For Hong Kong born Keng Go, the arrival of the Chinese Lunar New Year is always a time of great celebration with family and friends. Those friends now include second, third and fourth graders enrolled in our after school programs.
That’s because during the last occurrence of this holiday, our August “Volunteer of the Month” took time to explain the cultural significance to our students.
“I brought everyone a traditional red envelope with a dollar or two in each one, along with a piece of chocolate,” Keng says.
Keng has always been on the lookout for ways to help our students since he first became a volunteer in 2014.
“During one of his tutoring sessions earlier this year, Keng saw that we were running low on the pencils the kids use to complete their homework,” recalls Rachel Cervantes, Program Leader at our Dan Donahue Center. “The next week he brought me a large box, explaining that he’d thought about the students while he was shopping at Costco. He has such a big heart for what we do.”
Keng is a retired Information Technology professional who is glad to share his travel experiences with our students. “I’ve traveled on every continent except Antarctica,” he says.
He regularly visits Asia and has brought back souvenirs that captivate our kids.
From a visit to Japan, Keng returned with stuffed toys and backpacks that went into the KidWorks treasure chest where good behavior is rewarded with a chance to pick a prize. While in Taiwan, he sent postcards, so he could keep in touch with the kids and help them learn at the same time.
Rachel says that Keng has exactly the right approach to foster academic achievement.
“He has a quiet spirit that really shines through in the classroom,” she says. “He is gentle and really knows how to converse with the quietest and shyest students. Keng works at the students’ pace, not his own.”
Our elementary school students share Rachel’s appreciation for Keng.
Says Edward, “Mr. Keng always laughs at my jokes and that makes me feel good.”
Twins Arlet and Ailyn say, “Mr. Keng helps us with our homework and he really made us feel welcome at KidWorks when we started in the middle of this year’s school term.”
Keng helped out during our recently completed successful summer program and was at our Dan Donahue center three to four times a week helping the students with homework during the recent school year.
He never misses a chance to be generous with time, talent and resources. In late July he arrived at our center to help with summer programs, carrying a brand new hardbound copy of the 1908 classic novel, “Anne of Green Gables.” KidWorks student, Jocelyn, was going to celebrate her eighth birthday, and Keng had the perfect gift from a stop at the bookstore before arriving at our center.
While not at KidWorks or supervising the renovation of his Irvine home, Keng is an avid reader of politics, history and philosophy, as well as a lover of folk and classical music.
“We’re all delighted that Mr. Keng is being honored as August ‘Volunteer of the Month,’” Rachel says. “He shows what a positive impact a caring volunteer has on lives each time they are in our classrooms.”
By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer