concern about the problems on the streets where they and their families live into action that has significantly improved the quality of life.
“When they started out, these women had never spoken before a city council or navigated through the processes required by a local governmental agency,” Frank says. “Now, they can confidently sit at a table across from staff representatives from the City of Santa Ana or get all the permitting and approvals needed for a large street resource fair. They are impressive to watch in action.”
While KidWorks provides meeting facilities and advice, the Community Parent Council is largely autonomous. They identify the issues of safety, neighborhood improvement and community collaboration that matter most to them. Then they get results.
Several examples of their success include having the city replace burnt out lights at Jerome Park, getting approval for a crossing signal to be installed at an intersection where pedestrians have been struck by cars and pushing landlords to spruce up rundown buildings.
“One of their most effective outreaches was a community walk attended by the Director of Public Works, Code Enforcement Manager Alvaro Nuñez, Santa Ana City Manager David Cavazos and Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas,” Frank says. “The women showed them first-hand the impact of gangs, illegal drug dealing and infrastructure neglect. The community parent councilmembers are tenacious. They don't quit. Results soon followed.”
The KidWorks Community Parent Council focuses on external issues in the surrounding neighborhood, while the KidWorks’ Parent Advisory Council works with our staff to offer suggestions and ideas about how we can continuously improve our programs.
“Both are examples of how those we serve take a personal ownership in their community and the overall well-being of others,” Frank said. “Their enthusiasm is a fire that never goes out.”
By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer