Our after school programs are now fully underway, and we’re pleased to share the many ways we've refreshed and developed our approach to assure the continued effectiveness and sustained positive impact on our students’ academic journey from preschool through college. Our goal is to create learners and leaders who are “life-ready”!
Pencils are being sharpened. Book bags are being filled. And KidWorks students are getting ready for our afterschool programs that get underway on August 19 to coincide with the start of the Santa Ana Unified School District 2019 Fall term.
That means it’s the perfect time to volunteer in after school programs to assist our teachers in the classrooms that serve hundreds of students from preschool through 12th grade.
“I want to be an astrophysicist.” “I want to be a biomedical engineer.” “I want to be a gastroenterologist.” “I want to be a computer systems software developer.” “I want to be a mathematician.”
Those aren’t exactly the words you’re likely to hear from the young students enrolled in our state-licensed preschool, but we plant the seeds for meaningful careers at the earliest possible opportunity. And that focus continues as they walk with us through high school graduation and on to college.
KidWorks is especially grateful to everyone who made November’s Foundation for Success luncheon such a meaningful way to empower our proven after school programs.
Over $750,000 was raised during the Nov. 8 event, and those funds are already at work helping over 1,300 students in grades preschool through high school to excel academically, develop their leadership skills, grow spiritually and explore their artistic talents.
Yosely Ocampo's earliest memories of KidWorks date back to when she was three years old. “My mom and I passed out snacks to the kids and cleaned the counters with wet paper towels,” Yosely recalls. Both mother and daughter soon fell in love with KidWorks—where they both help out to this day.
“Even then, I knew KidWorks was where I wanted to be,” Yosely says. Soon, she was enrolled in our preschool.
Editor’s note: We are pleased to present the second story in our latest blog series, “Foundation for Success: 10 Year Anniversary Celebration.” In this installment, we share our excitement that Jackie Slater, former Los Angeles Rams star, will deliver the keynote address.
What could possibly be as exciting for a true football fan than the return of the Los Angeles Rams to California? That would have to be the opportunity to hear firsthand from a legendary former Rams offensive tackle.
KidWorks’ Foundation for Success luncheon will provide exactly that opportunity when we welcome Jackie Slater as our keynote speaker.
The event will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Santa Ana/Orange County Airport, on Thursday, Nov. 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Jackie played his entire 20-year career with the Rams organization. He was considered the most consistent member of one of the most potent offensive lines in NFL history. Jackie was selected to play in seven Pro Bowls and broke a record for most seasons with one team. His jersey number was retired and he was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
Jackie was a recipient of the Bart Starr Man of the Year Award in 1995, which is given to the player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership on and off the football field. He lives up to this award even after retiring as he continues to positively shape the lives of others as the offensive line coach at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California.
“KidWorks and I share a passion for helping young people reach their full potential,” Jackie says. “Football is one of the most competitive sports ever, but the playing field is nothing like the challenges within the neighborhoods KidWorks serves. I’m looking forward to meeting KidWorks’ supporters and sharing my story at the 10th anniversary of the Foundation for Success Luncheon.
For more information about the KidWorks Luncheon, or to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE.
Editor’s note: We are pleased to present our latest blog series, “Foundation for Success: 10 Year Anniversary Celebration.” In our first installment, we express our deep gratitude to the President and CEO of Toyota Financial Services, Mike Groff, who is the 2016 Foundation for Success Luncheon honoree and recipient of the inaugural Dan Donahue Leadership Award.
The 10-year anniversary of the KidWorks’ Foundation for Success luncheon is the ideal time to recognize and give a heartfelt “thank you!” to a key supporter who has been with us since the very first luncheon in 2007.
We are excited to do this through the very first Dan Donahue Leadership Award, created to recognize KidWorks’ most fervent supporters and friends who have supported the luncheon since its inception.
“KidWorks has benefitted from Mike’s strategic thinking, wise counsel and generous heart,” says David Benavides, KidWorks’ Executive Director. “We are also deeply grateful to Toyota Financial Services, as they return again this year as one of our three presenting sponsors, joining American Career College and West Coast University.”
“KidWorks understands that for our young people to truly thrive, and for a community to truly transform, we need parents, teachers, public officials, and corporate neighbors working together,” Mike says. “For the past 10 years, Toyota Financial Services has been proud to support the amazing life-skills programs and educational opportunities made possible by the dedicated volunteers, donors and staff at KidWorks. I am truly honored to be part of this year’s Foundation for Success Luncheon and part of the KidWorks family.”
Mike, on behalf of the more than 800 children, youth and parents we serve, KidWorks thanks you for your deep commitment and loyal support. We are so honored and proud to present you with the very first Dan Donahue Leadership Award.
For more information about our KidWorks Luncheon, or to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE.
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”!
You can always tell when KidWorks posts the list of workshops conducted by our volunteers: Students crowd around the sheet, clamoring to sign-up for their favorites.
“Whether its music or woodworking, our KidWorks University workshops fill up fast,” says Noemi Juarez, KidWorks’ Director of After School Programs.
The workshops are individually tailored for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The idea behind KidWorks University is twofold: First, it allows our students to learn to make the choices they’ll increasingly face as their educations progress, such as what major to select in college. Secondly, it also gives the students a chance to develop their creative sides, which is part of our “whole student” approach to academics, character and spiritual development.
“In many ways, KidWorks University starts to give our students a taste of what a college or university environment will be like,” Noemi says. “They develop skills and interests, and even have the chance to try something new, to have a variety of experiences.”
Variety definitely describes KidWorks University. Classes have included music (classical, folklorico and more), ballet, acrylic painting, pop art, chess, soccer, physical fitness, computers, cooking, electronics (where they made their own flashlights) and poetry.
“Surprise—poetry was more popular than I thought it was going to be!” Noemi says.
She points out that the workshops are all volunteer-led. Each workshop is four to five sessions and there are three to four workshop cycles each year.
“The volunteers are so passionate about their skills, talents and hobbies,” Noemi says. “They are so delighted to share them with our students. Some volunteers have been conducting workshops at KidWorks for years.”
Noemi says that workshop leaders have included anyone with a passion for something they want to share. Volunteer workshop leaders have included high school and college students, Boy Scouts, professionals and retirees.
Interested in leading a workshop? Just let us know. Our students are sure to fill every seat!
By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer
Eleazar Díaz sees the bigger picture when she waters, weeds and prunes the plants and vegetables in the KidWorks community garden and compost at our Dan Donahue Center.
As a long time volunteer, she is keenly aware not only of the thriving plants, but also the positive growth in the community where KidWorks serves.
Eleazar is gladly willing to get her hands dirty in the garden soil, and she’s also learned to be a leader on our Dan Donahue Group of Moms and Parent Advisory Council.
It all began over 10 years ago when a neighborhood mom invited her to volunteer at the KidWorks preschool. Her daughter, Yosely, then three-years-old, was too young to enroll—but Eleazar said “yes” to the volunteer request anyway.
“Since then, Eleazar has been one of our most dedicated and committed volunteer moms,” says Sonia Rios-Guzman, our Parent Engagement Coordinator.
Eleazar, quiet and humble, gives much of the credit to her daughter, Yosely, now 13-years-old, and a student in our after school programs.
“Before I enrolled Yosely in the KidWorks preschool, we’d walk by the center and she’d say, ‘Mom, I want to see the kids!’”
Eleazar brought her little daughter with her when she volunteered at our preschool.
“Yosely would pick up a white cloth and help me clean the counters,” she recalls. “The very next year, she was old enough for preschool and we enrolled her. Since then, KidWorks has become part of us.”
In her 10-plus years as a KidWorks volunteer, this mom has grown out of her natural shyness and learned to speak up with ideas and suggestions that are welcomed by the KidWorks’ Parents Advisory Council and Group of Moms.
“Eleazar is a real motivator for our parents, and she’s a role model, too, because she’s willing to take on any task,” Sonia says. “When the parents or moms councils have an upcoming meeting, she goes down the list making phone calls reminding them to attend. She’s a good planner too, and helped us with the countless details required to make our annual Townsend Street Resource Fair a yearly success.”
To Eleazar, the garden she helps tends is not the only metaphor for the potential within the central Santa Ana community where she and her family live.
“When the doors first opened at the Dan Donahue Center, I saw this as a place that would be my support system,” she says. “Today, when I come to volunteer, I love seeing that those doors are still wide open. It means they are open for me and other moms to volunteer, get involved and make a difference.”
You continue to make a tremendous positive difference, Eleazar. We appreciate all you do!
By Glenn, Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer
On Friday, June 10th, we celebrated our annual Noche De Las Estrellas (Night of the Stars). Noche De Las Estrellas is an evening to celebrate our graduating seniors and this year was one for the books!
We are so proud to be sending our students into the world better equipped for college, the workforce, relationships, volunteerism, and community building! But our job doesn't end here, we are committed to doing life with these rock stars for the long haul.
Help us congratulate the KidWorks Class of 2016!
KidWorks is very proud that the majority of the students in our programs earn their high school diplomas, and that many also continue their education at colleges and universities.
The class of 2016 is no exception. We are pleased to share this summary of where our graduating high school seniors will continue their studies this fall.
We also asked our scholars to let you read in the students’ own words how they feel about the next step in their journey of academic excellence. Here’s what several said: