Children

KidWorks Preschool Students Visit La Habra Museum

Our KidWorks Preschool students had a very special President’s Day. Over 40 of our kids spent the day at the La Habra Children’s Museum.

 

We are so greatful to Kevin Watson, owner of JFK Transportation, for so generously donating the transportation for our fun day at the museum.  There were about 6 rooms to explore in the museum. 

 

The children had an amazing time exploring a room with a variety of animal fossils, “you could tell they were amazed to see the following a lion, a grizzly bear, and a hyena, which was perfect since we just learned about hibernation in class,” said Idalia Galdamez, KidWorks Preschool Director.

 

Following the animal fossils, students explored a room with a grand theater and saw different costumes from fireman gear to singers and ballerinas.

 

Next, students visited a room that had a market and an old OCTA bus.  Students were more than glad to pretend to be bus drivers.

 

Lastly, there was a room decorated like the Old Stone Age.  Students were able to pretend to live in that era.  Some of them got to climb on top of mammoths, wear pretend skin clothes, and many of our kids took pictures.

 

We had the best day! Thank you, La Habra Children’s Museum

KidWorks Teacher Spotlight: Brizzy Cruz

0 
 0 
 1 
 11 
 63 
 Kidworks 
 1 
 1 
 73 
 14.0 
  
  
 
  
    
  
 Normal 
 0 
 
 
 
 
 false 
 false 
 false 
 
 EN-US 
 JA 
 X-NONE 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
    
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
   
 
 /* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
	mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
	mso-style-noshow:yes;
	mso-style-priority:99;
	mso-style-parent:"";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
	mso-para-margin:0in;
	mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
	mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
	font-size:10.0pt;
	font-family:"Times New Roman";
	mso-fareast-language:JA;}
 
      Photo :  Brizzy (center) with third-graders, Rosisela (left) and Monserat

Photo:  Brizzy (center) with third-graders, Rosisela (left) and Monserat

Sometimes, a fresh apple and half a ham sandwich are exactly the enticements a first grader needs to warm up to our after school programs.

Not too long ago, that simple act of hospitality was how Brizzy Cruz, Site Director at our Bishop Manor Center, convinced little Amariis and her mom, Jenny Heng, to give KidWorks after school programs a try.

“They were a little hesitant at first, but now Amariis is one of our most enthusiastic students and her mom and I have developed a wonderful bond,” Brizzy says.  “She and her daughter know this is always a safe place, even if the neighborhood isn’t.”

Like all of our centers, Bishop Manor is intentionally located in an underserved central Santa Ana neighborhood.  This schoolroom opened five years ago, and Brizzy has been the center’s leader for two years.

“What makes Bishop Manor so unique is that all of the students literally walk over from the apartments where the center is located,” Brizzy says.  “In addition of the Hispanic students who are enrolled in our programs, we also welcome Cambodian students who live in the complex.  That’s unique to this KidWorks location.”

As soon as she arrives at the center, the warmth between she and her students is evident.  “Ms. Brizzy!  Ms. Brizzy!” they call out enthusiastically, as the schoolroom fills with students plopping down backpacks and pulling out their homework.

Brizzy takes a vibrant, creative approach to teaching.

“I never want the lessons or conversations to be one-way,” she says.  “I always involve the students, letting them be expressive and hands-on.”

For example, instead of just reciting the four seasons of the year, Brizzy encourages them draw pictures of the seasons, describe them and spell them correctly.

“I use the ‘I do, you do’ approach where the kids watch me do something and then they get to try it out,” she says.  “It’s experiential learning, with defined boundaries.”

Brizzy joined KidWorks as a volunteer in 2006 and joined the staff one year later.

For Brizzy, the classroom is just one way to form a strong relationship with her students and their families.

“Since they live in apartments just steps away from our center, I regularly drop by to visit, send notes home and telephone,” she says.  “It’s all about gaining trust, making the kids want to be at the center and for the parents to feel the same.”

Outside of her KidWorks’ duties, Brizzy loves all forms of dance, plays volleyball and is an avid reader.  In October 2015 she married Victor, an electrical technician with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Brizzy, thank you for the many years you have made every one of your students feel special as you help each live up to his or her full potential!

Your January Hope Report is here!

Did you receive the KidWorks January Hope Report in your mailbox this week? If not, check it out HERE.

Want a hard copy? No problem! Copies are available at the KidWorks Dan Donahue Center. Pick up at the front desk Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm, 1902 W. Chestnut Avenue, Santa Ana, CA. 92703.  

Don't miss out on all the latest and greatest from KidWorks! 

Giving Thanks: Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble

Editor’s note:  We’re delighted to present the second installment in our latest blog series, Giving Thanks.  As everyone prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving, we feel this is the perfect time to invite KidWorks’ friends and families to share a little about what they are most thankful for.  Look for another installment next week!

____________________

If you ask a teacher what she’s especially thankful for, it’s not surprising that the value of education is right at the top of the list.

In fact, the love of learning and teaching is a common thread that’s woven throughout Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble’s life.

Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble

Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble

This KidWorks volunteer was a teacher in New York and California for four decades.  Now, she generously brings that wealth of experience to us when she serves as a tutor and after school program volunteer at our Dan Donahue Center.

“I taught in both public schools locally in Cypress and in an independent school in Brooklyn Heights, New York,” she says.   “I especially loved the sense of challenge and wonder I saw in my sixth grade students.  I’m grateful to have worked with so many incredible young people and their families across the years.”

Elizabeth is also quick to express thanks to her parents and the church.

“My parents immigrated to the United States from Norway,” she says.  “I was the eldest of four children.  They took us to church, taught us to be responsible and cheered us on whenever we worked hard and made progress.”

Elizabeth is also grateful for the fellowship she enjoyed at the Lutheran church in Brooklyn when she was growing up.   She is now equally thankful to be part of the congregation at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach.  That’s where she first heard about KidWorks.

“At KidWorks, I always find lots of smiling faces, and students filled with energy and a love of learning,” she says.

Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble and family

Elizabeth Nilsen-Doble and family

Elizabeth perfectly summarizes her own feelings during this season of thankfulness:

“I thank God for health, friends and all the family.  Above all, I thank God for His Love, for His peace, for His strength.”  


By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

 

Calvary Church creates a summer to treasure for KidWorks students

One of the most well-known and beloved verses in the bible is Matthew 6:21:  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

This powerful message was brought to life this summer for our kindergarten through fifth grade students by Calvary Chapel’s Iglesia La Puerta Church.

Pastor Armando Reyes and 15 Iglesia La Puerta church members—including youth and adults—led the vacation bible study that took place the final week of our summer program.  The church also hosted a fun day for neighborhood families on the Sunday following the conclusion of our summer program.

“Our youngsters absolutely loved the volunteers and the way they creatively made this bible verse relevant to their lives,” says Noemi Juarez, KidWorks’ Director of After School Programs.  “The church volunteers told stories to the kids, helped then make crafts and even shared fun snacks that related to our ‘The Island’ summer theme.”

Noemi said that the students learned that treasurers are not just material items, but more importantly the people, faith and values that they hold dear in their hearts.

Noemi also thanked Teen Challenge for leading a similar bible study activity at our Bishop Manor satellite center and the Christ Before You Ministry organization for a fun beach day they hosted for students attending summer programs at our Cedar Evergreen Center.


By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

 

 

 

 

 

A Closer Look: KidWorks’ Programs: University Starts Now

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”!

When a child plops his or her backpack onto the floor and begins one of our after-school sessions, we see an opportunity that goes far beyond a sheet of homework.

“It’s really about the whole person,” says Noemi Juarez, KidWorks’ Director of After School Programs.

“There is definitely the academic aspect—yet there is so much more,” she says.  “We are also very intentional about focusing on character, along with the development of the mind, physical fitness and creativity.”

That’s where our University Starts Now comes in.  USN for short, this program focuses on our younger students, ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade.

“We picked the name University Starts Now because it signifies that preparing for higher education starts the moment a little one attends his or her first day of preschool, and for every school day thereafter,” Noemi says.  “Even in the early grades, we show them pictures of actual universities, play games where they guess the name of a college mascot and even have alumni come back to tell them what dorm life is like.”

In addition to the all-important academics, USN also gives our kids a chance to blossom in ways that are unique to KidWorks’.

Noemi gives an example from the most recent school year.

“If you were in USN, you’d sit with our volunteer tutors to successfully complete your homework, but your day would be broader than that,” she says.  “You would have studied the idea of equality, and followed that up by writing a ‘thank you’ letter to Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Noemi adds, “You’d also learn about composting, and get hands-on experience by using some banana peels from home.  During the school year, you’d also learn about recycling, and get a chance to actually do some recycling yourself, including learning the three R’s—recycle, reuse and reduce.”

Noemi says that our USN students also had a chance to bring out their creative side while learning about the need to conserve water.  “Our students all made a water conservation poster that was part of a city-wide contest.  One of our students even won!”

We celebrate individual and class success with “spirit days” that have included popcorn and ice cream parties.

It’s all meant to make learning fun.  With that said, KidWorks is also all about results and academic improvement.

We subscribe to several programs from “Let’s Go Learn,” a diagnostic testing service that helps us benchmark and track our students’ success.  Testing takes place in October, with follow-up testing near the close of the school year.

As our fall 2016 USN program gets underway, look for even more fresh ideas to help our students continue to say, “We love KidWorks and we love learning!”


By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer 

Women of KidWorks: Alma Magana

Editor’s note:  This is the latest installment of our blog series, “The Women of KidWorks.”  This week, we highlight another very special mom!

Alma Magana, a KidWorks preschool teacher, has a special message for parents who attend graduation ceremonies for their four-year-olds.

“Please remember to invite me to your child’s high school and college graduation,” she tells them.  “I’ll go.”

While high school and college seems many years off for these parents and their young students, Alma is a person of her word.

Just ask Isaias Cambron, who recently graduated high school.  He attended KidWorks programs from preschool through his sophomore year in high school.

“You came!” Isaias said as she congratulated the cap-and-gown clad graduate. 

“I told you I would,” she says, recalling her promise of so many years ago.

Alma has been part of the KidWorks’ team since 1999, when she started as an after school volunteer at what was then our Myrtle Street center in Central Santa Ana.  She eventually moved to our Dan Donahue Center when it opened in 2005.  She’s taught at our accredited preschool since then—and is in fact our longest-term employee.

What’s it like to spend 175 days a year helping four year olds to learn the alphabet, recognize the primary colors and explore their artistic skills?

“I confess that sometimes I forget to leave the preschool teacher at the door when I go home for the day,” she laughs.   “I sometimes say to my daughters, Betty, 23, and Debbie, 19, ‘Did you wash your hands,’ and ‘Don’t forget to say hello when you meet someone.’”

There are more dimensions to Alma than many people who meet this soft-spoken woman may not fully realize.

She, her husband, Joel, and Joel’s father, Adolfo (both ordained ministers) and sister, Mirvella, oversee 13 churches the three of them have founded throughout the U.S., Mexico and Nicaragua.

Alma has also run 16 half marathons, many with her daughters.  She also sews (pillow cases, handbags and quilts), giving some of her creations to her students and their families.

Alma says that her deep faith in Jesus means that service in His name goes beyond preaching the gospel.

“To me, it’s important that I also give of my time, visiting with students and their families at their homes after work,” she says.  “KidWorks is like a seed we plant in a child’s life.  That seed grows there forever.”

 

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

The Women of KidWorks: Melissa Peralta

Editor’s note:  This is the latest installment in our blog series, “The Women of KidWorks.”  We celebrate the tireless women who generously serve at our centers each week.  Some of these women also happen to be the mothers of our students.  Others are KidWorks employees.  Their humility, perseverance and love touch our students, staff and volunteers each day. This week, we highlight another very special mom!

Melissa Peralta’s six-month-old daughter, Alanis, isn’t exactly sure where her mom goes each morning.  All Alanis knows is that she definitely doesn’t want her to leave.

Melissa, who has been KidWorks’ Volunteer Resources Manager since 2014, knows that one day her young daughter will understand that the unlimited love she has for her also extends to the hundreds of children and youth that Melissa pairs with our dozens of volunteers.

Since her days as a student at the University of California, Irvine, Melissa has had a deep desire to help others.  Her position at KidWorks represents that ongoing commitment.  Prior to KidWorks, she’s served at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and Olive Crest in roles that included case management and volunteer engagement.

As a child, Melissa spent summers and weekends with her grandmother, Chole, at Chole’s home just a few blocks from our Dan Donahue Center.  The neighborhood today still faces the challenges of gangs, drugs and violence that it did back then.

“As children, we weren’t allowed to go outside the gate; we had to stay in the front yard,” Melissa recalls.  “Whenever I heard the gunshots, my Mom would say, ‘Don’t worry.  We’ll make sure you are safe.’  It wasn’t until years later that I knew what I was being protected from.”

Melissa sees KidWorks as an antidote to the negative aspects of the neighborhood.

“The kids are so happy to come to our centers,” she says.  “They are eager to learn and to be safe from what is happening outside our doors.”

Melissa sees a clear link between the help our volunteers provide to our students and her own parenting responsibilities with Alanis.

“I do everything possible to invest in my daughter’s future,” she says.  “Our volunteers are also doing everything in their power to make the same investment in our students.” 

As KidWorks expands and accepts more students, Melissa knows that there is much hard work ahead to recruit even more volunteers. 

Her parents, Benjamin and Carmen, who worked long hours to provide for their family, inspire her.  “I am willing to put in as many hours as it takes so KidWorks continues making a positive impact in Santa Ana,” she says.  “I tell every volunteer that even if they are only able to dedicate one hour a week, they are having a crucial impact on young lives.”

As six-month-old Alanis grows older, we know that she will be filled with pride in her mom and all she does to help others. Of course, KidWorks and our dedicated volunteers already feel that way, Melissa!   

The Women of KidWorks: Leticia Rivera


As her four young sons fidget beside her, Leticia Rivera reflects on what it’s like to be a parent while also being an active volunteer in several KidWorks’ programs.

“It’s a process—sometimes difficult and overwhelming—to be a mom,” she says.  “It can also be very difficult on a street like Townsend, where we live.  You avoid the gunshots and gangs.  You know that your sons can be vulnerable, so you keep them very involved in positive ways.”

For Leticia, KidWorks has been one of those positive influences.  And it goes both ways, says Sonia Rios-Guzman, our Parent Engagement Coordinator. 

“Leticia is humble, kind and hard-working,” Sonia says.  “She comes to every meeting of our Parent Advisory Council and Group of Moms, and she’s never missed a single KidWorks parents workshop.  She always wants to better herself.”

All of Leticia’s sons are involved in our programs, including Jose, fifth grade; Angel, second grade; Carlos, first grade and Francisco, kindergarten.

“I’ve always like giving,” Leticia says.  “It’s easy to want to help when I see a need.  How can I expect KidWorks to give to me and my family and then not give back?”

And give back she does!

“For our Myrtle and Townsend Street Resource Fairs, Leticia went door-to-door helping to gather neighborhood signatures giving the city permission to close the streets for the event,” Sonia says.  “No one gathered more signatures than her!”

Leticia is also quite skilled in arts and crafts.  She’s helped make accessories for our graduating students to wear along with their caps and gowns, and even taught mothers how to sew or knit dresses, scarves and hats to add to their personal wardrobe, using the sewing machines available at KidWorks.

Her son Jose is clearly proud of his mom.  “When I see her volunteer at KidWorks, it makes me want to help others,” he says.  Jose is a role model in his own right for his younger brothers as he volunteers assisting our teachers for the after school programs attended by kindergarten, first, and second grade students.

Leticia has also gotten her husband, Francisco, to join our Parent Advisory Council.  Of the 18 members, only two are men, and we hope he will inspire other fathers to join.

“Leticia always goes far beyond what is asked of her,” Sonia says.  “It’s no wonder her four boys—and all of us at KidWorks—look up to her!”

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

The Women of KidWorks: Maria Velazquez

Editor’s note: We are proud to continue our latest blog series, “The Women of KidWorks.” We celebrate the tireless women who generously serve at our centers each week. Some of these women also happen to be the mothers of our students! Their humility, perseverance and love touch our students, staff and volunteers each day. This week, we highlight one very special mom!

Raising five daughters quickly teaches a mom or dad how to overcome obstacles and get the job done.  Just ask Maria Velazquez, a 10-year KidWorks volunteer, who puts those parenting skills to excellent use making her community safer.

She’s teamed up with other members of the KidWorks’ Community Parent Council, which consists of parents and community members, who work hard to do good in their Central Santa Ana community.

Two examples show Maria and her team’s positive impact:

Jerome Park is just blocks from our Townsend and Dan Donahue centers.  Several years ago, most of the park lights were either broken or burned out.  Gangs congregated at night, and families like Maria’s didn’t dare go there after dark.  So, she and our Community Parent Council worked with the City Council and Parks and Recreation Department to have new lights installed and maintained.  Now, families feel safer to relax at the park at a later time.

Then there is the dangerous intersection of McFadden Avenue and Raitt Street.  The absence of a left turn light results in collisions between cars and pedestrians.  In fact, a member of our Community Parent Council was hit, but thankfully fully recovered from her injuries.  So Maria and her fellow parent council members worked with city officials to get a left turn light approved.  It took three years but the light is set for installation in September 2016.

Maria has two daughters currently enrolled in our after-school programs, Joselyn, sixth grade, and Crystal, seventh grade (shown in photo).  Maria and her family have lived on Townsend Street for 23 years, and are right across the street from our center there.

When Maria became aware of our programs, she enrolled her then 14-year-old daughter, Andrea (now 28-years-old).

“At the time, the neighborhood was very violent because of the gangs and drugs, and it still suffers in that way,” Maria says.  “Before I enrolled Andrea, I really checked out KidWorks to make sure I felt it was a safe place.”

KidWorks quickly earned Maria’s trust and it wasn’t long before she was volunteering at the Townsend Street Center, cleaning the small apartment where classes were then held.

Since then, Maria has expanded the scope of her volunteer work at KidWorks, serving at both our Townsend and Dan Donahue Centers.

She is instrumental in the pre-planning of both our Myrtle and Townsend Street Resource Fairs, and also helps out on the day of the event by getting the word out into the neighborhood.  She also prepares and sells food at the events, with proceeds going to support KidWorks programs.

“Maria has grown so much from those early days cleaning our center on Townsend,” says Sonia Rios-Guzman, our Parent Engagement Coordinator.  “As part of her efforts to champion for the park lights and safer street intersection, she has spoken before the Santa Ana City Council, Santa Ana Unified School District Board and the Latino Heath Access organization.”

Sonia sums it up this way:  “Maria is a parent for whom giving has no limit!”

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer

The Women of KidWorks: Monica Contreras

Editor’s note: We are proud to introduce our latest blog series, “The Women of KidWorks.” We celebrate the tireless women who generously serve at our centers each week. Some of these women also happen to be the mothers of our students! Their humility, perseverance and love touch our students, staff and volunteers each day. This week, we highlight one very special mom!

Over a decade ago, Monica Contreras looked out the living room window of her Santa Ana house and asked herself, “I wonder what they are building across the street where the old tortilla and taco shell factory used to be?”

Soon, she learned that all the hammering and painting would lead up to the opening of KidWorks' main hub, the Dan Donahue Center.

When KidWorks held an open house, Monica stopped by to see what services were being offered.

She soon enrolled her then four-year-old son, Miguel, into the KidWorks preschool program.

Since that first introduction to KidWorks, Monica has been one of our most dedicated and steadfast volunteers. She didn't just enroll her children, she became part of the family, and has worked hard to make her community better from the inside out. 

She began her volunteer duties at our preschool, washing dirty dishes, picking up stray toys, helping the teachers put together learning packets and raising her hand to volunteer for anything else that was asked of her.

Eventually, all of her children enrolled in our preschool program and now continue with our after school program.  That includes, Maria, now in ninth grade, Miguel, sixth grade, and Jimena, first grade.

“At the KidWorks preschool, I really enjoy reading to the kids and helping out with field trips,” Monica says.  “Me, my husband and our kids have received so much from KidWorks, that volunteering for me is a way for me to give back at least as much as we’ve received.”

Monica also serves on our Parent Advisory Council, which is a way the KidWorks’ team receives valuable feedback and ideas about how to continuously improve our programs and services.

She’s also become a resource to other parents seeking advice about raising their children and helping to direct them to available community resources.

“I often say to them, ‘Now that your kids are involved with KidWorks, why not get involved yourselves as volunteers?’” Monica says.

You’d think that all this volunteering would tire a person out.  Not Monica.  She’s also been a longtime member of the KidWorks running club, and now has 16 half marathons to her credit.

Sonia Rios-Guzman, our Parent Engagement Coordinator, says Monica has the perfect temperament to work with the kids and provide leadership on the parent council.

“She’s so good at making others feel comfortable,” Sonia says.  “We love her sense of humor.  During Monica’s more than 10 years as a KidWorks volunteer, she has been able to win many hearts.  She’s definitely a top mom!”

By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer