Vianey Quiroz and Maria Peña never set out to be role models when they joined the KidWorks’ Parent Advisory Council. Yet, their hearts for their families, central Santa Ana and KidWorks has led them and 18 other parents to grow in ways they never imagined.
Vianey and Maria are members of our Parent Council, a group formed four years ago to strengthen the bond between KidWorks and the families we serve.
Now, the council is setting even higher goals for itself for 2018 and beyond.
“The council is expanding its focus to include not only KidWorks, but the community as a whole,” says Sonia Rios-Guzman, Parent Engagement Coordinator.
That has included everything from advocating for better street lighting, pushing sometimes reluctant landlords to make necessary apartment repairs and even addressing ways to improve traffic flow at our Dan Donahue Center during especially busy times.
“We really benefit from the leadership workshops where KidWorks has brought in outside speakers,” Vianey says. “We have learned that to make meaningful change you have to understand how government works, make contacts with decision-makers and rally neighbors together because two, three and four is better than one when it comes to issues we all care about.”
Adds Maria, “I went from being an observer to now knowing that I want to be a part of making improvements at KidWorks and the community. I want to give my time, effort and support.”
Like all members of the KidWorks Parent Council, Vianey and Maria have students enrolled in our programs. For Vianey, that includes her son, Jared, a fifth grader; and Jair, a kindergartener. For Maria it is her daughter, Stephanie, a ninth grader. The 20 parents run their monthly council meetings like a well-managed business.
“It’s so good to watch these parents work together as a strong team,” Sonia says. “For each 90-minute monthly meeting, they come prepared with an agenda, prioritize goals and are now in the process to assigning responsibilities and deadlines. They are a really hands-on group, lending invaluable support to events such as our annual resource fairs in the neighborhood.”
Maria says that one of the key lessons she has learned as part of the Parent Council is that meaningful changes rarely happen overnight.
“When a positive change happens, it’s worth all the time, effort and even occasional frustration that it takes,” Maria says. “Because it means we’ve made life a little better for a child, a family and a community.”
Dedicated parents like Vianey and Maria, along with the other members of the KidWorks Parent Council, guarantee that Maria’s dreams for an even better Santa Ana are coming true.
For more information about the KidWorks Parents Council including a calendar of events, click the button below.
By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer